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Congo-Kinshasa: New Evidence Shows U.S. Role in Congo’s Decision to Send Patrice Lumu

Ra_NkalaRa_Nkala Members Posts: 48
edited August 2010 in The Social Lounge
Congo-Kinshasa: New Evidence Shows U.S. Role in Congo’s Decision to Send Patrice Lumumba to His Death


Stephen R. Weissman
1 August 2010


Fifty years ago, the former Belgian Congo received its independence under the democratically elected government of former prime minister Patrice Lumumba. Less than seven months later, Lumumba and two colleagues were, in the contemporary idiom, “rendered” to their Belgian-backed secessionist enemies, who tortured them before putting them before a firing squad. The Congo would not hold another democratic election for 46 years. In 2002, following an extensive parliamentary inquiry, the Belgian government assumed a portion of responsibility for Lumumba’s murder.
But controversy has continued to swirl over allegations of U.S. government responsibility, as the reception for Raoul Peck’s acclaimed film, “Lumumba,” demonstrated. After all, the U.S. had at least as much, if not more, influence in the Congolese capital as Belgium. It was the major financier and political supporter of the U.N. peacekeeping force that controlled most of the country. According to still classified documents that I first revealed eight years ago, members of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “Project Wizard” covert action program dominated the post-Lumumba Congolese regime. However, a 1975 U.S. Senate investigation of alleged CIA assassinations concluded that while the CIA had earlier plotted to murder Lumumba, he was eventually killed “by Congolese rivals. It does not appear from the evidence that the United States was in any way involved in the killing.”

