Do you know what is “plausible deniability”?
It is, in the American law, the ability of senior officials to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts to insulate themselves. The expression “plausibly deniable” was first used publicly by CIA director Allen Dulles.
In 1956, the US National Security Council decided to support with money, arms and ammunitions the Khmer Serei, an extreme right militia based in South-Vietnam and Thailand and opposed to then Prince Norodom Sihanouk. But in 1956, Washington vehemently denied any support to these rebels.
In 1959, there were three attempts to overthrow Prince Norodom Sihanouk and even to kill him. Traitors like Son Ngoc Thanh, le leader of the Khmer Serei, Dap Chhuon and Sam Sary, all against the policy of neutrality and all passionate supporters of the USA, were the operators of the CIA, as it is proved today by the archives. But in 1959, the Americans denied that the USA was involved in the plots for a regime change.
In 1963, the Khmer Serei activities increased dramatically as they were integrated partly in Special Forces under US command. But in 1963, the State Department informed the Cambodia’s Ambassador that there was no evidence of American involvement with the Khmer Serei.
When all the CIA activities against Norodom Sihanouk during the previous decade have been confirmed and explained to President John Kennedy, he decided to send Dean Acheson, his special envoy, to Cambodia to normalize the relations between the two countries. But he was assassinated two days later.
The 18 March 1970 coup led by Lon Nol and Sirik Matak, (soon joined by Son Ngoc Thanh), was coordinated by the CIA station and American military intelligence in Saigon, with the implication of Khmer Serei in deadly anti Vietnamese demonstrations in Phnom Penh. Of course, Nixon and Kissinger denied their involvement in the change of regime.
These are facts and there are undisputable.
Reacting to the recent accusations and indictments about a US-backed plot by the CNRP to overthrow the Cambodian government, the Embassy of the United States of America in Phnom Penh called this accusation « absurd » and “without a shred of serious credible evidence”. A strong denial, indeed. Like in 1956, 1959, in 1963, in 1970.
No doubt, on behalf of “plausible deniability”.
Raoul Marc Jennar, PhD, is a Political scientist.