Portal:United States Senate/Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities

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Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities
The United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly referred to as the Church Committee, was a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975.

A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering by the CIA and FBI for illegality after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.

Index of Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders[edit]

Contents and Prologue

94th congress 1st session
No. 94-465


November 20 (legislative day, November 18), 1975
------- U.S. Government printing office
61-985 O Washington : 1975


  • FRANK CHURCH, Idaho, Chairman
  • JOHN G. TOWER, Texas, Vice Chairman
  • PHILIP A. HART, Michigan HOWARD H. BAKER, JR., Tennessee
  • ROBERT MIORGAN, North Carolina RICHARD S. SCHWEIKER, Pennsylvania
  • GARY HART, Colorado
  • WILLIAM G. MILLER, Star Director
  • FREDERICK A. O. SCHWARZ, Jr., Chief Counsel
  • CURTIS R. SMOTHERS, Counsel to the Minority
  • AUDREY HATRY, Clerk of the Committee


Prologue (XIII)
I. Introduction and Summary (1)

A. Committee's Mandate (1)
B. Committee Decision to Make Report Public (2)
C. Scope of Committee's Investigation (2)
D. Summary of Findings and Conclusions (4)
1. The Questions Presented (4)
2. Summary of Findings and Conclusions on the Plots (4)
3. Summary of Findings and Conclusions on the Issues of Authority and Control (6)

II. Covert Action as a Vehicle for Foreign Policy Implementation (9)

A. Policy Development and Approval Mechanism (9)
B. The Concept of "Plausible Denial"(11)

III. Assassination Planning and the Plots(13)

A. Congo(13)
1. Introduction(13)
2. Dulles Cable to Leopoldville: August 26, 1960(14)
3. CIA Encouragement of Congolese Efforts to "Eliminate" Lumumba (16)
4. The Plot to Assassinate Lumumba(19)
(a) Bissell/Tweedy Meetings on Feasibility of Assassinating Lumumba (19)
(b) Bissell/Scheider Meetings on Preparations for Assassinating “An African Leader” (20)
(c) Scheider Mission to the Congo on an Assassination Operation (21)
(d) Congo Station Officer Told to Expect Scheider: Dulles Cables About “Elimination” of Lumumba (22)
(e) Assassination Instructions Issued to Station Officer and Lethal Substances Delivered: September 26, 1960(24)
(f) Hedgman’s Impression That President Eisenhower Ordered Lumumba’s Assassination(25)
(g) Steps in Furtherance of the Assassination Operation (26)
(i) Hedgman’s Testimony About Confirmation from Headquarters of the Assassination Plan (26)
(ii) “Exploratory Steps” (27)
(iii) The Assassination Operation Moves Forward After Scheider’s Return to Headquarters: October 57, 1960 (29)
(iv) Headquarters Continues to Place “Highest Priority” on the Assassination Operation (30)
(h) Tweedy/Bissell Testimony: Extent of Implementation; Extent of Authorization(33)
(i) Tweedy’s Testimony About the Scope of the Assassination Operation (33)
(ii) Bissell’s Testimony About Moving the Assassination Operation From Planning to Implementation (36)



