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Response to LymphocyteLover (Reply #9)

Wed Nov 24, 2021, 01:25 PM

23. I was there when Talbot first spoke in public about that book.

He was speaking at the “Passing the Torch” conference at Duquesne University in October 2013. While the agency, per se, was not involved, Talbot named former Director Dulles as “the Chairman of the Board of the assassination.” He then proceeded to explain how.


Here’s an excerpt of his thoughts on the subject:

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of the American Secret Government

Who What Why, 07/26/17


It was Dulles himself who jumped in to put out the Truman fire. Soon after the Post published Truman’s diatribe, Dulles began a campaign to get the retired president to disavow his opinion piece. The spymaster began by enlisting the help of Washington power attorney Clark Clifford, the former Truman counselor who chaired President Johnson’s intelligence advisory board. The CIA “was really HST’s baby or at least his adopted child,” Dulles pointed out in a letter to Clifford. Perhaps the attorney could talk some sense into the tough old bird and get him to retract his harsh criticisms of the agency.

Dulles also appealed directly to Truman in a strongly worded letter, telling the former president that he was “deeply disturbed” by his article. In the eight-page letter that he mailed on January 7, 1964, Dulles tried to implicate Truman himself. Calling Truman the “father of our modern intelligence system,” Dulles reminded him that it was “you, through National Security Council action, [who] approved the organization in CIA of a new office to carry out covert operations.” So, Dulles continued, Truman’s ill-advised rant in the Post amounted to “a repudiation of a policy” that the former president himself “had the great courage and wisdom to initiate.”

To an extent, Dulles had a point. As the spymaster pointed out, the Truman Doctrine had indeed authorized an aggressive strategy aimed at thwarting Communist advances in Western Europe, including CIA intervention in the 1948 Italian elections. But Truman was correct in charging that, under Eisenhower, Dulles had led the CIA much deeper into skulduggery than he ever envisioned.

Unmoved by Dulles’s letter, Truman stood by his article. Realizing the threat that Truman posed, Dulles continued his crusade to discredit the Post essay well into the following year. Confident of his powers of persuasion, the spymaster made a personal trek to Independence, Missouri, in April, arranging to meet face-to-face with Truman at his presidential library. After exchanging a few minutes of small talk about the old days, Dulles mounted his assault on Truman, employing his usual mix of sweet talk and arm-twisting. But Truman — even on the brink of turning eighty — was no pushover, and Dulles’s efforts proved fruitless.

Still, Dulles would not accept defeat. Unable to alter reality, he simply altered the record, like any good spy. On April 21, 1964, upon returning to Washington, Dulles wrote a letter about his half-hour meeting with Truman to CIA general counsel Lawrence Houston. During their conversation at the Truman Library, Dulles claimed in his letter, the elderly ex-president seemed “quite astounded” by his own attack on the CIA when the spymaster showed him a copy of the Post article. As he looked it over, Truman reacted as if he were reading it for the first time, according to Dulles. “He said that [the article] was all wrong. He then said that he felt it had made a very unfortunate impression.”

The Truman portrayed in Dulles’s letter seemed to be suffering from senility and either could not remember what he had written or had been taken advantage of by an aide, who perhaps wrote the piece under the former president’s name. In fact, CIA officials later did try to blame a Truman assistant for writing the provocative opinion piece. Truman “obviously was highly disturbed at the Washington Post article,” concluded Dulles in his letter, “… and several times said he would see what he could do about it.”

The Dulles letter to Houston — which was clearly intended for the CIA files, to be retrieved whenever expedient — was an outrageous piece of disinformation. Truman, who would live for eight more years, was still of sound mind in April 1964. And he could not have been shocked by the contents of his own article, since he had been expressing the same views about the CIA — even more strongly — to friends and journalists for some time.

After the Bay of Pigs, Truman had confided in writer Merle Miller that he regretted ever establishing the CIA. “I think it was a mistake,” he said. “And if I’d known what was going to happen, I never would have done it…. [Eisenhower] never paid any attention to it, and it got out of hand…. It’s become a government all of its own and all secret…. That’s a very dangerous thing in a democratic society.” Likewise, after the Washington Post essay ran, Truman’s original CIA director, Admiral Sidney Souers — who shared his former boss’s limited concept of the agency — congratulated him for writing the piece. “I am happy as I can be that my article on the Central Intelligence Agency rang a bell with you because you know why the organization was set up,” Truman wrote back to Souers.



Thanks for caring, LymphocyteLover.

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