It is now clear that conclusion was wrong. A new analysis of the declassified files of the Senate “Church” Committee (chaired by Democratic Senator Frank Church), CIA and State Department, along with memoirs and interviews of U.S. and Belgian covert operators, establishes that CIA Station Chief Larry Devlin was consulted by his Congolese government “cooperators” about the transfer of Lumumba to sworn enemies, had no objection to it and withheld knowledge from Washington of the impending move, forestalling the strong possibility that the State Department would have intervened to try to save Lumumba. I detail this evidence in a new article in the academic journal, Intelligence and National Security, vol. 25, no. 2 (The full article is available from thepublisher.)
Here, briefly, are the most important new findings:
- Former U.S. officials who knew Lumumba now acknowledge that the administration of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower mistakenly cast him as a dangerous vehicle of Soviet influence.
- Covert CIA actions against the Lumumba government, often dovetailing with Belgian ones, culminated in Colonel Joseph Mobutu’s military coup, which was “arranged and supported and indeed managed” by the CIA alone, according to Devlin’s private interview with the Church Committee staff.
- The CIA station and U.S. embassy provided their inexperienced and politically weak Congolese protégés with a steady stream of political and military recommendations. The advice arrived both before Congolese government decisions and shortly afterwards when foreign advisers were invited in to offer feedback. Devlin’s counsel was largely heeded on critical matters, especially when it came to Lumumba. Thus Mobutu and former president Joseph Kasavubu were persuaded to resist political pressures to reconcile with Lumumba, and Mobutu reluctantly acceded to Devlin’s request to arrest him. After both Devlin and the American ambassador intervened, the government dropped its plan to attack U.N. troops guarding Lumumba. And after Lumumba was publicly brutalized by Mobutu’s troops, the U.S. embassy – under pressure from the State Department, which was concerned about African governments’ threats to pull out of the U.N. force – pushed Kasavubu into promising Lumumba “humane treatment” and a “fair trial.”
- In this context of U.S. adviser-Congolese leader interactions, Devlin’s decision not to intervene after he was informed by a “government leader” of a plan to send Lumumba to his “sworn enemy” signaled that he had no objection to the government’s course. It was also seen that way by Devlin’s Belgian counterpart, Colonel Louis Marliere, who later wrote, “There was a ‘consensus’ and …no adviser, whether he be Belgian or American, thought to dissuade them.” Considering Congolese leaders’ previous responsiveness to CIA and U.S. embassy views, Devlin’s permissive attitude was undoubtedly a major factor in the government final action. (Its last-minute switch of sending Lumumba to murderous secessionists in Katanga instead of murderous secessionists in South Kasai does not change the crucial fact that Devlin gave a green light to delivering Lumumba to men who had publicly vowed to 🤬 him.)
- Furthermore, shortly before the transfer, Mobutu indicated to Devlin that Lumumba “might be executed,” according to a Church Committee interview. Devlin did not suggest that he offered any objection or caution.
- Cables show that Devlin did not report to Washington the impending rendition for three days (i.e. until it was already underway), forestalling the strong possibility that the State Department would have intervened to try and protect Lumumba as it had done several weeks earlier. When news came that Lumumba had been flown to Belgian-supported Katanga (but before it became known that he was already dead), a top State Department official called in the Belgian ambassador to complain about Belgian advisers’ possible contribution to the Congolese government’s “gaffe” and to insist upon the need for “humane treatment.”
- The Church Committee failed to uncover the full truth about the U.S. role because of its inattention to the covert relationship between the CIA and Congolese decision makers, CIA delays in providing key cables, and political pressure to water down its original draft conclusions.
Devlin died in 2008 after consistently denying any knowledge of his Congolese associates’ “true plans” for Lumumba, and maintaining that he had “stalled” the earlier CIA assassination plot. Yet declassified CIA cables disprove his claims.
One horrible crime cannot, by itself, change history. But the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the most dynamic political leader the Congo has ever produced, was a critical step in the consolidation of an oppressive regime. At the same time, it crystallized an eventual 35-year U.S. commitment to the perpetuation of that regime, not just against Lumumba’s followers but against all comers. In the end, Mobutu’s kleptocracy would tear civil society apart, destroy the state and help pave the way for a regional war that would 🤬 millions of people.
There can no longer be any doubt that the U.S., Belgian and Congolese governments shared major responsibility for the assassination of Lumumba in Katanga. The young prime minister was an imperfect leader during an unprecedented and overwhelming international crisis. But he continues to be honored around the world because he incarnated – if only for a moment – the nationalist and democratic struggle of the entire African continent against a recalcitrant West.
If the U.S. government at last publicly acknowledged – and apologized for – its role in this momentous assassination, it would also be communicating its support for the universal principles Lumumba embodied. What better person to take this step than the American president, himself a son of Africa?
Stephen R. Weissman is author of “An Extraordinary Rendition,” in Intelligence and National Security, v.25, no.2 (April 2010) and American Foreign Policy in the Congo 1960-1964. He is a former Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa.
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Comments

  • And StepAnd Step Members Posts: 3,726 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    You won't get many response to post like these RA.

    Many people like to play the Africans killing each other indiscriminately card. When you show the hidden manipulative hand, things get eerily quiet,
  • ThaChozenWunThaChozenWun Members Posts: 9,390
    edited August 2010
    And Step wrote: »
    You won't get many response to post like these RA.

    Many people like to play the Africans killing each other indiscriminately card. When you show the hidden manipulative hand, things get eerily quiet,

    Because some people don't know how to respond.

    Some are only here for fun through making others angry

    some only like conspiracies

    and for people like me it is no surprise. coming in and saying "nothing new" would be useless. America has been in Africa since the slave trade started producing war and things like it. Killing off tribes who refuse to move so oil lines can be put it, killing off good politicians and implanting their favorites for leader and 🤬 like it.
  • musicology1985musicology1985 Members Posts: 4,632 ✭✭
    edited August 2010
    And Step wrote: »
    You won't get many response to post like these RA.

    Many people like to play the Africans killing each other indiscriminately card. When you show the hidden manipulative hand, things get eerily quiet,

    Truth. These posts are great for archives so that when the conspiracy deniers & Africa bashers get loud, actual documentation can be brought forth.

