CIA Acknowledges Role In 1953 Overthrow Of Iran’s Democracy

iran_map1Via George Washington University’s National Security Archive:

Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation.

American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.

The explicit reference to the CIA’s role appears in a copy of an internal history, The Battle for Iran, dating from the mid-1970s. The agency released a heavily excised version of the account in 1981 in response to an ACLU lawsuit, but it blacked out all references to TPAJAX, the code name for the U.S.-led operation. Those references appear in the latest release. Additional CIA materials posted today include working files from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup.

The 1953 coup is still under intense debate. Even fundamental questions — who hatched the plot, who ultimately carried it out, who supported it inside Iran, and how did it succeed — are in dispute.

Political partisans on all sides, including the Iranian government, regularly invoke the coup to argue whether Iran or foreign powers are primarily responsible for the country’s historical trajectory, whether the United States can be trusted to respect Iran’s sovereignty, or whether Washington needs to apologize for its prior interference before better relations can occur.

Also, the public release of these materials is noteworthy because CIA documents about 1953 are rare. First of all, agency officials have stated that most of the records on the coup were either lost or destroyed in the early 1960s.

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  • emperorreagan

    Well, the answer on whether the US can be trusted to respect Iran’s sovereignty is obviously no. I wouldn’t trust any official in the US government to dog sit for the weekend.

    • Anarchy Pony

      I’m sorry sir, but we had to preemptively euthanize your dog because we have credible nonspecific intelligence that it may have growled at us. We cannot confirm it, but we cannot deny that it may have happened.

      • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

        The replacement dog we left in your living room will attack you, especially on our command. Everything in your refrigerator is ours now.

    • jackbutler5555

      It depends on what you mean by sovereignty. If you mean the U.S. won’t stop spying operations on other countries, of course it won’t. Nor will other countries stop spying on the U.S. It’s not just stealing military secrets, although that’s a healthy part of their missions.

      With some friendly countries, the source of a lot of information for the CIA is the leader of that country — the prime minister, the president, etc, who will share information about entities, both countries believe are hostile to their national interests.

      And yes, in instances in which the President of the United States believes covert action is called for, the CIA complies. (The agency doesn’t just decide to do it on its own, contrary to popular belief.)

  • jackbutler5555

    It seems in all discussions of covert operations, the CIA is the subject of the sentence. Should not the subject of the sentence be the person who told them what to do? Or, do you folks feel the president doesn’t know anything about these operations and the CIA is completely autonomous?

    • Anarchy Pony

      Plausible deniability.

      • jackbutler5555

        That might work on Mission Impossible. But it would fall apart in real life. The CIA isn’t going to take the fall for something going wrong. The agency makes the White House sign a document. None of this “the Ssecretary will disavow any knowledge…”

        • Anarchy Pony

          No that’s more or less the way it works. Given a circumstance in which they see a covert action as necessary, the president will tell them to make sure objective A is accomplished, but doesn’t want to know the details. “The CIA isn’t going to take the fall for something going wrong” The CIA won’t, some individuals inside it may. But the institution will continue, and they’ll pretend to have more strict oversight until the heat dies down.

          • jackbutler5555

            My CIA childhood friend must have lied to me. How about the handling of the coercive interrogations at Gitmo? The CIA refused to do it without the piece of paper from the White House. The agency has seen these presidents come and go and knows how slippery they are. Do you see any of the “interrogators” being brought up on charges? When’s the last time a CIA insider got busted for conducting an exercise not approved by the president. CIA people are maze bright.

  • BuzzCoastin

    I’m waiting for the declassified report
    on how the OSS/CIA helped the Nazis takeover Der Homeland
    and put the son & grandson of Hitler’s banksters in the Whiteman’s House