C.I.A. HAS LONG SOUGHT TO SWAY FOREIGN VOTERS
By JEFF GERTH
Published: May 13, 1984
WASHINGTON, May 12— The report that the Central Intelligence Agency contributed more than $1.4 million to two political parties in El Salvador’s presidential campaign is the latest episode in the agency’s history of involvement in foreign elections.
A Reagan Administration official familiar with C.I.A. operations said Friday that the C.I.A. had given the money to the parties as part of a total of $2.1 million it spent on the election.
Since the 1940’s, the agency has played a covert role in elections and in the affairs of political parties in other countries, according to a variety of news reports, books, Congressional investigations and secret testimony from C.I.A. officials.
These involvements were secret at the time, but details emerged and became the subject of controversy both in the United States and in countries where the C.I.A. played a role in the electoral process.
Blocking Rightist’s Election
The Administration official said Friday that the C.I.A. gave $960,000 to El Salvador’s Christian Democratic Party to support the successful presidential candidacy of Jose Napoleon Duarte. It also gave $437,000 to the National Conciliation Party to help its candidate, Francisco Jose Guerrero, the official said. The money was intended, he said, to prevent the election of Roberto d’Aubuisson, a rightist candidate.
According to a 1976 report by a Senate select committee whose chairman was Senator Frank Church, the C.I.A.’s involvement in foreign elections began in the late 1940’s when its Office of Policy Coordination subsidized labor and political organizations in Western Europe, which were intended ”to serve as alternatives to Soviet- or Communist-inspired groups.”
In the 1950’s, the report said, the agency expanded its efforts to influence politics in third world countries. ”Financial support was provided to parties, candidates, and incumbent leaders of almost every political persuasion, except the extreme right and left,” the committee report said.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s political parties in a number of European countries were actively assisted by the C.I.A., according to the intelligence committee report and earlier news accounts. In Italy, for example, the C.I.A. secretly financed the Christian Democratic Party from the end of World War II until 1967, sending an average of about $3 million annually, according to one published account.
Similar payments occurred in Greece, according to published news accounts. News accounts in the early 1970’s said that the C.I.A. stopped its subsidies of Greek political figures in 1972, but that it had actively assisted the efforts of King Constantine to undermine the liberal Center Union Party until 1967, when the King was ousted in a coup just before scheduled elections.
C.I.A. payments to Chilean politicians were disclosed in the 1970’s during Congressional hearings into intelligence-gathering abuses. The Senate intelligence committee listed $3 million in C.I.A. aid in 1964 to Eduardo Frei Montalva, a liberal member of the Christian Democratic Party who defeated the leftist candidate, Salvador Allende Gossens, in elections that year.
Covert Operations in Chile
In the 1970 Chilean presidential election, which Mr. Allende won, the C.I.A. used money in an attempt to discredit Mr. Allende, according to the intelligence committee report. Between 1964 and 1969, it said, the C.I.A. conducted at least 20 covert operations in Chile, most of them designed to support moderate and conservative candidates in Chilean congressional elections, the Senate intelligence committee found in 1975.
In the Vietnam War, according to books published in the United States, the C.I.A. spent heavily on various elections in South Vietnam. In the 1971 election, for example, the books reported that the C.I.A. poured millions of dollars into the campaign treasury of Nguyen Van Thieu, who ultimately won the election. While the C.I.A. was secretly assisting Mr. Thieu, official announcements from the State Department and elsewhere proclaimed that the United States was remaining neutral in the elections.
In the 1971 election in South Vietnam, according to one book, the C.I.A. also helped maneuver Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky out of the race.
In 1974, a book published in Australia said that the C.I.A. had offered funds to Australian opposition parties in an attempt to defeat the Labor Government in elections. The author never said whether the money was actually spent. The United States Ambassador called the charges false.
The Church committee said the number of covert activities, including active involvement in the politics of other nations, reached a peak in the mid- 1960’s. It attributed the decline in such aid after that to several factors, including ”shifting U.S. foreign policy priorities in the 1970’s which have de-emphasized sustained involvement in the internal affairs of other nations.”