I ran across this old post from my usenet days and thought I’d share:
I recently finished reading a book called “Witness” by Mansur Rafizadeh (Morrow and Company). Rafizadeh was Iran’s SAVAK (Iranian secret police) station chief in the US, and a covert agent for the CIA, from the mid 60’s until the fall of the shah. He has an interesting slant on things, to say the least .. painting glowing pictures of several heads of savak who he got to know personally (good soldiers who took and gave orders to ‘interrogate’ suspected subversives, I imagine … you don’t get to be head of one of the most notorious police organizations in the world by being a humanitarian). He also had, it seemed to me, a very naive view of the motives and methods of US policy towards iran, and of the US in general. Anyway, he gives some very interesting accounts of happenings in iran in the years around 1980.
A little background from the book:
“SAVAK was established in 1957 on the joint advice of the CIA, British intelligence, and MOSSAD (Israel’s secret service). By mutual consent, Britain had no active involvement in savak operations. Mossad was involved in textbook teaching, instruction in such things as preparation of reports and keeping files.
“The CIA, on the other hand, went all out. It took charge and became involved
in every aspect of savak’s daily operations.
“…. Under the provisions of the National Security Act, all human rights were taken away from the subjects of the shah. It was a magnificent piece of legal theft. It left not a single loophole, not a single right. It permitted the government, in the interests of national security, to arrest anyone without charges, without the necessity to inform either the accused or the department of justice of his or her whereabouts, or to specify the duration of imprisonment.
“The law was subject to furious questioning and opposition in parliament. In response to opposition stating that the law legalized torture, [a government representative said] ‘Well, if you don’t torture the accused, no one will ever reveal anything.’
“The Act was signed, torture was legalized, and the path was cleared for the formation of SAVAK.”
Here are some highlights from the book:
… In 1981, the Reagan administration ordered the CIA to begin courting Khomeni’s strongest opposition groups, purportedly to decide which group was most worthy of US support in overthrowing Khomeni. The CIA was able to convince these groups to cooperate and trust them by citing the following US motivations:
Revenge: America had experienced deep humiliation at the hands of the Khomeni regime. Human-rights concerns: “The american pro-human-rights position was well known.” Terrorism concerns: Iran was becoming known as a terrorist training ground.
The CIA let word leak out that it was undecided whether Iran should become a republic or return to a monarchy. The various competing underground factions were led to believe that they each had someone in CIA who supported their own particular cause. The CIA fostered this impression by assigning an officer to each group, who would give the illusion that he was sympathetic only to it. He would meet with the group’s leaders and lead them to believe that he could bolster their chances for CIA support if they could show proof of their faction’s strength in iran. “He might say something like: ‘If you want to strengthen your position, you must provide us with as many specifics as possible about your network in iran. You must give us the names of your people.’ ”
“All the leaders of these opposition groups fell for this ploy, hook line and sinker. During the next few months, they desperately vied with each other to provide as much information about their support people in iran as they could.”
“General Oveissi, like the rest of the opposition leaders, was a victim of this deception. At a meeting in Hamburg with a CIA liaison officer, the General and I discussed various civil servants, religious leaders and businessmen in Iran who supported General Oveissi. Then the CIA agent matter-of-factly produced a chart depicting the entire Iranian army structure, including names and ranks. He casually told General Oveissi, ‘Tell me which ones are yours. I’ll take this to Washington and discredit the other opposition groups and prove once and for all that you should be the leader. This will prove that you are the strongest. If you want to be Shah, we’ll make you Shah!’ ”
A few months later, the CIA gave all the information it had gathered to representatives of Khomeni. Over a thousand names had been provided by the opposition groups. Nearly all were captured and killed or imprisoned. (Remember the saturation coverage of the trials and executions of opposition leaders in Iran in late 1981 and 1982?) Thus, all the most potent forces for constructive change in Iran were neatly eliminated, and Khomeni’s previously precarious position as dictator of Iran became secure.
(As outlandish as this scenario might sound, it does corroborate other evidence in support of the ‘October Surprise’ theory dealing with the true origins of the Irangate affair.)
Postscript: “From my student days I had worked for one goal, a rule of justice and human rights for my oppressed country. The shah became monstrous, growing more and more cruel and tyrannous throughout his reign. I was to learn that the CIA, unbridled by accountability to the american public, cared little for justice and humanity, but cared a great deal for power, which it used arrogantly and dangerously.
“I believe in the essential goodness of people, and I believe that goodness can prevail if the truth is known. Through my book I hope to shed whatever light I can on this dark period of history. The truth is my last weapon. My father’s words words echo: ‘A lie has a short life. Soon it decays and the decay is the fertilizer from which a truth will grow and blossom, a truth that will last forever.’ “