Loch Johnson

S - Z


Johnson, Loch K. A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1985. A Season of Inquiry: Congress and Intelligence. Chicago: Dorsey, 1988. [pb] JK468I6J64

Johnson, Loch K. Secret Agencies: U.S. Intelligence in a Hostile World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

According to Jonkers, AIJ 17.1/2, Johnson "provides guidelines for post-Cold War era activities, including clandestine operations and economic intelligence, and for ethical constraints and controls." This is a "[b]alanced, useful discussion." Friedman, Parameters, Summer 1997, says this is a "slim, tightly written, but thorough examination of contemporary U.S. intelligence."

Macartney, Intelligencer 8.1, calls Secret Agencies "noteworthy" and "refreshingly concise." Particularly useful are chapters 1 ("an excellent and brief descriptive overview of the intelligence business"), 5 ("which compares US intelligence with that function in other countries"), 6 (on economic intelligence), and 7 (an "overall assessment of US intelligence performance"). Barrett, APSR 91.4, finds that the author "has done an admirable job of description and both emprical and normative analysis.... The depth of research and the thoughtfulness of his analysis" present potential critics of his conclusions "with no easy target for criticism and debate."

On the other hand, Breckinridge, WIR 16.1, finds Johnson's overview "very general, often almost impressionistic," and some of his comments on individual agencies "merely bare-bones." Johnson's only insightful thoughts on the future concern "new dimensions of economic intelligence." Overall, there are sufficient "factual flaws" in the book to raise doubts about reliability, which "compromise[s] ... the foundation on which the author builds his present perceptions."

For Hulnick, IJI&C 10.1, Secret Agencies "is a more balanced and more thorough investigation and critique of intelligence" than Johnson's earlier works. Although "[p]racticioners may argue with some of his judgments," Johnson "provides a point of departure for discussions of the issues." Writing in Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science, Jan. 1998, Hulnick opines that "Johnson is both a tough critic and a fair judge of American intelligence." The reviewer believes that this book would be "a useful text for the growing number of courses in intelligence taught at universities around the country."


Johnson, Loch K. "Smart Intelligence." Foreign Policy 89 (Winter 1992): 53-69.

This article is an excellent benchmark for the state of the discussion mid-to-late 1992 as to "where do we go from here" with regard to American intelligence in the wake of the disappearance of the Soviet Union. Johnson stated then a point that is worth reiterating: "The best policy would be to remove the CIA from the drug mission. Its officers neither like it nor are they particularly good at it."


Johnson, Loch K. "Spies." Foreign Policy 120 (Sep.-Oct. 2000). [http://www.foreignpolicy.com]

This article makes some sound points about the state of espionage in the world environment in 2000. Among other thoughts, Johnson sees a continuing need for espionage: "In a strategic landscape plagued by still greater uncertainties, the need to know not only endures but grows."

He expresses doubts about any growth in real cooperation among intelligence services: "Barring the dissolution of the current system of nation-states and the establishment of full-fledged global governance, intelligence-sharing relationships will remain significantly constrained by divergent policy interests, the fear of turncoats inside an ally's government, and the general need for secrecy." As for economic intelligence gaining preeminence in the spying business, Johnson suggests: "[W]hen it comes to the security agenda of most intelligence services, commerce continues to take a back seat to direct threats to national survival."


Johnson, Loch K. "Spymaster Richard Helms: An Interview with the Former US Director of Central Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security18, no.3 (Autumn 2003): 24-44.

This material comes from an hour-long interview with Helms on 12 December 1990.


Johnson, Loch K. "Spymasters and the Cold War." Foreign Policy 105 (Winter 1996-1997): 179-192.


Johnson, Loch K. "Strategic Intelligence: An American Perspective." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3, no. 3 (1989): 299-332.


Johnson, Loch K. The Threat on the Horizon: An Inside Account of America's Search for Security After the Cold War. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

This work chronicles the author's work in 1995-1996 as a staff member for the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community (Aspin-Brown Commission). Clark comment: My review of this work is published as: "A Scholar's Dream Assignment," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 25, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 198-205. In that review, I call it "a gem of a book for political junkies."

Bailey, AIJ 29.2 (2011), finds that "this is an excellent work and I would recommend it to both intelligence practitioners and scholars alike." For Peake, Studies 55.4 (Dec. 2011) and Intelligencer 19.1 (Winter-Spring 2012), this is "a richly documented and powerful study of what presidential commissions can and cannot accomplish." Jervis, I&NS 27.4 (Aug. 2012), sees the author's discussion as "steadily fair-minded and insightful." Clark comment: I particularly appreciated Jervis's line that Johnson's description of the commission's work "has a close resemblance to a (bad) seminar."


Johnson, Loch K. "The U.S. Congress and the CIA: Monitoring the Dark Side of Government." Legislative Studies Quarterly 5 (Nov. 1980): 477-499.

This article is dated today, but Lowenthal does note that it suggests "many of the variables (personality, politics, perks, etc.) that intrude on the oversight process."


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