—A “Major Victory” for the CIA—
Spymaster Allen Dulles Praises Iran Coup

In Letter Commending Agent Donald Wilber, CIA Chief Hailed Operation Ajax a “Great Success”

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | June 22, 2014                    

CIA Director Allen W. Dulles

It should come as no surprise that CIA Director Allen Welsh Dulles never publicly revealed the American scheme to overthrow Iran’s legitimate government. While he did obliquely acknowledge giving “support” to the Shah’s partisans, it would seem that, insofar as a direct admission of an elaborate coup plot is concerned, he took that secret to the grave.

Yet there is a recorded admission of sorts—a certain little-known letter from Dulles which closes the case. Though this document ought to be regarded as indispensable, curiously, it has remained almost universally ignored in historical chronicles. We know of not a single book which cites it other than its source, Adventures in the Middle East, the 1986 memoir of the letter’s recipient, former CIA operative Donald Newton Wilber.

A Crucial Document Neglected

Wilber wanted to make absolutely sure that the letter, hand delivered by Allen Dulles himself, wasn’t overlooked. So he placed a facsimile of the original document, typewritten and signed by Dulles on paper with CIA letterhead, at the very opening of his book, even though he wouldn’t arrive at discussing Operation Ajax until Chapter 14.

He had gone to great lengths to get CIA permission to publish it. At one point, the CIA legal adviser even asked for Wilber to return it “so that it can be appropriately stored and safeguarded at the agency” (the CIA only learned of its existence after Wilber exposed it). “It was and is my personal property”, Wilber retorted, asking for guidance in how to get it declassified.

By July 5, 1983, the agency did authorize its declassification (though still contesting Wilber’s claim to property rights), providing Wilber manually conceal two items. These were the two-letter prefix before the word “AJAX” (obviously the TP from codename TPAJAX), and the reference to MI-6, Britain’s spy agency. In its place, Wilber inserted the word “British” in brackets. “Apart from that”, Wilber explained, “the contents of the letter are as Allen Dulles wrote them, and they show how generous he could be with his agents...”

Despite Wilber’s accentuation, the letter, like his unremarkable book, has remained sequestered for decades, even though it’s been declassified since 1983!

The Proverbial “Smoking Gun”

CIA Director Allen W. Dulles The Dulles letter is significant for several reasons. The only known admission by the CIA Director of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s overthrow, it further cements the undeniable importance of the CIA plan, mocking the recent revisionist mini-trend which pathetically attempts to paint it as “inconsequential” since it initially failed. Clearly, the CIA’s own assessment found its actions to ultimately be most potent.

“Your contribution...was one of the primary elements in its success.” — Allen Dulles to Donald Wilber

It also underlines CIA agent Donald Wilber’s apparently crucial significance to the Iran operation, which he insists he masterminded. Wilber’s contributions are usually overshadowed by the mouthier Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., whose lengthier account in Countercoup got far more play than Wilber’s boring small-press opus, “sanitized” to oblivion by the CIA in an inexplicable double-standard. It’s also worth mentioning that while the CIA chief gave Wilber a personal thank you note for his work on AJAX, there was no such equivalent, as far as we know, granted to Roosevelt.

Of all the various tools used by the CIA to undermine Mossadegh, among the most de-emphasized is its use of PSYOPS. Dulles’ specific reference to the “psychological warfare” aspect for which Wilber specialized helps underscore just how key this tactic ended up being in toppling Mossadegh.

If one were looking to prove to a skeptic, as efficiently as possible, that the United States government snuffed out a popular leader in 1953, these two documents would do nicely: President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s candid diary confession from October 1953, and Allen Dulles’ highly enthusiastic letter of commendation to his agent in January 1954.

CIA Documents on Iran, Mossadegh, 1953 Coup



[January 30, 1954]

Dear Mr. Wilber:

Personally and on behalf of CIA, I wish to commend you most highly and thank you for your outstanding contribution to Operation [  ] AJAX.

Many factors and the devotion to duty of many individuals contributed to the operation’s great success. Your contribution, however, was one of the primary elements in its success. Your expert knowledge of the country and your personal knowledge of many of the leading actors in the operation were invaluable assets during all phases of the operation. Your competence and tact in dealing with [British] in the preparation of the joint plan and your ingenuity, resourcefulness, and untiring efforts in the planning and preparation of the psychological warfare aspects of the operation cannot be too highly praised.

[  ] AJAX constitutes a major victory in the Cold War. You may well take pride in playing no small part in this achievement.

Allen W. Dulles

Mr. Donald Wilber
Washington, D.C.

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