E. Howard







INTERVIEWER: So it was serious cold war confrontation in a way because of the danger that you had perceived, with not just the runway, but the danger to American life and the various forces that were involved, but, looking at your years there in Latin American division, it was a very hot war there going on in Central America, a lot of people died a lot of people disappeared on both sides, there was a lot of tragedy, economic superstructures were ripped apart and despite the fact that America won, I mean its a calmer place there is a chance that it might go and get somewhat better. How do you feel about the level of the intensity of the battle that you fought there. Do you think it was necessary to combat the Soviet Cuban influence with such high amounts of money and people?

DUANE CLARRIDGE: Well I think we had to take them on in Nicaragua, because they weren't gonna let up in El Salvador, they thought they had the easy one, alright? So you had to do something, alright, now did it have to be of the dimension it was? Probably not, had we come to the economic approach to warfare earlier and gone for the point, I think we could have finished it off a lot earlier, probably with a lot less lives lost you know. These people, you know these guerillas, you know its endemic to the area. You know a lot of this fighting goes on anyways in Central America you know to more or lesser extent, depending on which country you are talking about, so there are various cultural factors involved. So to some extent we took advantage of that because its there anyways, but nevertheless I think we could have reduced the number of casualties, had we just decided the economic was the way to go a little earlier. And certainly if we had been allowed to continue the mining, it would have all been over by 85, and we know that from special information that the Sandinistas had, that this was really choking and so its too bad, because we went on for another 4 years.

INTERVIEWER: brilliant great very enjoyable.

DUANE CLARRIDGE: Is this what you want?

INTERVIEWER: Yeah its terrific.


INTERVIEWER: Tape number 10844, continuation of the interview with Mr. Duane Clarridge. Lets talk about the contras briefly. when you got into Latin American division in 1981, what did you inherit in terms of the counter revolutionaries?

DUANE CLARRIDGE: Well first of all when I returned back from Rome, Casey said "look at the Central American thing, take a couple of months off, figure it out and come back with some recommendations what to do about it." Alright what I knew what he meant was, what are we gonna do about Nicaragua's support to the El Salvadoran guerillas, terrorists and so on and so forth. Right? And so about a week later I had it figured out and it didn't take rocket science and that was you took the war in Nicaragua. You clear backfighting. And there was already an element to stop it and that was about 500, some of them were former National Guard people from the Somosa regime, some of them were simply bandits, some of them were just peasants up on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras, who were being supported by the Argentine military intelligence, who, and with the with the acquiescence of the Honduran military and the Honduran political side to build up an effort to go after the Sandinista regime, why because the Argentines had a messianic idea in their head, that they were gonna take on communism, wherever they could find it and because the US had basically backed out of that whole war under the Carter administration. That was their view of it, alright, just like Démarage in the French intelservice had the same view. Okay, that was one reason in the corollary really to what was that there were montaneros, Argentine terrorists who had been decimated in Argentinsome of the lee leadership and cadre had gone to Nicaragua and were being harbored there by the Sandinistas. So those were the two reasons why they were after it.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Talking about the whole area, which we refer to as Uncle Sam's backyard. The Caribbean and Latin America over this last 50 years. That has been a quite a helluva cold war, from one end of it to another at different times and there's a lotta scars left. But to you, looking over, not referring just to your own personal involvement in the 80s but looking over that whole period of activity, whether its covert overt, American responses to nationalistic movements, tinged with left wing elements or whatever they were, how do you see that in terms of the, as a as a front in the cold war, was it an important battle field?

DUANE CLARRIDGE: Well I think it had its peaks and troughs, I mean I think the Cuban thing certainly the bay of pigs and the effort to overthrow Castro in the aftermath of that, and Castro, screwing around down in Latin, in South America, particularly during the late 50s or really the 60s okay, was of, of serious concern to the US government. And they were very successful in dealing with it. What most people don't know is for instance that the Venezuelan and Colombian, communist Castro supported or influenced efforts the Soviets as well in those countries were you know almost near run things. And yet the US put together forces down there that dealt both on a political level and the paramilitary level or military level and dealt very successfully with them. To a lesser extent perhaps in Peru, the same thing happened. So there was a real thing. But that was a real key sort of period down there. I think. And then the follow on was really Chile the Allende. And that was you know, that was the coming together, or you might say, the peak of the whole period and then it really started down from there. Things were pretty quiet from the end of the Chile thing until the beginning of the Salvadoran fight between the terrorists and the government down there. So really I guess what, and the Sandinistas taking over in Nicaragua probably is about the same time, so you, so you had a period of about 5 years, when not much happened down there. And then in about 78, things both in Nicaragua and Salvador brought everything to the boil again.

INTERVIEWER: And I think of it in terms of, well its over, but having traveled the region a little bit over the last couple of months you can look at Chile and say it isn't over. Society is still polarized as it was some years before Allende. do you think these kind of insurgencies can happen again? Whether they be insurgent or through the ballot box, with such intensity now that the Soviet Union has collapsed and therefore Cuba doesn't get all the help it does.

DUANE CLARRIDGE: I doubt it, I mean who, whose gonna really support, I mean you could have internal use of the ballot box oh yes I mean I think you could have people you know really, you know turn governments out and put more radical ones in, but without foreign support, to go back to the Munroe Doctrine, you're nowhere. You don't have it.

INTERVIEWER: And finally, the cold war is over and the agency has got half of its workload is not there anymore, how do you feel about the future of the CIA.....

DUANE CLARRIDGE: No David that's not true, no, no. Yes we were, when the Soviet Union and the Soviet Empire was the main enemy that would make it easier for people to sort of justify, you know a big intelligence you know organization and everything that went with, so then when it goes away and everybody says, well there is nothing for it to do. And they sort of think it never did anything, but the Soviet Union, or maybe something on china and so on and so forth. But that wasn't the case, and in some ways with the Soviet Union gone and with a sort of shaky Russia, and shaky former colonies of the Soviet Empire. You have problems of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which I think, which the agency has been concerned with for years, while they were confronting the Soviet Union, but now I think the situation is even more dangerous for that kind of thing. Because the Soviet Union for all its faults wasn't passing nuclear weapons or technology or chemical weapons, or biological weapons out to their friends. They just weren't. But now with you know with the various you know the security aspects in Russia and in the former colonies being what they are, the chances for experts being able to advise maybe some people who would like to put together biological weapons or chemical weapons is far greater. It's a much looser situation and so the proliferation issue which the agency had always worked on, I think is magnified and I think is of enormous concern. And frankly I'll tell ya that I am amazed that we haven't had a biological or chemical catastrophe of some kind already. And that's just one issue. You've got other issues like terrorism. These terrorism proliferation can only be dealt with from human agents, you've gotta have somebody whose in the groups who's doing the thing. Very rarely will you ever, certainly you'll never see something from a satellite, once in a while you may pick up something from signals if they're very incautious, but the real solution to so many of the intelligence problems of terrorism even international crime, counterfeiting of money the various kinds of things that are going on in that area, and certainly in proliferation in narcotics. You really have to have human sources who are in the organizations and can tell you this information. And unfortunately they are not, and Mother Teresa, you know for all her capabilities and all her wonder, that type of person like she was, doesn't know where the next terrorist bomb is going off, it is usually somebody who you might not want to have as an in-law, who does have it. And therefore I think the intelligence services CIA and the other intelligence services around the world, need to, need to continue on, and deal with these problems. I don't see how else you deal with them.

INTERVIEWER: Very good thanks very much.

End of roll 10844