Thursday, December 18, 2014

Where do Indian Muslims come from: RSS' Ghar Wapsi rests on colonial history of conversion - by Ajaz Ashraf

Where do Indian Muslims come from: RSS' Ghar Wapsi rests on colonial history of conversion

by Ajaz Ashraf  Dec 16, 2014 15:56 IST

The Sangh Parivar’s fervour for reconverting Muslims and Christians to Hinduism, euphemistically described as Ghar Wapsi programme, is linked to its narrow, even flawed, reading of history.

It is ironical that the Sangh should be closer to colonial interpretation of India’s past than even the ‘sicularists’ whom they love to deride.

In embracing this colonial interpretation, the Sangh has been inspired to attempt the impossible – convince or compel people to accept the myth that the past of Hinduism was not only glorious but also perfect and incomparable.

Critics of the Sangh’s imagining of the idyllic past point to the presence of Muslims and Christians in large numbers to ask: If the past was perfect, then why did a large segment of India’s population leave Hinduism to embrace Islam or Christianity?

The Sangh theory of conversion

It’s a question that irritates the Sangh no end. In its imagining, a people bestowed with such knowledge as to write the Vedas and the Upanishads, and also master the science of plastic surgery and nuclear tests, could not but have organised their society harmoniously. For it, therefore, the four-fold varna system was merely a division of labour to maximize the efficiency of the social system. It did not segregate people, nor was it discriminatory and exploitative.

But to impart credibility to this narrative the Sangh has to explain the conversion of Muslims and Christians as their presence in today’s India is an indelible blot on the picture of it having a perfect past. Thus they cite two reasons for their proselytization, reasons which do not indict Hindu society for evolving the exploitative caste system.


One, the Muslim rulers of India, zealots all but for a few exceptions, offered the Hindu subjects the stark choice between being slaughtered and converting to Islam. In such circumstances, who wouldn’t opt for conversion? Two, the Hindu were lured into converting to Islam, and later to Christianity, through the offer of state patronage – such as land grants or jobs or measures which could facilitate trade or craft they were engaged in. In other words, both fear and allurement were deployed as state policies to wean away the Hindus from their religion.

Both these theories suffer from palpable weaknesses. If Muslim rulers were converting people ‘by the sword’, and had no qualms about shedding blood to fulfil their religious duties, why did they not covert all, particularly in those areas over which they enjoyed complete supremacy for centuries? Why did they not root out Hinduism altogether or substantially? Again, the theory of patronage may explain the conversion of some notable Hindu rajas and their followers, but can’t account for mass conversion.

The colonial view of conversion

These two theories – proselytizing by force and allurement – as well as the one which claims conversion was a consequence of certain social groups seeking liberation from the caste system were propounded during British rule. Colonial historians were then analysing the past to explain, as also justify, the advent of the British in India, besides harping on the inevitability of animosities between two religious communities – Hindus and Muslims.
Thus, from the perspective of these writers, Hindu society was weak – and therefore susceptible to conquest – because it had been organised to suit the interests of Brahmins and other upper castes. Such a social system created an oppressive social context from which lower castes sought to escape as soon as Muslims became India’s paramount power. This was because, it was argued, Islam emphasised on the equality of all.

Then again, since Muslims enjoyed power and unlike the new foreign rulers, the British, were barbaric, they used the sword to win new converts to their faith, believing proselytization was a noble act which endeared them to Allah. This theory had the inherent advantages of portraying British rule as benevolent as well as enabling it to harvest the past for the seeds of discord that could be sowed between Hindus and Muslims.

As Indians began to transform themselves into a nation and, as elsewhere, sought to tailor the past for this project, the theories about conversion had their distinct appeal for different sections. For the Hindu Right, or the Sangh, conversion by force and allurement skirted around the problems of the caste system and didn’t challenge its imagining of the idyllic past. It also neatly dovetailed with the Sangh’s idea, articulated so often in the last few months, that every Muslim or Christian was in the past a Hindu and should therefore call himself or herself as one.

So who became a Muslim?

The tenability of any theory about the past is always difficult to prove. This is also true of the three theories of conversion, which Richard M Eaton, professor at the University of Arizona, tears apart. In his essay, Approaches to the Study of Conversion to Islam in India, he raises a seminal question: Why is it that there is an “inverse relationship between the degree of Muslim political penetration and the degree of conversion to Islam?”

This question Eaton answers thus: “If conversion to Islam had ever been a function of military or political force (however these might have been expressed) one would expect that those areas of heaviest conversion would correspond to those areas of South Asia exposed most intensely and over the longest period to rule by Muslim dynasties.”

Citing data, he says the opposite seems to have been the case: “Those regions of the most dramatic conversion of the population, such as Eastern Bengal or Western Punjab, lay on the fringes of Indo-Muslim rule, whereas the heartland of that rule, the upper Gangetic Plain, saw a much lower incidence of conversion.”

Obviously, Eaton is talking of undivided, or pre-1947, India. Then the most densely populated Muslim areas were Eastern Bengal, Western Punjab, the Northwest Frontier, and Baluchistan. The bulk of the Muslim population in the Northwest Frontier and Baluchistan was not converted communities, but descendants of the immigrants from Iran. This means East Bengal and West Punjab witnessed the highest incidence of conversion, quite surprising as these two were the farthest from the epicenter of Muslim rule – the Agra-Delhi belt.

The other interesting aspect of this phenomenon, according to Eaton, is that the communities which converted to Islam in these two regions were not fully integrated into the Hindu social system at the time of their contact with Islam. In East Bengal, such social groups he identified were Rajbansi, Pod, Chandal, Koch, etc. In Punjab, innumerable Jat clans converted.

The Sangh should note what Eaton says, “Since the greatest incidence of Muslim conversions occurred among groups that were not fully Hindu in the first place, for the vast majority of South Asian Muslims the question of ‘liberation’ from the ‘oppressive’ Hindu social order was simply not an issue.” It may just be that the Sangh’s imagining of the past has been motivated by a fact it thinks is embarrassing and which it wants to camouflage, but which most likely wasn’t a significant factor in conversion.

So why did these communities in East Bengal and West Punjab convert? As Muslim rule pushed from the Centre, or the Delhi-Agra belt, to the periphery, it sought to settle its frontiers, claim arable land and establish an agriculture infrastructure to extract surplus revenue from the land. These communities were largely pastrol or forest-dwellers and their integration into the Hindu social system was nominal. They were not converted to Islam in the sense we understand today.

Moreover, their conversion was over centuries of socialization, brought about through Sufi saints, who were their immediate figures of veneration. For many of them, for centuries, Allah may have just an addition to the pantheon of deities endowed with supernatural powers.

