Full Disclosure: I'd like to start out by talking about your well-known book, `The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.' What edition is that in today?
Marchetti: The latest edition came out last summer. Its the Laurel edition, Dell paperback.
FD: Its gone through a couple of printings?
Marchetti: Yes. It was originally published by Alfred Knopf in hardback and by Dell in paperback. That was in 1974 with Knopf and 1975 with Dell. Then a few years later we got some more of the deletions back from the government, so Dell put out a second printing. That would have been about 1979. Then recently, during the summer of 1983, we got back a few more deletions and that's the current edition that is available in good bookstores (laughs) in Dell paperback, the Laurel edition.
Originally the CIA asked for 340 deletions. We got about half of those back in negotiations prior to the trial. We later won the trial, they were supposed to give everything back but it was overturned at the appellate level. The Supreme Court did not hear the case, so the appellate decision stood. We got back 170 of those deletions in negotiations during the trial period. A few years later when the second paperback edition came out there were another 24 deletions given back. The last time, in 1983, when the the third edition of the paperback edition was published, there were another 35 given back. So there are still 110 deletions in the book out of an original 340.
As for the trial, the CIA sued in early 1972 to have the right to review and censor the book. They won that case. It was upheld at the appellate court in Richmond some months later, and again the Supreme Court did not hear the case. Two years later we sued the CIA on the grounds that they had been arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable in making deletions and were in violation of the injunction they had won in 1972. We went before Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr., and in that case, he decided in our favor. Bryan was the same fourth district judge in Alexandria who heard the original case. He said that there was nothing in the book that was harmful to national security or that was logically classifiable. Bryan said the CIA was being capricious and arbitrary. They appealed, and a few months later down in Richmond the appellate court for the fourth district decided in the government's favor, and overturned Bryan's decision. Again, the Supreme Court did not hear the case. It chose not to hear it, and the appellate court's decision stood.
By this time, we had grown weary of the legal process. The book was published with blank spaces except for those items that had been given back in negotiations. Those items were printed in bold face type to show the kind of stuff the CIA was trying to cut out. In all subsequent editions, the additional material is highlighted to show what it is they were trying to cut out.
Of course the CIA's position is that only they know what is a secret. They don't make the national security argument because that is too untenable these days. They say that they have a right to classify anything that they want to, and only they know what is classifiable. They are establishing a precedent, and have established a precedent in this case that has been used subsequently against ex-CIA people like Frank Snepp and John Stockwell and others, and in particular against Ralph McGee. They've also used it against (laughing), its kind of ironic, two former CIA directors, one of whom was William Colby. Colby was the guy behind my case when he was director. In fact, he was sued by the CIA and had to pay a fine of I think, about $30,000 for putting something in that they wanted out about the Glomar Explorer. He thought they were just being, as I would say, ``arbitrary and capricious,'' so he put it in anyway, was sued, and had to pay a fine. Admiral Stansfield Turner was another who, like Colby when he was director, was the great defender of keeping everything secret and only allowing the CIA to reveal anything. When Turner got around to writing his book he had the same problems with them and is very bitter about it and has said so. His book just recently came out and he's been on a lot of TV shows saying, ``Hells bells, I was director and I know what is classified and what isn't but these guys are ridiculous, bureaucratic,'' and all of these accusations you hear. It is ironic because even the former directors of the CIA have been burned by the very precedents that they helped to establish.
FD: What are the prospects for the remaining censored sections of your book eventually becoming declassified so that they are available to the American people?
Marchetti: If I have a publisher, and am willing to go back at the CIA every year or two years forcing a review, little by little, everything would come out eventually. I can't imagine anything they would delete. There might be a few items that the CIA would hold onto for principle's sake. Everything that is in that book, whether it was deleted or not, has leaked out in one way or another, has become known to the public in one form or another since then. So you know its really a big joke.
FD: Looking back on it, what effect did the publication of the `The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence' have on your life?
Marchetti: It had a tremendous effect on my life. The book put me in a position where I would forever be persona non grata with the bureaucracy in the federal government, which means, that I cannot get a job anywhere, a job that is, specific to my background and talents. Particularly if the company has any form of government relationship, any kind of government contract. That stops the discussions right there. But even companies that are not directly allied with the government tend to be very skittish because I was so controversial and they just don't feel the need to get into this. I have had one job since leaving the CIA other than writing, consulting and things like that, and that was with an independent courier company which did no business with the government, was privately owned, and really didn't care what the government thought. They ran their own business and they hired me as their friend. But every other job offered to me always evaporates, because even those individuals involved in hiring who say they want to hire me and think the government was wrong always finish saying, ``Business is business. There are some people here who do not want to get involved in any controversial case.'' Through allies or former employees somebody always goes out of their way to make it difficult for me, so I never have any other choice but to continue to be a freelance writer, lecturer, consultant, etcetera, and even in that area I am frequently penalized because of who I worked for.
