Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Cloak and Dollar

Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Cloak and Dollar
    Book Description:

    Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, a leading expert on the history of American espionage, here offers a lively and sweeping history of American secret intelligence from the founding of the nation through the present day. Jeffreys-Jones chronicles the extraordinary expansion of American secret intelligence from the 1790s, when George Washington set aside a discretionary fund for covert operations, to the beginning of the twenty-first century, when United States intelligence expenditure exceeds Russia's total defense budget.How did the American intelligence system evolve into such an enormous and costly bureaucracy? Jeffreys-Jones argues that hyperbolic claims and the impulse toward self-promotion have beset American intelligence organizations almost from the outset. Allan Pinkerton, whose nineteenth-century detective agency was the forerunner of modern intelligence bureaus, invented assassination plots and fomented anti-radical fears in order to demonstrate his own usefulness. Subsequent spymasters likewise invented or exaggerated a succession of menaces ranging from white slavery to Soviet espionage to digital encryption in order to build their intelligence agencies and, later, to defend their ever-expanding budgets. While American intelligence agencies have achieved some notable successes, Jeffreys-Jones argues, the intelligence community as a whole has suffered from a dangerous distortion of mission. By exaggerating threats such as Communist infiltration and Chinese espionage at the expense of other, more intractable problems-such as the narcotics trade and the danger of terrorist attack-intelligence agencies have misdirected resources and undermined their own objectivity.Since the end of the Cold War, the aims of American secret intelligence have been unclear. Recent events have raised serious questions about effectiveness of foreign intelligence, and yet the CIA and other intelligence agencies are poised for even greater expansion under the current administration. Offering a lucid assessment of the origins and evolution of American secret intelligence, Jeffreys-Jones asks us to think also about the future direction of our intelligence agencies.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14842-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The American Spy Considered as a Confidence Man
    (pp. 1-10)

    How big should the American secret intelligence budget be? That may seem a simple, even a crudely simple question, yet it opens a window to a more complex and vital debate.

    Those who think that U.S. intelligence spending is about right or too low offer a variety of justifications. There is the pragmatic argument that a big country with big responsibilities needs a big intelligence budget. Then there is the justification by historical precedent. Former CIA official George A. Carver, Jr., claimed the 1990 intelligence budget was only about 8 percent of the total military expenditure of around $300 billion....

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Washington Style
    (pp. 11-23)

    General George Washington was a master of military espionage. That is not an unusual claim to make, yet, for two reasons it is appropriate to confirm Washington’s secret-intelligence prowess at the outset of this study. First, such confirmation illustrates just how effective American espionage can be at its best—a salutary exercise, given some of the mistakes made later on. Second, the sobriety of Washington’s style serves as a foil to the overcolorful espionage accounts that developed later in the history of the republic.

    George Washington made frequent and effective use of secret intelligence in the second half of the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Allan Pinkerton’s Legacy
    (pp. 24-43)

    In 1861 the United States faced its second great crisis, and again military intelligence had a role to play. It was generally recognized that good intelligence could help decide the outcome of battles, campaigns, and even the Civil War itself. Intelligence would also be a determinant of the speed with which one side or the other might win the war, putting an end to the immense misery and sacrifice both North and South endured.

    But Abraham Lincoln lacked George Washington’s military and intelligence experience, and had to rely on the judgment of others. In July 1861, the president turned to...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Did Wilkie Crush the Montreal Spy Ring?
    (pp. 44-59)

    When two American officers testified to Congress that Spain had conspired to blow up the U.S. battleshipMaine, the Spanish naval attaché Ramon de Carranza challenged each of them to a duel. An aristocrat and a patriotic firebrand, Carranza despised the profession to which the outbreak of war consigned him shortly thereafter. The young lieutenant longed for a ship to command and was unhappy when the War of 1898 placed upon him the duty of espionage against the United States. Yet, in spite of his loathing for this task, he did perform it diligently and, it could be argued, quite...

  8. CHAPTER 5 U-1: The Agency Nobody Knew
    (pp. 60-80)

    Two emblematic secret intelligence agencies emerged in the opening decades of the twentieth century. The first of these was the Bureau of Information. Formed in 1908, it was later dubbed and is now commonly known as the FBI. The second was an agency without a name. Formed in 1915, it flourished briefly and dominated the intelligence scene before the FBI finally made its mark. Insiders referred to it simply as U-1.

    U-1 was so obscure and so secretive that it did not even have to try to suppress the news of its existence. Nobody knew about it, so nobody asked...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Burns, Hoover, and the Making of an FBI Tradition
    (pp. 81-98)

    Burns glanced behind him. His men, the apocryphal surveyors, tried to look busy. Still uncomfortable, he tugged at his own choice of disguise, a suit of hunting clothes. He once again adjusted his binoculars. Screwing his eyes against the glistening waters of the Puget Sound, he focused more carefully on the beach. Yes, they were naked.

    The anarchists of Home Colony had chosen their location at Tacoma on the West Coast as the place to try out their own version of the American idyll. But by 1911, their community was splitting into two camps, known as the “Nudes” and the...

