After four decades of espionage and covert intervention, CIA agents are turning their attention away from the missile silos to the microchip factories. Tom Lappin learns why from Peter Molloy, producer ofa new series about the American intelligence organisation.
Back in the early 1960s President Sukarno of Indonesia had the temerity to be non-aligned. with a leaning towards the left. In the Cold War climate ofthe times, the USA. or more specifically its intelligence arm the CIA. considered this somewhat impertinent and set about undermining 5 his regime. They unearthed a Sukarno double and 3 made a raunchy porno film starring the ‘President’ in several compromising. ifathletic. positions. This didn’t quite work as planned. as CIA officer Sam Halpern recalls: ‘People thought “Oh good
for him, he’sin bed withawhite woman. he‘s i doing it to the whites.“ It enhanced rather than ' detracted from his image.‘ :
If this sort of thing sounds like it should be scored with one of those descending quacking tunes that mark a pratfall in broad comedies. the sequel was less amusing. Tiring ofsubtlety, the CIA contrived a coup in which Sukarno was deposed and half a million Communists were subsequently massacred.
The story is one of many that emerge in a new documentary series. CIA. which examines the actions and methods of the US intelligence arm since its inception just after the war. ‘We didn‘t want to do a bland and boring history. but shed some new light,‘ says producer Peter Molloy. l
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inkling ofthe truth.’
The danger with a series of this kind, about a political organisation like the CIA, is to keep a balance between producing a glossed-over commercial package and a turgid polemic bristling with moral outrage. Molloy is confident the tone is about right. ‘It’s a warts-and-all series,’ he says. ‘We told them from the beginning it wasn’t going to be a PR job, and it would deal with stories they wouldn’t like, but maybe over the course of the whole series new facts would emerge. They were very keen we should concentrate on the analytical side of their work, and we have covered it, but we have by no means ignored the covert action, the coup-making, the black propaganda, all that sort
All of which would be impossible to mention in a
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Alterthe war CIA agents used secret Nazi information against the Soviets. ‘Most of the people in the series have never spoken about their experiences before. Some of the events are familiar, but we’re looking for an unfamiliar angle, the real story behind an event that people thought they knew about but didn’t really have an
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similar series about the British secret services. In America it seems there are considerably fewer limitations on what former officers can divulge. ‘There are restrictions with regards to sources and methods,’ says Morrow, ‘but after that it’s left to the discretion of the individual officers. There was also a sense of them wanting to talk about these things. There was a sense of frustration that for 45 years all that was known about the CIA was what was written in the press, or from what a dozen or so whistle-blowing former members had written. There was a desire to get their side of the story
Their side of the story is a catalogue of coups, assassinations,treachery,licensed killing, and the ‘ occasional spectacular error, all united by the common thread of anti-Communism. ‘The CIA ﬁrmly believe that the fight against Communism fully justiﬁed the intervention in foreign countries,’ says Morrow. ‘Partieularly in the 503 and 603, everyone took the Soviet threat very seriously and believed that war was imminent. There was a lot of money available for the CIA and they were given a tremendous amount of freedom. They could basically make up the rules as they went along. Sometimes it went badly wrong. They had these mind control experiments in the 505 where they fed LSD to their own employees without telling them, some of whom committed suicide. You think of the wildest thing and it’s
Sadly (well, not really) the crazy days are over. The Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War took up 50 per cent of the CIA’s attention; its remnants require just 15 per cent. The new area of concern is the commercial sector, with the
,‘enemies’ Japan and the European Community. This has an interesting effect on methodology. ‘When it came to counting military hardware, technology was all-important,’ says Molloy, ‘but for corporate information there’s a need for secret agents all over again. The CIA are now furiously lobbying Congress for more money to recruit
CIA starts on BBC] on Wednesday 24 June at
‘I rememberthe legendary circle jerk oi ‘ ‘ 1951, when we tried to till a milk bottle with sperm. You would not believe how long that takes.‘ Having Abbie Holiman on your milk round in the 50s was obviously an interesting experience. Hoffman’s is one of the more candid confessions oi adolescent experimentation offered up in Heavy
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9 depravity is complete.” These Petting, a land evocation of the Golden | Age beiore the Beatles’ lirst LP, when |
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it’s what you do with them
3 abounds with dire warnings along the
coupling was just something trains did in the privacy of the engine shed.
Using a mixture at Government lnlormation lilms, movie clips and personal reminiscences oi the Great and Arty at New York (including William Burroughs, Spalding Grey, Laurie Anderson and Sandra Bernhard) Heavy Petting evokes an era more ignorant than innocent. The soundtrack
lines at ‘the next step is the ruination of innocent young girls’, or ‘the insatiable curiosity at youth will cause him to go
apocalyptic announcements, delivered in ringing tones, ironically come
across as rather aphrodisiac. In the 50s they must have had the kids doing it in the streets.
The personal anecdotes are the stult of countless ‘rites of passage’ movies, all sad tumblings and ‘getting to fourth base’. David Byme, looking exactly the same shy high-school egghead he appeared in his graduation photograph, had his own illusions about the dangers oi masturbation: ‘I didn’t buy the bit about going blind, but I thought, maybe there’s only so much at this stuff. it I did it too much at the age ot13 I could run out. I figured i’d be
dry by the time I was 18.‘ (Tom Lappin)
True Stories: Heavy Petting, Channel 4, t
ThursdayZJuly, 9.30pm. _
The List 19June - 2 July 1992 57