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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Saturday, March 22

Rocky Mountain High: The Tibetan Bay of Pigs

The widely renowned -- and in many quarters infamous -- Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa (photo right) came to the United States in 1970 and founded Tail of the Tiger (now known as Karmê Chöling), a meditation and study center in Barnet, Vermont. I first met him there in 1974, and a year later he invited me to move to Boulder, Colorado. When I asked why he'd established a community there, he said it reminded him of home. As a direct result of that exchange, Boulder has also been my home, off and on, for the last 30 years. I love Tom Petty, but I don't take advice well.

Only recently have I started wondering: had Trungpa maybe heard the stories coming back from these guys? The following is from the Wikipedia page about the Colorado CIA training facility for Tibetan guerillas. If they'd been fighting a right-wing dictatorship, we'd call them terrorists.

Camp Hale, between Red Cliff and Leadville in the Eagle River valley in Colorado, was a United States Army training facility constructed in 1942 for what became the 10th Mountain Division.... From 1959 to 1964, Tibetan guerrillas were secretly trained at Camp Hale by the CIA. The site was chosen because of the similarities of the Rocky Mountains with the Himalayan Plateau.... The Tibetan project was codenamed ST Circus, and it was similar to the CIA operation that trained dissident Cubans in what later became the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Camp Hale ruins - near Leadville, Colorado

Tricky Dick Sells the Tibetans Down the River

This whole film appears to be on YouTube, but if you can afford to buy it, please support the filmmakers. The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet was produced and directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. their work is described at their site, White Crane Films. You can order the DVD here, and you can find more information about the film and related background at the following links.

  • The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet
    "It is an extraordinary tale, and one that makes uncomfortable viewing..." The Independent on Sunday, November 15, 1998
  • The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet
    "Contrary to the generally held preconception of a deeply religious and peace-loving people, the Tibetans fought a long and bloody - though ultimately, unsuccessful - guerrilla campaign. They were aided in their efforts by an unlikely ally, the CIA."
  • The CIA Circus: Tibet's Forgotten Army
    "How the CIA sponsored and betrayed Tibetans in a war the world never knew about"
  • CIA's great betrayal
    "Guns might have fallen silent in Tibetan hills after the fierce battles fought in the fifties with Tibetan blood and US arms yet the issue of Tibet remains vexed as ever, writes Abid Shah in his review of film The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet"
  • The CIA's Secret War in Tibet
    University Press of Kansas book page
  • Camp Hale - Wikipedia page