Former CIA Director Claims US Interference in International Elections Is ‘For a Very Good Cause’

Do as I say, not as I do.

This is the message that James Woolsey, who served as director of the CIA during President Bill Clinton’s first term, has seemingly put forth in his recent interview on Fox News.

Among the year’s top news stories has been the announcement that a handful of Russian nationals will face indictment for their interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Woolsey was invited to appear on conservative pundit Laura Ingraham’s show late last week to discuss this development.

After condemning Russia’s meddling in the electoral process, Woolsey was asked if the United States engaged in similar acts in other nations.

“Well, only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy,” the former CIA director stated. Woolsey explained that in many cases, it was “for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over.”

In other words, because the United States is the “good guy,” it gets a free pass when it comes to interfering in another country’s governmental processes. But when other countries attempt to influence election outcomes in the U.S., according to Woolsey’s logic, it’s a heinous affront to the very foundations of democracy.

Though the CIA isn’t exactly known for being transparent about its electoral meddling, in-depth research in recent years has uncovered the enormous number of such operations that have been carried out in the past.

In what is possibly the most extensive study on the matter to date, political scientist Dov Levin finds that between 1946 and 2000, the U.S. took actions to subvert foreign elections 81 times in 45 different countries. These figures, however, do not even take into account the numerous times the U.S. has involved itself in coups or attempts to forcefully depose regimes, such as was done in Iran in 1953.

Levin’s findings also show that not all U.S. interference has been successful, with an estimated 59 percent of operations resulting in meaningful change.

Though I have previously written on some of these operations, let’s take a look at a few of the lesser known instances of interference carried out by the U.S. — long before Russian bots were spreading “fake news” on Twitter and Facebook.

Italy

Levin believes the U.S. has meddled in no less than eight elections in Italy since 1948. The first such instance pitted the Christian Democrats against the Communists. Measures undertaken by the U.S. during this round of elections included threatening to end aid to the country, secretly funneling money to the Christian Democrats and providing experts to help with campaign strategy. They ended up winning in a landslide over the Communists.

Israel

After the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s, the Clinton administration was convinced that if the Labor candidate Shimon Peres did not win out over Likud candidate Benjamin Netanyahu, peace efforts would be stalled. Because of this, Clinton was overtly supportive of Peres — even going so far as to visit the region to try to bolster the candidate’s popularity among Israeli voters.

But these efforts failed, and when elections came around again in 1999, Clinton sent James Carville and others to help advise the Labor campaign — to no avail.

Congo

Far less benign than these acts of interference came following the election of Congo’s first democratic leader, Patrice Lumumba. With the backing of Belgium and the U.S., a group of assassins kidnapped Lumumba and tortured him to death before taking grisly steps to try to destroy the evidence of their crimes. Though this was later discovered to be unfounded, the U.S. was convinced that Lumumba was collaborating with the Soviet Union — apparently justification enough to have him brutally killed.

Obviously, these examples are only a tiny sample of the unending campaigns the U.S. has taken to manipulate other countries’ elections and governments. Greece, Bulgaria, Iceland, the Philippines and Jamaica are just a few other nations which have experienced varying degrees of interference from the United States.

While, of course, these actions don’t male Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections acceptable, it’s important that those expressing hysteria about such acts maintain some perspective. After all, the United States has done far, far worse than post misleading Facebook ads and leaked emails.

Photo Credit: CIA / Wikimedia Commons

55 comments

Marie W
Marie W29 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Angela J
Angela J6 months ago

Thanks

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Maureen G
Maureen G6 months ago

Too much manipulative underhand secret interference in our lives worldwide from birth to death by a few who, I feel, do it for power something which can become very addictive.

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Dot A
Dot A6 months ago

The Russians orchestrated our dialogue to be splintered and without a core of unity. Stop blaming our own country, Brian F. The Russians are gleefully cheering you on every time you accuse Democrats. The Russians want our nation divided. I've never been hateful towards Republicans until Trump stepped into the picture. The Russians are pitting Americans against Americans, but, this plan took years to bring to reality. And Trump is playing along. Why hasn't Trump retaliated when Putin bragged about his military weapons? Trump couldn't breath until he blurted out, "My button's bigger!" to the N. Koreans. And all of a sudden he's getting diplomatic??? Brian's Song is feeling the burn of stubborn denial. Smell the truth here. When in the blazes has Trump ever been diplomatic, except when it comes to Putin's Russia. Keep whiffing the air, and eventually you'll get an aroma of something quite rotten. {save your typing skills, Hillary isn't in the picture anymore, - so please give it up~}

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Angela J
Angela J6 months ago

Thanks

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Brian F
Brian F6 months ago

The Democrats cheated Bernie Sanders out of his primary, which caused this crook Trump to be elected, and the USA has interfered in the elections of 80 countries, but how dare Russia even think about interferring in the USA's election.

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Cate S
Cate S6 months ago

Don't forget Nicaragua.

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Winn A
Winn A6 months ago

BS, BS and more BS

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Loredana V
Loredana V6 months ago

I'm Italian, it was well known here

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Dot A
Dot A6 months ago

BS is a by-product of humanity across the globe. Put on those tall tall boots - and keep walking. Just remember, some BS is inspired to be of assistance to good causes, and some BS is Bad$hit. It starts from the ground up, meaning, - it begins in families and neighborhoods, to work environment and diverse groups, to cities, then nations, and covers the globe. Wherever you go, you can smell BS. Just wear those boots and try to sniff out the benign from the malignant. Some BS is so toxic that it can cut life way too short. This is a dangerous world. No BS.

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