American Duplicity





"Fuck your parliament and your constitution," said the President of the United States

"It's the best damn Government since Pericles," the American two-star General declared. [1] (The news report did not mention whether he was chewing on a big fat cigar.)

American backed juntaThe governmnet, about which the good General was so ebulient, was that of the Colonels' junta which came to power in a military coup in April 1967, followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, torture, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save a nation from a "communist takeover". Corrupting and subversive influences in Greek life were to be removed. Among these were the miniskirts, long hair, and foreign newspapers; church attendance for the young would be compulsory. [2]

So brutal and so swift was the repression, that by September, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands were before the European Comission of Human Rights to accuse Greece of violating most of the Commission's conventions. Before the year was over, Amnesty International had sent representatives to Greece to investigate the situation. From this came a report which asserted that "Torture as a deliberate practice is carried out by the Security Police and the Military Police." [3]

The coup had taken place two days before the campaign for national elections was to begin, elections which appeared certain to bring the veteran liberal leader George Papandreou back as prime minister. Papandreou had been elected in February 1964 with the only outright majority in the history of modern Greek elections. The successful machinations to unseat him had begun immediately, a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, and the American military and CIA stationed in Greece.

Philip Deane (the pen name of Gerasimos Gigantes) is a Greek, a former UN official, who worked during this period both for King Constantine and as an envoy to Washington for the Papandreou government. He has written an intimate account of the subleties and the grossness of this conspiracy to undermine the government and enhance the position of the military plotters, and of the raw power exercised by the CIA in his country [4]. We saw earlier how Greece was looked upon much as a piece of property to be developed according to Washington's needs. A story related by Deane illustrates how this attitude was little changed, and thus the precariousness of Papandreou's position: During one of the perennial disputes between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, which was now spilling over onto NATO, President Johnson summoned the Greek ambassador to tell him of Washington's "solution". The ambassador protested that it would be unacceptable to the Greek parliament and contrary to the Greek constitution.

"Then listen to me, Mr. Ambassador," said the President of the United States, "fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America, is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good . . . We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long." [5]

In July 1965, George Papandreou was finally maneuvered out of office by royal prerogative. The king had a coalition of breakaway Centre Union Deputies (Papandreou's party) and rightists waiting in the wings to form a new government. It was later revealed by a State Department official that the CIA Chief-of-Station in Athens, John Maury, had "worked in behalf of the palace in 1965. He helped King Constantine buy Centre Union Deputies so that the George Papandreou Government was toppled." [6]

For nearly two years thereafter, various short-lived cabinets ruled until it was no longer possible to avoid holding the elections prescribed by the constitution.

What concerned the opponents of George Papandreou most about him was his son. Andreas Papandreou, who had been head of the economics department at the University of California at Berkeley and a minister in his father's cabinet, was destined for a leading role in the new government. But he was by no means the wide-eyed radical. In the United States, Andreas had been an active supporter of such quintessential moderate liberals as Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. [7] His economic views, wrote 'Washington Post' columnist Marquis Childs, were "those of the American New Deal". [8]

But Andreas Papandreou did not disguise his wish to take Greece out of the cold war. He publicly questioned the wisdom of the country remaining in NATO, or at least ramaining in it as a satellite of the United States. He leaned toward opening relations with the Soviet Union and other Communist countries on Greece's border. He argued that the swollen American military and intelligence teams in Greece compromised the nation's freedom of action. And he viewed the Greek Army as a threat to democracy, wishing to purge it of its most dictatorial-and royalist-minded senior officers. [9]

Andreas Papandreou's bark was worse than his bite, as his later presidency was to simply demonstrate. (He did not, for example, pull Greece out of NATO or US bases out of Greece.) But in Lyndon johnson's Washingon, if you were not totally and unquestionably with us, you were agin' us. Johnson felt hat Andreas, who had become a naturalized US citizen, had betrayed America". Said LBJ:

We gave the son of a bitch American citizenship, didn't we? He was an American, with all the rights and privileges. And he had sworn allegiance to the flag. And then he gave up his American citizenship. He went back to just being a Greek. You can't trust a man who breaks his oath of allegiance to the flag of the United States. [10]

What, then, are we to make of the fact that Andreas Papandreou was later reported to have worked with the CIA in the early 1960s? (He criticized publication of the report, but did not deny the charge.) [11] If true, it would not have been incompatible with being a liberal, particularly at that time. It was incompatible, as he susequently learned, only with his commitment to a Greece independent from US foreign policy.

