Deadly Deceits: CIA Disinformation Activities Around the World & the Number of People Killed (1983)

Jun 17, 2022

Stockwell’s unpublished memoir:…

John R. Stockwell (born 1937) is a former CIA officer who became a critic of United States government policies after serving seven tours of duty over thirteen years. Having managed American 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. His books:……)

Ralph Walter McGehee Jr (April 9, 1928 – May 2, 2020) was an American case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for 25 years and an author. From 1953 to 1972, his assignments were in East Asia and Southeast Asia, where he held administrative posts. After leaving intelligence work in 1977, he publicly expressed views highly critical of the CIA.

Read the book:

It was then CIA’s practice to anonymously place stories in news publications, stories written to spread ideas favorable to CIA goals. Accordingly, stories were edited which created a likelihood of misdirecting some readers. Stories that CIA planted might be further spread by third parties, in a slightly altered form, or even picked up as news and then rewritten by a journalist. McGehee himself, in doing his assigned duties, followed news stories in the international press, communist affairs in particular. He also monitored incoming intelligence reports for such topics.

Eventually McGehee began to notice a subtle congruence in content between the planted stories and the incoming intelligence. Propaganda the CIA generated to shape world opinion, he conjectured or realized, could circle back and contaminate the CIA’s own information files. McGehee gives an example. CIA in 1965 fabricated a story about weapon shipments sent by sea to the Viet Cong (to show foreign support). CIA even staged its discovery for the press. The story had legs. The Marines later began to patrol the coast to intercept the reported contraband.

To stress his experience of CIA’s disregard for the truth of an event, McGehee refers to Orwell’s duplicitous ‘Ministry of Truth’ from the novel 1984. Ironically, it was Communist duplicity during the Spanish Civil War which inspired Orwell. The Soviets were early masters at disinformation. Such deceptions have also been used by renegade agents to turn a profit. The intelligence trade has developed terms for a wider category of fact manipulation, which range from black propaganda, to grey, to white.

He discussed his time spent in Vietnam and claimed that the CIA supported anti-Communist counterinsurgency in the Philippines.

A downside of his book, Deadly Deceits, 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 1956 best seller, Deliver Us From Evil, were fabricated for the beginning of a psywar campaign (later revealed by the Church Committee in 1975).

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. The CIA prevailed. McGehee described the terror of Suharto’s takeover in 1965–66 as “the model operation” for the US-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later: “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders, just like what happened in Indonesia in 1965.”

In 1999, he also filed a Freedom of Information request, claiming that he had been harassed since 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.

McGehee died from COVID-19 in Falmouth, Maine, on May 2, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Maine. He was 92.


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.

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