  10. CHAPTER 7 H. O. Yardley: The Traitor as Hero
    (pp. 99-114)

    In 1957, there appeared a seductive little book by H. O. Yardley calledThe Education of a Poker Player. It sold 100,000 copies and ran through fourteen printings. Although Yardley was a habitual loser,The Educationbecame a classic text on the game. This and the big sales were in part a result of its storytelling style and the frequency of its sexual anecdotes. The self-assurance of the author, too, inspired confidence in would-be practitioners of a game that in no small degree depends upon bluff: “I have constantly won at poker all my life.”¹

    The Educationcontains another point...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Pearl Harbor in Intelligence History
    (pp. 115-130)

    At 7 a.m. on 7 December 1941, Japan’s bomber attack force showed up as a mysterious blip on the oscilloscope of the U.S. Army’s Mobile Radar Station on the northern tip of Oahu. Normally, the radar closed down at 7 because of military economy measures—measures that also explain why the radar’s operators, privates Joseph L. Lockard and George E. Elliott, were poorly trained. But Elliott was intrigued by the blip, prevailing on his bleary-eyed comrade to keep the radar operating. The two soldiers chatted idly over the next thirty-nine minutes until they lost contact due to radar distortion caused...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Hyping the Sideshow: Wild Bill Donovan and the OSS
    (pp. 131-153)

    William E. Colby directed the CIA between 1973 and 1976. Twenty years later, he perused a letter that had been dropped into the mailbox of his office in Washington, D.C.:

    My name is Asbjørn Øye, I’m the district manager for the Norwegian State Railways in the Tronheim area and I’m the son of the stationmaster at Valøy station in 1945!

    Therefore, I have personal interests in the establishing of the memorial park at the Jørstad river bridge.

    I remember very well the “big bang” early in the morning the 15 of April 1945 when you, and your soldiers, “blowed up”...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Allen Dulles and the CIA
    (pp. 154-178)

    On Sunday, 13 May 1945, SS commander Karl Wolff was celebrating his forty-fifth birthday. He stood sipping champagne with his guests on the lawn of the Bolzano royal palace in the Dolomites. It was as if V-E Day, five days earlier, had never occurred. Then, all of a sudden, a loud, rumbling noise intruded. It heralded the arrival of a convoy of heavy United States Army trucks. They ran over the ancient cobblestones, circling the palace. American soldiers jumped out. They herded Wolff and his assembled SS officers into the trucks and ferried them off to a prisoner-of-war cage. Commander...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Cuba, Vietnam, and the Rhetorical Interlude
    (pp. 179-204)

    John F. Kennedy was already a leading contender for the Democratic nomination when, on 13 March 1960, he hosted a dinner party at which Ian Fleming was a guest. The newly ascendant Fidel Castro was on the conversation menu—indeed, Kennedy was about to make an election issue of the Cuban crisis. What could America do to rid itself of this troublesome communist preening himself in its own backyard? Well, what would James Bond have done? Fleming mischievously rattled off a number of suggestions for “the James Bond treatment,” among which were the exploitation of Cuban religious superstition and the...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Did Senator Church Reform Intelligence?
    (pp. 205-231)

    On the afternoon of 28 April 1996, an unmanned canoe washed ashore near the confluence of the Wicomico and Potomac rivers, just south of Washington, D.C. The spot was not far from the quay at Rock Point, Maryland, where William E. Colby had his weekend home. It was known that late on the previous day, the seventy-six-year-old Colby, leaving his supper uncleared and a glass of white wine only half-consumed, had gone to the waterfront. The discovery of the empty canoe prompted a flurry of activity. Local crabbers and oystermen joined navy frogmen in a search of the area. At...

  16. CHAPTER 13 The Casey-Reagan Era: From History to Victory
    (pp. 232-254)

    President Ronald Reagan injected new life into an old and paradoxical conspiracy: he used the cloak of clandestinity to achieve his ends, yet, at the same time, he hyped the role of secret intelligence. Trust me, he told the American people, to twist the truth in your interest.

    Reagan’s skill as a salesman was legendary, and his elevation to the White House was bound to boost intelligence because of his past affinities with secret service and deception.¹ He had acted in B movies for Warner Brothers in the late 1930s, a time when the government was urging moviemakers to stop...

  17. CHAPTER 14 The Real American Century?
    (pp. 255-288)

    University College, Oxford, 1969. Nestling in privileged proximity to All Souls, Oriel, and the jumble of other colleges making up the heart of the ancient university, the place seemed a peaceful haven in a noisy and contentious world. The young Rhodes scholar made friends, and had a good time.

    But Oxford’s tranquillity did not calm Bill Clinton’s every worry. He had a problem that seven centuries of college tradition could do nothing to erase—he wanted out of the Vietnam War.

    Clinton had secured the suspension of his 28 July induction order by promising Willard Hawkins, the Selective Service head...

  18. Abbreviations to Notes
    (pp. 289-290)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 291-326)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 327-342)
  21. Index
    (pp. 343-358)