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Cryptonym: K_PROGRAM

Definition:
According to Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1952-1954, Guatemala, the K-Program were operations aimed at intelligence and defection of Guatemalan military; after May 11, 1954, redirected at military defections.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
The K-Program was also known as the KING Program. According to a memo for the record from Withheld (probably Henry Hecksher), in July of 1954, a Colonel X, a member of Arbenz's cabinet, apparently provided "high-level intelligence" which contributed to the overthrow of Arbenz. The writer also mentioned the attempts to recruit members of the Guatemalan Army High Command, particularly the Minister of Defense, Colonel Sanchez (SUMAC-2), and his chief assistant, the Chief of Staff of the Guatemalan Army, Colonel Parinello. These attempts allegedly failed and had to be abandoned due to the concern not to risk the safety of Colonel X.
Sources:

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: Abbreviations and Cryptonyms

Page xvi: ..."K-Program, operations aimed at intelligence and defection of Guatemalan military; after May 11, 1954, redirected at military defections..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 118. 3/26/54-Memorandum From [name not declassified] to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King)

03/26/54: Memorandum from Withheld to Chief, WHD: Subject: K-Program Plan: "1. Background: Within the purview of PBSUCCESS and designed to further the attainment of its immediate ends, it is planned to assign Page (probably Henry Hecksher) for a period of approximately 90 days to Guatemala, where he will be charged with the execution of a defection program, targeted to bring important segments of the Guatemalan executive apparatus under American control...4. Personnel: (REDACTION) will be assigned to Guatemala as Page’s field assistant. He will serve as communications clerk, interpreter, bodyguard, and discharge all housekeeping chores incidental to K-Program. 5. Schedule: Page and (REDACTION) will proceed to Guatemala on or about 15 April 1954. The labor assistant should become available not later than 20 April. 6. Official Position: For the duration of the program, Page will be stationed in Guatemala as a senior official of the Central Intell. Agency serving as the personal representative of (REDACTION) in his capacity as Chief of the Project. Although Page will operate independently of the Guatemala station, it is understood that the station’s overt and covert assets will be committed to the support of K-Program. This arrangement is not meant to derogate from (REDACTION)’s status as Chief of Station. It is anticipated that he and Page will work in closest harmony toward the implementation of the program. 7. Accreditation: Ambassador Peurifoy will be apprised of Page’s mission in broad outline and be requested to render him the necessary support within bounds of diplomatic propriety. It will be intimated to Peurifoy that Page is a ranking and responsible official of the C.I.A. and that he is operating independently of the local station. Mr. Frank Wisner has offered to write Amb. Peurifoy a personal letter along those lines...8. Personal Cover: Page will represent himself and live the cover of an American of independent means..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000915607.pdf

05/07/54: Cable from Guatemala City to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: KING PROGRAM: "Propose debrief (REDACTION) re his ideas defection propaganda aimed at officer corps for SHERWOOD (Note: CIA radio broadcasting program based in Nicaragua begun on May 1, 1954) utilization. Consider this would draw (REDACTION) and SMILAX in deeper."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 168. 6/2/54-Dispatch From the CIA Chief of Station in Guatemala to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

06/02/54: Dispatch from COS, Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: Subject: General - K-Program: Specific - JMBLUG: "1. This is to advise you that Page (probably Henry Hecksher) paid JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy) a personal call on the evening of 1 June 1954. The meeting took place in JMBLUG’s private residence. 2. In view of certain anticipated ramifications of the SWALLOW operation, it was deemed necessary to apprise JMBLUG of what had transpired and what we are trying to accomplish. Page gave JMBLUG a general briefing on the scope and purpose of K-Program and explained that he is operating independently of the Station so as to preclude any conceivable compromise to our diplomatic representation should the Guatemalan authorities uncover his true status. 3. JMBLUG fully approved of our endeavor to enlist the support of SWALLOW in the defection of members of the Army High Command and promised to continue backstopping to the extent of vouching for his bona fides. Page advised JMBLUG that Whiting had decided against formally introducing Page to him to so as to rule out any possibility of embarrassment should there be an unpleasantness. 4. Page disavowed detailed knowledge of the progress of PBSUCCESS and of the nature of Calligeris’ (Carlos Castillo Armas) operations in Guatemala, stressing the limited and strictly compartmentalized nature of the program in which he is engaged. 5. It should be pointed out that the call on JMBLUG was a move decided upon by Page acting on his own responsibility. The Station introduced Page and crowded the necessary security safeguards. Further meetings, if required, will be held in a secure, neutral place. Graham L. Page (2)"

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 173. 6/8/54-Telegram From the CIA Station in Guatemala to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

