from the book

The CIAs Greatest Hits

by Mark Zepezauer


In April 1967, a Greek election campaign was about to begin. The candidate favored to win the election was George Papandreou, a staunch anticommunist. His son Andreas was a bit more left-wing, an admirer of subversives like Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson. Both the Papandreous, however, were a bit too independent for US policymakers.

Andreas Papandreou had mused publicly about steering a more neutral course for Greece in the Cold War. He also had some misgivings-correct ones, as it turned out-about the autocratic nature of certain elements in the Greek military.

George Papandreou had previously served as prime minister, but had been removed from power in 1965 by the king, with the assistance of the CIA. Like his son, he showed signs of less than complete subservience to US interests.

Two days before the election campaign was to begin, a group of colonels overthrew the government and established military rule. The leader of the coup had been on the CIA payroll for the previous fifteen years

For the next six years, martial law held sway in the birthplace of democracy. Widespread censorship, routine use of torture, brutal beatings and killings by the government became standard. Among the offenses deemed worthy of torture was possession of leaflets critical of the government. While being tortured, victims were taunted that they were beyond all help, since the colonels were supported by the power of the United States.

The official justification for the coup and the hideous repression that followed was that they were necessary to save the nation from a communist takeover. The Papandreous weren't communists, of course, but they were something much more dangerous committed, independent nationalists.

The US attitude toward that breed is made clear by the following quote: When the Greek ambassador objected to President Johnson's plan for settling a dispute concerning Cyprus, LBJ told him, "Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good....If your prime minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitutions, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last very long."

CIAs Greatest Hits

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