Human Rights

USA Theme A-2 - Page 23

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USA Theme A-2
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Other forms of covert operations, such as dissemination of propaganda and provision of political advice and assistance to leaders and influential individuals in other countries, are not likely to have as much potential adverse effect as a paramilitary operation, an assassination plot, or economic destablization if they go wrong. Such operations can be considered permissible extensions of diplomacy. Even these milder covert actions should be always be considered an exceptional tactic reserved for cases in which vital American security interests are at stake. Moreover, officials should turn to the covert option only as a last resort.

Deemphasizing even the mildest forms of covert action would be a healthy development for the CIA. That agency's principal functions should be the collection and evaluation of intelligence information, functions that all too often throughout the cold war have been eclipsed by the more "glamorous" covert operations capability. If the CIA has a legitimate role to play, it is to act as the eyes and ears of the United States in a dangerous world. A preoccupation with covert action merely distracts the agency from performing that mission.

Finally, covert actions must no longer be used as a means to pursue foreign-policy objectives that lack public and congressional support. The reasons are both practical and moral. From a practical standpoint, such a lack of support is likely to undermine an initiative in the long run, leading to an embarrassing failure of execution. From a moral standpoint, the pursuit of a secretive, elitist foreign-policy agenda is contrary to America's commitment to representative democracy.