06/08/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "Following from Page (probably Henry Hecksher). 1. K-Program likely remain stalemated until further pattern of PBSUCCESS clearly emerging. 2. Not a ghost of a chance to sway army high command as long as Arbenz regime going through impressive phase of consolidation with oppositional elements fragmentized and subdued. (2) Government firmly convinced U.S. has abandoned all thought of going it alone and effective collective intervention discounted (Toriello to SWALLOW). 3. Recommend K-Program be brought under Station control soonest and Page be authorized return to ZI. (REDACTION) complex can be handled through ESQUIRE. Contact with SWALLOW will be maintained by Burnett. 4. If at any future time, high command members should indicate desire talk terms with U.S. representative and if situation of manifest strength then favoring our cause, dispatch of PBSUCCESS representative would pose no problem security or otherwise. 5. Request approval for Page return to HQ not later than 10 June. ESQUIRE leaving for U.S. o/a 9 June on short visit and most appropriate effect turn over at that time. 6. Report on Page/SWALLOW meeting in 8 June pouch. (3)..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala Current Section: 179. 6/10/54-Telegram From the CIA Station in Guatemala to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

06/10/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "799. Re: GUAT 791. (2) 1. Though clearly understood that this Station has no responsibility for the K-Program and in fact is limited to being a commo channel and backstopper for Page (probably Henry Hecksher) nevertheless information obtained by us and made available to Page plus that obtained by Page from (REDACTION) (see GUAT 785 (IN 15812)) (3) leads us to believe that Page’s departure at this time is unfortunate since indications army discontent mounting and may result in conditions favorable to defection efforts either through (REDACTION) or others. 2. Since information contained LINC 3631 (IN 15716) (4) and obtained from (REDACTION) as reported GUAT 790 (IN 16092) (5) indicates SEMANTIC compromise is an inconvenience rather than disaster, we perturbed by fact no one will be on scene to handle defection possibilities which may shortly arise as friendly pressure and govt tension mount. 3. We wish point out we have no contact with any Page people and that K-Program automatically suspended with Page departure..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala Current Section: 210. 6/19/54-Telegram From the CIA Chief Station in Guatemala to the Central Intelligence Agency

06/19/54: Telegram from COS, Guatemala: ..."For Ascham (Allen Dulles) from Page. 1. Effective 12 June K Program taken over by Guat Station. Page no longer in touch with either (REDACTION) or ESQUIRE. Bannister in direct contact (REDACTION) as of 15 June. Page not familiar contents GUAT 886. (3) 2. My estimate of situation, no longer based on controlled sources or access to official reports, is following: PBSUCCESS capabilities inside WSBURNT (Guatemala) exceedingly limited and no match for combined strength law enforcement agencies, army and armed campesinos. Validity assumption underlying PBSUCCESS that local civilian insurrections will sweep garrisons into open revolt questionable, even if you take Calligeris claims regarding controlled inside assets at face value. Other intangible factors that may determine developments in provinces simply defy assessment. 3. I have on repeated occasions reported that this resolution will be won or lost in WSBURNT city and that the one determinant factor is the attitude of the Army High Command. If the Army High Command can be won over to our side ultimate success is a foregone conclusion. If it decides to back Arbenz, PBSUCCESS will not prevail. This is the principal consideration underlying K Program. 4. Our sole key to the Army High Command is (REDACTION). I have the very greatest respect for him as a human being, an officer and a patriotic servant of his country. It is on his authority mainly that I originally proposed an air strike against military targets in the WSBURNT city area. I refuse to believe that (REDACTION) would be so swayed by self-seeking motives as to ignore counter productive effects with respect to the attitude of people WSBURNT. Although I specifically and repeatedly questioned him on that score he could not conceive of 'adequate other forms of exhibiting strengths.' Nor could SWALLOW with whom I raised that point..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000920274.pdf

07/12/54: Memorandum for the record from Withheld: Subject: K-Program Briefing Notes: "On 16 April the Central Intelligence Agency dispatched me to Guatemala, where I was to operate as an undercover agent, posing as a wealthy American tourist and operating independently of the permanent CIA installation in that country. The background of my assignment was as follows...13. On 29 April I introduced myself to Colonel X, a member of the Arbenz cabinet, as the representative of an organization composed of Guatemalan exiles and a few prominent and independently wealthy United States citizens dedicated to the cause of overthrowing the Arbenz regime...15. It should be noted as a fact of a significance transcending this particular operation that Colonel X, after a period of considerable doubt, decided to cooperate with us mainly on the strength of his conviction that this undertaking was backed by the United States. He may or may not have swallowed my story that the United States Government was not involved...17. Over a period of almost two months, Colonel X furnished high-level intelligence, which - I have been told - contributed to the success of the operation. It should be stressed that he did so at a time when our fortunes were at their lowest ebb...19. My attempts to recruit members of the Army High Command, principally the Minister of Defense, Colonel Sanchez (SUMAC-2), and his chief assistant, the Chief of Staff of the Guatemalan Army, Colonel Parinello, met with the difficulties of unexpected severity and finally had to be abandoned so as not to jeopardize the security of Colonel X...23. The role played by Colonel X in the overthrow of the Arbenz regime and in thwarting the communist scheme to install their puppet, the Chief of the Armed Forces, Colonel Diaz (STANDEL-1), is a matter of historical record and has been accurately covered in the daily press..."

Contributors:
Gavin McDonald

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