COVERT ACTION

Generally

2010s

Berger, Joseph B., Jr. "Covert Action: Title 10, Title 50, and the Chain of Command." Joint Force Quarterly 67 (4th Quarter, Oct. 2012). Available at: http://www.ndu.edu/press/covert-action.html.

"This article focuses on the risks associated with both using military personnel to conduct kinetic covert action and using them without a military chain of command.... Specifically, the author rejects melding distinct operational military (Title 10) and intelligence (Title 50) authorities into the often mentioned Title 60. Properly classifying actions -- either under the statute as a covert action or exempted from the statute as a traditional military activity -- ensures the correct command structure is in place. Ultimately, the analysis argues for revisiting the previously rejected 9/11 Commission recommendation to place paramilitary covert action under DOD control."

Callanan, James. Covert Action in the Cold War: US Policy, Intelligence, and CIA Operations. New York: Tauris, 2010.

For Peake, Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010) and Intelligencer 18.1 (Fall-Winter 2010), "[t]here is little new in this book, but it does provide a comprehensive chronological summary of the major CIA covert action operations from the mid-1940s to the end of the Cold War." The author's "sourcing is extensive, although most is secondary, and in some instances that gets him into difficulty." The book "provides a good overview, but the role of the CIA should not be accepted without further validation."

Dickinson, Laura A. "Outsourcing Covert Activities." Journal of National Security Law & Policy 5, no. 2 (2012). [http://jnslp.com/]

"The ever-expanding use of contractors threatens core public values because the mechanisms of accountability and oversight that the United States has generally used to curb abuses by government employees do not translate well to contractors.... Government privatization of covert activities is of particular concern."

Dujmovic, Nicholas. "Drastic Actions Short of War: The Origins and Application of CIA's Covert Paramilitary Function in the Early Cold War." Journal of Military History 76 (Jul. 2012): 775-808.

From "Abstract": "The thirty-month gap between the dissolution of CIA's wartime predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, and the assignment of the paramilitary function to CIA in mid-1948, as well as other self-inflicted causes, may help explain why CIA's paramilitary activities in the 1950s never were as effective as policy makers and Agency operations officers expected."

Dujmovic concludes: "The history of CIA's early Cold War paramilitary activities suggests that a mandate and the will to conduct these operations are insufficient and that, without devoting the qualified manpower to them in an effective organization, perhaps it would be best after all to have the military take them on."

Erwin, Marshall Curtis. Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 10 Apr. 2013. Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RL33715.pdf.

"Senior U.S. intelligence community officials have conceded that the line separating Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and DOD intelligence activities has blurred, making it more difficult to distinguish between the traditional secret intelligence missions carried out by each."

Erwin, Marshall Curtis. Sensitive Covert Action Notifications: Oversight Options for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 10 Apr. 2013. Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/R40691.pdf.

"This report describes the statutory provision authorizing Gang of Eight notifications, reviews the legislative history of the provision, and examines the impact of such notifications on congressional oversight."

Journal of National Security Law and Policy. "Shadow Wars." 5, no. 2 (2012). entire issue. [http://jnslp.com]

Click for Table of Contents.

Labott, Elise. "Obama Authorized Covert Support for Syrian Rebels, Sources Say." CNN, 1 Aug. 2012. [http://www.cnn.com]

President Barack Obama has signed an intelligence "finding" that "allows for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies" to the Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces. When the president signed the authorization for Syria is unclear, "but the sources said it was within the past several months.... Exactly what type of support the finding authorizes is also unclear."

Miller, Greg. "CIA Ramping Up Covert Training Program for Moderate Syrian Rebels." Washington Post, 2 Oct. 2013. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to U.S. officials, the CIA "has sent additional paramilitary teams to secret bases in Jordan in recent weeks in a push to double the number of rebel fighters getting CIA instruction and weapons before being sent back to Syria. The agency has trained fewer than 1,000 rebel fighters this year, current and former U.S. officials said.... The descriptions of the CIA training program provide the most detailed account to date of the limited dimensions and daunting objectives of a CIA operation that President Obama secretly authorized in a covert action finding he signed this year."

Miller, Greg, and Karen DeYoung. "Secret CIA Effort in Syria Faces Large Funding Cut." Washington Post, 12 Jun. 2015. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

In a preliminary intelligence spending bill, HPSCI has voted to cut as much as 20 percent of the funds going into "a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria." U.S. officials said the move "reflects rising skepticism of the effectiveness of the agency program and the Obama administration's strategy in the Middle East." The CIA program, set up in 2013 to bolster moderate forces, represents "the United States' most direct involvement on the ground in Syria's civil war" and is reported to have "a budget approaching $1 billion a year."

Miller, Greg, and Joby Warrick. "CIA Preparing to Deliver Rebels Arms through Turkey and Jordan." Washington Post, 14 Jun. 2013. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"The CIA is preparing to deliver arms to rebel groups in Syria through clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan that were expanded over the past year in an effort to establish reliable supply routes into the country for nonlethal material, U.S. officials said.... U.S. officials involved in the planning of the new policy of increased military support ... said that the CIA has developed a clearer understanding of the composition of rebel forces.... Within the past year, the CIA also created a new office at its headquarters in Langley to oversee its expanding operational role in Syria."

Nakashima, Ellen. "Dismantling of Saudi-CIA Web Site Illustrates Need for Clearer Cyberwar Policies." Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2010, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to former senior officials, a "Saudi-CIA Web site was set up several years ago as a 'honey pot,' an online forum covertly monitored by intelligence agencies to identify attackers and gain information." Saudi intelligence operatives had used the site "to round up some extremists before they could strike." By early 2008, U.S. military officials, including Gen. Ray Odierno, U.S. military commander in Iraq, had grown "concerned that the site 'was being used to pass operational information' among extremists." The decision was made to designate the operation as "a traditional military activity," not as a covert operation, so there was no need to brief congressional committees.

The Pentagon's Joint Functional Component Command-Network Warfare at Fort Meade and its "[e]lite U.S. military computer specialists[,] ... mounted a cyberattack that dismantled the online forum." A former official said that "dismantling of the CIA-Saudi site inadvertently disrupted more than 300 servers in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Texas." According to another former U.S. official, "some Saudi officials had been informed in advance about the Pentagon's plan, [but] several key princes were 'absolutely furious' at the loss of an intelligence-gathering tool."

Whittle, Richard. Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution. New York: Henry Holt, 2014.

Whitlock, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2014, finds that the author narrates "[t]he unlikely circumstances that led to the birth of the Predator ... in fresh and authoritative detail." His "reporting ... is methodical and credible.... Whittle's best material appears in the final chapters, when he delivers action-packed details about how the CIA and the Pentagon used armed Predators to hunt for al-Qaeda leaders immediately after 9/11."

Whitlock, Craig. "U.S. Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Cables Released by WikiLeaks Show." Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2011. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to classified U.S. diplomatic cables provided by WikiLeaks, "[t]he State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel [Barada TV] that beams anti-government programming into the country." The "cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the [Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles,] since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria....

"The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama.... It is unclear whether the State Department is still funding Syrian opposition groups, but the cables indicate money was set aside at least through September 2010."

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