III. Assassination Planning and Plots-Continued

A. Congo-Continued
5. The Question of a Connection Between the Assassination Plot and Other Actions of CIA Officers and Their Agents in the Congo (37)
(a) Mulroney’s Assignment in the Congo (37)
(i) Mulroney’s Testimony That He Went to the Congo After Refusing an Assassination Assignment From Bissell (37)
(ii) Bissell’s Testimony About the Assignment Mulroney (40)
(iii) Mulroney Informed of Virus in Station Safe Upon Arriving in Congo: November 3, 1960 (41)
(iv) Mulroney’s Plan to “Neutralize” Lumumba (42)
(b) QJ/WIN’s Mission in the Congo: November-December 1960 (43)
(c) WI/ROGUE Asks QJ/WIN to Join “Execution Squad” December 1960 (45)
6. The Question of Whether the CIA was Involved About Lumumba’s Death in Katanga Province (48)
(a) Lumumba’s Imprisonment After Leaving U.N. Custody: November 27-December 3, 1960 (48)
(b) Lumumba’s Death (49)
7. The Question of the Level at Which the Assassination Plot Was Authorized (51)
(a) High-Level Meetings at Which ‘I Getting Rid of Lumumba Was Discussed (53)
(i) Dillon’s Testimony About Pentagon Meeting: Summer 1960 (53)
(ii) Robert Johnson’s Testimony That He Understood the President to Order Lumumba’s Assassination at an NSC Meeting (55)
(iii) Special Group Agrees to Consider Anything That Might Get Rid of Lumumba: August 25, 1960 (60)
(iv) Dulles Reminded by Gray of “Top-Level Feeling That “Vigorous Action” was Necessary in the Congo: September7-8, 1960 (62)
(v) Dulles Tells NSC That Lumumba Remains a Grave Danger Until “Disposed Of”: September 21, 1960 (62)
(b) Testimony of Eisenhower White House (64)
(c) Bissell’s Assumptions About Authorization by President Eisenhower and Allen Dulles (65)
(d) The Impression of Scheider and Hedgman That the Assassination Operation Had Presidential Authorization (67)
B. Cuba (71)
1. The Assassination Plots (71)
(a) Plots: Early 1960 (72)
(i) Plots to Destroy Castro’s Public Image (72)
(ii) Accident Plot (72)
(iii) Poison Cigars (73)
(b) Use of Underworld Figures Phase I (Pre-Bay of Pigs) (74)
(i) The Initial Plan (74)
(ii) Contact with the Syndicate (75)
(iii) Las Vegas Wiretap (77)
(1) CIA Involvement in the Wiretap (77)
(2) Consequences of the Wiretap (79)
(iv) Poison is Prepared and Delivered to Cuba
(c) Use of Underworld Figures: Phase II (Post-Bay of Pigs) (82)
(i) Change in Leadership (82)
(ii) The Operation is Reactivated (83)
(d) Plans in Early 1963 (85)
(e) AM/LASH (86)
(i) Origin of the Project (86)
(ii) The Poison Pen Device (88)
(iii) Providing AM/LASH with Arms (89)


III. Assassination Planning and Plots Continued

B. Cuba—Continued (91)
2. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Within the Central Intelligence Agency? (91)
(a) The Question Presented (92)
(i) Dunes (92)
(ii) McCone (92)
(b) Did Allen Dulles Know of or Authorize the Initial Plots Against Castro? (92)
(i) Dulles’ Approval of J.C. King’s December 1959 Memorandum (92)
(ii) Dulles’ January 1960 Statement to the Special Group (93)
(iii) Meetings in March 1960 (93)
(iv) Recession of Accident Plot in July 1960 (94)
(v) Briefing of Dulles on Use of Underworld Figures in September1960 (94)
(1) Evidence Concerning What Dulles Was Told (94)
(2) Evidence Concerning When the Briefing Occurred (97)
(vi) Edwards’ Communications to the Justice Department in 1961 and 1962 (97)
(vii) General Cabell’s Remarks to the Special Group in November 1960 (98)
(c) Did John McCone Know of or Authorize Assassination Plots During His Tenure as DCI? (99)
(i) McCone’s Testimony (99)
(ii) Testimony of Helms, Bissell and Other Subordinate Agency Employees (100)
(iii) Helms and Harvey Did Not Brief McCone About the Assassination Plots (102)
(iv) The Question of Whether General Carter, McCone’s Deputy Director, Learned About the Underworld Plot and Informed McCone (106)
(v) The August 1963 Briefing of McCone (107)
3. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency (108)
(a) The Question of Knowledge and Authorization Outside the Central Intelligence Agency in the Eisenhower Administration (109)
(i) Summary (109)
(ii) Richard Bissell’s Testimony (110)
(1) Lack of Personal Knowledge (110)
(2) Assumptions Concerning Dulles (111)
(iii) Testimony of White House Officials (111)
(1) Gordon Gray (111)
(2) Andrew Goodpaster (112)
(3) Thomas Parrott (113)
(4) John Eisenhower (113)
(iv) Documentary Evidence(114)
(1) Inspector General’s Report (114)
(2) Contemporaneous Documents (114)
(b) The Question of Knowledge and Authorization Outside the Central Intelligence Agency During the Kennedy Administration (116)
(i) Pre-Bay of Pigs Assassination Plot (117)
(1) Bissell’s Testimony Concerning His Assumption That Dulles Told the President (117)
(2) Bissell’s Testimony Regarding His Own Actions (118)
(3) Kennedy Administration Officials’ Testimony (119)
(4) The Question of Whether Assassination Efforts Were Disclosed in Various Briefings of Administration Officials (120)
a. Briefing of the President Elect (120)
b. Discussion with Bundy on “Executive Action Capability” (121)
c. Taylor/Kennedy Bay of Pigs Inquiry (121)
(5) Conversation Between President Kennedy and Senator George Smathers (123)