FD: The government views you as a troublemaker or whistleblower?
Marchetti: As a whistleblower, and, I guess, troublemaker. In the intelligence community, as one who violated the code.
FD: The unspoken code?
Marchetti: Right. And this has been the fate of all those CIA whistleblowers. They've all had it hard. Frank Snepp, Stockwell, McGee, and others, have all suffered the same fate. Whistleblowers in general, like Fitzgerald in the Department of Defense, who exposed problems with the C-5A, overruns, have also suffered the same kind of fate. But since they were not dealing in the magical area of national security they have found that they have some leeway and have been able to, in many other cases, find some other jobs. In some cases the government was even forced to hire them back. Usually the government puts them in an office somewhere in a corner, pays them $50,000 a year, and ignores them. Which drives them crazy of course, but thats the government's way of punishing anybody from the inside who exposes all of these problems to the American public.
FD: Phillip Agee explains in his book the efforts of the CIA to undermine his writing of `Inside The Company' both before and after publication. Have you run into similar problems with extralegal CIA harassment?
Marchetti: Yes. I was under surveillance. Letters were opened. I am sure our house was burglarized. General harassment of all sorts, and the CIA has admitted to some of these things. One or two cases, because the Church Committee found out. For example, the CIA admitted to working with the IRS to try and give me a bad time. The Church Committee exposed that and they had to drop it. They've admitted to certain other activities like the surveillance and such, but the CIA will not release to me any documents under the Freedom of Information Act. They won't release it all -- any documents under FOIA, period.
FD: About your time with the CIA?
Marchetti: No, about my case. I only want the information on me after leaving the agency and they just refuse to do it. They've told me through friends ``You can sue until you're blue in the face but you're not going to get this'' because they know exactly what would happen. It would be a terrible embarrassment to the CIA if all of the extralegal and illegal activities they took became public.
The most interesting thing they did in my case was an attempt at entrapment, by putting people in my path in the hopes that I would deal with these people, who in at least one case turned out to be an undercover CIA operator who was, if I had dealt with him, it would have appeared that I was moving to deal with the Soviet KGB. The CIA did things of that nature. They had people come to me and offer to finance projects if I would go to France, live there, and write a book there without any censorship. Switzerland and Germany were also mentioned. The CIA used a variety of techniques of that sort. I turned down all of them because my theory is that the CIA should be exposed to a certain degree in the hope that Congress could conduct some investigation out of which would come some reform. I was playing the game at home and that is the way I was going to play. Play it by the rules, whatever handicap that meant. Which in the end was a tremendous handicap.
But it did work out in the sense that my book did get published. The CIA drew a lot of attention to it through their attempts to prevent it from being written and their attempts at censorship, which simply increased the appetite of the public, media, and Congress, to see what they were trying to hide and why. All of this was happening at a time when other events were occurring. Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers had come out about the same time I announced I was doing my book. Some big stories were broken by investigative journalists. All of these things together, my book was part of it, did lead ultimately to congressional investigations of the CIA. I spent a lot of time behind the scenes on the Hill with senators and congressman lobbying for these investigations and they finally did come to pass.
It took awhile. President Ford tried to sweep everything under the rug by creating the Rockefeller Commission, which admitted to a few CIA mistakes but swept everything under the rug. It didn't wash publicly. By this time, the public didn't buy the government's lying. So we ultimately did have the Pike Committee, which the CIA and the White House did manage to sabotage. But the big one was the Church Committee in the Senate which conducted a pretty broad investigation and brought out a lot of information on the CIA. The result of that investigation was that the CIA did have to admit to a lot of wrongdoing and did have to make certain reforms. Not as much as I would have liked. I think everything has gone back to where it was and maybe even worse than what it was, but at least there was a temporary halt to the CIA's free reign of hiding behind secrecy and getting away with everything, up to and including murder. There were some changes and I think they were all for the better.
FD: So instead of some of the more harsher critics of the CIA who would want to see it abolished you would want to reform it?
Marchetti: Yes. Its one of these things where you can't throw out the baby with the bathwater. The CIA does do some very good and valuable and worthwhile and legal things. Particularly in the collection of information throughout the world, and in the analysis of events around the world. All of this is a legitimate activity, and what the CIA was really intended to do in the beginning when they were set up. My main complaint is that over the years those legitimate activities have to a great extent been reduced in importance, and certain clandestine activities, particularly the covert action, have come to the fore. Covert action is essentially the intervention in the internal affairs of other governments in order to manipulate events, using everything from propaganda, disinformation, political action, economic action, all the way down to the really dirty stuff like para-military activity. This activity, there was too much of it. It was being done for the wrong reasons, and it was counterproductive. It was in this area where the CIA was really violating U.S. law and the intent of the U.S. Constitution, and for that matter, I think, the wishes of Congress and the American people. This was the area that needed to be thoroughly investigated and reformed. My suggestion was that the CIA should be split into two organizations. One, the good CIA so to speak, would collect and analyze information. The other part, in the dirty tricks business, would be very small and very tightly controlled by Congress and the White House, and if possible, some kind of a public board so that it didn't get out of control.