Thus, for instance, in Bengal, the Ganges silted and shifted course in the 16th century, making huge tracts of land available for cultivation. This was also the period in which the Mughals had established their rule over Bengal. With the colonizing power moved Muslims and Sufis from North India. Those who were pastoral became peasants and were subsequently incorporated into the socio-economic structure. Since they weren’t integrated into Hinduism, as peasants in Uttar Pradesh were, and as Islam was the ideology of the state, their conversion to the new faith, from which they stood to gain, gradually happened, spread over centuries.

Much the same happened in west Punjab, where Jats migrated from Sindh. It appears they may have become agriculturists relatively quicker than their self-identity of being Muslim was formed and institutionalized. As Eaton notes, “In the early fifteenth century, 10 percent of recorded Sial (a Jat clan) males had Muslim names; for the mid-seventeenth century, 56 percent; for the mid-eighteenth century, 75 percent, and for the early nineteenth century, 100 percent. This is, I think, a most revealing index of the gradual process of group identity formation.”

After laying out the broad patterns of conversion centuries ago, and pointing to the ecological, political, and cultural-religious dimensions of the phenomenon, Eaton declares, “To the extent that this was the case, Islam, in India at least, may properly be termed more a religion of the plough than a religion of the sword, as formerly conceived. (Italics mine)”

But tell this to the Sangh activist and all that you will harvest are abuses. Indeed, there is no one history, but multiple histories; no one imagining of the past, but a bewildering multiplicity. The Sangh’s choice of a vision of the past is as self-serving, blinkered and unidimensional as that of the British.


Politics of conversion - By Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr - DNA

The RSS, with its me-too Christian evangelical spirit, has no understanding of the Hindus. The Hindus are easygoing, modern, hedonistic, with an indolent sense of sensuous spirituality. They take pride in liberal Indian, but not Hindu, nationalism. The RSS’s antagonistic acts of conversion will cause revulsion among a majority of Hindus and the BJP will lose its Hindu constituency.

DNA logo

Politics of conversion
Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 5:00am IST Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014 - 8:25pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Right-wing Hindu organisations unsuccessfully imitate Christian missionaries

One of the curious things about the debate on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliates going aggressive on converting Muslims and Christians to Hinduism is the outrage of the liberals. “How can (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi remain silent when the RSS is going on the rampage on conversions?” is their pointed question. They say that Modi did not utter a word of Hindutva during the election campaign and, therefore, neither he nor the RSS can consider the electoral victory as an endorsement of Hindutva. Therefore, the RSS’ predatory acts of conversion are untenable. They feel that Modi should control the RSS-wallahs.

There are loopholes in the argument of the liberals, though their rage has a charmingly righteous ring to it. The first loophole: The RSS and the BJP cannot be expected to play by liberal rules. The RSS’ hostility towards the religious minorities is barely concealed. The BJP maintains an ambivalent attitude towards them. They are right-wing and they will do right-wing politics — that is majoritarian politics. The second loophole: the liberals rationalise conversions of the Hindu lower castes to either Christianity or Islam saying that the Hindu caste order is unjust, and the Hindu lower castes and classes have every right to throw off the yoke of caste and escape into other religions. Despite the good intent, the argument turns out to be inconsistent because if choosing a faith is an individual decision, then the individual can turn to any religion. For example, if a Hindu can convert to Christianity or Islam, so can a Muslim or a Christian to Hinduism. The liberals are wary on this point.

The problem is that conversion is never an individual choice in India as it is in contemporary Europe and America, where individuals freely convert to other religions, especially to Islam and sometimes to Buddhism. In India, conversion is a political act. Ambedkar and his Mahars converting to Buddhism was a political gesture. But there is a bit of complicated history to conversion in modern India, especially from 19th century on. The Christian missionary activity in north India, in contrast to what had happened in Kerala in the first century of the Common Era (CE), had intensified during the British rule though the government of the day kept a meticulous distance from the evangelical activities of the various churches.

The Hindu response to Christian missionary activity was curious. Sections of the modern Hindu middle classes saw Christianity as part of modern Western civilisation which was a misperception. Modern West had gone through various revolts, the Protestant revolt against the Roman Catholic Church, and the revolt of Age of Reason against both. They did not notice this. Many of the modern Hindus wanted to reform the superstitious Hinduism of their day on Protestant Christian lines. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Dayananda Saraswati followed the Christian model in different ways. Roy’s Brahmo Samaj was a Protestant congregation without idols. Saraswati too rejected idol worship and he wanted to go back to the Vedas, cleansed of their unscientific liturgical portions. He had also introduced what he called the Shuddhi Movement, which is conversion of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians to Hinduism.

Brahmo Samaj turned out to be tepidly rationalist and withered away in due course. Arya Samaj was dismissed by the orthodox Hindu establishment of the day, and it remains on the fringes of Hindu society till this day. Saraswati had better success in Punjab, where he antagonised the Sikhs. Khushwant Singh in the second volume of his A History of the Sikhs argued that the Singh Sabhas were a response to the Arya Samaj. The RSS has inherited the Arya Samaj legacy in Punjab and the friction with the Sikhs, especially the Akali elements of the community, persists. 

Swami Vivekananda’s Ramakrishna Mission is again an imitation of the Christian missionary model. Vivekananda realised that what made the Christian missionaries acceptable was their social work, setting up of hospitals and schools and their solicitude towards the poor and the marginalised. Vivekananda’s ‘Christian socialist’ vision never took root in the work of the Ramakrishna Mission.
The RSS has taken to the Christian missionary mode in the 1970s and 1980s. The evangelical activity that the RSS had undertaken in scheduled tribes areas of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Gujarat is again an attempt to follow in the footsteps of the missionaries. But it does not seem to have succeeded in its act of imitation because it lacks the Christians' religiosity and compassion. The Christian missionaries were once part of the Western colonial and imperialist quest, but now only the religious quest — of spreading the message and converting people — remains. The global Christian missionaries are seasoned evangelists and the RSS cannot counter their sophisticated approach. The RSS cannot hope to go out of India and convert people of other countries and faiths to Hinduism the way the Christian evangelists did.

The RSS, therefore, turns conversions into a political act, having failed to inspire on the social and religious fronts. The RSS through the conversion campaign wants to ensure national unity through Hinduism. It follows the old Protestant assumption, especially in England of the 17th century, where Roman Catholics were suspected to have extra-territorial allegiance. Religion as a means of national unity is the credo of right-wing political parties in Europe, and the RSS believes in it as well.

Meanwhile, Muslims in India after the First World War falsely believed that the Ottoman Empire was a symbol of global Muslim unity. They had failed to contend with the nationalist aspirations of the various Arab countries. Modern Muslims entertained the romantic notion of pan-Islam, which remained a figment of the imagination of poets like Iqbal. Modern Arabs too dreamed of pan-Arabism and they found out the hard way that it was unrealistic.

