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William Colby and the CIA: The Secret Wars of a Controversial Spymaster Paperback – October 8, 2009
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According to its original 1947 charter, CIA was originally set up as a center were intelligence information collected from a variety of sources could be analyzed and vetted, in the current parlance it was the place were all the dots were to be connected. There was a loophole however that would permit CIA "to perform other missions" as directed by the National Security Council (or the president). As CIA struggled to develop a viable institutional mission, "other missions" was interpreted as covert political actions or various types of `support' (including military) to various pro-West movements in selected foreign countries. Clandestine collection of human intelligence through the use suborned foreign nationals (agents) also was assumed under this loophole. (See Creating the Secret State, University of Kansas 2000).
Prior to CIA, during WWII, the U.S. created the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as a semi-military force to conduct special operations, often in cooperation with resistance fighters in occupied countries. OSS also had an analytic group to provide intelligence support to it operation units. Although the operations side of OSS did not engage in systematic intelligence collection, its officers developed a good deal of experience operating in foreign countries often under difficult and dangerous conditions.Read more ›
Author Prados comes down on the side that Colby was correct to share secrets with congressional committees as proper in a democracy, and indeed, it was the only action possible if the Agency was to survive. There are those who disagree, and they would include yours truly, President Eisenhower, and a long line of people who have produced effective intelligence or used it adroitly.
Before going in to this specific issue, allow me to say the book is extremely well-written and informative. However, I suggest the reader compare it to "Honorable Men My Life in the CIA" by William Colby and Peter Forbath. Between the two books the reader should obtain a good understanding of covert actions and HUMINT gathering under official and semi-official cover.
There is also a theme that the Agency's heyday was from its inception to the sixties when it could pretty well do what it wanted (the Bay of Pigs notwithstanding), but in actuality the primary successes during that time were due to walk-ins (like Penkovskiy) or case officers willing to take substantial risks like Bill Harvey.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cudos to John Prados! He wrote this book with facts he uncovered. Conclusions are drawn by your own mind unlike the JFK or Marilyn Monroe stories presented by others with... Read morePublished on May 29, 2014 by G Tausch