R - Z

Radsan, John. "An Overt Turn on Covert Action." St. Louis University Law Journal. 53, no. 485 (2009). William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 116. Abstract available at:

From "Abstract":  "[T]his Article proposes a new executive order (or a new statute) to clarify and to publicize the internal procedures that take place before the United States" engages in covert actions.

Rosenbach, Eric, and Aki J. Peritz. "Covert Action." In Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community, 32-35. Cambridge, MA: Intelligence and Policy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Jul. 2009.

This is a very general effort to define what covert action is and how it has been used.

Rudgers, David F. "The Origins of Covert Action." Journal of Contemporary History 35, no. 2 (Apr. 2000): 249-262,

The author sees the postwar-United States slipping first into covert psychological operations and, then, quickly (as laid out in George Kennan's NSC 10/2) into "full-scale covert political activity." The latter was institutionalized in a new (August 1948) organizational entity in the CIA, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), and in OPC's head, Frank Wisner. "Under Wisner..., covert action became a growth industry for the CIA."

Scott, Len. "Secret Intelligence, Covert Action and Clandestine Diplomacy." Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 322-341.

"The United States' current mood shows little aversion to using force, and overt action is less constrained by domestic opposition or international restraint. US political and bureaucratic debates about covert action will for some time occur within a different context to much of the Cold War."

Shanker, Thom. "Study Is Said to Find Overlap in U.S. Counterterror Effort." New York Times, 18 Mar. 2006. []

A study analyzing the effectiveness of Special Operations forces "found 'a tremendous duplication of effort' in the government and military that overlaps with assignments given the Special Operations Command" (SOCOM). The study was conducted by Gen. Wayne A. Downing Jr., a former SOCOM commander and retired four-star general. SOCOM's "new global role in counterterrorism has rankled some officers at the Pentagon and in regional war-fighting commands who previously took charge of that mission. Some of the command's new efforts, in particular the placement of small teams in American embassies to gather intelligence on terrorists and to prepare for potential missions, has outraged some intelligence officers and career diplomats."

Shanker, Thom, and Scott Shane. "Elite Troops Get Expanded Role on Intelligence." New York Times, 8 Mar. 2006. []

"The military is placing small teams of Special Operations troops in a growing number of American embassies to gather intelligence on terrorists in unstable parts of the world and to prepare for potential missions to disrupt, capture or kill them." The Military Liaison Element (MLE) effort "has drawn opposition from traditional intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., where some officials have viewed it as a provocative expansion into what has been their turf." The Special Operations Command (SOCOM) reports to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and "falls outside the orbit controlled by [DNI] John D. Negroponte."

Steiner, James E. "Restoring the Red Line Between Intelligence and Policy on Covert Action." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 19, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 156-165.

The author argues for recreating the CIA (renamed) as a covert action and HUMINT collection organization, while transferring its present analytic, open source, and technology development responsibilities to the DNI or other IC components. In this fashion, the policy aspects of covert action would be separated from intelligence, thereby restoring the "red line" between the two.

Stempel, John D. "Covert Action and Diplomacy." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 20, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 122-135.

The author provides an overview of the emergence of the links between diplomacy and intelligence, specifically covert action in its multiple forms. It is likely that future U.S. Presidents will continue to use covert action in furtherance of their national security goals, but they need "to keep in mind the pitfalls and problems connected with such activities."

Stiefler, Todd. "CIA's Leadership and Major Covert Operations: Rogue Elephant or Risk-Averse Bureaucrats?" Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 632-654.

The author offers three variables that he believes "most directly impact how CIA leaders assess the costs and benefits of covert action to their organization: public opinion, the value of strategic intelligence, and the state of inter-agency competition."

Totrov, Yuri. "Western Intelligence Operations in Eastern Europe, 1945-1954." Journal of Intelligence History 5, no. 1 (Summer 2005). []

From Abstract: The author, a former KGB officer, "demonstrates how the British co-operated with the newly formed CIA and critically contemplates a secret conflict, in which western strategists underestimated their counterparts and refused to acknowledge realities on the frontline. Instead of stopping and assessing their losses, even more personnel and money was poured into what was proved to be an intelligence trap by Eastern services."

U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian. Gen. ed., Edward C. Keefer. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976.

