As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African government track down and capture Mandela in 1962. In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela’s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement. Eckel was reported as having told the official, “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.” Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard. The activist group RootsAction has launched a campaign to urge the CIA to open its files on Mandela and South Africa, and the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has questioned why corporate media outlets have largely ignored the story. We speak to journalist Andrew Cockburn, who first reported on the CIA link to Mandela’s arrest in 1986 in The New York Times.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would, like Abraham Lincoln, hold his country together when it threatened to break apart.