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Secret Agencies

Secret Agencies: U.S. Intelligence in a Hostile World

Loch K. Johnson
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 282
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkrmq
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  • Book Info
    Secret Agencies
    Book Description:

    How has the end of the Cold War affected America's intelligence agencies? When are aggressive clandestine operations justifiable, and who should be responsible for deciding to proceed with them? Should the United States engage in more aggressive economic espionage? These are just a few of the issues Loch Johnson examines in this thoughtful assessment of strategic intelligence and its vital role in modern governments.Johnson draws on historical data, more than five hundred interviews, and his own experience working for Congressional committees on intelligence. He begins by defining the functions of intelligence: espionage, counterintelligence, and covert action. He then provides an overview of America's secret operations abroad, assesses the moral implications of clandestine operations, and offers guidelines for a more ethical approach to the use of secret power. Johnson explores the question of intelligence accountability, looking closely at how well intelligence agencies have been monitored through the forum of Congressional hearings. He compares America's approach to intelligence with that of other nations, discusses the degree to which intelligence agencies should provide information about foreign businesses, and evaluates how well the U.S. intelligence agencies fared during the Cold War against the USSR. Secret agencies have the capacity not only to safeguard democracy but also to subvert it, says Johnson. As such, they deserve both our support and our scrutiny.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15754-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. CHAPTER 1 THE MEANINGS AND METHODS OF INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 1-30)

    In a full-page magazine advertisement that offered financial counseling for the perplexed consumer, a New York bank presented readers with a drawing of a man in a rowboat. Blithely oaring his way along a sparkling river, he seemed completely unaware of the gathering currents about to sweep him over a waterfall. The copy advised, “Moving ahead without looking ahead could prove to be the greatest risk of all.”

    As with boating in unfamiliar waters, steering a nation through the treacherous tides of history can also be a perilous enterprise. Responsible leaders in every nation seek knowledge—and, ideally, foreknowledge—of...

  6. CHAPTER 2 THE EVOLUTION OF THE INTELLIGENCE MISSIONS
    (pp. 31-59)

    In the aftermath of the Cold War some critics have called for a dismantling of the CIA; others have insisted that the world is more dangerous than ever and the United States must, if anything, strengthen its intelligence capabilities.¹ How have intelligence missions—long driven by an anti-Soviet raison d’être—changed since America’s archnemesis vanished?

    To measure changes, one must first establish a baseline of the essential features of the intelligence community during the Cold War. Among the most important features to consider are the Community’s choice of missions, its structural permutations, its budgets and staffing, its relationship to supervisory...

  7. CHAPTER 3 THE ETHICS OF COVERT OPERATIONS
    (pp. 60-88)

    “We must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clear, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us,” advised a secret annex to a presidential commission (the Doolittle Report to the Hoover Commission) in the 1950s. The United States would have to “fight in the back alleys of the world,” concluded Secretary of State Dean Rusk a decade later. “Must the United States respond like a man in a barroom brawl who will fight only according to Marquis of Queensberry rules?” a retired senior intelligence officer rhetorically asked in the 1980s. Even when the...

  8. CHAPTER 4 INTELLIGENCE ACCOUNTABILITY
    (pp. 89-118)

    The time: December 6, 1977. The setting: the first intelligence briefing on a presidential finding before the newly established U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), known informally by members of Congress as the Boland Committee, chaired by Edward P. Boland of Massachusetts.

    Three years earlier, in December 1974, the Congress had passed the Hughes-Ryan Amendment to the 1947 National Security Act.¹ This law required the president to approve all important covert actions by way of a finding, usually a sentence or two—or at most a short paragraph—that endorsed the proposed operation. The law required the president...

  9. CHAPTER 5 THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 119-145)

    Intelligence commonly encompasses two broad meanings. First, the secret agencies acquire and interpret information about threats and opportunities that confront the nation, in an imperfect attempt to reduce the gaps and ambiguities that plague open sources of knowledge about the world. A nation especially seeks secret information to help it prevail in times of war, with as few casualties as possible. Second, based on information derived from denied and open sources, policymakers call upon their intelligence agencies to shield the nation against harm (counterintelligence) while advancing its interests through the secret manipulation of foreign events and personalities (covert action). Intelligence...

  10. CHAPTER 6 INTELLIGENCE AND ECONOMIC SECURITY
    (pp. 146-173)

    As in the early days of the Republic, the world remains a decidedly dangerous place for the United States. British men-of-war and marauding Barbary pirates have given way to nuclear-tipped ICBMs, terrorist bombings, and illicit narcotics. In his “bottom-up” review of the major threats facing the United States, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin pointed to the presence of outlaw states, with Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea high on the list; the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; the possibility that democratic reform of former totalitarian regimes might fail, especially in Russia; and America’s global economic decline.¹

    The question...

  11. CHAPTER 7 AN ASSESSMENT OF AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 174-206)

    From one vantage point the Cold War may be thought of as a subterranean World War Three that pitted America’s secret agencies against their Soviet counterparts, the KGB and the GRU. The charge given to the U.S. intelligence establishment by the president and the Congress in 1947 was to employ the tradecraft of espionage for acquiring the best information possible about the capabilities and intentions of the USSR and other hostile powers.

    Above all, America’s leaders sought reliable guidance on the military strength and objectives of the Communist empire—tightly kept secrets of the highest order. Insights into Moscow’s economic,...

  12. APPENDIX A DIRECTORS OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 207-208)
  13. APPENDIX B CHRONOLOGY OF THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS OF 1962
    (pp. 209-210)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 211-250)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 251-262)