As for the elder Papandreou, his anti-communist credentials were impeccable, dating back to his role as a Brtitsh-installed prime-minister during the civil war against the left in 1944-45. But he, too, showed stirrings of independence from the Western superpower. He refused to buckle under Johnson's pressure to compromise with Turkey over Cyprus. He accepted an invitation to visit Moscow, and when his government said it would accept Soviet aid in preparation for a possible war with Turkey, the US Embassy 'demanded' an explanation. Moreover, in an attempt to heal the old wounds of the civil war, Papandreoubegan to reintroduce certain civil liberties and to readmit into Greece some of those who had fought against the government in the civil war peroid. [12]

When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 he was shocked to discover what was becoming a fact of life for every techno-industrial state in the world: an intelligence service gone wild, a shadow government with powers beyond the control of the nation's nominal leaders. This, thought Papandreou, accounted for many of the obstacles the government was encountering in trying to carry out its policies. [13]

The Greek intelligence service, KYP, as we have seen, was created by the OSS/CIA in the course of the civil war, with hundreds of its officers receiving training in the United States. One of these men, George Papadopoulos, was the leader of the junta that seized power in 1967. Andreas Papandreou found that the KYP routinely bugged ministerial converstaions and turned the data over to the CIA. (Many Western intelligence agencies have long provided the CIA with information about their own government and citizens, and the CIA has reciprocated on occasion. The nature of much of this information has been such that if a private citizen were to pass it to a foreign power he could be charged with treason.)

As a result of his discovery, the younger Papandreou dismissed the two top KYP men and replaced them with reliable officers. The new director was ordered to protect the cabinet from surveillance. "He came back apologetically," recalls Papandreou, "to say he couldn't do it. All the equipment was American, controlled by the CIA or Greeks under CIA supervision. There was no kind of distinction between the two services. They duplicated functions in a counterpart relationship. In effect, they were a single agency." [14]

Andreas Papandreou's order to abolish the bugging of the cabinet inspired the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Norbert Anshutz (or Anschuetz), to visit him.

Anshutz, who has been linked to the CIA, demanded that Papandreou rescind the order. Andreas demanded that the American leave his office, which he did, but not before warning that "there would be consequences". [15]

Papandreou then requested that a thorough search be made of his home and office for electronic devices by the new KYP deputy director. "It wasn't until much later," says Andreas, "that we discovered he'd simply planted a lot of new bugs. Lo and behold, we'd brought in another American-paid operative as our No. 2." [16]

An endeavor by Andreas to end the practice of KYP's funds coming directly from the CIA without passing through any Greek ministry also met with failure, but he did succeed in transferring the man who had been liaison between the two agencies for sevearl years. This was George Papadopoulos. The change in his position, however, appears to have amounted to little more than a formality, for the organization still took orders from him; even afterwards, Greek "opposition politicians who sought the ear (or the purse) of James Potts, CIA [deputy] chief in Athens before the coup, were often told: 'See George -- he's my boy'."

In mid-February 1967, a meeting took place in the White House, reported Marquis Childs to discuss CIA reports which "left no doubt that a military coup was in the making ... It could hardly have been secret. Since 1947 the Greek army and the American military aid group in Athens, numbering several hundred, have worked as part of the same team ... The solemn question was whether by some subtle political intervention the coup could be prevented" and thus preserve parliamentary government. It was decided that no course of action was feasible. As one of the senior civilians present recalls it, Walt Rostow, the President's adviser on national security affairs, closed the meeting with these words: I hope you understand, gentlemen, that what we have concluded here, or rather have failed to conclude, makes the future course of events in Greece inevitable. [18]

A CIA report dated 23 January 1967 had specifically named the Papadopoulos group as one plotting the coup, and was apparently one of the reports discussed at the February meeting. [19]

Of the cabal of five officers which took power in April four, reportedly, were intimately connected to the American military or to the CIA in Greece. The fifth man had been brought in becasue of the armored units he commanded. [20] George Papadopoulos emerged as the 'de facto' leader, taking the title of prime minister later in the year.

