Covert Operations Documents Collection

Covert operations are dangerous, complex, and often unpleasant endeavors. They demand careful planning, constant surveillance and a lot of debilitating 서울흥신소 서울흥신소 stress.

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Since 1974 Congress has required the President to justify all covert action in advance by means of a detailed document known as a finding. Congressional committees do not have formal veto power, but they do hold many cards that can discourage the President.

History

Covert operations are a powerful and dangerous tool designed to manipulate international events without either Americans or their targets knowing who did it. They are not a separate set of activities, but rather an aspect of broader diplomacy and foreign policy, though they tend to be more focused on the use of force than open diplomatic means. In peacetime they should be able to achieve their objectives using non-violent methods, and in wartime they must be based on the threat of violence, including paramilitary support for an armed insurgency against the opposing power.

The vast majority of covert actions fail, however, and those that appear successful often have negative consequences in the long term. Even the so-called CIA ‘golden age’ of the 1950s, from its establishment in 1947 to the Bay of Pigs failure in 1961, left Fidel Castro in power and brought Cuba closer to the Soviet Union.

While the Cold War provided a consistent adversary that helped define the nation’s intelligence community, the end of the conflict has required an especially thorough examination of its institutions to determine their legitimacy and propriety in the new era. The resulting review will require an inspection of covert action in particular.

Purposes

The sensitive nature of covert operations makes human considerations, from the effects on foreigners to the morale of the agency, critically important. Such factors must be weighed against the possibility of abuse and the impact on domestic political support. Congressional support for covert action is particularly critical, as the agencies involved must go to Congress each year for funding. In this context, the current system must be analyzed in light of new international challenges.

The practical concerns surrounding covert action must also be weighed against its historical record. Many of the covert actions conceived and carried out during the Cold War, particularly in Iran and Guatemala, now seem to have been acts of folly. If the costs of future covert actions are found to be burdensome in comparison to their transient benefits, the system will need to be re-examined.

Another issue is the need to balance oversight and efficiency. If a new structure is to be developed, the first changes must be those that do not compromise either of these goals. For example, splitting analysis and clandestine collection into separate entities is a bad idea because the two functions need to collaborate frequently. Separating the two would also harm intelligence gathering, as it would prevent analysts from approaching clandestine collection with a more objective and skeptical eye.

Techniques

Covert operations can be non-violent or violent and fall into many broad categories. They may include a disinformation campaign, sabotage, support for a coup d’etat or psychological warfare. They can also be aimed at allies and friends to secure their support for controversial components of foreign policy worldwide. The goal of a covert operation is to achieve the same results as open operations, but without being discovered or having their intent revealed. Operatives often work under the guise of a front organization and may have to take the risk of being caught by their target country’s intelligence services.

Despite their ostensibly secretive nature, many covert operators have become known to the public through the media. This has had both a positive and negative impact on the ability of covert operations to succeed. The negative effect is mainly due to a perception of ineffective and corrupt policies that have been implemented.

There are a number of ways to carry out covert operations, but they usually involve a great deal of pre-planning. One of the most important factors is ensuring that the operation has a high level of plausibility. This involves ensuring that the operatives are trained in their chosen field. This is often done through specialised courses that are run by former police or military personnel. These courses are not available to everyone and most operatives will have to undergo extensive background checks before being allowed to take part in the course.

Control

The collection contains a variety of documents associated with the control and management of covert operations. Some of the most notable items are a series of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) nomination hearings for figures like Stansfield Turner and James Woolsey. The hearings showcase the tension between the CIA and Congress over the scope of covert action.

Although the separation between covert actions and clandestine collection is necessary in terms of preserving the ability to use human assets, this has the negative effect of crippling the planning and execution of covert operations. For example, if the intelligence analysts had been involved in the planning of the Bay of Pigs operation, they would have provided the operators with valuable topographical information. Furthermore, if policy decisions are based on poor analysis and the result is ineffective covert action, it not only harms fundamental democratic aims but also damages the reputation of the whole endeavor.

As a result, there are several proposals to reform how covert action is governed. For example, some have argued that congressional intelligence committees should be required to be informed of any planned or ongoing covert action in order to provide oversight. Other members of Congress have sought to require presidential determination through a written finding that a covert action supports “identifiable foreign policy objectives.” Both types of reform are difficult to implement without compromising the ability of the United States to carry out covert operations against rogue states, international terrorists, and narcotics smugglers.