The CIA on Twitter: One Year Later

Masters of Deceit, Spy Agency’s Tweets of Little Value

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| June 6, 2015                          

@CIA: "We wish to formally apologize for the overthrow of Mossadegh, Arbenz, Lumumba, Allende, etc. Sorry about Bay of Pigs too #OurBad"

There was a certain tinge of the absurd when the Central Intelligence Agency joined Twitter one year ago today. The CIA is, after all, a shady and secretive organization by nature. Frequently operating outside the law, direct sunlight has never been its friend. So what on earth would the top U.S. spy agency have to offer us in tweet land?

On June 6, 2014, the Mossadegh Project posted: “The CIA has joined Twitter and just sent their first tweet today...”. It was accompanied by the image above.

Notice we never said that it was their first tweet.

Reconciliation At Last?

Of course, not everyone filtered it in the way it was intended. While most people got the joke, a number of people assumed it was the real deal. Others knew the tweet was fake, yet, despite the trail of humorous clues, somehow remained convinced that it was done deliberately to mislead.

The only thing I knew for sure was that whatever the reaction, it would be interesting. What I didn’t necessarily expect was that one year later, there would still be people sharing and discussing it. (See some of those responses here).

It was pretty darned unlikely, for example, that the CIA would decide to kick off its shiny new Twitter account by conjuring up the historic Bay of Pigs fiasco, perhaps the single greatest humiliation in the agency’s history.

Nor would they have been too enthusiastic about sudden confessions for CIA-hatched coups spanning decades (Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Chile...) which have devastated entire societies and led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people worldwide.

Deception and obfuscation is the finely honed craft of the CIA. So what could be more fitting than to fabricate the very first tweet from this gang of con artists and criminals?
Besides, the tweet’s authenticity could easily be checked in seconds. Think of our impossibly idealistic CIA ‘apology’ tweet as a kind of art piece. You could even print it out and frame it...

Up To Their Necks in Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

When the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a five-year review of CIA practices, and found that the agency had lied about its “brutal” and “ineffective" interrogation techniques, the CIA Twitter account was predictably silent on the matter.

Remember: the CIA are masters of deceit. They have to be, they’re spies! Many are probably familiar with those tales of CIA agents who, for their entire career, kept their job secret from everyone, including their own wives. Imagine what kind of human being would willingly sign on for such a life. As an ordinary function of their trade, these people must lie constantly—to the media, their families... sometimes even to each other. And they’re proud of their work!

Take for example, this blurb from the inside cover of Countercoup (1979) by the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the puffed-up account of the overthrow of Iran’s first democratically elected (and quite popular) Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh:

“His effectiveness as an agent and organizer was attested to by Kim Philby, the British agent turned Russian spy, who called the author “the quiet American. . .the last person you would expect to be up to his neck in dirty tricks.
Dirty tricks. Psychological warfare. Assassinations. Black Propaganda. False Flag Operations. Torture. The CIA revels in the fear they produce.

By way of demonstration, here’s a cute little exchange during a Feb. 2013 Today Show interview with the CIA’s Argo hero, Tony Mendez:

Q: Are you hoping Argo wins? [The Oscar for Best Picture]

MENDEZ: Are you kidding me?

Q: (Smiling) That’s a yes...


Q: So we’ll have our fingers crossed.

MENDEZ: Yeah, and then we’ll blow up their car if it doesn’t happen...

Q: (Chuckling) I thought you said that the CIA guys were loveable.

MENDEZ: They are.

Q: But you don’t want to get them on your bad side.

MENDEZ: That’s right.

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, a 15 year veteran of the agency specializing in counterterrorism, discovered his former employer’s bad side in a big way. After heroically exposing its illegal, sadistic torture program, he was jailed for 2½ years (it could have been 45). “[T]he place is run by lunatics”, he says, referring to CIA headquarters, not the prison environment he just recently left behind.

I Don’t Follow...

As their actual first tweet exhibited plainly, the CIA basks in its reputation to the point of self-parody:

So there was nothing too outrageous or inappropriate about our little stunt. The CIA’s own inaugural tweet was itself a joke. And they’ve been keeping it stupid ever since...

Come to think of it, perhaps it’s understandable how some people could have found that fake tweet plausible. It’s a crazy world out there.


Related links:

The CIA Crisis | The Washington Post editorial, December 24, 1974

White House Responds to Question of Apology For 1953 Coup in Iran (May 2015)

A Job Well Done: CIA Commendations Proposed For Mossadegh Overthrow (August 1953)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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