The catchword amongst old hands at the US military mission in Greece was that Papadopoulos was "the first CIA agent to become Premier of a European country". "Many Greeks consider this to be the simple truth," reported Charles Foley in 'The Observer' of London. [21]

At the time of the coup, Papadopoulos had been on the CIA payroll for some 15 years. [22] One reason for the success of their marriage may have been Colonel Papadopoulos's World War II record. When the Germans invaded Greece, Papadopoulos served as a captain in the Nazi's Security Battalions whose main task was to track down Greek resistance fighters. [23] He was, it is said, a great believer in Hitler's "new order", and his later record in power did little to cast doubt upon that claim. Foley writes that when he mentioned the junta leader's pro-German background to an American military adviser he met at a party in Athens, the American hinted that it was related to Papadopoulos's subservience to US wishes: "George gives good value," he smiled, "because there are documents in Washington he wouldn't like let out." [24]

Foley relates that under Papadopoulos:

intense official propaganda portrayed Communism as the only enemy Greece had ever had and minimized the German occupation until even Nazi atrocities were seen as provoked by the Communists. This rewriting of history clearly reflects the dictator's concern at the danger that the gap in his official biography may some day be filled in. [25]

As part of the rewriting, members of the Security Battalions became "heroes of the resistance". [26]

It was torture, however, which most indelibly marked the seven-year Greek nightmare. James Becket, an American attorney sent to Greece by Amnesty International, wrote in December 1969 that a "conservative estimate would place at not less than two thousand" the number of people tortured. [27] It was an odious task for Beckett to talk to some of the victims:

People had been mercilessly tortured simply for being in possession of a leaflet criticizing the regime. Brutality and cruelty on one side, frustration and helplessness on the other. They were being tortured and there was nothing to be done. It was like listening to a friend who has cancer. What comfort, what wise reflection can someone who is comfortable give? Torture might last a short time, but the person will never be the same. [28].

Becket reported that some torturers had told prisoners that some of their equipment had come as US military aid: a special "thick white double cable" whip was one item; another was the headscrew, known as an "iron wreath", which was progressively tightened around the head or ears. [29]

The Amnesty delegation desribed a number of the other torture methods commonly employed. Among these were:

a) Beating the soles of the feet with a stick or pipe. After four months of this, the soles of one prisoner were covered with thick scar tissue. Another was crippled by broken bones.

b) Numerous incidents of sexually-oriented torture: shoving fingers or an object into the vagina and twisting and tearing and brutally; also done with the anus; or a tube is inserted into the anus and water driven in under very high pressure.

c) Techniques of gagging: the throat is grasped in such a way that the windpipe is cut off, or a filthy rag, often soaked in urine, and sometimes excrement, is shoved down the throat.

d) Tearing out the hair from the head and the pubic region.

e) Jumping on the stomach.

f) Pulling out toe nails and finger nails. [30]

These were not the worst. The worst is what one reads in the many individual testimonies. But these are simply too lengthy to be repeated here. [31]

The junta's response to the first Amnesty report was to declare that it was comprised of charges emanating from "International Communism" and to hire public relations firms in New York and London to improve its image. [32]

In 1969, the European Commission of Human Rights found Greece guilty of torture, murder and other violations. For these reasons and particularly for the junta's abolition of parliamentary democracy, The Council of Europe -- a consultative body of, at that time, 18 European States, under which the Commission falls -- was preparing to expel Greece. The council rejected categorically Greece's claim that it had been in danger of a communist takeover. Amnesty International later reported that the United States, though not a member of the Council, actively applied diplomatic pressure on member states not to vote for the expulsion. (Nonetheless, while the Council was deliberating, the 'New York Times' reported that "The State Department said today that the United States had deliberately avoided taking any position on the question of continued Greek membership in the Council of Europe.") The European members, said Amnesty, believed that only the United Sates had the power to bring about changes in Greece, yet it chose only to defend the junta. [33]

On the specific issue of torture, Amnesty's report concluded that:

American policy on the torture question as expressed in the official testimony has been to deny it where possible and minize it where denial was not possible. This policy flowed naturally from general support for the military regime. [34]

As matters transpired, Greece walked out before the Council could formalize the expulsion.

In a world grown increasingly hostile, the support of the world's most powerful nation was 'sine qua non' for the Greek junta. The two governments thrived upon each other. Said the American ambassador to Greece, Henry Tasca, "This is the most anti-communist group you'll find anywhere. There is just no place like Greece to offer these facilities with the back up of the kind of Government you have got here." ("You", not "we", noted the reporter, was the only pretense.) [35]

The facilities the ambassador was referring to were dozens of US military installations, from nuclear missile bases to major communication sites, housing tens of thousands of American servicemen. The United States, in turn, provided the junta with ample military hardware despite an official congressional embargo, as well as the police equipment required by the Greek authorities to maintain their rigid control.

