Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement

By Ross Gelbspan | Go to book overview

6
Allies in the Shadows: The FBI's
Private Network

While Frank Varelli was the first FBI employee to infiltrate and report on developments within CISPES, a network of private, right-wing organizations was also at work spying on emerging liberal and left-wing Central America groups, disrupting their activities and providing material for the FBI's files. Many of the same groups that gathered intelligence on religious and political groups, including CISPES—and disseminated a blitz of distorted, scurrilous material tying them to purported international communist-inspired terror networks—would later be shown to have formed the propaganda and funding core of the Reagan Administration's private contra-support network.

In the context of domestic intelligence gathering, their affiliation with the FBI had been authorized by a little-noticed provision of a presidential order signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981 which permitted the FBI to "contract with...private companies or institutions...and need not reveal the sponsorship of such contracts or arrangements for authorized intelligence purposes." 1

A number of the domestic conservative groups who aided the Administration's secret campaign to support the contras and to neutralize opponents of its Central America policies worked with other foreign governments and organizations under the umbrella of an international organization known as the World Anti-Communist League. The League's membership includes some of the most ultra-conservative and reactionary elements in the non-communist world. Founded in 1967, WACL has included in its membership a number of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators and counts among its various regional affiliates Guatemalan and Salvadoran death squad leaders, including Mario Sandoval Alarcon, a former vice president of Guatemala known as the "Godfather of the

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