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Austin For 12 years as a case officer in the CIA, John Stockwell did what was expected of him. He recruited agents; bugged foreign embassies; ran covert operations to discredit foreign diplomats and disrupt communist youth festivals; even hired American prostitutes at the Republican party national convention in Miami in 1972 for use in a sexual entrapment operation against Soviet and Chinese officials overseas. In fact, nearly all his life he had conformed-he was a team player, politically conservative, always the good soldier. He was born in the late 1930s in Angleton, Texas, but grew up in a missionary community in the Belgian Congo \(now University of Texas \(where he was on the parachute reconnaissance company in the Marines. By 1963, the CIA had been aware of Stockwell for several years-as a prime candidate for clandestine service in Africa. The recruiters who approached him then were unequivocal in their assurances that the CIA was a benevolent intelligence-gathering organization, dedicated to making the world a better place and vital to national security. That year the agency enjoyed high credibility, John Kennedy’s New Frontier was alive, and Stockwell was young, eager and beguiled: “We would save the world from communism,” he thought, “the CIA and I.” Without hesitation he signed the agency’s standard secrecy agreement in 1964, never imagining that in 1977 it would be interpreted to mean he’d given up his freedom of speech-or that he would by then feel compelled to exercise that freedom as an implacable critic of the CIA’s clandestine activities. Five tours of duty in the 4,500employee covert intelligence sectionthree in Africa, one at headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in 1972, then in Vietnam upcountry until near the war’s end-brought slow disenchantment. He began having doubts about his employer, particularly after the Vietnam debacle, and later would write: “In darker moments, it seemed to me that the 12 years of service had been spent in hard, sometimes nerve-wracking, work that had nothing to do with the security of the United States.” In 1975 he was named chief of the Angolan Task Force to run a covert paramilitary operation which supplied arms, money and mercenaries to Angolan liberation movements fighting Sovietand Cuban-supported rivals. Repeatedly during the war, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CIA director William Colby lied to the Congress to obscure the scope of U.S. involvement. Eventually, 70,000 Angolans died and $31 million of American taxpayers’ money was spent in a counterproductive attempt to keep Angola out of the Soviet sphere of influence. In the spring of 1977, after the Angola operation ended, Stockwell resigned, midway through a career that was propelling him into the elite inner circle of the intelligence community. He returned to Austin, secretly wrote an expos of the CIA, In Search of Enemies, and appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program to denounce covert U.S. intervention in the Angolan civil war he had helped direct from Washington. Each tour had pushed him upward in the CIA hierarchy, opening up new vistas of unconscionable, and ultimately useless,’ activity. He found himself forced to the diffidult conclusion that the CIA’s clandestine services should be abolished. What Stockwell gradually recognized as a basic feature of the CIA mentality was a trait that political theorist Hannah Arendt described in another context as “thoughtlessness”-the simple failure to think, to pursue trains of thought that might lead to questions about the moral justification of one’s conduct. It is such heedlessness, suggested Arendt, that makes it possible for intelligent, rational people to do evil as a matter of bureaucratic routine. The CIA’s covert branch, says Stockwell, is an institution that cultivates this trait in its employees, an organization devoted to action without reflection; it is uniquely dangerous because, no matter how inept or immoral its gamesmanship may be, the agency can fend off outside control by invoking the shibboleth of “national security.” Stockwell is one of several CIA officers who have given up promising careers in recent years to speak out against agency wrongdoing. Attorney General Griffin Bell has promised, at the urging of CIA director Stansfield Turner, to vigorously prosecute these CIA whistleblowers. The latest move to stifle informed criticism came earlier this year when Frank Snepp, a former CIA analyst in Vietnam, was enjoined by a federal THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9