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General News    H3'ed 7/29/22

Summary of The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the C.I.A., and the rise of America's secret government

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David Talbot's book The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government is a biography that reads like a spy novel. It is painful to read because of all the injustice it exposes. Almost every page makes me groan with a sense of outrage. Most of the book summarizes the history of skullduggery by Dulles during WWII and at the head of the CIA under Eisenhower, Truman, and JFK. Dulles and his buddies in the CIA, in the military, in Wall Street firms, in the oil business, in the Cuban exile community, and in the Republican Party opposed FDR, the New Deal, the Kennedys, and, most ardently, communism. The book ends with several chapters devoted to allegations about CIA involvement with the JFK assassination.

This article summarizes the contents of the 620 page book and includes various quotations from it.

Talbot is up front about his judgement of Allen Dulles: he thinks he's evil. Up til the chapters on the JFK assassination, the content seems unassailable and well documented. The evidence for some sort of CIA involvement in the JFK assassination strikes me as strong. Talbot compiled quotations and summarizes from numerous primary and secondary sources. Even presidents and former CIA people condemned the CIA. The official Warren Commission Report was a whitewash -- Dulles helped lead the commission. Near the ends of their lives several people involved accused the CIA of involvement. Some witnesses mysteriously died right before they were due to testify. But the truth about the CIA assassination is difficult to discern, and this book is most valuable as a condemnation of the CIA in general. Talbot's writing style is lively -- he even includes some steamy details about characters' sex lives.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post chose not to review Devil's Chessboard, presumably judging it to be conspiracy theory. Perhaps that's because of CIA infiltration of the media? (Or is that a conspiracy theory?) The Huff Post has a favorable review, as does Kirkus.

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Alan Dulles and his brother John Foster Dulles worked for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, which had close connections to Wall Street firms that did business with Nazi corporations. During the war, Dulles was stationed in Europe. Due to his fear and hatred of Stalin, Dulles worked to make a separate peace treaty between the U.S. and Germany -- disobeying direct orders from FDR. After the war, Alan Dulles saved Nazis from accountability at the Nuremberg trials, helping them escape to Spain or South America, or recruiting them to work for the U.S. against the Soviet Union.

One such former Nazi was Reinhard Gehlen, who had been Hitler's intelligence chief on the eastern front, where he fought the Soviets and also pinpointed the location of Jews so they could be executed. Dulles and the CIA strongly defended working with Gehlen and others like him. One of Gehlen's "most repellent recruits" was Konrad Friebig, "who was later charged with murdering eleven thousand Jews in Belarus during the war."

As head of the C.I.A. Dulles assassinated foreign leaders and help overthrow governments. In many cases, the C.I.A. acted contrary to the wishes of U.S. presidents.

In the early days of the Cold War with the USSR, Dulles and his colleagues thought up various cloak-and-dagger schemes to counter the Soviets. In one scheme, they spread rumors that an American academic and friend of Dulles was a C.I.A. spy. When the academic arrived in East Germany, he was thrown in prison, as were his family members who later went in search of him. Stalin's paranoia grew and ended up resulting in the deaths and imprisonment of millions of people. This pleased Dulles.

Dulles and his friends on Wall Street helped launch Richard Nixon's career, by funding his campaign against the committed New Deal regulator Jerry Vorrhis, about whom they spread rumors and accused of being Communist. Such dirty tricks became models for Republicans working to undermine the New Deal.

"The Cold War furies that Nixon and the Dulles brothers helped to unleash scoured all nuance and charity from American politics."

If the political winds had been blowing in a different direction in 1948, it might well have been men like Foster and Allen Dulles, Thomas McKirttrick of BIS, and Walter Teagle and William Stamps Farish of Sandard Oil instead of New Dealers like [Alger] Hiss and [Harry Dexter] White who were put under the the investigative spotlight for treason. But by turning the table on the New Deal officials such as White, who had long wanted to prosecute these high-level Nazi collaborators, the Dulles group ensured their own legal protection. By seizing the investigative momentum, Republicans like Dick Nixon, whom Loftus called "Allen Dulle's mouthpiece in Congress," made sure that the Dulles circle would never have to answer for their wartime actions.

The Dulles brothers and their ilk were deeply involved in the battle against FDR and the Democratic Party. "For a brief period during the widespread devastation of the 1930s, the New Deal was able to challenge the 'plutocracy'", as Roosevelt called it. But the militarization of government during World WAR II began to return power to the corporate elite, "The Eisenhower presidency would complete this political countertranfsormation, as Washington was taken over by business executives."

During the Eisenhower administration, the Dulles brothers would finally be given full license to exercise their power in the global arena .. they would impose an American reign on the world enforced by nuclear terror and cloak-and-dagger brutality. The Dulles brothers would prove masters at exploiting the anxious state of permanent vigilance that accompanied the Cold War.

During the 1952 presidential race, Dulles proved his loyalty to the Eishower-Nixon campaign by channeling funds to the Republican ticket through CIA front groups and by leaking embarrassing intelligence of the Korean War -- flagrant violations of the CIA charter that forbids agency involvement in domestic politics.

"The Dulles brothers had demonstrated their dedication to their former Sullivan and Cromwell petroleum clients soon after President Eisenhower took office by sabotaging a Justice Department antitrust case against the Seven Sisters oil giants."

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Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, activist, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://ProgressiveMemes.org for my (more...)

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