    So to thread-starter, we appreciate the postage and keep doing your thing, because we will need this.
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    props to t/s for this thread. London was basically stating this very thing in my Congo thread, while janklow , imo couldnt seem to accept the fact..
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    London was basically stating this very thing in my Congo thread, while janklow , imo couldnt seem to accept the fact..
    i think you actually missed the point that i was disputing, which was mainly about what might have happened had Lumumba lived. then we got sidetracked into other stuff, which is generally the internet standard. but the other issue is that when you say the US assassinated someone, you imply something different than saying the US didn't stop someone from being executed or assassinated; if the latter's true, why not describe it in that fashion? take this situation: Eisenhower "cast [Lumumba] as a dangerous vehicle of Soviet influence." hell, according to Devlin, he specifically declined to take part in assassinating Lumumba (i am sure he has an agenda, of course). but if in the end they didn't intervene to stop his execution... it's still different than actually assassinating him.
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    janklow wrote: »
    i think you actually missed the point that i was disputing, which was mainly about what might have happened had Lumumba lived. then we got sidetracked into other stuff, which is generally the internet standard. but the other issue is that when you say the US assassinated someone, you imply something different than saying the US didn't stop someone from being executed or assassinated; if the latter's true, why not describe it in that fashion? take this situation: Eisenhower "cast [Lumumba] as a dangerous vehicle of Soviet influence." hell, according to Devlin, he specifically declined to take part in assassinating Lumumba (i am sure he has an agenda, of course). but if in the end they didn't intervene to stop his execution... it's still different than actually assassinating him.

    that still does not infer innocence..Im sure you kno, you can get a murder charge without actually pulling the trigger. You are speaking on the technicalities without consideration of motive, influence, association, etc, all which are completely relevant..
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    the belgians had the last word on his death due to presence of belgian troops and thsombe ties to the belgians

    the us had no such influence
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    props to t/s for this thread. London was basically stating this very thing in my Congo thread, while janklow , imo couldnt seem to accept the fact..

    what fact?
  • And StepAnd Step Members Posts: 3,726 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    the belgians had the last word on his death due to presence of belgian troops and thsombe ties to the belgians

    the us had no such influence

    crispus attucks
  • And StepAnd Step Members Posts: 3,726 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    the belgians had the last word on his death due to presence of belgian troops and thsombe ties to the belgians

    the us had no such influence

    Actually, that is not true. The CIA helped in the search for Lumumba and even helped facilitated his transfer to Katanga.

    On the National Security Archives website there are declassified US government files that detail there plotting against Lumumba. There is even file that shows their intent to poison him.
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    And Step wrote: »
    Actually, that is not true. The CIA helped in the search for Lumumba and even helped facilitated his transfer to Katanga.

    On the National Security Archives website there are declassified US government files that detail there plotting against Lumumba. There is even file that shows their intent to poison him.

    belgian secret service officers were present at the scene of lumumba's death and probably were responsible for dousing his body with acid.

    the murder plots by the US were never carried out. the blame for lumumba's death fall on mobutu, thsombe and the belgians.

    why lumumba thought he could do without UN protection boggles me to this day. he was extremely naive on how dangerous the situation was
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    what fact?

    of the CIA's involvement.
  • garvgarv Confirm Email Posts: 4,080 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    the belgians had the last word on his death due to presence of belgian troops and thsombe ties to the belgians

    the us had no such influence

    Right on cue.
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    of the CIA's involvement.

    and how did this involvement get lumumba killed?
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    garv wrote: »
    Right on cue.

    baseless posts as usual
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    and how did this involvement get lumumba killed?

