The documentary Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone explores aspects of US history that aren’t commonly known by the American public. Stone’s goal is to share a more honest view of what’s happened throughout the course of history. Stone explains in the beginning of the documentary that he studied US history extensively while he was in school, though he learned a lot more about US history while traveling the world. He was stunned to hear about what was being taught to his children while they were at school, and wanted to give them more of a non-Americanized series of events to understand American history.
Some of the most thought-provoking events that Stone spoke about are those involving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Stone doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the CIA. When he mentions the agency, it’s as if they are menacing group that pushes boundaries and stops at nothing to achieve the most beneficial outcomes for the United States government. The CIA is first mentioned in the documentary in part two chapter four when Truman created the agency in the National Security Act. In the act, the agency was given four functions. Stone stated that the fourth function is the one that proved to be the most dangerous. Stone says that it was, “A vaguely worded passage that allowed the CIA to perform ‘other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting national security’ as the president saw fit.”
The CIA used this function to carry out several covert operations. Stone goes on to explain one of the CIA’s operations of undermining Italy’s 1948 election. Italy’s 1948 election was a decider between making the country communist or capitalist. As there was an ideological warfare between communism and capitalism during this time, the CIA wanted to make certain that communism wasn’t spreading more than capitalism was. This was achieved by making mass donations to the CIA’s ideal Italian parties, and forging documents to discredit the communist parties. It’s mind boggling that an agency that represents a country that is governed by and for the people would go so far out of their way to sway an election, forcing the Italian people to pick capitalism over communism.
The CIA and President John F. Kennedy did not see eye-to-eye. The event known as the Bay of Pigs involved the CIA training several “Freedom Fighters” to over throw the Castro regime. Freedom Fighters were Cubans that were trained by the CIA. The invasion was a catastrophic failure. Kennedy took the blame for the failure, and was angered with himself for trusting his advisors from the CIA. It’s on record that Kennedy stated he wanted to, “shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the winds.”
A proposed operation by the CIA known as Operation Northwoods is another example of the CIA’s use of their fourth function. Stone states that, “This plan included staging a Cuban government hijacking, shooting down a civilian airliner, sinking boatloads of Cubans escaping to Florida, and blaming the communist government. Kennedy rejected the plan.” The CIA didn’t care about who they would have been harming or whose lives they would have altered, their one goal was to discredit the reputation of the regime. Luckily, a rational and resistant President Kennedy prevented the agency from carrying out such a plan.
Many question the validity of Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement of the assassination of President Kennedy. Perhaps Stone shares this same view when he states, “Although, unlike most single assassins with a cause, [Oswald] firmly denied his guilt . . . four of the seven Warren Commission members expressed doubts . . . The public found the report unconvincing. We may never know who was responsible or what their motive was.” The ruthless nature of the CIA, their involvement in other assassinations during the 60s, and their poor relationship with President Kennedy provokes many conspiracy theorists to blame the CIA for disposing of President Kennedy. Was Oswald the prime suspect of the Kennedy assassination, or was there something more sinister occurring within our government? As Stone stated, we may never know who was responsible or what their motive was.
The CIA’s use of their fourth function is, in layman’s terms, sketchy. Perhaps this is the reason why they keep so many documents and operations top secret. One must question why the CIA even keeps certain things top secret. The CIA knows that their actions would ruin their reputation with the public. Perhaps it’s necessary for the agency’s and the government’s survival, but it makes you wonder what’s going on within our government internally. If they were twisted enough to plot to kill innocent people and blame it on an opposing government during the 1960’s, what other malicious plans have the CIA come up with and carried out over the last 50 years?
The government needs to take a serious look at the four functions of the CIA and determine what’s necessary for the agency to be carrying out. The fourth function gives the president a tool to push the boundaries to achieve the most beneficial outcomes for the United State government. Though, I suppose like Nixon said, “”When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” The power to perform functions and duties related to intelligence affecting national security gives the CIA and the president too much power.
***Cody Paul is an associate at Anthony Paglia Injury Lawyer LTD. He works as a Legal Administrator. He will graduate from Nevada State College. Job education and creation in our community is a priority with our law firm.