Douglas Valentine, The CIA And the Phoenix Program

by William Skink


Douglas Valentine wrote the definitive account of the CIA’s Phoenix Program by gaining unprecedented access to the agency. He did this by going straight to William Colby, former director, and told him about the project. Valentine explains in the introduction how his approach to the book–looking at the organizational structure of the Phoenix program, and not focusing on the salacious aspects, like the death squads–earned him Colby’s approval. William Colby gave Valentine contacts within the agency and, more importantly, told those contacts it was ok to speak with Valentine.

To hear more, Whitney Webb over at Mintpress has a great interview with Valentine.

Valentine describes the success of the Phoenix program as the silver lining in the otherwise disastrous Vietnam conflict. Because of that success elements of the Phoenix program lived on. And came home.

The structure of the Department of Homeland Security, with its fusion center integration of local/state/federal authorities, is an extension, Valentine argues, of the structure and methods pioneered in the jungles of Vietnam.

This seems important for Americans to understand. More important than the spectacles we are bombarded with.

Sadly, it seems more important for the politically-minded in this country to remain emotionally invested in the red/blue fight, reinforcing our dysfunctional political duopoly.

There is so much to understand about how “intelligence” work has functioned since WWII, but to truly do so would require abandoning American Exceptionalism and de-identifying ourselves from the mythical hero-role baked into the apple pie of our national naiveté.

I don’t see that happening any time soon, even with the Epstein case exposing a disturbing web of criminality and corruption among the most powerful and wealthy members of our society.


A Missoula Current article that just went up helps me make my point about the domestic application of Phoenix methods. The article is about ICE wanting to use Missoula County radio equipment. I found this part particularly interesting:

The last time U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement used county communications was when Hells Angels rallied in Missoula in 2008.

County Chief Operating Officer Chris Lounsbury said ICE was involved because some members of the motorcycle group came from outside the country. So ICE provided intelligence information to local law enforcement.

I hope the Commissioners don’t immediately roll over for the Feds.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to Douglas Valentine, The CIA And the Phoenix Program

  1. JC says:

    Just as a reminder to what happens when Missoula cedes control of its operations to the feds, here’s what happened almost 20 years ago during said Hell’s Angels rally in 2000.

    • I hadn’t watched that start to finish in a long time, wow. I moved to Missoula that summer and didn’t know all that shit went down until the Indy came out. thanks for the reminder, JC.

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