Secret Agencies: U.S. Intelligence in a Hostile World

Loch K. Johnson, Author Yale University Press $55 (282p) ISBN 978-0-300-06611-1
It is doubtful if any intelligence agency can ever be totally ""clean."" By their nature, they attract adventurers and renegades. Some are sincere patriots, others merely self-serving and potential defectors. Johnson ably mixes an overview of the purpose and philosophy of clandestine operations with a chronicle of the activities and relationships of current U.S. agencies. There is even George Washington's secret code number (711), as well as ""Rebel Rose"" O'Neil's contribution to Confederate victory at the battle of Bull Run. Johnson, a University of Georgia political science professor, is evenhanded in describing U.S. intelligence's successes, as well as its dirty-pool black marks--the Allende affair, internal surveillance of Vietnam protesters, Iran-Contra and others less well-known. He also describes clearly the attempts at control of this ""secret government,"" its operations and, especially, its finances. Not all intelligence efforts have been successful, and many have enraged both the executive and legislative branches. At one point, Senator Daniel Moynihan even advocated total abolition of the CIA. The author assesses the future of both overt and covert operations, mentioning the downgrading of hi-tech intelligence since the end of the Cold War and reemergence of the old cloak-and-dagger techniques. The primary sources are impressive, and the text, though dense, is highly readable. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 282 pages - 978-0-300-07654-7
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