    The better question is, "How did their involvement not get him killed?"
  • busayobusayo Members Posts: 857
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    The better question is, "How did their involvement not get him killed?"

    they stood aside and watched it unfold.

    how exactly could the us have protected lumumba?
  • hrap-120hrap-120 Members Posts: 9,449 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    And Step wrote: »
    crispus attucks
    lmbao_____
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    that still does not infer innocence..Im sure you kno, you can get a murder charge without actually pulling the trigger. You are speaking on the technicalities without consideration of motive, influence, association, etc, all which are completely relevant..
    actually, i am considering all that, but we all know that when you say "the US assassinated Lumumba," the implication is something far more direct that what happened. again, it's tossed out there that the CIA assassinated him as if no one else was involved in the situation at all.
  • LONDON!LONDON! Members Posts: 679 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    Hyde Parke wrote: »
    The better question is, "How did their involvement not get him killed?"

    exactly, but they can't comprehend the implications of this and don't have a grasp of how the cia have rolled throughout history, how they really get down, so its a waste of time trying to break 🤬 down to em, they can't even comprehend the information(or don't want to, ignorance is bliss) ra nkula posted about this 🤬 , because it hurts there utopian golden image, perfect than perfect technical image of the cia, so don't waste your time fam
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    busayo wrote: »
    they stood aside and watched it unfold.

    they did more than just stand by and watch it unfold, for months they plotted to 🤬 this man by poisoning his toothpaste, provided funding to Mobutu to strengthen his military and stage his coup, who captured Lumumba and turned him over to Katanga authorities, they were in close contact with Belgian officials prior to, during and after his execution, and were well aware of him impending death..."stood by and watched it unfold." is an understatement to say the very least.

    how exactly could the us have protected lumumba?

    Well the UN provided protection to him before during his arrest, and when asked for their protection again, the direct order came from New York to deny his request, stating he (Lumumba) was no longer their responsibility. Have you read the Church Report? If not, I would strongly suggest you do, it provides all of the declassified cables/documents of the CIA's involvement....We can go back and forth on the simplicities of who pulled the trigger, but again, you dont have to actually pull the trigger to be implicated in a murder, if you really believe otherwise, and cannot open your mind to the possibility, then there is nothing left to be said.
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    janklow wrote: »
    actually, i am considering all that, but we all know that when you say "the US assassinated Lumumba," the implication is something far more direct that what happened. again, it's tossed out there that the CIA assassinated him as if no one else was involved in the situation at all.


    i get what you're saying.
  • Hyde ParkeHyde Parke Members Posts: 2,573 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    LONDON! wrote: »
    exactly, but they can't comprehend the implications of this and don't have a grasp of how the cia have rolled throughout history, how they really get down, so its a waste of time trying to break 🤬 down to em, they can't even comprehend the information(or don't want to, ignorance is bliss) ra nkula posted about this 🤬 , because it hurts there utopian golden image, perfect than perfect technical image of the cia, so don't waste your time fam

    you're right, the information is out there for anyone who wants to understand what really went down, if people want to cling to their belief system for whatever personal reasons
    , its on them..
  • Swiffness!Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Members Posts: 10,128 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    Obviously the CIA was not in the dark about what was going on.

    In the end, it was a group effort. Belgians, Americans, Mobutu & Co. wanted his head. Do the math.


    The 3 things that get me angriest tho is:

    1) Eisenhower - a Republican President who I admire - co signed the assassination (assuming he didn't order it) because the perception was "Lumumba is a 🤬 "

    2) The USSR turned Lumumba into Martyr for Communism, put him on stamps, named buildings after him

    3) ....and yet LUMUMBA WAS NOT A 🤬 COMMUNIST.
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    edited August 2010
    LONDON! wrote: »
    -because it hurts there utopian golden image, perfect than perfect technical image of the cia, so don't waste your time fam
    what's funny is that you have used this argument against me several times, and all along my position has been "the CIA is an overrated agenda that specializes in self-promotion"
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    1) Eisenhower - a Republican President who I admire - co signed the assassination (assuming he didn't order it) because the perception was "Lumumba is a 🤬 "
    2) The USSR turned Lumumba into Martyr for Communism, put him on stamps, named buildings after him
    3) ....and yet LUMUMBA WAS NOT A 🤬 COMMUNIST.
    i think the deal is that Lumumba, in an effort to be non-aligned/get attention/whatever, would purport to embrace the USSR. and at the time, if you ran around doing that... well...

    the USSR position is simply the opposite
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