Five myths about the CIA

Former President Bush meets with CIA officials.

Former President Bush meets with CIA officials.

Myth 1: CIA agents always go on under-cover missions and use cool gadgets.

The majority of CIA employees work at office desk jobs. They process paperwork, create powerpoints, and (very possibly) listen to Pandora. Though the information they deal with on a day-to-day basis is confidential, CIA workers will tell you that their job is normal like everyone else’s. Very few CIA workers go on under-cover missions where their task is to eliminate the “bad-guys” and save captives.

Myth 2: The CIA saves people overseas.

Though many of us would like to believe that the CIA is a do-gooder organization, the fact is that the main job of the CIA is to “keep Americans safe.” This mission is often arbitrarily defined by American leaders who would prefer to eliminate  foreign leaders who get in their way. Many CIA foreign missions are for the purpose of killing leaders who will not cooperate in the way America wants them to. For example, Salvador Allende was a Chilean democratic leader who displeased the U.S.. In 1973 he gave a farewell speech and apparently “committed suicide.” There has been much controversy over his death, since the wounds on his body did not match witness reports. Today, many believe that he was assassinated by the CIA.

Myth 3: The CIA is part of a collaborative intelligence community that openly shares information.

The CIA and the intelligence organizations of other countries rarely collaborate. If anything, they fight tooth and nail to keep information from each other. Knowledge is power, and the more the CIA knows, the more power they hold over other nations. Whenever the U.S. is allied with another nation, typically during times of warfare, information can be shared. For example, when the allied powers were fighting the axis powers during World War II, the United States and Britain fought side by side to defeat the Germans. They shared information and resources to break German codes and locate concentration camps.

Myth 4: The CIA supports new, fledgling democracies.

Even though the CIA claims to support democracies overseas, they have worked to derail several democracies and even assassinate democratic leaders. In 1954, the CIA backed a coup of Jacobo Arbenz’s democratically elected government in Guatemala. Arbenz had worked to make Guatemala self-sufficient, which threatened its reliance on the U.S. The CIA referred to his government as “an intensely nationalistic program of progress colored by the touchy, anti-foreign inferiority complex of the ‘Banana Republic.’” That statement pretty much means that the CIA intended to take down any third world country that did not remain dependent on the U.S.

Myth 5: The CIA is only involved in protecting American citizens from threats overseas.

As many of us know, the CIA monitors the airways and Internet within the U.S. as well as overseas. The former CIA director, William Colby, was once quoted saying “The CIA owns everyone of major significance in the major media.” For example, the CIA held a major propaganda campaign in the U.S. during the 1950s. Major news outlets such as the New York Times and Newsweek were used by the CIA to disseminate major amounts of propaganda intended to manipulate the public. This operation, called “Operation Mockingbird” was exposed in the 1960s.