The RSS’s dreams of national unity based on Hinduism will meet the same fate as that of the pan-Islamists and the pan-Arabists. The RSS believes, and the BJP subscribes to the illusion, that the Turkish invasions of 11th and 12th centuries were due to disunity among the Hindus, and they want to unite Hindus now to preserve India. The RSS, with its me-too Christian evangelical spirit, has no understanding of the Hindus. The Hindus are easygoing, modern, hedonistic, with an indolent sense of sensuous spirituality. They take pride in liberal Indian, but not Hindu, nationalism. The RSS’s antagonistic acts of conversion will cause revulsion among a majority of Hindus and the BJP will lose its Hindu constituency. 

The author is editorial consultant with dna

----- ----- -----


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Generation of ‘avengers’ with Babri ’92 as motif - By Praveen Swamy - The Indian Express, Mumbai, INDIA

My comments posted on Indian Express webpage over Praveen Swamy's article: Generations of avengers ....

Praveen Swamy is a senior Journalist with a one-track mind. Unlike an ideal journalist, who should be objective in his/her reporting or analysis, Swamy deals with so-called Jihadi terrorism. He has never bothered to go deeper into the psyche that drives people towards 'terrorism' or if this terrorism could be state policy to keep Muslims subdued. In following article of 1231 words, tracing Tunda's career, he mentions about 1985 communal riot of Gujarat, in barely few words. A level headed writer, with peace of his country in mind, would have gone into both sides of the crime and come out with some peace-making, pacifying advice. On the contrary, he appears to incite and provoke one side, by exposing the other side in lurid details. Such people are guilty of sowing seeds of division among communities and are on the verge of inviting legal action for their paranoia poisoning the polity.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

----- ----- -----
The Indian Express

Generation of ‘avengers’ with Babri ’92 as motif

Abdul Karim Tunda after his arrest by Delhi police in 2013. (Source: File photo) Abdul Karim Tunda after his arrest by Delhi police in 2013. (Source: File photo)

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Posted: December 16, 2014 12:23 am

They buried Abdul Karim’s left hand under an acacia tree in the scraggly forest just outside Tonk, wrapped in a plastic bag along with the remains of the metal tube he’d been trying to turn into a bomb. It was 1986, and just a few months earlier a district judge had ordered the gates of the Babri Masjid opened to Hindu worshippers. In the years to follow, much bloodshed would spread across India, with the Ram Janambhoomi movement exploding every few months into communal killings.

From that day in Tonk on, Abdul Karim came to be known as “Tunda”, the cripple. He would lead his own war through, as a counterforce to the one unleashed by Hindutva groups.


In the weeks before December 6 this year, the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, jihadist websites and Twitter accounts linked to a new generation of Indian radicals — of the Indian Mujahideen, now merged into al-Qaeda, of the Islamic State-linked Ansar al-Tauhid — invoked the memory of that event, and vowed vengeance.

The Babri Masjid remains the central motif for this generation of jihadists, just as it was for “Tunda”. His is a story that’s just starting to emerge from interrogation records and court documents as he awaits trial.

‘Defender’ of his faith

Born in 1941, on the eve of Independence, the son of a metal casting artisan who grew up in Gali Chhata Lal Mian in Delhi’s Daryaganj neighbourhood, Abdul Karim grew up in Pilkhuwa, Ghaziabad. Life was hard for the young Karim: forced to drop out of a missionary-run school at the age of 11, when his father died, he was put to work making cartwheels for his uncle. He began travelling across northern India, working as a metalworker, a cobbler, a carpenter, barber and bangle-maker.

In 1964, Karim married Zarina Yusuf, the daughter of his uncle’s brother. For the next two decades, he had a conventional lower-middle class life, working as a trader in dyed cloth, and bringing up three children, Imran, Rasheeda and Irfan.

The birth of the Ram Janambhoomi movement in 1984, though, generated intense communal strife. Karim responded by discovering religion: he turned to the neo-fundamentalist Ahl-e-Hadis sect for answers to the question why Muslims in India seemed to be passive victims in the face of oppression.

The search led him, in 1984, to Ahmedabad, where he began preaching Islam at a small seminary. He got married again, to Mumtaz Rahman, after his first wife refused to accompany him, and fathered a fourth child, Shahid.

He also lived an experience that would transform his worldview: witnessing the 1985 communal riots first hand. In his testimony to police, Karim described how Zafar Rahman, one of his in-laws, and seven other relatives had been burned alive. He talked of shops burned down, a mosque destroyed, and a police force that had joined mobs in attacking Muslims.

For weeks after the riots, Karim discussed the issue with an elderly local cleric, Maulvi Wali Muhammad. He segregated himself to study verses of the Qur’an on jihad. Karim emerged determined to defend his faith. He worked with a local vendor of fireworks to produce low-grade explosives using potash, sugar and sulphuric acid, packed into steel pipes.

His comrades

Karim wasn’t the only one with the same idea. Ever since he’d been a medical student, Jalees Ansari was later to tell police, he’d heard Hindus “branded us traitors and Pakistani agents”. From his clinic in a municipal hospital in Mumbai, Ansari read of riot after riot break out — in Moradabad, Meerut, Bhagalpur, and Bhiwandi. He saw what had happened in Bhiwandi first hand, as a volunteer distributing medical supplies.

In 1985, Ansari met the man who would give shape to his ideas — a former Maoist from Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh, called Azam Ghauri, the fifth of 11 children from an impoverished family, and who too had discovered religion in the Ahl-e-Hadis. The men, along with Ansari, set up an anti-riot vigilante group, the Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen, or Organisation for the Correction of Muslims.
From 1989, prosecutors told Mumbai courts during Ansari’s eventual prosecution, the men began to put to use the bomb-making skills they learnt from Abdul Karim. Between September and October 1989, they planted low-grade explosives across Mumbai, following that up in 1990 with strikes at the Magh Mela in Allahabad, a bus stand in Pune, police premises in Bhiwandi and Mumbai — 11 in all.

In February 1992, months ahead of the Babri Masjid’s demolition, the group carried out strikes on the Shiv Sena’s premises in Mulund and Dadar. Then, after the demolition, they set off bombs at Kandivali railway station, on two commuter trains, and an express bound for Faizabad. In 1993, in the build-up to the first anniversary of the demolition, they bombed public spaces in Mumbai, and inter-city express trains.

The riots that followed the demolition, Ansari told police, convinced him they had no choice but to persist with violence.

“The Bombay police remained silent spectators when Muslims were being butchered by Shiv Sena activists,” he said. Justice B N Srikrishna’s judicial investigation of the 1992-93 violence in Mumbai came to the same conclusion.

Ansari was arrested; he completed a life sentence for the Mumbai bombings three years ago, but remains in jail as he is being tried for earlier attacks in Uttar Pradesh. He was born in 1952; his life could well end in prison.

Road to Pakistan

The Lashkar-e-Toiba first made contact with the Mumbai cell in December 1991, according to Ansari’s testimony to police, through Abdullah Shirazi, a Pakistan-origin jihadi who was being treated in Mumbai for bullet injuries sustained in Kashmir. Shirazi invited them to send recruits for training, but the plan went nowhere. In 1993, though, Ghauri and Karim separately made their way to Pakistan to obtain training and resources.

