COVERT ACTION

Generally

1980s

J - Z

Johnson, Loch K. "Covert Action and Accountability: Decision-Making for America's Secret Foreign Policy." International Studies Quarterly 33 (Mar. 1989): 81-109.

This article looks broadly at the use of covert action, but gives particular attention to the decisionmaking process.

Landis, Fred. "CIA Psychological Warfare Operations: Case Studies in Chile, Jamaica, and Nicaragua." Science for the People, Jan.-Feb. 1982, 6-11, 29-37.

Lefever, Ernest W. "Can Covert Action Be Just?" Policy Review 12 (Spring 1980): 115-122.

Levenstein, Aaron. Escape to Freedom: The Story of the International Rescue Committee. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983.

Although Namebase dismisses this book as "an in-house puff piece written for the International Rescue Committee's fiftieth anniversary," it is a useful counterpoint to Chester's Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA (1995).

Meyer, Cord. Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA. New York: Harper & Row, 1980. 2d ed. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.

Clark comment: Meyer's autobiography covers from the author's undergraduate years at Yale through 26 years with the CIA. Among other assignments, Meyer headed the CIA's International Organizations Division and (from 1962) the Covert Action Staff. It was in this position that Meyer's name became well known because of the Ramparts revelations in 1967 concerning CIA funding for the National Student Association. In 1973, Meyer became chief of station in London. He retired from the CIA at the end of 1977. Because of the positions he held and his close association with the use of covert political action as a weapon of the Cold War, Meyer's judicious presentation continues to be worth reading.

Cord Meyer, Jr., died on 13 March 2001 at the age of 80. Controversial to the end, the Washington Post found it necessary to correct the astonishingly misleading headline on Meyer's obituary. See Graeme Zielinski, "Key CIA Figure Cord Meyer Dies; Headed 'Dirty Tricks Department,'" Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2001, B6. The correction reads: "A headline on the obituary of Cord Meyer on March 15 incorrectly described his CIA role. As assistant deputy director for plans of the CIA, he was the number two figure in its Plans Directorate, sometimes referred to as the 'dirty tricks department.'" Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2001, B6.

Pforzheimer calls Facing Reality "an important and carefully written book." Similarly, Lowenthal finds it useful for giving a "sense of CIA views and outlook during the height of the Cold War."

Although only incidentally of intelligence interest, there is now a biography of Meyer's wife, killed in 1964 in the area of the C&O Canal towpath: Nina Burleigh, A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer (New York: Bantam, 1998). See Evan Thomas' review, Washington Post, 11 Oct. 1998, X5.

Newson, David D. "Aiding Guerrillas Cannot Be Covert." Christian Science Monitor, 14 Sep. 1987, 14.

Peterzell, Jay. "Legal and Constitutional Authority for Covert Operations." First Principles 10, no. 3 (Spring 1985): 1-5.

Peterzell, Jay. Reagan's Secret Wars. Washington, DC: Center for National Security Studies, 1984.

Clark comment: This is not the book to read for a balanced presentation on covert operations during the Reagan years. Nonetheless, Lowenthal finds it to be "a useful compendium of [the] various operations that became part of the so-called 'Reagan Doctrine.'"

Prados, John. The Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations Since World War II. New York: Morrow, 1986. Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations Since World War II Through Iranscam. New York: Morrow, 1988. [pb] Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II Through the Persian Gulf War. Rev. ed. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996.

Valcourt, IJI&C 1.3, says Prados has produced an "extremely well researched volume," but he "tarnishes his objectivity with the bias of some distorted criticism... which ... reduce[s] his work to a political tract under the guise of scholarship." Nevertheless, there is a "considerable amount of worthwhile information.... As a guide to the literature of the field, it is a gold mine." However, in his criticisms, he "fails to put the situation in perspective."

Although he finds the work somewhat numbing, Smith, I&NS 2.4, also believes The Presidents' Secret Wars "will be highly useful because Dr Prados has done serious archival work.... In one stroke this volume moves the study of covert operations to a higher and more sophisticated plane."

Sayle, Edward F. "The Déja Vu of American Secret Diplomacy." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2, no. 3 (Fall 1988): 399-406.

Politically unpopular secret diplomatic dealings in international affairs are nothing new in U.S. history.

Sharpe, Kenneth E. "Intelligence vs. Covert Action." World Outlook 8 (Winter 1989): 173-187.

Shultz, Richard H., Jr. "Covert Action and Executive-Legislative Relations: The Iran-Contra Crisis and Its Aftermath." Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 12, no. 2 (Spring 1989).