III. Assassination Planning and Plots--Continued

B. Cuba--Continued
3. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency--Continued
(b) The Question of Knowledge and Authorization Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency During the Kennedy Administration--Continued
(i) Pre-Bay of pigs Assassination Plot--Continued
(6) The Question of Whether the President or the Attorney General Might Have Learned of the Assassination Effort from the Cuban Participants (124)
(7) The Question of Whether the Assassination Operation Involving Underworld Figures Was Known About by Attorney General Kennedy or President Kennedy as Revealed by Investinations of Giancana “and Rosselli (125)
a. 1960 (125)
b. 1961 (126)
c. 1962 (129)
(1) Did President Kennedy Learn Anything About Assassination Plots as a Result of the FBI Investigation of Giancana and Rosselli (129)
(2) The Formal Decision to Forego Prosecution (131)
(a) Events Leading Up to a Formal Briefing of the Attorney General (131)
(b) Briefing of the Attorney General on May 7, 1962 (131)
(aa) The Attorney General Was Told That the Operation Had Involved an Assassination Attempt (132)
(bb) Evidence Concerning Whether The Attorney General Was Told That the Operation Had Been Terminated (132)
(ii) Post-Bay of Pigs Underworld Plot MONGOOSE Period (134)
(1) Events Preceding the Establishment of MON GOOSE (135)
a. The Taylor/Kennedy Board of Inquiry (136)
b. National Security Action Memorandum 100 of October 5, 1961, and the CIA Intelligence Estimate (136)
c. President Kennedy’s November 9, 1961 Conversation with Tad Szulc (138)
d. President Kennedy’s Speech of November 16, 1961 (139)
(2) Operation MONGOOSE (139)
a. The Creation of Operation MONGOOSE (139)
(1) The Special Group (Augmented) (SGA) (140)
(2) General Lansdale Named Chief-of-Operations of MONGOOSE (140)
(3) CIA Organization for MONGOOSE (140)
b. Lansdale’s Theory and Objective for MONGOOSE (140)
c. Bissell’s Testimony Concerning Presidential Instructions to Act More Vigorously (141)
d. The January 19, 1962 Special Group Meeting (141)
e. General Lansdale’s MONGOOSE Planning Tasks (142)
f. Lansdale’s Rejection of a Suggestion that a Propaganda Campaign, Including Rewards for Assassination, Be Explored (144)
g. The control System MONGOOSE Operations (144)
h. The Pattern of MONGOOSE Action (146)


III. Assassination Planning and Plots--Continued

B. Cuba --Continued
3. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency--Continued
(b) The Question of Knowledge and Authorization Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency During the Kennedy Administration--Continued
(ii) Post-Bay of Pigs Underworld Plot MONGOOSE Period--continued
(3) Evidence Bearing on Knowledge of and Authorization for the Assassination Plot, Phase II (148)
a. Helms’ Testimony Concerning Authority (148)
(1) Helms’ Perception of Authority (148)
(2) Helms’ Testimony Concerning the Absence of a Direct Order and Why He Did Not Inform Administration Officials (150)
(3) Helms’ Perception of Robert Kennedy’s Position on Assassination (150)
(4) Helms’ Testimony as to Why He Did Not Obtain a Direct Order (151)
(5) Helms’ Perception of the Relation of Special Group Controls to Assassination Activity (152)
b. Harvey’s Testimony Concerning Authority (153)
(1) Harvey’s Perception of Authority (153)
(2) Harvey and the Special Group (Augmented) (153)
c. Testimony of Kennedy Administration Officials (154)
(4) The August 10, 1962 Special Group (Augmented) Meeting (161)
a. The Contemporaneous Documents (161)
(1) Lansdale’s August 13, 1962 Memorandum (161)
(2) Harvey’s August 14, 1962 Memorandum (162)
(3) The Minutes of the August l0,1962 Meeting (162)
(4) The August 10 Meeting (163)
b. The Testimony (164)
(1) Testimony About the August 10 Meeting (164)
(a) McCone (164)
(b) Harvey (164)
(c) Goodwin (164)
(d) McNamara (165)
(2) Testimony About Events After the August 10, 1962 Meeting (165)
(a) McCone (165)
(b) Harvey (165)
(c) Elder (165)
(d) Lansdale (165)
(3) Testimony of Reporters About Lansdale’s Comments on the August 10 Meeting (167)
(a) The Martin Report (168)
(b) The O’Leary Report (169)
(iii) The Question of Whether the AM/LASH Plot (1963-1965) Was Known About or Authorized by Administration Officials Outside the CIA (170)
(1) Kennedy Administration’s Policy Toward Cuba in 1963 (170)
a. Organizational Changes (170)
b. Discussion of the Contingency of Castro’s Death (170)
c. The Standing Group’s Discussion of United States Policy Toward Cuba (172)
d. The Special Group’s Authorization of a Sabotage Program Against Cuba (173)
e. The Diplomatic effort to Explore an Accommodation with Castro (173)


