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Charles Cogan: Former Congo prime minister ousted, not outed, by CIA

On August 12, after a day of visiting rape victims in lovely, lush Kivu Province, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a town meeting of sorts with Congolese students far, far away in the capital, Kinshasa. When one of the students asked her what Mr. Clinton thought, she blew it. It was understandable; she was tired and he is no longer her hierarchical supervisor. Actually, the exchanges had been friendly enough at the beginning but got a little edgy, according to Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times, “when several students pushed her on why Congo, whose first prime minister was ousted with the help of the CIA, should now trust the United States. She then became a little prickly.” Mr. Gettleman chose his words wisely. Others have not been so prudent. Prime Minister Lumumba was probably ousted with at least the encouragement of the CIA, but he was not outed. What would you do in the summer of 1960, as Lumumba was bringing in 1,000 Soviets into the country and acting so weird as to persuade Washington officialdom that he was on drugs? What would you do if you were the CIA Chief in the Congo — the late Larry Devlin, a swashbuckling veteran of World War II in Italy, formerly based in Brussels, where he had taken the measure of Lumumba at a conference the year before? What would you do to advise the rival Binza Group, headed by Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, whose life Devlin had saved that summer in warning him of impending attacks. You probably would have encouraged him to oust Lumumba, which the Binza Group did in September 1960.

THE INDEX — July 27, 2009

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THE INDEX — February 26, 2009

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