Covert Operations and the Politics of the CIA

Covert operations are daunting endeavors that carry a lot of baggage. They also have to be done in a way that doesn’t blow the agency’s cover or lead to a public backlash.


The Kennedy and Eisenhower administrations had active programs on both the political and paramilitary fronts, all aimed at putative communist foes in Third World countries. These activities continued under Reagan and Bush.

The CIA’s role 광주흥신소

CIA covert operations have often been controversial. A famous example is the case of OSS agent Frank Wisner, who was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to influence the 1948 Italian elections. The operation was revealed in the 1980s and caused embarrassment for the United States. This was an important lesson about the limits of covert action. It contradicted the adage that covert success would remain secret while failures were known to the public. Instead, every covert operation that involves more than a single agent will eventually become known.

Despite the controversies over this practice, covert operations continued to grow in the Cold War. This was partly due to the fact that covert operations could be conducted against nonstate actors, such as terrorists and international criminal groups. Covert activities also helped combat openly hostile foreign governments and impede nuclear proliferation.

In addition to being effective tools for policy, covert actions were cost-effective compared to inte 광주흥신소 lligence gathering. In order to maximize the effectiveness of these activities, a good system must be put in place to ensure that the right personnel and resources are allocated to each operation. Ideally, this system should be designed to minimize the chance of abuse and allow for flexibility. Otherwise, the effectiveness of covert operations will suffer and it will be harder for the government to address real-world threats.

The CIA’s structure

The collection features documents associated with the control and management of covert operations. It also highlights the tension between the CIA and Congress over the details of particular covert actions. It contains numerous director of central intelligence nomination hearings, including those of Stansfield Turner, James Woolsey, George Tenet and Michael Hayden, as well as many Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings examining specific CIA programs.

Covert action is a tool available to national policymakers when the goals of disarmament or other foreign policy objectives cannot be achieved by diplomatic means or when military escalation would be inappropriate. It can also be used to influence a state’s decision-making calculus. More modest covert operations such as the Tehran and Guatemala coups have changed the political composition of governments, while less spectacular covert activities such as American support of the Afghan insurgency have limited the Soviet Union’s ability to climb a higher rung on the ladder of hegemony.

The CIA was created with the understanding that it should be responsible for the coordination and evaluation of national intelligence, i.e., information that is of interest to more than one department or agency. To facilitate this task, a secret subcommittee was established under the auspices of the NSC. Known as the Special Group or, after an Eisenhower directive, NSC 5412/2, the group met at least once each week (often over Tuesday lunches) to discuss important covert projects and decisions.

The CIA’s budget

In the past, Congress kept the CIA’s budget secret. But with the Cold War over, it’s time to end this unconstitutional concealment and make the overall intelligence budget public, as Canada, Britain and Israel do. This is the unanimous conclusion of the Brown-Aspin commission, which Congress created to study intelligence budget issues, and of the three retired CIA directors who served on it.

The CIA’s activities, which include collecting foreign intelligence and special covert operations, must be considered in the context of the national security needs of the United States. Clandestine collection from human sources inherently involves risk, and some of the information that is obtained backfires. Nevertheless, as long as the U.S. maintains a clandestine capability to gather information from sources around the world, such incidents will occur.

That’s why the CIA should be given adequate resources to carry out its mission. It’s also important to recognize that the CIA plays a vital role in protecting the nation from potential terrorist attacks and furthering our overall national security goals. The intelligence it provides is essential for our policymakers to keep America safe. This information allows our leaders to make decisions that help prevent threats and advance national security objectives. In addition, the CIA has a unique role in developing relationships with foreign governments to provide intelligence and security support.

The CIA’s personnel

Covert operations have a long and distinguished history. They are often equated with direct action, but they’re also useful tools of policy. Daring exploits may make headlines, but the CIA’s more modest covert operations—training proxy forces or undermining foreign political systems—have a significant impact on world politics. It’s important to remember that even though they’re dangerous and complicated, covert operations are still a valuable tool of national power.

In a globalized world, where the range of potential threats grows ever wider and conventional weapons are less likely to disarm their enemies, a robust covert-action regime is essential for American national security and diplomacy. It’s important that the CIA maintain excellence in covert actions at all levels of engagement, from training and supporting rebels to providing financial support to allied governments or foreign nonstate actors.

CIA employees must be bold and willing to take risks, but they can’t do so if their judgments are continually second-guessed on the basis of hindsight. That’s why it’s critical that the CIA establishes an environment of trust and confidence. To do that, it must provide its employees with adequate training and resources to enable them to carry out the Agency’s mission. It must also ensure that the CIA’s policies are informed by intelligence community analysis. Finally, it must encourage greater interaction between the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and the Directorate of Intelligence.