III. Assassination Planning and Plots--Continued

B. Cuba--Continued
3. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency--Continued
(b) The Question of Knowledge and Authorization Outside of the Central Intelligence Agency During the Kennedy Administration--Continued
(iii) The Question of Whether the AM/LASH Plot (1963- 1965) Was Known About or Authorized by Administration Officials Outside the CIA--Continued
(2) Testimony on the Question of Authorization for the AM/LASH Poison Pen Device .
a. The October Meeting with AM/LASH and the Use of Robert Kennedy’s Name Without Obtaining His Approval (174)
b. The Delivery of the Poison Pen on November 22, 1963 (175)
(3) The Question of Authorization in the Johnson Administration (176)
a. Summary of the Assassination Activity
b. The Issue of Authorization (176)
c. The Covert Action Program Against Cuba in 1964-1965 (177)
d. The Special Group Investigation of Reported Castro Assassination Plots by Cuban Exiles (177)
e. Helms’ Report to Rusk (178)
f. Helms’ Briefing of President Johnson on the 1967 Inspector General’s Report (179)
(4) Helms’ Testimony on Authorization in the Johnson Administration (179)
C. Institutionalizing Assassination: The “Executive Action” CapaBility (181)
1. Introduction (181)
2. The Question of White House Initiation, Authorization, or Knowledge of the Executive Action Project (182)
3. The Question of Authorization or Knowledge of the Executive Action Project by the DCI (187)
4. The Question of Whether Project ZR/RIFLE Was Connected to Any Actual Assassination Plots (187)
(a) Conversation Between Bissell and Bundy (188)
(b) Bissell’s Instruction to Harvey to Take Over Responsibility for Underworld Contact: November 1961 (188)
(c) Use of QJ/WIN in Africa (189)
D. Trujillo (191)
1. Summary (191)
2. Background (191)
3. Initial Contact With Dissidents and Request for Arms (192)
(a) Dissident Contacts (192)
(b) The Request for Sniper Rifles (193)
4. Summer and Fall of 1960 (194)
(a) Diplomatic Development Withdrawal of United States Personnel (194)
(b) Dearborn Reports Assassination May Be Only Way To Overthrow Trujillo Regime (195)
(c) Efforts to Convince Trujillo to Abdicate (196)
(d) CIA Plans of October 1960 (196)
(e) December 1960 Special Group Plan of Covert Actions (196)
5. January 12, 1961 Special Group Approval of “Limited Supplies of Small Arms and Other Material” (196)
(a) Memorandum Underlying the Special Group Action (197)
6. January 20, 1961April 17, 1961 (the Kennedy Administration through the Bay of Pigs) (197)
(a) Specific Events Indirectly Linking United States to Dissidents’ Assassination Plans (198)
(i) Assassination Discussions and Requests for Explosives (198)