In an attempt to formally end the embargo, the Nixon administration asked Papadopoulos to make some gesture towards constitutional government which the White House could then point to. The Greek prime minister was to be assured, said a secret White House document, that the administration would take "at face value and accept without reservation" any such gesture. [36]

US Vice-president Spiro Agnew, on a visit to the land of his ancestors, was moved to exalt the "achievements" of the Greek government and its "constant co-operation with US needs and wishes". [37] One of the satisfied needs Agnew may have had in mind was the contribution of $549,000 made by the junta to the 1968 Nixon-Agnew election campaign. Apart from any other consideration, it was suspected that this was money given to the junta by the CIA finding its way back to Washington. A Senate investigation of this question was abruptly canceled at the direct request of Henry Kissinger. [38]

Perhaps nothing better captures the mystique of the bond felt by the Greeks to their American guardians than the story related about the Chief Inspector Basil Lambrou, one of Athens' well-known torturers:

Hundreds of prisoners have listened to the little speech given by Inspector Basil Lambrou, who sits behind his desk which displays the red, white, and blue clasped-hand symbol of American aid. He tries to show the prisoner the absolute fultility of resistance: "You make yourself ridiculous by thinking you can do anything. The world is divided in two. There are the communists on that side and on this side the free world. The Russians and the Americans, no one else. What are we? Americans. Behind me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, behind NATO is the U.S. You can't fight us, we are Americans." [39]

Amnesty International adds that some torturers would tell their victims things like: "The Human Rights Commission can't help you now ... The Red Cross can do nothing for you ... Tell them all, it will do no good, you are helpless." "The torturers from the start," said Amnesty, "had said that the United States supported them and that was what counted." [40]

In November 1973, a falling-out within the Greek inner circle culminated in the ousting of Papadopoulos and his replacement by Col. Demetrios Ioannidis, Commander of the Military Police, torturer, graduate of american training in anti-subversive techniques, confidant of the CIA. [41] Ioannidis named as prime-minister a Greek-American, A. Androutsopoulos, who came to Greece after the Second World War as an official employee of the CIA, a fact of which Androutsopoulos had often boasted. [42]

Eight months later, the Ioannidis regime overthrew the government. It was a fatal miscalculation. Turkey invaded Cyprus and the reverberations in Athens resulted in the military giving way to a civilian government. The Greek nightmare had come to an end.

Much of the story of American complicity in the 1967 coup and its aftermath may never be known. At the trials held in 1975 of junta members and torturers, many witnesses made reference to the American role. This may have been the reason a separate investigation of this aspect was scheduled to be undertaken by the Greek Court of Appeals. [43] But it appears that no information resulting from this inquiry, if it actually took place, was ever announced. Philip Deane, upon returning to Greece several months after the civilian government took over, was told by leading politicians that "for the sake of preserving good relations with the US, the evidence of US complicity will not be made fully public". [44]

Andreas Papndreou had been arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup. [45]

by William Blum

(Common Courage Press ISBN: 1567510523)

The Story Continued

Taksim Part 1: The 1950's - Terror campaign launched against Greeks

Taksim Part 2: The early 60's - Turkey provokes clashes and attempts to invade

Taksim Part 3: The late 60's - Turkey seizes strategic positions

Taksim Part 4: The Turkish invasion of 1974

American Duplicity Part 1: How America created the Greek junta

American Duplicity Part 2: Cyprus sacrificed for American spy bases

American Duplicity Part 3: A nation betrayed

American Duplicity Part 4: The CIA files

American Duplicity Part 5: Kissinger illegally abetted Turkish invasion

American Duplicity Part 6: US connived to facilitate Turkey

British Treason Part 1: How Britain masterminded Cyprus partition

British Treason Part 2: How Britain sabotaged a bi-communal agreement

British Treason Part 3: Turkish terrorists were armed by Britain

British Treason Part 4: The MI6 files

A grieving mother holding photos of her missing son.
1600+ men, women and children still missing

Greek Cypriots taken prisoner and transported to Turkey.
up to 70,000 held hostage in concentration camps

A Greek Cypriot napalmed by the Turkish air-force.
5000+ massacred

Greek Cypriots subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment.
thousands raped and tortured
200,000 ethnically cleansed

Christian gave stones smashed by the Turks.
500+ churches desecrated or destroyed

The murder of Tasos Isaac.
murders of refugees continue to this day

The murder of Solomos Solomou.

2001/2002 HEC and Argyros Argyrou. Updated on 8 September 2002.