Later that year, Karim held the first of a series of meetings with Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed, seeking help, as he put it in one interview with police, for suffering Muslims in India. Saeed offered him an opportunity to train at a Lashkar-run camp in Afghanistan’s Kunar. The by-now-portly Karim, though, returned halfway.
In August 1994, Karim moved to Pakistan — now an honoured guest of the Lashkar. The Lashkar set up a full India wing, commanded by Azam Cheema, which dispatched Salim Junaid, a Lashkar veteran, to set up an undercover cell in Hyderabad. He would die in an encounter with police — as would Ghauri, who came back to found his own group, the Indian Muslim Muhammadi Mujahideen.

Karim’s relationship with Saeed eventually deteriorated over battles for control of the Indian jihad. He publicly complained that the Lashkar leader had embezzled Rs 5 crore raised for jihad. The spat led to a run-in with the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, who investigated Karim on suspicion of being an Indian agent. Karim retired, and set up property and perfume businesses. Arrested last year, now 73 and ailing, he could be heading for the second burial of his life in Tihar.

His ideas, though, fuel a new generation, forged in the crucible of the 2002 violence in Gujarat. This new generation includes men such as Feroze Abdul Latif Ghaswala, who, like Abdul Karim, had relatives slaughtered during the violence.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Words that sparked the ideas

Words that sparked the ideas

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Posted: December 16, 2014 12:40 am

He’s almost unknown outside the sprawl of closed-in lanes that run through Saidabad —once home to Hyderabad’s elite, now a run-down lower-middle-class ghetto. From his spartan room in the seminary he runs, Abdul Aleem Islahi’s words, however, have fired the imagination of many young Indian radicals. Breaking with the Jamaat-e-Islami for what he saw as its accomodationist posture during the Ram Janambhoomi movement, he inspired many of the young radicals who set up the Indian Mujahideen. He has never advocated violence — but his books are a map to their minds.

In Taqat ka istemal Quran ki Raoshni Main [‘The use of violence, in the light of the Qur’an’], an angry polemic, Islahi asserts that “war has been ordained against those who meet three conditions until they pay jizyah [a tax on religious minorities]: do not profess faith in God and Day of Judgment; do not accept as haram [forbidden] what God and his Prophet have declared haram; do not accept Islam as their religion”. It is, Islahi argues, “the duty of Muslims to struggle for the domination of Islam over false religions, and to subdue and subjugate infidels and polytheists”.

He concludes: “If the British nation can give in to the freedom fighters and a super power like Russia can surrender before the Afghans, why should we believe that Indian Muslims cannot succeed?”

In Nizam Khilafat-wa-Emirat, a disquisition on Islamic law on political power, Islahi argues that the practice of Islam cannot but be incomplete in a secular political order. Living under Muslim personal law “may be acceptable to God for the moment in view of our compulsion to live under a system of unbelief. However, we should not forget for a moment our goal of establishing an Islamic system of Khilafat and Emirate”.

He recruits the authority of the 13th-century theologian Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah — pulled to centre stage by salafi-jihadist ideologues in the last century. Taymiyyah, he notes, “had issued the fatwa for those lands under the rule of infidel Tartars that the Muslims there should not remain contented eternally with this change”.

Thus, he goes on, “Indian Muslims had, and even today have, only two options. They should either form a Jamaat [a collective decision-making body for their affairs] or Emirate and fulfil their communal duties — or migrate. The third way of living permanently and happily under a rule by infidels and polytheists is not at all acceptable”.

The arguments Islahi made have acquired new resonance in recent months, as Islamic State’s forces have occupied growing swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. In its August 25 issue, the Jamaat-e-Islami bi-weekly newspaper Dawat called on Indian Muslims to support Islamic State, arguing that this was a religious obligation.

----- ----- -----

Why you shouldn’t fret over Islamic Banking By H Jayesh - The Economics Times

The Economic Times

Why you shouldn’t fret over Islamic Banking

December 16, 2014, 4:48 am IST in ET Commentary | World | ET

By H Jayesh

Last week, SBI Mutual Fund deferred its plan to introduce a Shariah-compliant equity fund, which was scheduled to be launched on December 1, as it faced opposition to the proposed structure of the scheme. In an article in ET (‘SBI’s Islamist Blunder’), Sadanand Dhume described SBI’s move and Islamic banking in general as a medium only to advance a “retrograde political agenda”.

This view needs an informed response. The goal of trade and enterprise in Islamic finance is equitable generation of wealth and prosperity through acceptable business activities. Likewise, risk in trade and business is sought to be shared. This means that the accumulation of wealth merely through the receipt of interest is prohibited, as it is deemed as ‘effortless profit’.

Islamic banking encourages and facilitates investment in real economic activity and societal welfare while prohibiting investment in speculative businesses. It has its roots in religious principles. So does the concept of the Hindu Undivided Family, which is treated as a distinct class of taxpayer and not taxed as an Association of Persons (AoP). The tax laws have been specially modified to harmonise the legislation with Hindu customs and social practices.

The provision blatantly favours only a section of society. This is not seen as preferential treatment or ‘antisecular’ even though it is available only to Hindus.

Islamic banking has the same purpose as conventional banking: to make money for the banking institute by lending out capital. At the same time, it recognises the sensitivities of a section of society.

The widespread censure of the Islamic banking system is ill-advised when one considers that such a system neither casts a financial burden on the participant nor requires such person to be a follower of Islamic principles.

Abolishment of sati and enactment of the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856 paved the way for empowerment of women and attempted to bring them on the same level with men. Even the enactment of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 were enacted with a view to establish a bias-free society.

The Maharashtra government even amended the stamp duty regime by cutting the rates of stamp duty to 0.1% on the value of the securitised instruments. This could be seen by many as a discriminatory move towards housing loans, credit card loans, car loans and even to industrial borrowers. However, it was seen to be an industry requirement and beneficial to all and so was effected. A similar approach towards Islamic banking and finance in India only seems fair.

As far as the argument that Islamic banking is merely a means to fulfill a political agenda is concerned, it is notable that several countries with relatively insignificant Muslim populations have amended their laws to include Islamic banking and finance in their banking framework. These countries include Germany, the US, France, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The search for alternatives to conventional banking in the aftermath of the global financial crisis put the spotlight on Islamic banking. Even major multinational banks such as HSBC Amanah, Standard Chartered Saadiq and Citigroup offer products in accordance with Islamic finance principles.

Earlier this year, Britain raised $339 million from the issuance of sukuks, becoming the first non-Muslim sovereign issuer of Islamic bonds. This is not political pandering but sound financial sense.

To make financial inclusion a reality, Islamic banking and finance have to flourish. A large section of the population is refusing to engage in the current banking framework as it is violative of their religious beliefs. An alternate model coherent with religious beliefs and at the same time which does not impose any religious or financial burden would be ideal and beneficial to all.

