Dirty tricks or trump cards : U.S. covert action and counterintelligence /

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Main Author: Godson, Roy, 1942-
Format: Book
Published:Washington : Brassey's, c1995.
Series:Brassey's intelligence & national security library.
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Review by Choice Review

Academic studies of intelligence have become an important part of the scholarly literature in international affairs in recent years. The role of intelligence agencies and practices in the conduct of US foreign policy has not been without controversy, especially in the areas of counterintelligence and covert operations. Given current challenges to US national security represented by regional, ethnic, and religious conflicts--and by terrorism, narcotics, and the spread of nuclear weapons--the question arises as to the desirability of using and maintaining effective covert capabilities to thwart these dangers. Godson (Georgetown) attempts to answer this provocative question by examining under what conditions covert operations can be used to secure a decisive advantage in world politics. A government consultant and founder of the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, Godson pioneered in bringing intelligence studies into the mainstream literature of history and political science. His analysis includes a brief history of US counterintelligence and covert action since 1945, tracing its successes and failures. The bulk of the work is devoted to the principles behind these activities as guides to effective foreign policy. The text is supported by ample documentation, an extensive bibliography, and a glossary. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. V. McHale; Case Western Reserve University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Godson's impressive study, notable for its clarity, defines both counterintelligence and covert action, arguing that both are necessary. Counterintelligence, he writes, includes the identification, neutralization and exploitation of the intelligence activities of others (thus protecting state secrets from adversaries); covert action encompasses efforts to influence events in other parts of the world without revealing or acknowledging involvement. Godson outlines ``ideal'' counterintelligence and covert action, describes how both have been practiced by the U.S. and suggests possible ways to employ each more effectively in the national interest. Godson, a professor of government at Georgetown University and consultant to the National Security Council, has written a textbook accessible to the general reader. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An academic's dry-as-dust assessment of US intelligence needs in the turbulent times to come. Looking backward over the past 50 years as well as forward, Godson (Government/Georgetown Univ.; editor of Intelligence Requirements for the 1980s, 1985) offers a deadly serious survey of what was once deemed the hidden dimension of diplomacy, military affairs, and statecraft. In his orderly canon, there are four principal parts to a full-service intelligence effort: data collection, analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action. Traditionally, he notes, the gathering and evaluation of information have bothered neither the American public nor its elected representatives. By contrast, the author points out, counterintelligence and covert action have sparked heated debates; as one result, these elements in recent years have been more honored in the breach than the observanceat (in Godson's view) no small cost to national security. The author recalls that the Nixon administration's commitment to détente with the Soviet Union (as opposed to the postWW II policy of containment) signaled US agencies that counterintelligence was no longer a priority. About the same time, he asserts, the country's political leadership began to repudiate the methods (assassination, destabilization of hostile regimes, paramilitary campaigns, propaganda) used in clandestine operations. While conceding the difficulties of reconciling an open, democratic society to subterfuge and so-called dirty tricks, he commends the strategic and tactical utility of unorthodox practices. At the global level, Godson argues, these capacities would make it easier for Washington to deal with breakaway or outlaw states; closer to home, such procedures could be gainfully employed in battling organized crime, containing drug cartels, and neutralizing terrorist groups. An authoritative albeit tedious audit of what the cloak-and- dagger bureaucracies could do for their countryif pols had the will and money to back them.

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