SAVAK (Persian:سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور Sa-zema-n-e Ettela'a-t va Amniyat-e Keshvar, National Intelligence and Security Organization) was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established in 1957 by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency - USA) after the 1953 coup d'etat initiated by the CIA. A democratic Iran with a democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadheq had, because of the United Kingdom's continued failure to pay the agreed royalties upon the oil the took, their refusal to treat Iranian oil workers with even a modicum of respect as well as their racial discrimination against other Iranian workers not being allowed to move up in the British Oil Company beyond a specific level.
In 1951 the Iranian Parliament voted unanimously to nationalize Iran's oil because of Britain's refusal to live up to its treaty agreements and because of Britain's complete disrespect for the Irainian people.
A bit of history.... The USA and the UK both funded a coup in Iran with the CIA being the active force involved. There were two coup attempts with the first failing and the second upsetting the Democratic Government of Iran. In the ruckus the Shah Mohammad Reza found exile in Italy.
The second coup was successful in taking Iran from a democratic nation to one which was ruled by the Shah Mohammad Reza as a puppet of the USA. British Oil then became British/American Oil and was essentially stolen from Iran.
Prime Minister Mossadegh was arrested and tried and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life.
The CIA with input from the United Kingdom and MOSSAD (Israel's Secret Service) created the "Shah's" secret police SAVAK . SAVAK's operation lasted from 1957 to 1979 when it was ended by the Iranian Revolution.
SAVAK remained under the control of the CIA(USA) throughout these years and was a most hated and feared product of the coup of 1953. It used many types of torture and styles of execution. At one point SAVAK had as many as 60,000 agents. Gholam Reza Afkhami, whose work on the Shah has been described as a "sympathetic biography", estimates SAVAK staffing at between 4,000 and 6,000.
A U.S. Army colonel (his name seems to have been redacted) working for the CIA was positioned in Iran in 1953 in December to work with General Teymur Bakhtiar who had been appointed military governor of Tehran. These two men began to create SAVAK and we can see the CIA's influence throughout the organization. This Colonel "Nameless" set up the new intelligence organization with the usual techniques of surveillance and interrogation.
It has been written that this CIA operation SAVAK discovered the communist Tudeh Party in Iran and was proud of this achievement but the Tudeh Party was, in no way, hiding as it was a legitimate party in Iran. This is a phony achievement brought on by the America obsessive hate peaking in the 1950s of anything communist.
This Army Colonel was replaced, in 1955, with a team of five carreer CIA officers. A number of these officers were covert operations 'specialists'. One such officer was Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf who trained almost all of the first members of SAVAK (as it became known in 1956). The American instructors were said to have been replaced by SAVAK's own instructors in 1965. The Chief CIA Iran analyst Jesse Leaf in an interview on 6th Jan. 1979 stated that the CIA taught Nazi torture techniques to SAVAK operatives.
Jesse Leaf stated also, in 1979, that his analytic reports of the Shah as a man thirsty for power and a megalomaniac were rejected by the CIA as being contrary to US policy. Make of that what you will. Jesse Leaf, though, had been the chief analyst on Iran before resigning from the agency in 1973. The CIA said, "We will not discuss former employees."
Interestingly Leaf says that no Americans did any of the torturing and this seems a fabulous lie as the CIA instructed members of SAVAK on the "German torture techniques of World War II.
Leaf's admissions seem to be a mix of truth and lies because, while he states that the Americans taught Nazi torture techniques he blames the Shah for the torture. The Shah was basically a puppet while the CIA agents were the ones familiar enough with the techniques of torture to be teaching them. I just don't believe that the Americans were not 'hands on trainers' nor do I follow how the Americans became so fluent with torture that they became the instructors.
Another interesting tidbit from Agent Leaf was, "Why should we protest? We were on their side, remember?" Morality is definitely not something considered even by this CIA agent of torture.
"Although the use of torture was widely known inside the agency, Mr. Leaf said, he knew of no Americans who admitted that they witnessed such treatment. "I do remember seeing and being told of people who were there seeing the rooms and being told of torture. And I know that the torture rooms were toured and it was all paid for by the USA.""
This is an interesting paradigm because the Americans were teaching torture yet they knew of no torture going on in the rooms the USA had created specifically for torture. How far fetched are Leaf's admissions?
It has been reported that sources disagree with the number of victims of SAVAK and how humane were the torture techniques. Let's be clear here. The CIA was teaching the torture techniques and by the light of the Americans use of torture and of the use specifically of water boarding and the use of electric shock and much much more I'm sure that the tortures were not humane. I believe that torture and humane used in the same sentence to by an oxymoron and beyond that an indication of lying.
The fact remains that it was the Americans who destroyed a democratic Iran, created SAVAK, trained SAVAK people in Nazi torture regimes and assassinated thousands of Iranians not happy with the CIA or American style imperialism.