Reviewed by Jeffrey Hirsch
“Fundamentally, the founding fathers of US intelligence were liars.” This is a quote from James Jesus Angleton, one of the great eminences of the CIA on his death bed (p. 620). How they told their lies, to whom, and why are the subjects of this great boo, which incidentally reads like a very good novel.
The “why” is simple — to make the world safe for the profits and the increase thereof of the great multinational corporations and their allied financial institutions, in their competition with the “evil commies,” or really any leader or movement that stood in the way of those profits. The CIA made and broke governments and their leaders to this end.
Here are a few long quotations from The Devil’s Chessboard (DC), which will give the reader some interesting information and a taste of this book:
“Dulles’s CIA overthrew nationalist governments in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, and even targeted some troublesome leaders in allied European countries.” (p. 2)
“JFK had broken from the Eisenhower-Dulles regime over the older men’s nuclear brinksmanship … Kenedy had also signaled an eagerness to dramatically change America’s hostile relationship to the developing world.” (p. 3) This attitude of JFK placed him opposed to the Dulles agenda.
“The Dulles brothers were not intimidated by mere presidents. When President Franklin Roosevelt pushed through New Deal legislation to retrain the rampant greed and speculation that had brought the country to economic ruin, John Foster Dulles simply gathered his corporate clients in his Wall Street law office and urged them to defy the president. ‘Do not comply,’ he told them. ‘Resist the law with all your might, and soon everything will be all right.'” (p. 4)
“[Allen] Dulles would serve John F. Kennedy for less than a year. … Clearly oumatched in the beginning by the savvy spymaster, who beguiled Kennedy into the Bay of Pigs disaster, JFK proved a quick learner in the Washington power games. he became the first and only president who dared strip Dulles of his formidable authority … But Dulles’s forced retirement did not last long, after Kennedy jettisoned him from the CIA in Nov. 1961. Instead of easing into his twilight years, Dulles continued to operate as if he were still America’s intelligence chief, targeting the president who had ended his illustrious career.” (p.5)
“In the weeks leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, the flurry of meetings at Dulles’s home intensified. Among the CIA men coming in and out of Q Street were several who later came under investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations …” (p. 8)
“Mind control experimentation, torture, political assassination, extraordinary rendition, massive surveillance of US citizens and foreign allies – these were all widely used tools of the Dulles reign.” (p. 9)
“Unmanaged by the White House and unsupervised by Congress, Dulles’s CIA grew to become the most potent agency of the Eisenhower era. Dulles was a master at seeding Washington bureaucracies with agency men, placing his loyalists in top positions in the Pentagon, State Department, and even the White House. The CIA became increasingly intertwined with the Armed Services, as military officers were assigned to Agency missions…” (p. 251)
“As the global reach of American industry and finance grew during the post-war era, so did the US national security complex. America’s vast system of military and covert power was aimed not just at checking the Soviet threat, but at protecting US corporate interests abroad. Behind the rapid international growth of multinational giants like Chase Manhattan, Coca-Cola, Standard Oil, and GM lay a global network of US military bases, spy stations, and alliances with despotic regimes ….” (p. 550)
Other important facts I learned from DC were the Dulles-Nixon alliance, and how these two men of darkness helped each other in their bid for and maintenance of power (see chapter 8, “Scoundrel Time”). Dulles was also a major power player in the McCarthy witch-hunt era of the early 1950s. To his credit or discredit, he did protect the personnel of the CIA from McCarthy’s vicious attacks.
There is a lot of circumstantial evidence described in DC which implicates Dulles very strongly in the assassination of JFK. The following quote describes how Dulles made sure that the investigatory Warren Commission would come to the desired conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of JFK. “In the end, it all worked out just as the Washington establishment wanted. The Commission to investigate Kennedy’s murder was made up of pliable Senators and Congressmen who were close to the CIA, FBI, and [President] Johnson — and it was dominated by the two craftiest men in the hearing room, Dulles and McCloy.” (p. 575)
Forwarding to 2016, the present, this book is a must-read for anyone wanting to begin to understand why the US is as it is. There isn’t nearly enough space in this brief review to mention myriad personae, plots, intrigues, etc. which make for fascinating reading and an educational experience of prime importance for people motivated to break out of the whitewashed history which most of us receive from a standard US education and from out mostly corporate controlled mass media. Once again, read this book. You will not be sorry.
“The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” by David Talbott
Reviewed by Jeffrey Hirsch