McGehee playing football for University of Notre Dame

Ralph Walter McGehee (born 1928 [1]) is an American former officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He worked for the CIA from 1952 to 1977, yet went on to be highly critical of the agency.

Life and career[edit | edit source]

McGehee was born in Moline, Illinois. He was an All-American football player at University of Notre Dame when they won three national championships in 1946-1949. McGehee received a B.S. in Business Administration (cum laude). Upon graduation, he spent a year as an offensive line coach at University of Dayton.

After moving to Chicago and taking a job as a management trainee at Montgomery Ward, he was recruited by the CIA. Upon completion of training, he was stationed in numerous field offices as well as at CIA headquarters.

Since leaving the CIA, he has been highly critical of the organization.[2] His 1983 book, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA outlines his experiences there. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair hailed it as "one of the outstanding books written by former CIA agents".


Tribunal on CIA Operations

A downside of this book for many was McGehee's personal knowledge of the extent to which the famed physician, Thomas Anthony Dooley III, was involved in CIA warfare across Indochina. This included awareness that the atrocities alleged in the best seller, "Deliver Us From Evil", 1956, were fabricated for the beginning of a psywar campaign (later revealed by the Church Committee in 1975).

McGehee has written articles on CIA activities for the Washington Post, The Nation, The Progressive, Harper's Magazine and Gannet News Service among others. He has also developed CIABASE, a computer database of CIA figures and programs compiled from available public information. He has discussed his time spent in Vietnam[3] and claimed that the CIA supported anti-Communist counterinsurgency in the Philippines,[4]

A 1981 allegation by McGehee about CIA involvement in the Indonesian killings of 1965–1966 was censored by the CIA, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to sue on his behalf.[5] The CIA prevailed.[6] McGehee also alleged that "The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders", in order to provoke them into launching the 1973 Chilean coup d'état.[7]

CIA letter of recommendation for Ralph McGehee[edit | edit source]


Receiving Career Intelligence Medal

The CIA Retirement Affairs Division issued a letter of recommendation for Ralph McGehee upon his retirement in 1977 stating:

" It gives me great pleasure... I have the highest regard for Ralph as a person of impeccable integrity.... In the course of his tours...Ralph gained recognition as one of the Agency's most knowledgeable officers on Asian communism. ...he performed original research, undertaking special projects on trips overseas, and devising innovative means of collecting information from normally inaccessible sources and areas. He composed original studies on Asian communist parties that were widely praised in the U.S. government ...and was in demand a briefer on communist strategy and tactics.

Ralph [received] the Career Intelligence Medal...reflecting `exceptional achievement that conspicuously contributed to the mission of the Agency.' `[He received] a cash award for proposing a method for learning about and countering communist insurgency. This method of gathering, collating, and processing intelligence was the product of his resourcefulness, initiative, and ingenuity... he requested to be the most seriously threatened ...province in order to select, train, and organize team personnel and implement his plan...He formulated and implemented a unique counter-revolutionary methodology and this approach resulted in complete coverage of the insurgency. The information produced was so detailed and the procedures used so carefully designed not to alienate the people that the revolution collapsed....'"

"The above citation alone capsulates Ralph's abilities neatly. But he was commended many times, in writing for his work here and at CIA field stations overseas. After a recent trip abroad, one commendation read, in part: `He was relentless in digging into the materials at hand, pursuing various avenues of investigation, and seeking new information and channels as he proceeded with his research. He well demonstrated his perseverance, intellectual keenness, and analytical ability...' Another recent field recommendation reads: `His dedication, enthusiasm, and perseverance were outstanding...' he `has few peers at this type of research and analysis...' Still another praised the `quality and scholarship' of a briefing paper.... His performance evaluations are full of superlatives, especially for his last half dozen years of research, analysis, and briefings in the field of Asian and international communism...."

Quotes[edit | edit source]

The CIA is not now nor has it ever been a central intelligence agency. It is the covert action arm of the President's foreign policy advisers. In that capacity it overthrows or supports foreign governments while reporting "intelligence" justifying those activities. It shapes its intelligence, even in such critical areas as Soviet nuclear weapon capability, to support presidential policy. Disinformation is a large part of its covert action responsibility, and the American people are the primary target audience of its lies.[8]

Harassment alleged, FOIA requested[edit | edit source]

The 1983 criticism of the Central Intelligence Agency for which McGehee had worked, Deadly Deceits: My 25 years in the CIA, an exposé of the organization, was published again in 1999 with updates. During 1912, the book was selling on the Internet for almost one hundred dollars.[1]

In 1999 he also filed a Freedom of Information request while seeking documentation about harassment of him that began in 1993, suspected to be because of his criticisms. Asking for a halt of the actions, he sent a letter to the president of the United States, the director of the CIA, and his town council, documenting many of the incidents. He asserted his intention to pursue the issue through the FOIA process because of receiving no response to earlier letters.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Thomson Gale (April 26, 2006). McGehee, Ralph W(alter) (1928-). Contemporary Authors
  2. McGehee, Ralph (9 December 1996). CIA and the New World Order. CIABASE
  3. Taubman, Philip (February 22, 1983). Ex-Official's Obsession with Vietnam War. New York Times
  4. Reuters (May 26, 1987). C.I.A. Accused of Manila Role.
  5. Staff report (March 29, 1981). Censorship by the C.I.A. Challenged in Court Suit. New York Times
  6. Taylor, Stuart, Jr. (October 5, 1983). C.I.A.'s Censorship Backed on Appeal. New York Times
  7. ITV - John Pilger - Suharto, the model killer, and his friends in high places
  8. McGehee, Ralph (1999) [1983]. Deadly Deceits. Ocean Press. p. 192. ISBN 1-876175-19-2. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • McGehee, Ralph (1999). Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA. Ocean Press, ISBN 1-876175-19-2

External links[edit | edit source]

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