Currently, there is no demand for a special legislation for Islamic banking in India. Banks and nonbanking financial companies (NBFCs) can very well carry out Islamic financing activities and introduce products and services that are in compliance with the extant laws. In fact, in 2008, present RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had recommended the introduction of interest-free finance and banking as part of mainstream banking in the interest of inclusive, innovative growth. This was seen by the market as a reference to Islamic banking. After all, Rajan could not have intended to espouse that monies should be advanced for free!

H Jayesh is founder partner at JurisCorp

ET DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History By Victor Marchetti

Propaganda and Disinformation:
How the CIA Manufactures History

By Victor Marchetti

In the eyes of posterity it will inevitably seem that, in safeguarding our freedom, we destroyed it. The vast clandestine apparatus we built up to prove our enemies' resources and intentions only served in the end to confuse our own purposes; that practice of deceiving others for the good of the state led infallibly to our deceiving ourselves; and that vast army of clandestine personnel built up to execute these purposes were soon caught up in the web of their own sick fantasies, with disastrous consequences for them and us.
-- Malcom Muggeridge, May 1966                    
That, in a nutshell, sums up what the CIA has accomplished over the years through its various clandestine propaganda and disinformation programs. It has unwittingly and, often, deliberately decieved itself -- and the American taxpayer. The CIA is a master at distorting history -- even creating its own version of history to suit its institutional and operational purposes. It can do this largely because of two great advantages it possesses. One is the excessively secret environment in which it operates, and the other is that it is essentially a private instrument of the presidency.
The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you, the American public, from knowing -- for you, too, are considered the opposition, or enemy -- so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not know what the government or the CIA is doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact, they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will not know it.
As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA is a secret tool of the president -- every president. And every president since Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the business as "plausible denial."
The CIA, functioning as a secret instrument of the U.S. government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and continues to do so. I first became concerned about this historical distortion in 1957, when I was a young officer in the Clandestine Services of the CIA.
One night, after work, I was walking down Constitution Avenue with a fellow officer, who previously had been a reporter for United Press.
"How are they ever going to know," he asked.
"Who? How is 'who' ever going to know what?" I asked.
"How are the American people ever going to know what the truth is? How are they going to know what the truth is about what we are doing and have done over the years?" he said. "We operate in secrecy, we deal in deception and disinformation, and then we burn our files. How will the historians ever be able to learn the complete truth about what we've done in these various operations, these operations that have had such a major impact on so many important events in history?"
I couldn't answer him, then. And I can't answer him now. I don't know how the American people will ever really know the truth about the many things that the CIA has been involved in. Or how they will ever know the truth about the great historical events of our times. The government is continually writing and rewriting history -- often with the CIA's help -- to suit its own purposes. Here is a current example.
Just last month in Moscow, there was a meeting, a very strange meeting. Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with former Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko and a member of the Cuban Politburo. These three men, along with lesser former officials of their governments, has all been involved in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, and they had gathered intheSoviet capital to discuss what has really occurred in that monumental crisis, which almost led to World War III.
Since I, too, had been personally involved in that crisis, I took some interest in the news reports coming out of Moscow concerning the doings of this rather odd gathering of former officials. Much to my surprise, I learned that Robert McNamara was saying that neither he nor the U.S. intelligence community realized there actually had been some 40,000 Soviet troops in Cuba in the autumn of 1962. The former defense chief of the Kennedy administration was also saying that he and the U.S. government did not realize that the few dozen medium and intermediate range missiles the Soviets had tried to sneak into Cuba were actually armed with nuclear warheads and ready to be fired at targets in the U.S.
Furthermore, he was claiming that the U.S. did not understand that this huge military build-up by the Soviets had been carried out to protect Cuba and to prevent the U.S. from attacking the island's Communist regime. He added, for good measure, that he was surprised to learn from the talks in Moscow that the Soviets and Cubans thought the U.S. had plans to bring down the government of Fidel Castro through the use of force. According to McNamara, the entire Cuban missile crisis was a dangerous misunderstanding that came about because of the lack of communication among the governments involved in the near catastrophe.
Well, when I heard what McNamara and the band were playing in Moscow, I said to myself, "Either McNamara is getting a little dotty in his old age and doesn't remember what really happened during the Cuban missile crisis -- or there's some other reason for this." Well, it soon became apparent that McNamara was not senile. What, then, is the reason for these curious -and false -- "admissions" in Moscow? The reason is that the United States and the Soviet Union have decided to become friends again, and Washington wants to set the stage for rapprochement with Castro's Cuba.
It has evidently been decided by the powers that be in the U.S. to have a little meeting in Moscow and tell the world that we were all mixed up about Cuba and we didn't know what was going on there in 1962, because we weren't communicating well with the Soviets at the time. Thus, the American people would see how close to war we had come, how we should communicate more with the Soviets, and how they weren't really very bad guys after all. For that matter neither were Fidel and his gang. Therefore, it would follow that we should in a few months from now get on with disarmament and whatever else is necessary to bring about the new internationalism that is forming between east and west. At the same time, we should begin rebuilding the bridge to Cuba, too.
But to create the proper atmosphere for the coming rapproachement with Moscow and, later, Cuba, it was necessary to scare the American public and the world into thinking that the crisis of October 1962 was worse than it really was. To do that, McNamara, Gromyko, et al. were playing a little game -- their own distorted brand of historical revisionism. They were rewriting history to suit the present purposes of their governments.
Now, I thought, what if I were a reporter. Would I be able to see through this little charade that was going on in Moscow? Probably not. I began studying the "knowlegeable" syndicated colunmists. They were writing things like, "... My God, we never did understand what the Soviets were up to in Cuba. Yes, we better do something about this." What McNamara and friends were saying in Moscow was now becoming fact. It's becoming fact that we, the U.S. government, did not really know what was going on during the missile crisis. That is a lie.
If there was ever a time when the CIA in the United States intelligence community and the United States Armed Forces really cooperated and coordinated their efforts with each other, it was during the Cuban missile crisis. The Cuban missile crisis is probably one of the few examples -- perhaps the only one -- of when intelligence really worked the way it was supposed to work in a crisis situation.
I was there at the time, and I was deeply involved in this historical event. A colleague and friend of mine, Tack, my assistant at the time, and I were the original "crate-ologists"-which was an arcane little intelligence art that we had developed. We had learned through a variety of tricks of the trade, and some of our own making, to be able to distinguish what was in certain crates on Soviet merchant ships as they went into Cuba, into Indonesia into Egypt, Syria,and other places.We could tell if a crate contained a MIG-21,or an IL-28, or a SAM-2 missile.
