EMAIL PAGE TWENTY
COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
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IKE & CENTRAL IGNORANCE AGENCY HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR LUMUMBA'S DEATH
Secret files on Lumumba's Murder
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 15:39:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: portsideMod <email@example.com>
To: ps <firstname.lastname@example.org>
the Secret Files on Lumumba's Murder
Stephen R. Weissman
July 21, 2002
his latest film, "Minority Report," director Steven Spielberg portrays
a policy of "preemptive action" gone wild in the year 2054. But we
don't have to peer into the future to see what harm faulty intelligence and the
loss of our moral compass can do. U.S. policies during the Cold War furnish many
tragic examples. One was U.S. complicity in the overthrow and murder of
years ago, Lumumba, the only leader ever democratically elected in Congo, was
delivered to his enemies, tortured and summarily executed. Since then, his
country has been looted by the U.S.-supported regime of Mobutu Sese Seko and
wracked by regional and civil war. The conventional explanation of Lumumba's
death has been that he was murdered by Congolese rivals after earlier U.S.
attempts to kill him, including a plot to inject toxins into his food or
1975, the U.S. Senate's "Church Committee" probed CIA assassination
plots and concluded there was "no evidence of CIA involvement in bringing
about the death
so. I have obtained classified U.S. government documents, including a chronology
of covert actions approved by a National Security Council (NSC) subgroup, that
reveal U.S. involvement in---and significant responsibility for---the death of
Lumumba, who was mistakenly seen by the Eisenhower administration as an African
documents show that the key Congolese leaders who brought about Lumumba's
downfall were players in "Project Wizard," a CIA covert action
program. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and military equipment were channeled
to these officials, who informed their CIA paymasters three days in advance of
their plan to send Lumumba into the clutches of his worst enemies.
new details: The U.S. authorized payments to then-President Joseph Kasavubu four
days before he ousted Lumumba, furnished Army strongman Mobutu with money and
arms to fight pro-Lumumba forces, helped select and finance an anti-Lumumba
government, and barely three weeks after his death authorized new funds for the
people who arranged Lumumba's murder.
these documents show that the plans and payments were approved by the highest
levels of the Eisenhower administration, either the NSC or its "Special
Group," consisting of the national security adviser, CIA director,
undersecretary of state for political affairs, and deputy defense secretary.
facts are four decades old, but are worth unearthing for two reasons. First,
Congo (known for years as Zaire) is still struggling to establish democracy and
stability. By facing up to its past role in undermining Congo's fledgling
democracy, the United States might yet contribute to Congo's future.
the U.S. performance in Congo is relevant to our struggle against terrorism. It
shows what can happen when, in the quest for national security, we abandon the
democratic principles and rule of law we are fighting to defend.
February, Belgium, the former colonial power in Congo, issued a thousand-page
report that acknowledged "an irrefutable portion of responsibility in the
events that led to the death of Lumumba."
Belgium, the United States has admitted no such moral responsibility. Over the
years, scholars (including myself) and journalists have written that
U.S. presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was vowing to meet "the
communist challenge" and Eisenhower's NSC was worried that Lumumba would
tilt toward the Soviets. The U.S. documents show that over the next few months,
the CIA worked with and made payments to eight top Congolese--- including
President Kasavubu, Mobutu (then army chief of staff), Foreign Minister Justin
Bomboko, top finance aide Albert Ndele, Senate President Joseph
CIA joined Belgium in a plan, detailed in the Belgian report, for Ileo and
Adoula to engineer a no-confidence vote in Lumumba's government, which would be
followed by union-led demonstrations, the resignations of cabinet ministers
(organized by Ndele) and Kasavubu's dismissal of Lumumba.
Sept. 1, the NSC's Special Group authorized CIA payments to Kasavubu, the U.S.
documents say. On Sept. 5, Kasavubu fired Lumumba in a decree of dubious
legality. However, Kasavubu and his new prime minister,
Oct. 27, the NSC Special Group approved $250,000 for the CIA to win
parliamentary support for a Mobutu government. However, when legislators balked
at approving any prime minister other than Lumumba, the parliament remained
closed. The CIA money went to Mobutu personally and the commissioners.
Nov. 20, the Special Group authorized the CIA to provide arms, ammunition,
sabotage materials and training to Mobutu's military in the event it had to
resist pro-Lumumba forces. The full extent of what one U.S. document calls the
"intimate" relationship between the CIA and Congolese leaders was
absent from the Church Committee report. The only covert action (apart from the
assassination plots) the committee discussed was the August 1960 effort to
promote labor opposition and a no-confidence vote in the Senate.
did Lumumba die? After being ousted Sept. 5, Lumumba rallied support in
parliament and the international community. When Mobutu took over, U.N. troops
protected Lumumba, but soon confined him to his residence. Lumumba escaped on
Nov. 27. Days later he was captured by Mobutu's troops, beaten and arrested.
happened next is clearer thanks to the Belgian report and the classified U.S.
documents. As early as Christmas Eve 1960, College of Commissioners' president
Bomboko offered to hand Lumumba over to two secessionist leaders who had vowed
to kill him. One declined and nothing happened until mid-January 1961, when the
central government's political and military position deteriorated and troops
guarding Lumumba (then jailed on a military base near the capital) mutinied. CIA
and other Western officials feared a Lumumba comeback.
On Jan. 14, the commissioners asked Kasavubu to move Lumumba to a "surer place." There was "no doubt," the Belgian inquiry concluded, that Mobutu agreed. Kasavubu told security chief Nendaka to transfer Lumumba to one of the secessionist strongholds. On Jan. 17, Nendaka sent Lumumba to the Katanga region. That night, Lumumba and two colleagues were tortured and executed in the presence of members of the Katangan government.
official announcement was made for four weeks. What did the U.S. government tell
its Congolese clients during the last three days of Lumumba's life? The Church
Committee reported that a Congolese "government leader" advised the
CIA's Congo station chief, Larry Devlin, on Jan. 14 that Lumumba was to be sent
to "the home territory" of his "sworn enemy." Yet, according
to the Church Committee and declassified documents, neither the CIA nor the U.S.
embassy tried to save the former prime minister.
CIA may not have exercised robotic control over its covert political action
agents, but the failure of Devlin or the U.S. embassy to question the plans for
has sought to distance himself from Lumumba's death. While the CIA was in close
contact with the Congolese officials involved, Devlin told the Church Committee
that those officials "were not acting under CIA instructions if and when
they did this." In a recent phone conversation with Devlin, I posed the
issue of U.S. responsibility for Lumumba's death. He acknowledged that, "It
was important to [these] cooperating leaders what the U.S. government
thought." But he said he did "not recall" receiving advance word
of Lumumba's transfer. Devlin added that even if he had objected, "That
would not have stopped them from doing it."
evading its share of moral responsibility for Lumumba's fate, the United States
blurs African and American history and sidesteps the need to make reparation for
yesterday's misdeeds through today's policy.
1997, after the Mobutu regime fell, the Congolese democratic opposition pleaded
in vain for American and international support. Since then, as many as 3 million
lives have been lost as a result of civil and regional war. The United States
has not supported a strong U.N. peacekeeping force or fostered a democratic
collapse in late April 2002 of negotiations between Congolese factions threatens
to reignite the smoldering conflict or ratify the partition of the country.
government's actions four decades ago in Congo also have special meaning after
the tragedy of Sept. 11. They warn that even as we justly defend our land and
our people against terrorists, we must avoid the excessive fear and zeal that
lead to destructive intervention betraying our most fundamental principles.
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