My theory is, and I've proved it over and over again along with other people, is that the basic reason for secrecy is not to keep the enemy from knowing what you're doing. He knows what you're doing because he's the target of it, and he's not stupid. The reason for the CIA to hide behind secrecy is to keep the public, and in particular the American public, from knowing what they're doing. This is done so that the President can deny that we were responsible for sabotaging some place over in Lebanon where a lot of people were killed. So that the President can deny period. Here is a good example: President Eisenhower denied we were involved in attempts to overthrow the Indonesian government in 1958 until the CIA guys got caught and the Indonesians produced them. He looked like a fool. So did the N.Y. Times and everybody else who believed him. That is the real reason for secrecy.
There is a second reason for secrecy. That is that if the public doesn't know what you are doing you can lie to them because they don't know what the truth is. This is a very bad part of the CIA because this is where you get not only propaganda on the American people but actually disinformation, which is to say lies and falsehoods, peddled to the American public as the truth and which they accept as gospel. That's wrong. It's not only wrong, its a lie and it allows the government and those certain elements of the government that can hide behind secrecy to get away with things that nobody knows about. If you carefully analyze all of these issues that keep coming up in Congress over the CIA, this is always what is at the heart of it: That the CIA lied about it, or that the CIA misrepresented something, or the White House did it, because the CIA and the White House work hand in glove. The CIA is not a power unto itself. It is an instrument of power. A tool. A very powerful tool which has an influence on whoever is manipulating it. But basically the CIA is controlled by the White House, the inner circle of government, the inner circle of the establishment in general. The CIA is doing what these people want done so these people are appreciative and protective of them, and they in turn make suggestions or even go off on their own sometimes and operate deep cover for the CIA. So it develops into a self-feeding circle.
FD: Spreading disinformation is done through the newsmedia.
Marchetti: Yes. Its done through the newsmedia. The fallacy is that the CIA says the real reason they do this is to con the Soviets. Now I'll give you some examples. One was a fellow by the name of Colonel Oleg Penkovsky.
FD: Penkovsky Papers?
Marchetti: Yes. I wrote about that in `The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. The Penkovsky Papers was a phony story. We wrote the book in the CIA. Now, who in the hell are we kidding? The Soviets? Do we think for one minute that the Soviets, who among other things captured Penkovsky, interrogated him, and executed him, do you think for one minute they believe he kept a diary like that? How could he have possibly have done it under the circumstances? The whole thing is ludicrous. So we're not fooling the Soviets. What we're doing is fooling the American people and pumping up the CIA. The British are notorious for this kind of thing. They're always putting out phony autobiographies and biographies on their spies and their activities which are just outright lies. They're done really to maintain the myth of English secret intelligence so that they will continue to get money to continue to operate. Thats the real reason. The ostensible reason is that we were trying to confuse the Soviets. Well that's bull**** because they're not confused.
One of the ones I think is really great is `Khruschev Remembers.' If anybody in his right mind believes that Nikita Khruschev sat down, and dictated his memoirs, and somebody -- Strobe Talbot sneaked out of the Soviet Union with them they're crazy. That story is a lie. That book was a joint operation between the CIA and the KGB. Both of them were doing it for the exact same reasons. They both wanted to influence their own publics. We did it our way by pretending that Khruschev had done all of this stuff and we had lucked out and somehow gotten a book out of it. The Soviets did it because they could not in their system allow Khruschev to write his memoirs. Thats just against everything that the Communist system stands for. But they did need him to speak out on certain issues. Brezhnev particularly needed him to short-circuit some of the initiatives of the right wing, the Stalinist wing of the party. Of course the KGB was not going to allow the book to be published in the Soviet Union. The stuff got out so that it could be published by the Americans. That doesn't mean that the KGB didn't let copies slip into the Soviet Union and let it go all around. The Soviets achieved their purpose too.
This is one of the most fantastic cases, I think, in intelligence history. Two rival governments cooperated with each other on a secret operation to dupe their respective publics. I always wanted to go into much greater length on this but I just never got around to it. Suffice it to say that TIME magazine threatened to cancel a two-page magazine article they were doing on me and my book if I didn't cut a brief mention of this episode out of the book.