From Publishers Weekly
This trenchant study of congressional oversight during the CIA's formative decades sharply revises the popular image of the CIA as a rogue agency prone to running amok. Political scientist Barrett (Uncertain Warriors: Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisers
) spelunks through obscure archives for insights into the agency's relations with the congressional subcommittees charged with its oversight. He finds that, while only a few key legislative leaders had detailed knowledge of CIA activities, Congress was still a firm, if not always wise, taskmaster. The CIA was repeatedly criticized for intelligence failures, harassed by budget cutters and McCarthyite witch hunts, and pressured by legislators to slant intelligence on such issues as the alleged "missile gap." And a fervently anticommunist Congress, Barrett contends, often pushed harder for covert paramilitary operations than the CIA itself; such controversial adventures as the 1954 overthrow of the Guatemalan government and the later Bay of Pigs fiasco proceeded with the prior knowledge of congressional leaders and the vocal urging of other members of Congress for action. Barrett's scholarly but very readable account clarifies an important aspect of Cold War policymaking and Congress's role as an overseer of covert foreign policy. (Sept. 6)
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From the Back Cover
"A truly groundbreaking, eye-opening descent into secret budgeting, espionage, and covert actions."--Louis Fisher, author of Military Tribunals and Presidential Power
"Barrett reveals a CIA that made its own rules, wrote its own budget, classified its own secrets, and persuaded the Congress to like it. A rich and fabulous story that sheds new light on just about every significant episode in the first decades of the Cold War and confirms what many have long suspected--secrecy is the great enemy of democracy, and vice versa."--Thomas Powers, author of Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda
"A riveting story that helps to untangle one of the Cold War's most tangled webs."--Richard H. Immerman, author of The CIA in Guatemala