ESPIONAGE: Trying to Expose the CIA

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The controversy is not a cause celebre of the proportions of the Pentagon papers, but for two years the Central Intelligence Agency has employed its wits, wiles and considerable manpower in an effort to stop publication of large chunks of a book called The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. The agency has fought so hard because the book's principal author, Victor Marchetti, 44, was a CIA officer with access to much secret material and a zeal to reveal it. Although its reliability will be questioned, the book is the most detailed expose of CIA tactics to date and is bound to pose embarrassing questions about the aims and activities of American espionage.

The book is still involved in a legal tangle. The CIA is contending that, as the result of a contract that every CIA employee signs, Marchetti has no right to publish any material that the agency deems classified. Nonetheless the book will be published this June—in a most unusual form. Blank spaces will appear where 168 passages have been deleted at CIA insistence, and the courts have not yet finally resolved whether or not the missing material deserves national-security classification. A larger number of portions initially deleted by the agency and then reluctantly restored by it will be included; they will be printed in boldface type so that a reader can readily identify those tales, statistics and names that the CIA would just as soon not have had made public.

Some of the boldface incidents have appeared in print before or were generally known: the agency's loan of B-26 bombers and CIA pilots for the uprising against Indonesian President Sukarno in the late 1950s, the drifting of balloons laden with propaganda over mainland China during the Cultural Revolution, the training of the Dalai Lama's mountaineer troops when they were driven out of Tibet in 1959 by the Chinese Communists. But often the book adds fresh detail. For example, in one of their periodic raids on their homeland, the hardy Tibetans helped resolve a debate that had been going on in CIA headquarters in Washington: they captured documents showing that Mao Tse-tung's Great Leap Forward had been a flop.

Other episodes in the book are set down for the first time, and some of them will provide fuel for critics of the agency and perhaps trigger unpleasant cables to Henry Kissinger from foreign capitals. A likely instance is the book's recounting of how in the mid-1960s the CIA helped Peru to quash an indigenous guerrilla movement. At the request of the government, headed by Fernando Belaunde Terry, the agency erected a miniature Fort Bragg in the heart of the Peruvian jungle and recruited a crack counterinsurgency team, which made short work of the guerrillas. Another passage reports that in 1969 the agency learned of a scheme by radicals to hijack a Brazilian airliner. The CIA kept the news to itself for fear that it would expose the agency's penetration of Brazilian Guerrilla Leader Carlos Marighella's band and thus jeopardize a plan to capture him. The plane was hijacked on schedule—and Marighella was trapped on schedule.

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