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Gitmo, Miley Seeley and the CIA

Miles Seeley spent his career in the CIA. He left before the period covered by Bob Baer, See No Evil, so what he says does not necessarily contradict it. Before discussing the CIA operations in general, he comments on the hot "news" that that the CIA had bugged a plane bought by China to serve Jiang Zemin as Air Force 1 serves the President of the US: "Whoever bugged the Chinese plane (if in fact it really was bugged) was abysmally stupid. Such operations are rarely very productive and always open to compromise and embarrassment. Both we and the Soviets did a lot of bugging operations in the 1950s and 60s, but they fell out of favor for good reasons".

Miles then goes on to discuss the history of the CIA. It seems that what he reports happened again after he left he CIA: "I beg to differ that a "Paris scandal" resulted in the demise of human intelligence and the rise to primacy of technical machinery. That happened long before, when we had as CIA chief an Admiral who loved spy planes and later satellites. Some of us did pose the following question: while knowing exactly where the enemy's tanks and planes are located is dandy, what piece of equipment tells us what he intends to do with them? We were largely ignored, already fossilized.

As for cuts in personnel, many of us were convinced that by the late 1960s the Agency had grown too large, had become too bureacratized, and had lost sight of its primary missions. We told this to the Hoover Commission. I personally advocated a flat 10-15% reduction, and won no popularity contests doing so.

I do not defend all things the CIA did or did not do from 1950 on, just from accusations I know personally are wrong. I doubt anyone cares now, but the CIA of the 1950s and 60s was staffed by an amazing group of men and women, and I have not seen their like since. They were dedicated, smart, brave, and intensely loyal. By the 1990s that all had changed: a friend of mine was called back to recommend changes in the basic security system that had allowed at least one major mole to go undetected. In my antiquated view, an intelligence organization must be lean and mean, with its personnel held to exceptionally high standards".

Bienvenido Macario says he saw on TV, ABC's 20/20 the feature about Bob Baer's book See No Evil. "The focus of the show was more on Bob Baer's liaison work with Kurdish rebels in the north and disgruntled military officers within Saddam's army and their attempt to overthrow Saddam in early 1994. When he returned as ordered he was charged of plotting the assassination of Saddam a charge that according to Baer practically ended his career with the CIA" In the interview I saw he said he had received a decoration from the CIA, which had cleared his book. Presumably the CIA repented and rehabilitated him.

The CIA now has its home page, and under the Freedom of Information Act it is obliged to make documents available, with security restrictions. As WAISers must know, I had a notorious run-in with the CIA when in kept the public in the dark about plans for the April 1961 Bay of Pigs operation and the training camp for Cuban exiles in Retalhuleu, Guatemala. I learned about it in Guatemala and publicized it in the Hispanic American Report, warning that it would fail because the CIA had wrongly assessed the situation in Cuba, which I had just visited. The New York Times picked up my information and then claimed credit for it, scarcely an example of journalistic honesty. The CIA put pressure on the Stanford Administration, and I quit Bolivar House and the Latin American program which I had founded. Later the CIA repented and was very nice to me. That must have been during the time Miles was in the CIA!

The CIA home page has a whole section on the Bay of Pigs, summarized thus: "This two volume 400 plus page document consists of (Volume I) the CIA Inspector General's (IG) report on the CIA's ill fated April 1961 attempt to implement national policy by overthrowing the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba by means of a covert paramilitary operation, otherwise known as the Bay of Pigs, and (Volume II), a commentary on the IG report written by the Directorate of Plans (DP), now known as the Directorate of Operations (DO). These two volumes are a rare side-by-side compilation of high-level government self-evaluation of its own performance in an historic and controversial event". I did not have time to wade through it to find what it said about my role, but I read enough to confirm that the CIA operatives in Cuba had badly underestimated the wild popularity of Castro.

Ronald Hilton - 1/19/02