We did this in such an amateurish way that we dared not tell anyone our methods. While the National Photographic and Interpretation Center employed 1,200 people in its office in downtown Washington, using state-of-the-art equipment to analyze aerial and satellite photography, Tack and I would sit in our office, feet up on the desk, using a beat-up old ruler to measure photos taken from U.S. submarines. I'd measure a crate on the deck of the Soviet freighter, say about three quarters of an inch in the photograph.
"Tack, do you think they could fit a Mig-21 in there?" He'd thumb through an old Air Force manual and say, "Mig-21, fuselage length 25 feet." "Well?" "Take the tail off, and we can fit it in." "Okay, let's call it a Mig-21."
We were pretty good at this. We had other aids to identification of course. We were able to learn when the Soviets were preparing shipments and from which ports they were sailing. We knew which personnel were involved, and the ships' destinations. Thus we could alert the navy, which sometimes conducted overflights, sometimes tracked them with a submarine.
We had an attaché in Istanbul row out in the middle of the night with a Turk whom he'd hired, looking for three things in a Soviet freighter: its deck cargo, how high it was riding in the water, and its name.
By these and other sensitive we were able to learn, in the summer of 1962, that the Soviets were carrying out an unprecendented arms build-up in Cuba. While some of the other agencies, namely the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, did'nt agree with us, CIA director John McCone was able to get president John Kennedy to authorize more intelligence overflights. The overflights revealed that the Soviets were building
SAM (Surface-to-Air Missiles) launching sites to protect the build-up. Further overflights revealed the construction of launching sites for Soviet MRBMs (Medium Range Ballistic Missiles) capable of carrying nuclear warheads to most cities in the United States.
We know exactly how many there were. where they were, and that they had not yet been armed, because the warheads hadn't arrived yet.
Thus McNamara is lying when he claims that the Soviet missiles in Cuba were armed and ready for launch against the United States. On the contrary, we were watching the ships which caried the warheads; American ships enforcing the blockade which President Kennedy had ordered boarded a Romanian ship (which we knew carried no arms), and the Russian ships bringing the nuclear warheads turned around in mid-ocean and went home.
It is also quite untrue that there were forty thousand Soviet troops in Cuba. We knew that there were only ten thousand of them, because we had developed a simple but effective way of counting them.
The Soviets had sent their troops over on passenger liners to disguise the military buildup. Some genius back in Moscow must have then said: "But these guys need to wear civilian clothes; let's put sport shirts on them." But someone at the department store said: We've only got two kinds." So half the troops wore one kind, half of them the other. They weren't very hard to spot.
Then, too, Soviet soldiers are a lot like our own. As soon as the first group got established, the colonel sent them out to paint some rocks white and then paint the name of the unit, 44th Field Artillery Battalion or whatever, on the rocks. All we had to do was take a picture of it from one of our U-2s. So it was easy to establish a Soviet troop strength of far below 40,000. Thus, McNamara is agreeing to a second lie.
The big lie, however, is that the Soviet Union came into Cuba to protect the Cubans. That was a secondary, or bonus, consideration. The primary reason for the build-up was that the Soviets at the time were so far behind us in nuclear strike capability that Khruschev figured he could make a quantum leap by suddenly putting in 48 missiles that could strike every city in America except Seattle, Washington.
Nor did we come as close to war as many think, because Khruschev knew he was caught. His missiles weren't armed, and he hadn't the troops to protect them. Kennedy knew this, so he was able to say: "take them out." And Khruschev had to say yes.
I must admit that at the time I was a little concerned, and so was my buddy Tack. We were manning the war room around the clock, catching four hours of sleep and then going back on duty. My wife had the station wagon loaded with blankets and provisions, and Tack's wife was standing by on alert. If either of them got a phone call with a certain word in it, they were to take our children and drive to my home town in the anthracite region of northeastern Pennsylvania. We figured they'd be safe there: if you've ever seen the coal region with its strip mines you would think it had already been bombed and we were hoping the Soviets would look at it that way too.
Last month's conference in Moscow is an example of how history is being rewritten. Any historian who relies on what he reads in the newspapers, on the statements from McNamara and the Russians and the Cubans will not be learning the truth. The CIA has manufactured history in a number of ways over the years not only through its propaganda and disinformation but through the cover stories it uses for their operations, and the cover-ups when an operation falls through Then there is "plausible deniability," which protects the president.
All these techniques have one thing in common, and depend on one thing: secrecy. Secrecy is maintained not to keep the opposition - the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy -- from knowing what's going on, because the enemy usually does know. Secrecy exists to keep you, the American public, from knowing what is going on, because in many ways you are the real enemy.
If the public were aware of what the CIA is doing, it might say: "We don't like what you're doing -- stop it!," or You're not doing a good job -- stop it!" The public might ask for an accounting for the money being spent and the risks being taken.
Thus secrecy is absolutely vital to the CIA. Secrecy covers not only operations in progress, but continues after the operations, particularly if the operations have been botched. Then they have to be covered up with more lies, which the public, of course, can't recognize as lies, allowing the CIA to tell the public whatever it wishes.
Presidents love this. Every president, no matter what he has said before getting into office, has been delighted to learn that the CIA is his own private tool. The presidents have leapt at the opportunity to keep Congress and the public in the dark about their employment of the agency.
This is what was at the basis of my book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. I had come to the conclusion, as a member of the CIA, that many of our policies and practices were not in the best interests of the United States. but were in fact counterproductive, and that if the American people were aware of this they would not tolerate it.
I resigned from the CIA in 1969, at a time when we were deeply involved in Vietnam. And how did we get into Vietnam on a large scale? How did President Lyndon Johnson get a blank check from Congress? It was through the Gulf of Tonkin incident The American people were told by President Johnson that North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats had come after two American destroyers on the night of August 4, 1964. This was confirmed by the intelligence community.
The fact of the matter is that while torpedo boats came out and looked at the U.S. destroyers, which were well out in international waters, they never fired on them. They made threatening maneuvers, they snarled a bit, but they never fired. It was dark and getting darker. Our sailors thought they might have seen something, but there were no hits, no reports of anything whizzing by.
That was the way it was reported back: a bit of a scrape, but no weapons fire and no attempt to fire. Our ships had not been in danger. But with the help of the intelligence community President Johnson took that report and announced that we had been attacked. He went to Congress and asked for and received his blank check, and Congress went along. Everyone knows the rest of the story: we got into Vietnam up to our eyeballs.
Every president prizes secrecy and fights for it. And so did President Nixon, in my case. When I came to the conclusion that the American people needed to know more about the CIA and what it was up to, I decided to go to Capitol Hill and talk to the senators on the intelligence oversight subcommittee. I found out that Senator John Stennis, at that time head of the subcommittee, hadn't conducted a meeting in over a year, so the other senators were completely ignorant as to what the CIA was doing. Senators William Fulbright and Stuart Symington would tell Stennis, "Let's have a meeting," but he was ignoring them. The other senators wrote Stennis a letter urging him to at least hear what I had to say in a secret executive session, but he continued to ignore them.