III. Assassination Planning and Plots--Continued

D. Trujillo--Continued
6. January 20, 1961April 17, 1961 (the Kennedy Administration through the Bay of Pigs--Continued
(a) Specific Events Indirectly Linking United States to Dissident’s Assassination Plans--Continued
(ii) The Passage of Pistols (199)
(1) Pouching to the Dominican Republic (199)
(2) Reason for the CIA Instruction Not To Tell Dearborn (199)
(3) Were the Pistols Related to Assassination? (200)
(iii) Passing of the Carbines
(1) Request by the Station and by Dearborn and Approval by CIA (200)
(2) Were the Carbines Related to Assassination? (200)
(3) Failure to Disclose to State Department Officials in Washington (201)
(iv) Requests for and Pouching of the Machine Guns (201)
(1) Requests for Machine Guns (202)
(2) Pouching of Machine Guns Approved by Bissell (202)
(b) Knowledge of Senior American Officials (Pre-Bay of Pigs) (202)
7. April 17, 1961-May 31, 1961 (Bay of Pigs Through Trujillo Assassination) (205)
(a) Decision Not to Pass the Machine Guns and Unsuccessful United States Attempt to Stop Assassination Effort (205)
(b) Further Consideration of Passing, Machine Guns (207)
(c) Special Group Meetings of May 4 and May 18, 1961 (208)
(d) Final Requests by Dissidents for Machine Guns (208)
(e) Dearborn in Washington for Consultation Drafting of Contingency Plans (209)
(f) Cable of May 29, 1961 (212)
8. May 30, 1961 and Immediately Thereafter (213)
(a) Trujillo Assassinated (213)
(b) Cables to Washington (213)
(c) Immediate PostAssassination Period (214)
E. Diem (217)
1. Summary (217)
2. The Abortive Coup of August 1963 (217)
3. The November 1963 Coup (220)
F. Schneider (225)
1. Summary (225)
2. The President’s Initial Instruction and Background (227)
(a) September 15 White House Meeting (227)
(b) Background: Tracks I and II (229)
(c) CIA Views of Difficulty of Project (232)
3. CIA’s Implementation of Track II (233)
(a) Evolution of CIA Strategy (233)
(i) The “Constitutional Coup” Approach (233)
(ii) Military Solution (234)
(b) The Chile Task Force (235)
(c) Use of the U.S. Military Attaché and Interagency Relations (235)
(d) Agents Who Posed as Third Country Nationals (238)
(e) Chief of Station (239)
4. CIA Efforts to Promote a Coup (239)
(a) The Chilean Conspirators (239)
(b) Contacts Prior to October 15 (240)
(c) October 15 Decision (242)
(d) Coup Planning and Attempts After October15 (243)
(e) The Shooting of General Schneider (245)
(f) Post October 22 Events (246)
5. CIA/White House Communication During Track II (245)
(a) September (247)
(b) October (248)
(c) December (253)
(d) Did Track II End? (253)


IV. Findings and Conclusions (255)

A. Findings Concerning the Plots Themselves (255)
1. Officials of the United States Government Initiated Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba (255)
2. No Foreign Leaders Were Killed as a Result of Assassination Plots Initiated by Officials of the United States (256)
3. American Officials Encouraged or Were Privy to Coup Plots Which Resulted in the Deaths of Trujillo, Diem, and Schneider (256)
4. The Plots Occurred in a Cold War Atmosphere Perceived to be of Crisis Proportions (256)
5. American Officials Had Exaggerated Notions About Their Ability to Control the Actions of Coup Leaders (256)
6. CIA Officials Made Use of Known Underworld Figures in Assassination Efforts (256)
B. Conclusions Concerning the Plots Themselves (257)
1. The United States Should Not Engage in Assassination (257)
(a) Distinction Between Targeted Assassinations Instigated by the United States and Support for Dissidents Seeking to Overthrow Local Governments (257)
(b) The Setting In Which the Assassination Plots Occurred Explains, But Does Not Justify Them (258)
2. The United States Should Not Make Use of Underworld Figures for Their Criminal Talents (259)
C. Findings and Conclusions Relating to Authorization and Control (260)
1. The Apparent Lack of Accountability in the Command and Control System Was Such That the Assassination Plots Could Have Been Undertaken Without Express Authorization (261)
2. Findings Relating to the Level at Which the Plots Were Authorized (261)
(a) Diern (261)
(b) Schneider (262)
(c) Trujillo (262)
(d) Lumumba (263)
(e) Castro (263)
3. CIA Officials Involved in the Assassination Operations Perceived Assassination to Have Been a Permissible Course of Action (264)
4. The Failure in Communication Between Agency Officials in Charge of the Assassination Operations and their Superiors in the Agency and in the Administration was Due to: (a) The Failure of Subordinates to Disclose Their Plans and Operations to Their Superiors; and (b) The Failure of Superiors in the Climate of Violence and Aggressive Covert Actions Sanctioned by the Administrations to Rule Out Assassination as a Tool of Foreign Policy; To Make Clear to Their Subordinates That Assassination Was Impermissible; Or To Inquire Further After Receiving Indications That It Was Being Considered (267)
(a) Agency Officials Failed on Several Occasions to Reveal the Plots to Their Superiors, Or To Do So With Sufficient Detail and Clarity (267)
(i) Castro (267)
(ii) Trujillo (270)
(iii) Schneider (272)
(b) Administration Officials Failed to Rule Out Assassinatron As a Tool of Foreign Policy, To Make Clear to Then Subordinates That Assassination Was Impermissible or To Inquire Further After Receiving Indications That Assassination Was Being Considered (273)
(i) Trujillo (273)
(ii) Schneider (273)
(iii) Lumumba (273)
(iv) Castro (274)


