18. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency to Members of the Special Coordination Committee1


  • Report on the CIA Covert Action Program Dealing with Cuban/Soviet Intervention in Angola

1. Summary: In response to the 1977 Presidential finding on Soviet/Cuban activities in Angola,2 CIA has made 219 non-attributable media placements in 50 countries and has provided comprehensive information to liaison contacts and agents of influence in 43 countries. Reports of local reactions indicate that CIA’s Angola program is achieving significant results.

2. Presidential Initiative: A Presidential finding signed 8 November 1977 instructed CIA to use its media assets, agents of influence and liaison relationships to conduct non-attributable propaganda and take other actions in order to publicize the facts concerning Soviet and Cuban activities in Angola.

3. Non-Attributable Propaganda: CIA has to date used its media assets to make 219 non-attributable press placements in the following 50 countries:

Europe ([number not declassified]) Latin America ([number not declassified]) Africa ([number not declassified]) East Asia ([number not declassified])
[14 countries not declassified] [12 countries not declassified] [10 countries not declassified] [5 countries not declassified]
Near East ([number not declassified])
[9 countries not declassified]
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Illustrative of these 219 placements are the following:

(a) a major feature story in a prominent [less than 1 line not declassified] news magazine, dealing with Cuban responsibility for instability in Angola;

(b) a four-page article in a national economic journal published in the [less than 1 line not declassified], stressing Soviet military and economic penetration of Angola through use of Cuba as a surrogate;

(c) a front page editorial in a major [less than 1 line not declassified] daily newspaper, attacking the presence of 30,000 Cubans in Africa (This editorial was repeated in a New China News Agency broadcast from Peking.);

(d) an editorial in a prominent [less than 1 line not declassified] daily, condemning Cuban intervention in Angola;

(e) a series of broadcasts over two television stations in a [less than 1 line not declassified], focusing on Cuban intervention in Angola.

4. Liaison Relationships and Agents of Influence: Comprehensive information on Angola has been provided to 99 liaison contacts and agents of influence in the following 43 countries:

Europe Latin America Africa East Asia Near East
[9 countries not declassified] [9 countries not declassified] [11 countries not declassified] [8 countries not declassified] [6 countries not declassified]

These efforts have proved highly effective. For example:

(a) A comprehensive briefing paper was passed through a [less than 1 line not declassified] to President [name not declassified]. [name not declassified] praised the paper and urgently requested additional factual information.

(b) The [less than 1 line not declassified] Minister of the Interior in [less than 1 line not declassified] was briefed and a background paper given to him for use in advising President [name not declassified] on the Angolan situation.

(c) A high level official in the Zambian [less than 1 line not declassified] expressed appreciation for briefings on Angola, indicating the reports were timely and of interest to President Kaunda.

(d) A briefing was passed to a senior [less than 1 line not declassified] who personally briefs the prime minister, the foreign minister and the defense minister.

5. Reactions: There have been numerous reactions to this combined effort. For example, in the Third World:

(a) the head of a major Latin American nation reversed his position and publicly denounced Cuban intervention in Angola following the [Page 36] circulation of a briefing paper on this subject at the top levels of government;

(b) after a briefing on Angola, both the President and Defense Minister of [place not declassified] were reported as furious, determined to get the Cubans out of Africa;

(c) the President of [place not declassified] was reported visibly upset after a briefing on Angola and sent the report to his Foreign Minister for discussion at a cabinet meeting;

(d) at a Geneva meeting of the ILO governing body, a great deal of informal discussion centered on the Cuban/Soviet role in Angola. Serious consideration was given to introducing a resolution condemning this activity, but the notion was dropped after comment that this was the type of action which had caused the U.S. to withdraw from the ILO.

Among our adversaries:

(e) a Cuban diplomat in an Asian capital visited the offices of all daily newspapers in an effort to offset published articles critical of the Cuban role in Angola;

(f) in two separate speeches before the recent MPLA congress in Luanda, the secretary to the CPSU Central Committee, Andrey Kirilenko, mentioned “the most vile fabrications concerning (Soviet) policy,” which in the context appears an almost certain indication of his irritation over the CIA campaign;

(g) Carlos Rafael Rodriquez, senior policy adviser to Fidel Castro, was reported concerned over the widespread campaign in several countries against Cuba and its role in Africa.

In addition, there is substantial evidence that CIA’s covert media campaign, combined with overt White House and State Department pronouncements on Angola, has stimulated substantial spontaneous foreign media coverage of this topic of a favorable nature.

6. Current Action: CIA continues to stimulate and encourage Field action in support of the 8 November 1977 Presidential finding.3 While world attention has tended to shift from Angola to the Horn of Africa, the Angolan situation retains a special relevance to developments in the Horn, as a parallel example of Soviet-backed Cuban intervention in Africa.

  1. Source: National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files A–E, Box 25, Angola 11 July 1977–18 April 1978. Secret; Sensitive. Purcell forwarded the report to Henze under cover of a February 13 memorandum in which Purcell wrote: “We think the information in the attached report makes a good case for how the covert action infrastructure can be effectively used in support of United States policy. Since the infrastructure per se is a matter of some contention within the SCC, we believe it would be informative and useful to have this status report circulated to the members.”
  2. Presidential Finding not found.
  3. In a March 10 status report, the CIA reported: “As of 10 March, a total of 267 items have been placed in media of 51 countries with distribution as follows: Europe, [number not declassified]; Africa, [number not declassified]; Latin America, [number not declassified]; Near East, [number not declassified]; and East Asia, [number not declassified].” The report also noted that the Agency was attempting to reach Cubans via radio in addition to the media placement campaign. (National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files A–E, Box 25, Angola 11 July 1977–18 April 1978)