Then I would meet Fulbright -- at the barber shop. He was afraid to met me in his office. I would meet with Symington at his home. I would meet with senators at cocktail parties, as if by chance. But still they couldn't get Stennis to convene the intelligence subcommittee.
Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania told me he had learned more about the workings of the intelligence community in one afternoon of conversation with me than in six years of work on the intelligence subcommittee. That didn't surprise me, because I, several years before, had done the budget for CIA director Richard Helms. It was feared that the Senate appropriations subcommittee might have some hard questions about the growing cost of technical espionage programs. Director Helms had evidently been through this before, however.
As Helms put it, he and the CIA's head of science and technology, Albert (Bud) Wheelon, staged a "magic lantern show" for the committee, complete with color slides and demonstrations of the CIA's most advance spy gadgets: a camera hidden in a tobacco pouch, a radio transmitter concealed in some false teeth, a tape recorder in a cigarette case, and so on. One or two hard questions were deflected by Senator Russell of Georgia, who chaired the committee and was a strong supporter of the agency. There were, of course, no slides or hi-tech hardware to exhibit the programs the CIA wanted to conceal from Congress, and the budget sailed through the subcommittee intact.
What I learned in my dealings with Congressmen, in the CIA and after leaving, was that the men who wanted to change the situation didn't have the power, while those who had the power didn't want any change. With Congress a hopeless case, and the White House already in the know and well satisfied to let the CIA continue to operate in secrecy, I decided to talk to the press. I gave my first interview to U.S. News and World Report, and that started the ball rolling. Soon I was in touch with publishers in New York, talking about doing a book.
I soon got a telephone call from Admiral Rufus Taylor, who had been my boss in the agency, but by that time had retired. He told me to meet him at a motel in the Virginia suburbs, across the Potomac from Washington. My suspicions aroused by the remoteness of the room from the office, I was greeted by Admiral Taylor, who had thoughtfully brought along a large supply of liquor: a bottle of scotch, a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of vodka, a bottle of gin ... "I couldn't remember what you liked," he told me, "so I brought one of everything."
I began to make noise: flushing the toilet, washing my hands, turning on the television. Admiral Taylor was right behind me, turning everything off. I kept making noise, jingling the ice in my glass and so on, until the admiral sat down. There was a table with a lamp on it between the admiral's chair and the one which he now told me to sit down on. He looked at me with a little twinkle in his eye: the lamp was bugged, of course.
We talked, and Admiral Taylor told me the CIA was worried about what I might write in my book. He proposed a deal: I was to give no more interviews, write no more articles, and to stay away from Capitol Hill. I could write my book, and then let him and other retired senior officers look it over, and they would advise me and the agency. After that the CIA and I could resolve our differences. I told him, "Fair enough." We had a drink on it, and went out to dinner. That was our deal
What I didn't know was that a few nights later John Erlichman and Richard Nixon would be sitting in the White House discussing my book. There is a tape of their discussion, "President Nixon, John Ehrlichman, 45 minutes, subject Victor Marchetti," which is still sealed: I can't get it. Ehrlichman told me through contacts that if I listened to the tape I would learn exactly what happened to me and why.
Whatever the details of their conversation were, the president of the United States had decided I should not publish my book. I was to be the first writer in American history to be served with an official censorship order served by a court of the United States, because President Nixon did not want to be embarrassed, nor did he want the CIA to be investigated and reformed: that would have hampered his ability to use it for his own purposes. A few days later, on April 18, 1972, I received a federal injunction restraining me from revealing any "intelligence information." After more than a year of court battles, CIA and the Cult of Intelligence was published. The courts allowed the CIA to censor it in advance, and as a result the book appeared with more than a hundred holes for CIA-ordered deletions. Later editions show previously deleted words and lines, which the court ordered the CIA to restore in boldface or italics. The book is therefore difficult to read, indeed something of a curiosity piece. And of course all the information which was ordered cut out ended up leaking to the public anyway.
All this was done to help the CIA suppress and distort history, and to enable presidents to do the same. Presidents like Harry Truman, who claimed falsely that "I never had any thought when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations," but who willingly employed the agency to carry out clandestine espionage and covert intervention in the affairs of other countries. Or Dwight Eisenhower, who denied that we were attempting to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia, when we were, and was embarrassed when he tried to deny the CIA's U-2 overflights and was shown up by Khruschev at Paris in 1960. John F. Kennedy, as everyone knows by now, employed the CIA in several attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. We used everyone from Mafia hoods to Castro's mistress, Marita Lorenz (who was supposed to poison the dictator with pills concealed in her cold cream -- the pills melted). I have no doubt that if we could have killed Castro, the U.S. would have gone in.
There was a fairly widespread belief that one reason Kennedy was assassinated was because he was going to get us out of Vietnam. Don't you believe it He was the CIA's kind of president, rough, tough, and gung-ho. Under Kennedy we became involved in Vietnam in a serious way, not so much militarily as through covert action. It is a fact that the United States engineered the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam's premier, and Ngo Dinh Nhu, his powerful brother. A cable was sent out to the ambassador which said, "If Lou Conein goofs up [Lucien Conein was a key CIA operative in Saigon], it's his responsibility." So when E. Howard Hunt faked these memos and cables when he was working for the "plumbers" on behalf of President Nixon (and against the Democrats), he knew what he was doing. That was his defense, that he wasn't really forging or inventing anything. "Stuff like that really existed, but I couldn't find it," he said. Of course Hunt couldn't find it by that time the original documents were gone. But Hunt knew what he was doing.
President Nixon's obsession with secrecy led to the end of his presidency, of course. As indicated earlier, Nixon was determined to suppress my book. On several occasions after his resignation, Nixon has been asked what he meant when he said that the CIA would help him cover up the Watergate tapes, because "they owed him one." He has responded, "I was talking about Marchetti," in other words the efforts (still secret) to prevent The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence from being published.
Another instance of the Nixon administrations' attempts to suppress history is the ongoing attempt to cover up the details of the administration's "tilt" toward Pakistan in its conflict with India in the early 1970's. Although the basic facts soon emerged, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's account of the affair in his unflattering book on Henry Kissinger revealed that Morarji Desai, an important Indian political leader who later became Prime Minister, was a CIA agent. Kissinger spurred Desai to sue Hersh, and the case is still dragging on today, seven years later. I know what the truth is; Hersh knows as well, but as a conscientious journalist refused to reveal his sources. Here historical truth is caught between official secrecy and Hersh's loyalty to his informants; nevertheless, I have a great deal of admiration for Hersh for his firm stand.