IV. Findings and Conclusions--Continued

C. Findings and Conclusions Relating to Authorization and Control--Continued
5. Practices Current at the Time in Which the Assassination Plots Occurred Were Revealed by the Record To Create the Risk of Confusion, Rashness and Irresponsibility in the Very Areas Where Clarity and Sober Judgment Were Most Necessary (277)
(a) The Danger Inherent in Overextending the Doctrine of Plausible Denial (277)
(b) The Danger of Using “Circumlocution” and “Euphemism” (278)
(c) The Danger of Generalized Instructions. (278)
(d) The Danger of “Floating Authorization” (278)
(e) The Problems Connected With Creating New Covert Capabilities (279)

V. Recommendations (281)

A. General Agreement That the United States Must Not Engage in Assassination (281)
B. CIA Directives Banning Assassination (282)
C. The Need for a Statute (282)

Epilogue (285)
Statement of Joinder (285)
Appendix A (289)
Appendix B (291)
Separate Views of Senator Philip A. Hart (297)
Additional Views of Senate or Robert Morgan (299)
Additional Views of Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr. (303)
Additional Views of Senator Barry Goldwater (341)
Supplemental Views of Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr (345)
Abbreviations of Citations (347)


The events discussed in this Interim Report must be viewed in the context of United States policy and nation actions designed to counter the threat of spreading Communism. Following the end of World War II, many nations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere fell under Communist influence or control. The defeat of the Axis powers was accompanied by rapid disintegration of the Western colonial empires. The Second World War had no sooner ended than a new struggle began. The Communist threat, emanating from what came to be called the "Sino-Soviet bloc," led to a policy of containment intended to prevent further encroachment into the "Free World."

This report raises important questions of national policy. We believe that the public is entitled to know what instrumentalities of their Government have done. Further, these recommendations can only be judged in light of the factual record. Therefore, this interim report should be made public.

United States strategy for conducting the Cold War called for the establishment of interlocking treaty arrangements and military bases throughout the world. Concern over the expansion of an aggressive Communist monolith led the United States to fight two major wars in Asia. In addition, it was considered necessary to wage a relentless cold war against Communist expansion wherever it appeared in the “back alleys of the world.” This called for a full range of covert activities in response to the operations of Communist clandestine services.

The fear of Communist expansion was particularly acute in the United States when Fidel Castro emerged as Cuba’s leader in the late 1950’s. His takeover was seen as the first significant. penetration by the Communists into the Western Hemisphere. United States leaders, including most Members of Congress, called for vigorous action to stem the Communist infection in this hemisphere. These policies rested on widespread popular support and encouragement. Throughout this period, the United States felt impelled to respond to threats which were, or seemed to be, skirmishes in a global Cold War against Communism. Castro’s Cuba raised the specter of a Soviet outpost at America’s doorstep. Events in the Dominican Republic appeared to offer an additional opportunity for the Russians and their allies. The Congo, freed from Belgian rule, occupied the strategic center of the African continent, and the prospect of Communist penetration there was viewed as a threat to American interests in emerging African nations. There was great concern that a Communist takeover in Indochina would have a “domino effect” throughout Asia. Even the election in 1970 of a Marxist president in Chile was seen by some as a threat similar to that of Castro’s takeover in Cuba.

The Committee regards the unfortunate events dealt with in this Interim Report as an aberration, explainable at least in part, but not justified, by the pressures of the time. The Committee believes that it is still in the national interest of the United States to help nations achieve self-determination and resist Communist domination. However, it is clear that this interest cannot justify resorting to the kind of abuses covered in this report. Indeed, the Committee has resolved that steps must be taken to prevent those abuses from happening again.


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