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John R. Stockwell is a former CIA officer who became a critic of United States government policies after serving in the Agency for thirteen years serving seven tours of duty. After managing U.S. involvement in the Angolan Civil War as Chief of the Angola Task Force during its 1975 covert operations, he resigned and wrote In Search of Enemies, a book which remains the only detailed, insider's account of a major CIA "covert action."
Early years[edit | edit source]
Born in Angleton, Texas, his Presbyterian father moved the family to the Belgian Congo so that he could provide engineering assistance. Stockwell attended school in Lubondai before studying in the Plan II Honors program at The University of Texas.
CIA career[edit | edit source]
As a Marine, Stockwell was a CIA paramilitary intelligence case officer in three wars: the Congo Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Angolan War of Independence. His military rank is Major. Beginning his career in 1964, Stockwell spent six years in Africa, Chief of Base in the Katanga during the Bob Denard invasion in 1968, then Chief of Station in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1970, before being transferred to Vietnam to oversee intelligence operations in the Tay Ninh province and was awarded the CIA Medal of Merit for keeping his post open until the last days of the fall of Saigon in 1975.
In December 1976 he resigned from the CIA, citing deep concerns for the methods and results of CIA paramilitary operations in Third World countries and testified before Congressional committees. Two years later, he wrote the exposé In Search of Enemies, about that experience and its broader implications. He claimed that the CIA was counterproductive to national security, and that its "secret wars" provided no benefit for the United States. The CIA, he stated, had singled out the MPLA to be an enemy in Angola despite the fact that the MPLA wanted relations with the United States and had not committed a single act of aggression against the United States. In 1978 he appeared on the popular American television program 60 Minutes, claiming that CIA Director William Colby and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger had systematically lied to Congress about the CIA's operations.
Civil disobedience and activism[edit | edit source]
Writing career[edit | edit source]
Stockwell was one of the first professionals to leave the CIA to go public by writing a bestselling book, In Search of Enemies. The CIA retaliated by suing him in the 4th District Court in Washington, D.C.. Part of the suit intended to eliminate the possibility of selling the story for the purpose of making the movie and requested all future publications be submitted to the CIA for review. Unable to afford the travel necessary to contest the case, Stockwell filed for bankruptcy in Austin, Texas. After the litigation was processed through the bankruptcy, the CIA eventually dropped the suit. It's been previously reported that Stockwell lost the suit as his case is often confused with that of ex-CIA operative Frank Snepp.
His book is useful in many ways for researchers and journalists interested in uncovering secret information about the conduct of US foreign policy in Africa and Asia. For example, a brief story in the book is about a CIA officer having Patrice Lumumba's body in the trunk of his car one night in then Elizabethville, Congo. Stockwell mentions in a footnote to the story that at the time he did not know that the CIA is documented as having repeatedly tried to arrange for Lumumba's assassination.
His concerns were that, although many of his colleagues in the CIA were men and women of the highest integrity, the organization was counterproductive of United States' national security and harming a lot of people in its "secret wars" overseas.
Red Sunset was Stockwell's next book and was published in 1982 by William Morrow Publishing Co., Inc. in hardback, then in paperback by Signet a year later. In it he discusses his prediction of a peaceful end to the cold war. Stockwell presented these ideas in fiction form in order to get it published.
In 1991, Stockwell published a compilation of transcriptions of many of his lectures called The Praetorian Guard.
Organization Founding[edit | edit source]
Stockwell was a founding member of the short-lived Association for Responsible Dissent, an organization of former CIA and government officials who were critical of the CIA's Cold War activities.
Lectures[edit | edit source]
Quotes[edit | edit source]
- "It is the function of the CIA to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize and teach the American people to hate and fear, so we will let the Establishment spend any amount of money on arms."
- "Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the U.S. military machine to turn."
- "Short, successful military adventures are as effective as the Super Bowl in diverting peoples' attention from unpleasant truths."
In 1980, Stockwell said,
- "if the Soviet Union were to disappear off the face of the map, the United States would quickly seek out new enemies to justify its own military-industrial complex."
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Stockwell, John (December 1990). The Praetorian Guard: The US Role In The New World Order. South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-395-0.
- Stockwell, John (June 1984 (Reprint)). In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story. W W Norton & Co Inc. ISBN 0-393-00926-2.