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 govt panels--the Rockefeller, Church, and Pike Committees--were shaped to check those allegations extensive. What they uncovered--assassination plots, opened mail, drug experiments opposed to unsuspecting matters (two of whom died from facet effects)--shocked the yank humans and moved Senator Frank Church to name the CIA "a rogue elephant rampaging out of control." basically, the United States wishes a powerful, potent intelligence attempt, yet simply as truly, this attempt needs to function in the bounds of an open, democratic society.
in keeping with 1000's of interviews with CIA officers, nationwide safeguard specialists, and legislators, in addition to a radical culling of the archival list, America's mystery Power deals an illuminating and up to date photograph of the crucial Intelligence business enterprise, stressing the tough stability among the true wishes of nationwide protection 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 finished exam of the company and its kinfolk with different American associations, together with Congress and the White apartment (he bargains relatively astute analyses of the CIA's use of reporters and teachers to collect intelligence) and he illuminates the CIA's 3 significant missions--intelligence research, counterintelligence, and covert action--providing brilliant descriptions in their objective and their pathologies. for instance, he bargains a desirable research of the "Seven Sins" of intelligence paintings, revealing how the easiest intelligence stories might be distorted or neglected (in the mid-1960s, the proof opposed to a short American victory in Vietnam used to be dismissed); how covert activities can spin uncontrolled regardless of huge 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 overview of legislative efforts to slash those abuses, suggesting numerous very important how you can in attaining the fragile stability among nationwide defense and democratic beliefs.
Vividly written and meticulously documented, America's mystery Power attracts the strands of an enormous quantity 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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This represented a significant blurring of the normal ways of authorizing and reporting CA operations (see chap. 6). So the seemingly straightforward official definitions of covert action belie sophisticated nuances that have made efforts to isolate and examine this policy all the more difficult for both overseers and scholars. In the wake of the Iran-contra affair, some former senior CIA officials went so far as to reject the description of this controversial operation as a covert action, arguing that since Iran knew about the arms it was secretly buying the operation fell into the category of "secret diplomacy" instead.

America's founders were well aware that control over government abuse would remain a demanding challenge to the new nation. "A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control of government," stated The Federalist, No. 51, bowing to the central role of elections; but, the paper continued, "experience had taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions"—that is, the internal checks and balances established within the government as a safeguard against what the founders feared most: a dangerous concentration of powers in one branch of government.

Embassy personnel in Lebanon; Soviet submarines lurk silently off American shores, carrying weapons of quick and total annihilation; lethal drugs pour across this nation's borders and into the veins of young Americans; Middle East oil ministers convene in secret cartel meetings, drafting schemes to manipulate the economies of the industrial nations. Only with accurate information from every point on the compass can the United States hope to cope with these and many other threats. Perhaps in Stimson's day the nation could afford the luxury of Cinderella ethics, but today Americans seem to have no choice other than to engage in espionage operations: to collect and analyze to the best of their ability data on the capabilities and intentions of present or potential adversaries.

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