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Cryptonym: PBSUCCESS

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Definition:
Project to overthrow - "without bloodshed, if possible" - the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954. Assassination teams were trained.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
PBSUCCESS, the Guatemalan coup, was considered a huge success within CIA. It included the involvement of many officers appearing in the JFK files, among them Allen Dulles, Tracy Barnes, Richard Bissell, David Morales, William Robertson, David Phillips, Nestor Sanchez, James Noel, E. Howard Hunt, Anne Goodpasture, and Henry Hecksher.
Sources:

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/

1953-1954: Page 4: "PBSUCCESS...the plan's stated objective was 'to remove covertly, and without bloodshed if possible, the menace of the Communist-controlled government of Guatemala...CIA planning for sabotage teams in early 1954 also included creating a 'K' group trained to perform assassinations."

A Look Over My Shoulder p.120

from the book: ...staff officer involved in the complex political and logistical support of PBSUCCESS, at the time the Agency's largest CA project.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala

This State Department volume on Guatemala covers the period of the coup, and includes abundant telegrams related to PBSUCCESS.

104-10178-10287: BIOGRAPHIC DATA SHEET: DAVID ATLEE PHILLIPS

This biographical data sheet on David Atlee Phillips, who would rise high in the Agency, included among Past Occupations: "Contract Agent, PBSUCCESS and PBHISTORY, 1954."

104-10128-10119: RECOMMENDATION FOR HONORS AWARD: PHILLIPS, DAVID ATLEE

David Phillips "was responsible for the creation of a clandestine broadcast program capable of fulfilling the Psychological Warfare objectives of PBSUCCESS including the selection and training of indigenous staff personnel, directing and preparing all scripts for broadcast...the ingenuity, talent and intelligent handling of the 'live' broadcasts during the most critical period of the operation proved extremely valuable if not of utmost importance to the success of the Project. Working around the clock under difficult field conditions, Subject developed and sustained a completely notional situation which was without parallel in the history of psychological warfare. The medium he created became the inspiration of the people and the nemesis of the enemy and served as the means of conveying the truce terms which were adhered to by the enemy...attached here is a proposed citation (for the Distinguished Intelligence Medal)."

104-10136-10362: BIOGRAPHIC PROFILES OF DAVID L. CHRIST, WILLIAM HARVEY AND HOWARD HUNT

E. Howard Hunt's profile included a 1954 commendation from Tracy Barnes "for superior performance in connection with project PBSUCCESS."

104-10121-10154: OFFICE MEMO RE DAVE S. MORALES' WORK ON PBSUCCESS

Handwritten notes include "Subject worked on Project PBSUCCESS Oct 53 to August 54 - Excellent man."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP63-00309A000100030083-2.pdf

04/15/55: Memorandum from Frank G. Wisner, Deputy Director (Plans) to Deputy Director: Subject: Proposal for the Organization of an Action Operations Unit: "1. I concur in the attached proposal for an Action Operations Unit to be set up (REDACTION). In brief it calls for a cadre of (REDACTION) to be trained in all action aspects of covert operations: twenty instructors in action subjects detailed by the Office of Training, and thirty prospective action operations officers detailed by myself, all fifty to be available for future operations of the PBSUCCESS type, overseas training and other TDY missions in the action field, and testing of new operational devices and ideas. The cadre should go far toward solving the problem of training personnel to carry out our peacetime responsibilities under NSC 5412, and serve as a nucleus for expansion in case of war. 2. Accordingly, I recommend that you approve the transfer of thirty slots from the PBSUCCESS element of the Clandestine Services T/O to OTR for activation of the cadre." Concur: Lawrence K. White, DD/S. Approved: C.P. Cabell, DDCI.

REVIEW OF PBSUCCESS FILES, June 1979 (page 3 of 6): https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP93B01194R000700010026-6.pdf

"PBSUCCESS files have been determined to be permanent because they document a unique activity of the Agency. It appears that all files within the Agency dealing with the project were collected and retired to the AARC."

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