On Monday, President Trump tweeted birthday wishes to the Air Force and the CIA. Both became official organizations 70 years ago on September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947.
– Carey Wedler
After spending years as a wartime intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, the agency was solidified as a key player in the federal government’s operations with then-President Harry Truman’s authorization.
In the seventy years since, the CIA has committed a wide variety of misdeeds, crimes, coups, and violence. Here are seven of the worst programs they’ve carried out (that are known to the public):
- Toppling governments around the world — The CIA is best known for its first coup, Operation Ajax, in 1953, in which it ousted the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, reinstating the autocratic Shah, who favored western oil interests. That operation, which the CIA now admits to waging with British intelligence, ultimately resulted in the 1979 revolution and subsequent U.S. hostage crisis. Relations between the U.S. and Iran remain strained to this day, aptly described by the CIA-coined term “blowback.”
But the CIA has had a hand in toppling a number of other democratically elected governments, from Guatemala (1954) and the Congo (1960) to the Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973). The CIA has aimed to install leaders who appease American interests, often empowering oppressive, violent dictators. This is only a partial list of countries where the CIA covertly attempted to exploit and manipulate sovereign nations’ governments.
- Operation Paperclip — In one of the more bizarre CIA plots, the agency and other government departments employed Nazi scientists both within and outside the United States to gain an advantage over the Soviets. As summarized by NPR:
“The aim [of Operation Paperclip] was to find and preserve German weapons, including biological and chemical agents, but American scientific intelligence officers quickly realized the weapons themselves were not enough.
“They decided the United States needed to bring the Nazi scientists themselves to the U.S. Thus began a mission to recruit top Nazi doctors, physicists and chemists — including Wernher von Braun, who went on to design the rockets that took man to the moon.” …