Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. Role in Lumumba Murder Revealed
Stephen R. Weissman22 July 2002
In his latest film, “Minority Report,” director Steven Spielberg portrays a policy of “preemptive action” gone wild in the year 2054. But we don’t have to peer into the future to see what harm faulty intelligence and the loss of our moral compass can do. U.S. policies during the Cold War furnish many tragic examples. One was U.S. complicity in the overthrow and murder of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
Forty-one years ago, Lumumba, the only leader ever democratically elected in Congo, was delivered to his enemies, tortured and summarily executed. Since then, his country has been looted by the U.S.-supported regime of Mobutu Sese Seko and wracked by regional and civil war.
The conventional explanation of Lumumba’s death has been that he was murdered by Congolese rivals after earlier U.S. attempts to kill him, including a plot to inject toxins into his food or toothpaste, failed. In 1975, the U.S. Senate’s “Church Committee” probed CIA assassination plots and concluded there was “no evidence of CIA involvement in bringing about the death of Lumumba.”
Not so. I have obtained classified U.S. government documents, including a chronology of covert actions approved by a National Security Council (NSC) subgroup, that reveal U.S. involvement in — and significant responsibility for — the death of Lumumba, who was mistakenly seen by the Eisenhower administration as an African Fidel Castro. The documents show that the key Congolese leaders who brought about Lumumba’s downfall were players in “Project Wizard,” a CIA covert action program. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and military equipment were channeled to these officials, who informed their CIA paymasters three days in advance of their plan to send Lumumba into the clutches of his worst enemies. Other new details: The U.S. authorized payments to then-President Joseph Kasavubu four days before he ousted Lumumba, furnished Army strongman Mobutu with money and arms to fight pro-Lumumba forces, helped select and finance an anti-Lumumba government, and barely three weeks after his death authorized new funds for the people who arranged Lumumba’s murder.
Moreover, these documents show that the plans and payments were approved by the highest levels of the Eisenhower administration, either the NSC or its “Special Group,” consisting of the national security adviser, CIA director, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and deputy defense secretary.