Earlier this month, in one of those well meaning situations that must have seemed appropriate at the time, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, presented a plaque to the U.S. Forest Service, commemorating Colorado's Camp Hale as a putative training base for Tibetan guerrillas, circa the early 1960s. The plaque reads as follows:
“From 1958 to 1964, Camp Hale played an important role as a training site for Tibetan Freedom Fighters. Trained by the CIA, many of these brave men lost their lives in the struggle for freedom. ‘They were the best and bravest of their generation, and we wept together when they were killed fighting alongside their countrymen.’ (Orphans of the Cold War, by John Kenneth Knaus). This plaque is dedicated to their memory.”
This is all well and good, but it plays havoc with history -- the speculative accounts of the American intelligence community's interest in Tibet that one sees in the open literature do not necessarily find agreement in reality -- and it certainly inflames those in the Peoples' Republic of China who see the Dalai Lama as a puppet of the Central Intelligence Agency.
How, precisely, that is supposed to help the cause of "Tibet's freedom" in 2010 is unknown, but the various and sundry organizations ostensibly devoted to that cause jumped on this plaque like a duck on a june bug.
Assuming there were a CIA training mission at Camp Hale, and assuming it involved Tibetans, I would not be happy if the U.S. Forest Service was handing out plaques commemorating the noble dead. In the context of American-supported clandestine operations, this sort of thing really means, "We are well and truly finished with you. Thanks for the memories. Now, please go away."