[1] "Black Ops, 1963 to 1983," Harper's, April 1984, p. 17.
[2] David Rogers, "Administration Broke Rules of Congress in Funding of Propaganda, GAO Says," Wall Street Journal, October 5, 1987, p. 54.
[3] Allan E. Goodman, "Reforming U.S. Intelligence," Foreign Policy (Summer 1987): 130.
[4] Stansfield Turner, Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition (Boston: Houqhton Mifflin, 1985), p. 75.
[5] Congressional Research Service, Intelligence Operations: Covert Action, CRS Issue Brief no. 80020, March 19, 1980, p. 2.
[6] John M. Oseth, Regulating U.S. Intelligence Operations: A Study in Definition of the National Interest (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985), p. 13.
[7] Intelligence Requirements for the 1980's: Covert Action, ed. Roy Godson (Washington, D.C.: National Strategy Information Center, 1981), p. viii.
[8] Paul W. Blackenstock, The Strategy of Subversion: Manipulating the Politics of Other Nations (Chicago, Ill.: Quadrangle Books, 1964), p. 36.
[9] Theodore Shackley, The Third Option: An American View of Counterinsurgency Options (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981), p. 6.
[10] See Stafford T. Thomas, "CIA Functional Diversity and the National Security Policy Process," in Intelligence and Intelligence Policy in a Democratic Society, ed. Stephen J. Cimbala (Ardsley-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Transnational Publishers, 1987), p. 94.
[11] For an exhaustive detailing of the scope of U.S. domestic monitoring of its citizens, most of it done covertly, see Frank J. Donner, The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America's Political Intelligence System (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980). See also Jerry J. Berman, "Political Surveillance in the Reagan Era," First Principles 10, no. 4 (May/June 1985):1-3.
[12] Peter Kornbluh, Nicaragua. The Price of Intervention: Reagan's Wars against the Sandanistas (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Policy Studies, 1987), p. 165.
[13] Ray S. Cline, The CIA under Reagan Bush and Casey: The Evolution of the Agency from Roosevelt to Reagan (Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books, 1981), p. 120.
[14] A recent detailed account of the beginnings of the cold war is Hugh Thomas, Armed Truce: The Beginnings of the Cold War. 1945-1946 (New York: Atheneum, 1986).
[15] John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), p. 116.
[16] Richard Barnet, The Alliance: America-Europe-Japan, Makers of the Postwar World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), p. 140.
[17] Ibid., p. 137. For details, see Harry Rositzke, The CIA's Secret Operations (New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1977).
[18] An excellent book on U.S. involvement in Greece's leftist insurgency of the 1940s is Lawrence S. Wittner, American Intervention in Greece, 1943-1949 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).
[19] Ibid., p. 305.
[20] For additional details about the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, see Kermit Roosevelt, Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979). For details Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (New York: Doubleday, 1982) and Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).
[21] Jonathan Kwitny, Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World (New York: Congdon & Weed, 1984), p. 282. For more details, see pp. 278-85.
[22] Ibid., p. 406.
[23] Gregory F. Treverton, "Covert Action: From 'Covert' to Overt," Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 116, no. 2 (Spring 1987): 97.
[24] Oseth, pp. 27-28.
[25] Scott D. Breckenridge, The CIA and the U.S. Intelligence System (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1986), p. 215.
[26] Lucien S. Vanderbroucke, "The Confessions of Allen Dulles: New Evidence on the Bay of Pigs," Diplomatic History (Fall 1984): 369.
[27] Ibid,. p. 371.
[28] Report of the President's Special Review Board (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1987), p. IV-I.
[29] Gregory F. Treverton, Covert Action: The Limits of Intervention in the Postwar World (New York: Basic Books, 1987), pp. 198-99. For a brief history of CIA intervention in Chile in the Allende years, see Seymour M. Hersh, "The Price of Power: Kissinger, Nixon and Chile," Atlantic Monthly, December 1982, pp. 31-58.
[30] See John Prados, Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations since World War II (New York: William Morrow, 1986), pp. 261-96; Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (New York: Vintage Books, 1973); and Stuart A. Herrington, Silence Was a Weapon: The Vietnam War in the Villages (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1982).
[31] Prados, p. 309.
[32] An incisive examination of the work of the Church committee is Lock K. Johnson, A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelliaence Investigation (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985).
[33] For an extensive look at public reaction to revelations of covert and other intelligence activities, see The CIA and the Security Debate: 1971-1975, ed. Judith F. Buncher (New York: Facts on File, 1976) and The CIA and the Security Debate: 1975-1976, ed. Judith F. Buchner (New York: Facts on File, 1977).
[34] "The Secret Warriors: The CIA Is Back in Business," Newsweek, October 10, 1983.
[35] Prados, p. 370.
[36] Bob Woodward, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981- 1987 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 213.
[37] Goodman, p. 130. For descriptions of covert-action programs in Nicaragua, Chad, El Salvador, and Angola, see the following articles by Jay Peterzell in First Principles (FP): "Reagan's Covert Action Policy (IV)," FP 8, no. 1 (September/October 1982): 1-9; "Reagan's Covert Action Policy (V): Sideshow in Chad," FP 9, no. 3 (January/February 1984): 1-5; "The CIA and Political Violence in El Salvador," FP 10, no. 2 (November/December 1984): 1-5; "Angola: Reagan's Covert Action Policy (VI)," FP 11, no. 3 (January/February 1986): 1-10. For additional material on CIA involvement in Nicaragua, see Christopher Dickey, With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaraaua (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985); and Robert Matthews, "Sowing Dragon's Teeth: The U.S. War against Nicaragua," NACLA Report on the Americas 20, no. 4 (July/August 1986): 14-38.
[38] Goodman, p. 125.
[39] Ranelagh, p. 682.
[40] See Leslie Cockburn, Secret War: The White House. The Contras and Nicaragua (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987); Jonathan Marshall, Peter Scott, and Jane Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era (Boston: South End Press, 1987); Peter Kornbluh, Nicaragua: Anatomy of Intervention (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Policy Studies, 1987); National Security Archive, The Chronology: The Documented Day-by-Day Account of the Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras (New York: Warner Books, 1987); Woodward, Veil; Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair with Supplemental. Minority. and Additional Views (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1987); and Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope. Dirty Money and the CIA (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987).
[41] Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, p. 16.
[42] Peter Kornbluh, "The Iran-Contra Scandal: A Postmortem," World Policy Journal 5, no. 1 (Winter 1987/88): 130-31.
[43] Jay Peterzell, "Timely Does Not Mean Never: Notice to Congress of the Iran Arms Deal," First Principles 12, no. 2 (April 1987): 1-6.
[44] Goodman, p. 124.
[45] Raymond L. Garthoff, "The Cuban 'Contras' Caper," Washington Post, October 25, 1987, p. C3.
[46] Emanuel Adler, "Executive Command and Control in Foreign Policy: The CIA's Covert Activities," Orbis 23, no. 3 (Fall 1979): 681.
[47] See "CIA's Manual Tops Them All: Grabs Press, Congress, Even President," Foreign Intelligence Literary Scene 3, no. 6 (December 1984): 1, 3. For a leftist critique of CIA propaganda operations, see Fred Landis, "CIA Psychological Warfare Operations: Case Studies in Chile, Jamaica, and Nicaragua," Science for the People, January/February 1982, pp. 6-11, 29-37.
[48] Adler, p. 682.
[49] See Jay Peterzell, "Legal and Constitutional Authority for Covert Operations," First Principles 10, no. 3 (Spring 1985): 1-5; and Rep. Wyche Fowler, Jr., "Congress and the Control of Covert Operations," First Principles 9, no. 4 (March/April 1984): 1-4.
[50] Treverton, p. 201. See also David D. Newson, "Aiding Guerrillas Cannot Be Covert," Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 1987, p. 14; and Lee Hamilton, "Toward Effective, Lawful Covert Actions," Wall Street Journal, August 24, 1987, p. 26.
[51] Strategic Survey, 1987-1988 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1988), p. 70.
[52] However, if the CIA director exercises this power, he must submit his reasons for doing so to the Senate and House intelligence committees within seven days.
[53] Intelligence Oversight Act of 1988, 100th Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 100-705, pt. 1, pp. 14-15.
[54] Ibid., p. 23.
[55] Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Jeffrey J. Schott, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered (Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1985).
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