Volume XII. Soviet Union, January 1969-October 1970. Ed., Erin R. Mahan. Washington, DC: GPO, 2006. Available at:

This volume contains five documents on covert action against the Soviet Union. These have been collected and are available at:

Volume XIV. Soviet Union, October 1971-May 1972. Eds., David C. Geyer, Nina D. Howland, and Kent Sieg. Washington, DC: GPO, 2006. Available at:

Waller, Douglas. "The CIA's Secret Army." Time, 3 Feb. 2003, 22.

The war on terrorism has put the CIA back into the business of paramilitary operations. Among other activities, members of the CIA's Special Operations Group (SOG) "have been secretly prowling the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq, trying to organize a guerrilla force that could guide American soldiers invading from the north, hunting for targets that U.S. warplanes might bomb, setting up networks to hide U.S. pilots who might be shot down and mapping out escape routes to get them out. And they are doing the same in southern Iraq with dissident Shi'ites."

Wettering, Frederick L. "(C)overt Action: The Disappearing 'C.'" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 16, no. 4 (Winter 2003-2004): 561-572.

The CIA's covert action capability "has almost completely disappeared.... Among the developments which have led to th[is] breakdown ... are public exposure, embarrassment, and legal and political curtailment; transfer of CA functions to overt organizations; and bureaucratic politics, within both the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government."

Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Clark comment: If you can overlook some ill-supported flights of rhetorical fancy, this is a very good rendition of the tunes played on the "mighty Wurlitzer." It is also an easy -- and even fun -- read. The front-end of Wilford's conclusion is judicious: "[T]he CIA's state-private network was built to a great extent on shared values and involved a surprising amount of self-assertion on the part of the private citizens who belonged to it. Nevertheless, no matter how much one dwells on the consensual and voluntarist aspects of the relationship, the fact remains that the front tactic was based on secrecy and deception, making it all the more problematic when undertaken in a nation avowedly dedicated to the principles of freedom and openness." He follows that, however, with a statement that is in no way supported by his narrative: "Cultural diplomacy, the winning of hearts and minds, should be left to overt government agencies and genuine, nongovernmental organizations."

Kazin, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2008, calls this a "brisk yet thorough narrative" of the CIA's "creation and funding of front organizations.... [N]o one has written a more comprehensive or sophisticated account of the pro-American fronts from their creation in the late 1940s to the investigative report 20 years later in Ramparts magazine that first exposed the CIA's cultural offensive.... Few of the CIA fronts reliably behaved as the agency desired. Many of the subsidized individuals and groups had a moderately leftist inclination; they were determined to fight communism in their own ways and resisted direction from above."

To Goulden, Washington Times, 20 Jan. 2008, the author "shares the prevalent mindset of liberal 'scholars' that any operation carrying the CIA imprimatur was ipso bad and misguided.... Wilford vents much spleen on CIA programs to finance intellectual, labor and student groups who contested Soviet-supported fronts worldwide."

Glazer, NYT, 20 Jan. 2008, finds this to be a "remarkably detailed and researched book." The story the author tells is "fascinating, involving a surprising collection of well-known figures in American life." The reviewer notes "Wilford’s somewhat cool attitude toward what many saw, with some legitimacy, as a worldwide conflict between tyranny and freedom." Despite a few slips, "[t]here is a great deal to be learned from this book."

For Radosh, New York Sun, 6 Feb. 2008, the author "carefully shows that in almost all the cases, those funded [by the CIA] understood the high stakes of the Cold War with the Soviets. Rather than following CIA orders, most used whatever funds they received to carry on the work they had already started, and often discarded the advice of the Agency handlers." Despite some "politically motivated cheap shots," Wilford has "written a scholarly, mostly readable, and first-rate book.... One can differ with his own conclusion that covert funding 'stained the reputation' of America and still find the book of immeasurable merit."

Warner, Studies 52.2 (Jun. 2008), believes that the author has "given us the best history of the covert political action campaign to date." That is, this is a better treatment than earlier works on the subject (specifically Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy [1989], and Frances Stonor Saunders, Cultural Cold War [2000]). Wilford's "judicious approach should set the standard" for works that may come later. After suggesting that Frank Wisner would have commended this work, Pinck, Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), terms The Mighty Wurlitzer an "insightful, well-written and modestly-told accounting of an important segment of Wisner's professional career."

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