from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
July 24, 2001


"The people of Indonesia, by addressing their leadership crisis under their Constitution and laws, have shown commitment to the rule of law and democracy," said President George W. Bush yesterday, referring to the inauguration of Mrs. Megawati Sukarnoputri as the new Indonesian president.

But in the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency showed somewhat less commitment to Indonesian law and democracy when it attempted to undermine the regime of Mrs. Megawati's father, President Sukarno, who was deemed pro-Communist.

As one memorable part of its campaign, the CIA produced a pornographic film intended to discredit the Indonesian President in the eyes of his people.

The story of the CIA porno film is told in "Portrait of a Cold Warrior," the 1976 memoir of CIA officer Joseph Burkholder Smith (pp. 239ff).

Based on reports that President Sukarno had been seen in the company of a Soviet stewardess, Smith wrote, "our special Sukarno committee was formed to accomplish ... the production of a film, or at least some still photos, [purportedly] showing Sukarno and his Russian girlfriend engaged in his favorite activity."

"Exploiting Sukarno's sexual appetite in this way was a tricky theme. His conquests didn't disturb Indonesians too much.... However, what we were saying was that a woman had gotten the better of Sukarno. Being tricked, deceived, or otherwise outsmarted by one of the creatures God has provided for man's pleasure cannot be condoned," as the CIA understood Indonesian culture.

"Also," Smith continued, "we were interested in the impact of this theme outside Indonesia, for our purpose was to present Sukarno in as unfavorable and unsympathetic light as possible. If he were deposed by our friends the colonels, we wanted the world to agree with us that Indonesia would be better off."

First, the CIA attempted to find a Sukarno lookalike in the existing repertoire of pornographic films. "Los Angeles's supply of blue films suited our purpose, we thought, because they included dark male subjects ... who might be made to look like Sukarno with a little touching up."

When that didn't work out, "we decided that we would try to develop a full-face mask of Sukarno. We planned to ship this out to Los Angeles and ask the police to pay some blue film star to wear it during his big scene."

Smith writes that in the end, he "never tried" to make use of the product of CIA's secret pornography initiative. But author John Ranelagh reports in his book "The Agency" that the resulting anti-Sukarno porno film was entitled "Happy Days," and that "still photographs were taken for distribution in the Far East."

Despite the CIA's efforts, Sukarno remained in power until 1966, when he was deposed by Suharto. A volume of the official "Foreign Relations of the United States" series on Indonesia, 1964-1968, is scheduled for publication in September.

A different sort of CIA venture into pornography was to be found in the February 1997 issue of Playboy magazine, in which a CIA employee identified as Jayne Hayden posed in various stages of undress. CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield confirmed to the Washington Times (1/18/97) that Ms. Hayden had in fact been a CIA employee until the previous year. He complained that she had failed to submit her materials for pre-publication review.


Wen Ho Lee, the former Los Alamos scientist once suspected of espionage whose controversial arrest and nine month incarceration culminated in a plea agreement and an apology from the court, has completed a memoir of his experience.

The manuscript is now under review by government officials, according to an Associated Press report by Richard Benke yesterday. The purpose of the review is to ensure that no classified information is disclosed.

The publisher's announcement of the forthcoming book, entitled "My Country Versus Me," may be found here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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