Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Nicholas A. Veliotes
VELIOTES: Although that isn't where they get most of their human information. They get it through people who want to give it to us. But nevertheless that's what you're trained in. I never saw that as a major problem, even in the cultural field. When the CIA funded the Afro-American Institute, the Asia Foundation, and other things, there were specific reasons why they funded, for example, the Afro-American Institute. We could not, as an ally of Portugal, get close to the future leaders of Portuguese Africa, but a private foundation could. That is nothing to apologize for.
Q: No, no, I understand.
VELIOTES: I never felt that as a major problem. I knew it, I mean, it was there, you could guess. I felt the CIA, like the armed forces, if you will, was a little like a police department. They're part and parcel of the world we live in. I never felt that this was really undercutting us. Not that I agreed with everything they did. I thought a lot of what was done was unnecessary. Dabbling for the sake of dabbling. But by and large I never felt that the existence of the CIA undercut what we were trying to do. I think there is a difference between looking at the CIA as an institution... And, as I've said, I understand it, I certainly accept it, and I believe it was and is a necessary component to what we do in this world to support American interests. And I happen to believe that America was and is still the world's last best hope. So, if you disagree with that, you'd say, well, the CIA, everything it does is awful. That doesn't mean I agreed with everything the CIA did. Now Bob Woodward is a little older than I am, and Bob may have lived through circumstances where he was in command of...
Q: Well, particularly in Central America during the Eisenhower administration, when there was...
VELIOTES: Well, they knocked off...
VELIOTES: Yeah, Arbenz in Guatemala, for example. If that had been a rogue operation, I think the CIA should be condemned. But it wasn't; it was approved by the White House. And that's where I draw the line. It's not fair to blame the CIA for operations that the political leadership of the country, including the secretary of state, quite often, has agreed with.
Q: Very good point.