Strong, J. Thompson. "Covert Activities and Intelligence Operations: Congressional and Executive Roles Redefined." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 63-72.

Tovar, B. Hugh. "Thoughts on Running a Small War." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 3 (1986): 85-93.

"[I]ntelligence (including counterintelligence) and covert action go hand-in-glove. The relationship is symbiotic; separation would be disasterous for both." (p. 87)]

Treverton, Gregory F.

1. "Covert Action: From 'Covert' to 'Overt.'" Daedalus 116, no. 2 (Spring 1987): 95-123.

The author sees covert actions increasingly becoming overt, along the lines of aid to the Contras or the Afghani rebels. He doubts that large-scale covert actions will be as frequent as in the past.

2. Covert Action: The Limits of Intervention in the Postwar World. New York: Basic Books, 1987. JK468I6T72 Covert Action: The CIA and the Limits of American Intervention in the Postwar World. New York: I.B. Tauris, 1988.

Clark comment: Treverton's basic conclusion is difficult to argue with: In the 1990s "[m]ajor covert actions will become public -- sooner rather than later, and perhaps even before the operation is over." The question remains, however, just what this means to the future use of covert operations as an instrument of U.S. policy. Petersen's description of this work as the "case against covert action by a Harvard professor who advised the Church Committee" is too narrow a view of Treverton's argument. Nonetheless, the main thrust of the work is cautionary.

Valcourt, IJI&C 5.2, sees the book as "essentially a polemic" that "falls far short" of Loch Johnson's book "in objectively assessing the Church committee's operations." On the other hand, Shultz, IJI&C 3.2, says that Treverton has made an "important and thoughtful contribution" to the debate over the place of covert action in U.S. foreign policy." The book is a "well written and strongly argued defense of his position" that covert action is a "last resort" approach.

3. "Covert Action and Open Society." Foreign Affairs 65, no. 5 (Summer 1987): 995-1014.

4. "Imposing a Standard: Covert Action and American Democracy." Ethics & International Affairs 3 (1989). [Petersen].

Tuttle, Andrew C. "Secrecy, Covert Action, and Counterespionage: Intelligence Challenges for the 1990s." Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 12, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 523-540.

Van Voris, Jacqueline. The Committee of Correspondence: Women with a World Vision. Northhampton, MA: Interchange, 1989.

Wallop, Malcolm. "U.S. Covert Action: Policy Tool or Policy Hedge?" Strategic Review 12, no. 3 (Summer 1984): 9-16.

The author was a U.S. Senator (R-WY) when this was written.

West, Nigel [Rupert Allason]. The Third Secret: The CIA, Solidarity and the KGB's Plot to Kill the Pope. London: HarperCollins, 2000. 2001. [pb]

At http://www.nigelwest.com/thethirdsecret.htm, West describes this work thusly: "The rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s, which began the undermining of the Soviet Bloc and the defeat of international communism, was essentially funded by the CIA covertly, through the Vatican. Pope John Paul II (elected in 1978) had a deep interest in mysticism and long believed in 'the third secret' -- the third piece of advice given to the eldest of the three children at Fatima (Portugal) in 1917 by an apparition of the Virgin Mary. This secret, written down by the last surviving child, who became a nun, was revealed by the Pope in 1980 and described an avoidable apocalyptic catastrophe in Europe. Thereafter the Pope began his ideological offensive against the Soviet Bloc."

Woodward, Bob. Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. New York: Pocket Books, 1988. [pb] UB351U5W66

Simmons, IJI&C 2.2, argues that Woodward's "errors of fact ... are few and far between and, more often than not, involve narrative embellishments of a situation rather than mistakes in substance.... Probably the greatest value ... are his brilliant descriptions of the bureaucratic conflict between the legislative and executive branches in the arena of U.S. intelligence activities.... He captures the flavor of this struggle."

For Hartung, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jul. 1988, the "real subject" of this book "is Casey and his efforts to build U.S. intelligence capabilities across the board." Woodward has produced a "readable and at times engaging account of U.S. intelligence activities during the 1980s." Blum, NameBase, notes that the book "is famous for its corny ending.... Other portions ... contain numerous nuggets of interest to historians, but it treats its stated subject entirely unsystematically -- various bits and pieces about each 'war' are scattered here and there."

To Powers, NYRB (19 Nov. 1987) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 283-294, the author has a typical "set piece -- detailed, suggestive, and fragmentary." The central account here is Casey's covert activities, and Woodward "for the most part only adds new details to stories that have already had their day in the press. His story requires close reading. It suggests more than it claims."

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