Review of Westerfield, ed.,

Inside CIA's Private World

On the Inside, Looking In


H. Bradford Westerfield, ed. Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

While living in the compartmented world of the Central Intelligence Agency for a quarter of a century, I always awaited the quarterly editions of Studies in Intelligence with some anticipation. It was here that I could obtain glimpses into areas of the intelligence discipline otherwise closed to me. Now, Yale University Press and H. Bradford Westerfield have collaborated to bring us 32 contributions to Studies selected from an even larger number of declassified articles available at the National Archives.

Although the selections hardly justify the dustjacket hype (inclusion of Bob Woodward's description of the articles as "haunting" is particularly amusing), the editor has chosen well. The earliest article presented comes from 1959 and the latest from 1990; in between, there are eight articles from the 1960s, thirteen from the 1970s, and nine from the 1980s. The only author with more than one selection is Richards J. Heuer, Jr., who has three, including his excellent dissection of the debate surrounding Nosenko.

A number of other well-known names appear as authors, including B. Hugh Tovar, Dino A. Brugioni, and David D. Gries. In addition, some of the articles qualify as "classics" in the field. These include Hans Moses' taut and insightful telling of his work as a double agent from 1949 to 1953 and Maurice Ernst's brief history of the development of economic intelligence in the CIA. It is instructive that even in 1984 Ernst could write that the question of whether the CIA should provide assistance to private U.S. firms "has been a hot issue for more than a decade." (p. 328)

Another selection with a theme that continues to resonate into the present is William R. Johnson's "Clandestinity and Current Intelligence," originally published in 1976. Whether you agree or disagree with Johnson's thesis, the argument that the production of current intelligence and the conduct of espionage are incompatible has not been better made.(1)

Westerfield has written a 16-page introduction that includes a short history of the CIA, comments on the process and criteria involved in selecting the articles for publication, and the organizational outline into which the articles have been placed. The Sections cover imagery intelligence collection, human intelligence collection (overt and clandestine), the use of humint, the analytical function and its consumers, and counterespionage. The introductory history is reasonably balanced and will be useful to those coming to the book without an extensive background in intelligence. However, Westerfield goes to slightly annoying lengths to prove that he was not coopted by the Agency during his association with the project.

Covert political action, a highly controversial aspect of the CIA's role, was not written about extensively in Studies, and the small number of articles that did appear were not declassified for this project. Also missing from this volume are the articles published on the historical aspects of intelligence. The editor's decision to begin with the Cold War is understandable but regrettable, given the uniqueness of many of the articles dealing with intelligence history that have appeared in Studies over the years. The articles presented here certainly are interesting and of overall high quality. However, they probably say less about the CIA institutionally than the editor and publisher would like readers to think.

(1) A succinct rendition of the arguments and conclusions in the Studies article was published as William R. Johnson, "The Elephants and the Gorillas," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 1 (Spring 1986), 42-56.

Return to CIA Overviews Table of Contents

Return to CIA Table of Contents

Return to Main Table of Contents