America’s Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society by Loch K. Johnson

By Loch K. Johnson

In 1975, after The long island Times released a devastating critique of the CIA, 3 executive panels--the Rockefeller, Church, and Pike Committees--were shaped to ascertain those allegations extensive. What they uncovered--assassination plots, opened mail, drug experiments opposed to unsuspecting topics (two of whom died from aspect effects)--shocked the yankee humans and moved Senator Frank Church to name the CIA "a rogue elephant rampaging out of control." in actual fact, the United States wishes a powerful, potent intelligence attempt, yet simply as essentially, this attempt needs to function in the bounds of an open, democratic society.
in keeping with thousands of interviews with CIA officers, nationwide defense specialists, and legislators, in addition to a radical culling of the archival checklist, America's mystery Power deals an illuminating and up to date photograph of the valuable Intelligence organisation, stressing the tricky stability among the true wishes of nationwide defense and the security of person liberties. Loch Johnson, who has studied the workings of the CIA first and foremost hand as a legislative overseer, offers a accomplished exam of the enterprise and its kinfolk with different American associations, together with Congress and the White condominium (he deals rather astute analyses of the CIA's use of newshounds and lecturers to assemble intelligence) and he illuminates the CIA's 3 significant missions--intelligence research, counterintelligence, and covert action--providing bright descriptions in their function and their pathologies. for instance, he deals a desirable research of the "Seven Sins" of intelligence paintings, revealing how the easiest intelligence experiences should be distorted or neglected (in the mid-1960s, the proof opposed to a brief American victory in Vietnam was once dismissed); how covert activities can spin uncontrolled regardless of broad safeguards, as within the Iran-Contra scandal; and the way the CIA has spied on americans in transparent violation of its constitution. additional, he presents a radical evaluate of legislative efforts to reduce those abuses, suggesting a number of very important how you can in attaining the fragile stability among nationwide safeguard and democratic beliefs.
Vividly written and meticulously documented, America's mystery Power attracts the strands of an unlimited volume of analysis right into a balanced critique of our intelligence networks. it's a paintings that stands by myself in its thoroughness and objectivity, a considerate and sobering portrait of the modern CIA.

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Extra resources for America’s Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society

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Nomenclature Covert action (CA) is sometimes referred to as the "quiet option" within the CIA, which is usually the agency expected to design and execute this policy option. The phrase comes from a supposition that covert action is apt to be less noisy and obtrusive than some other instruments of American foreign policy, such as the landing of a Marine brigade. 26 Sometimes professional practitioners also refer to covert action as the "third option," one between diplomacy and open warfare. "27 Still others prefer the additional euphemisms "special activities" or "special operations" (though, technically, "special operations" is a term more properly applied to Department of Defense unconventional warfare, using such units as the Army Green Berets or the Navy Seals, or narrowly to CIA paramilitary operations; see later discussion).

A further blurring of distinctions has occurred with attempts by the Reagan administration to "privatize" covert action, that is, to raise funds for this option outside the government's established appropriations process—from foreign nations, including Brunei and South Africa, among others, and from wealthy private citizens, like the owner of the Coors brewery in Colorado (see chap. 6). S. government channels but with the knowledge and encouragement of the president and the NSC staff. S. intelligence agencies; and, no doubt, the overwhelming majority of the covert actions implemented by the United States are of this sort—in excess of 95 percent of the total number, according to those interviewed for this book, with almost all of these operations conceived of and carried out by the CIA.

Whatever the variation in terminology, the goal of covert action remains constant: to influence events overseas, secretly and in support of American foreign policy. The theory behind the use of covert action has been straightforward, though "theory" is no doubt too strong a word; its practitioners have been less theorists than practical men with an interest in advancing American interests around the world. Their main concern has been, in the words of a former chief of the CIA Covert Action Staff, "the global challenge of communism .

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