It is a fact that a good many foreign leaders, including those often seen as "neutral" or even hostile to the United States, have been secretly on the CIA's payroll. For instance, when Jimmy Carter came into office, he claimed he was going to reform the CIA. No sooner than was he in the White House, they decided to test him: the news that Jordan's King Hussein had been paid by the CIA was leaked. President Carter was outraged, because now it was his CIA. His efforts to deny the relationship were defeated by Hussein's nonchalant frankness. He told the press, "Yes, I took the money. I used it for my intelligence service. And that's all I'm going to say on that subject."
There were a lot of other national leaders in Hussein's category. As I revealed for the first time in my book, Joseph Mobutu, a corporal in the Belgian forces in the Congo before its independence, went on the CIA payroll. That is why he rules Zaire today. The CIA paid the late Jomo Kenyatta, ruler of Kenya, fifty or a hundred thousand dollars a year, which he'd spend on drink and women. Therefore we ended up paying Kenyatta twice as much, telling him: "This is for you and this is for your party."
The CIA has funded individuals and movements across the political spectrum in West Germany. A prime example is Willy Brandt, former chancellor of the Federal Republic, who received much CIA support when he was mayor of West Berlin. Axel Springer, the Christian Democratic-minded press and publishing magnate, who pointed the finger at Brandt for working with CIA, was also a CIA asset, who used his publications to spread CIA propaganda and disinformation. It was a case of the pot calling the kettle black: I knew his case officer quite welL
This is the way the CIA sees its mission, the job it was created to do. The CIA is supposed to be involved with everyone, not merely the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats. The agency is supposed to have its fingers in every pie, including the Communist one, so that they can all be manipulated in whichever way the U.S. government desires.
An obvious area of disinformation and deception exists in our relationship with a nation often represented as our closest ally, Israel. I have often been asked about the relationship between the CIA and its Israeli counterpart, the Mossad. The CIA maintains some kind of liaison with virtually every foreign intelligence agency, including the KGB. These relationships vary from case to case, but our relationship with the Mossad was always a peculiar one.
When I was in the agency, the Mossad was generally not trusted. There was an unwritten rule that no Jews could work on Israeli or near Eastern matters; it was felt that they could not be totally objective.. There was a split in the agency, however, and Israel was not included in the normal area division, the Near Eastern Division. Instead it was handled as a special account in counterintelligence. The man who handled that account, James Jesus Angleton, was extremely close to the Israelis. I believe that through Angleton the Israelis learned a lot more than they should have and exercised a lot more influence on our activities than they should have.
For his trouble, James Angleton, who died last year, was honored by the Israelis, in the way that the Israelis customarily honor their Gentile helpers. They decided to plant a whole forest for Angleton in the Judean hills, and they put up a handsome plaque in several languages, lionizing Angleton as a great friend of Israel, on a nearby rock. Israeli's intelligence chiefs, past and present, attended the dedication ceremony. Later on, a television reporter of my acquaintance sought out Angleton's memorial during an assignment in Israel. After some difficulty, he was able to locate it, but something seemed odd about it. On closer inspection, Angleton's plaque turned out to be made, not of bronze, but of cardboard. Nor was the setting particularly flattering to Israel's late benefactor: the trees and plaque were at the edge of a garbage dump. My friend's British cameraman put it best "This guy sold out his country for the bloody Israelis, and this is the way they pay him back!"
The CIA has distorted history in other ways than by outright coverups and suppression of the truth. One method was to produce its own books. For instance, one of its top agents in the Soviet Union was Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. Penkovsky was eventually captured and executed. But the CIA was unwilling to let it go at that The agency decided to write a book, which it published in 1965, called The Penkovsky Papers. This was purported to be drawn from a diary that Penkovsky had kept, a diary in which Penkovsky revealed numerous espionage coups calculated to embarrass the Soviets and build up the CIA.
Spies do not keep diaries, of course, and the Soviets were not likely to believe the exaggerated claims made for Penkovsky and the CIA in The Penkovsky Papers. Who was taken in? The American public, of course. More than once people have come up to me after a lecture and shown me the book as if it were gospel. I've told them, "I know the man who wrote it." "You knew Penkovsky?" they invariably ask, and I tell them, "No, I didn't know Penkovsky. But I know the man who wrote the book."
Not just ordinary citizens were taken in by the Penkovsky deception, either. Senator Milton Young of North Dakota, who served on the CIA oversight subcommittee, said in a 1971 Senate debate on cutting the inteligence budget:
And if you want to read something very interesting and authoritative where intelligence is concerned, readThe Penkovsky Papers ... this is a very interesting story, on why the intelligence we had in Cuba was so important to us, and on what the Russians were thinking and just how far they would go.
Perhaps the most startling example ot the ClA's manipulation of the publishing world is the case of Khrushchev Remembers. Khrushchev is still widely believed to have been the author. He is supposed to have dashed it off one summer and then said to himself, "Where will I get this published? Ah! Time-Life!" The tapes reached Time-Life, we all read it, and we told ourselves, "Isn't that interesting."
A little thought should be sufficient to dispel the notion that the KGB would allow Khrushchev to sit in his dacha dictating tape after tape with no interference. He certainly dictated tapes, but the tapes were censored and edited by the KGB, and then a deal was struck between the U.S. and the USSR, after it was decided, at the highest level, that such a book would be mutually beneficial. Brezhnev could use against some of the resistance he was encountering from Stalinist hardliners, and Nixon could use it to increase support for detente.
The CIA and the KGB cooperated in carrying out the operation. The tapes were given to the Time bureau in Moscow. Strobe Talbot, who appears on television frequently today and is Time's bureau chief in Washington, brought the tapes back with him. I was present in an apartment in which he hid them for a couple of days. The tapes were then translated and a manuscript developed. During this period Time refused to let people who had known Khrushchev personally, including White House staff members, listen to the tapes.
Knowledgeable people began to tell me. "I don't believe this." "There's something mighty fishy here." When they read what Khrushchev was supposedly saying, they were even more incredulous. But the book came out, Khrushchev Remembers, accompanied by a massive publicity campaign. It was a great propaganda accomplishment for the CIA and the KGB.
I touched on Khrushchev Remembers in my book. I did not go into any great detail, merely devoting several tentative paragraphs to the affair. Just before my book was published Time was considering doing a two-page spread on me until they learned of my expressed reservations on the trustworthiness of Khrushchev Remembers. I began to get phone calls from Talbot and Jerry Schaechter, then Time's bureau chief in Washington, telling me I should take out the offending passages.
I had written, correctly, that before publication Strobe Talbot had taken the bound transcripts of the Khruschhev tapes back to Moscow, via Helsinki, so that the KGB could make one final review of them. I told Schaechter and Talbot that if they came to me, looked me in the eye, and told me I had the facts wrong, I would take out the section on Khruschhev Remembers. Neither of them ever came by, the paragraphs stayed in my book, and in any event Time went ahead with the two-page spread anyway.
As I pointed out in the preface to The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby destroying democracy. By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the CIA, with its obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective knowledge of the past. As long as the CIA continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and present.

From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1989 (Vol. 9, No. 3), pages 305- 320.
This paper was first presented at the Ninth IHR Conference, Feb. 1989, in Huntington Beach, California.
Description: Veterans News NowDescription: Veterans News Now