The CIA & Casey

Judis, John B.

THE LONG & THE SHORT OF COVERT ACTION The CIA & the legacy of William Casey JOHN B. JUDIS ashington Post reporter Bob Woodward's Veil (Simon & Schuster, $21.95, 543 pp.) is neither a...

...The OSS had operated during a declaraed war, and Donovan had authority, which he transferreed to his subordinates, to do whatever was necessary to win the war...
...has had to pay a steep price for disclosure, especially in the Iran-contra scandal...
...It viewed the anti-colonial and nationalist struggles taking place in these nations through the prism of the Cold War, insisting that nationalist reformers like Iran's Mussadegh or Guatemala's Arbenz were conduits for Communist expansion...
...Che Guevara, who was an adviser to Guatemala's Arbenz, learned the importance of establishing control of the army...
...Casey saw intelligence as the means of supporting his own covert agenda...
...Treverton, a former staff member of Frank Church's Senate Select Committee and now a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, draws a distinction between covert action and intelligence gathering...
...In October 1984, speaking before the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Casey said, "With few exceptions, the highly publicized charges made against the CIA during the mid-seventies turned out to be false...
...In the agency's first years, it had focused on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but beginning in the early fifties, the CIA shifted its attention to what Senator Church later called "small, weak nations" of the third world...
...should not merely seek to contain, but to roll back Soviet Communism...
...A third of the CIA's officers were OSS veterans, and when the Directorate of Operations was formed in 1952, its chief officers Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner, and Richard Helms were all OSS veterans...
...Casey was also an abysmal failure at restoring the CIA's intelligence capability, which had been thrown into question during the seventies when the CIA failed to anticipate the OPEC oil embargo and then the fall of the Shah...
...He also drew a distinction between an intelligenceoriented and action-oriented CIA that bears directly on Casey's conduct of the CIA...
...In Covert Action, Gregory Treverton shows why covert action has been so popular with administrations...
...During the war, the OSS did not have to face any ideological or political questions...
...They adopted OSS's methodology, setting about to organize resistance groups behind the Iron Curtain in the same way as they had tried to organize groups in Nazi-held areas...
...Many of his major operations went awry...
...Treverton believes that the U.S...
...In thirty years, we [have] shown that the secrecy of intelligence presents temptations and that oversight is needed to keep people from overstepping the bounds tacitly stipulated by the public...
...To these OSS veterans, the clandestine side of the CIA was what mattered...
...Non-intervention is not only a moral principle...
...The Carter administration made a valiant initial effort to break with both Cold-War foreign policy and the OSS model for the CIA...
...Treverton also argues that the goal of covert action altering a country's politics through secret intervention is contrary to American purposes...
...is neither a history of the CIA nor a biography of former CIA Director William Casey...
...But beginning in the early sixties, the CIA began to lose its privileged position...
...But even according to OSS standards, Casey was an abysmal failure at covert operations...
...asey himself felt great nostalgia for the OSS...
...But the Carter reforms were swept away when Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981 and appointed Casey his CIA Director...
...While the U.S...
...The Soviets were like the Nazis, and the U.S...
...It is shared by the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee and by most of the Democratic candidates for president...
...Thus, one "covert" action after another, from Chile to Angola to Afghanistan to Nicaragua to Iran, has become "overt" well before it has been concluded, and the U.S...
...Where covert activity had accounted for half of the CIA budget, it accounted for only 5 percent of the 18 December 1987: 753 budget in the Carter years...
...Turner favored the former, and he warned that those who emphasize covert action run the risk, as Casey did, of undermining their ability to provide unbiased intelligence...
...To the discerning ear, Casey's contemptuous attitude toward congressional oversight was evident from his confirmation hearings in 1981...
...This is the post-Watergate reform view of the CIA...
...North and Casey planned the contra resupply operation together...
...Indeed, Veil is another chapter in the continuing debate inside as well as outside the CIA over the agency's purpose and direction...
...Indeed, the question raised by Veil is whether, given the recurring record of these transgressions, the CIA's covert action wing should be shut down...
...Carter's CIA director Stansfield Turner gave preeminence to technical intelligencegathering...
...Under Casey and the conservative Reagan administration, covert action lost whatever genuine purpose it ever had...
...According to Woodward, Casey was a "father figure, an intimate and adviser" to North...
...o understand what happened to the CIA under Casey, one has to understand the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II intelligence agency run by "Wild Bill Donovan...
...And Veil is a fiveJOHN B. JUDIS is a senior editor of In These Times and author of a biography of William F. Buckley, Jr., to be published next May by Simon & Schuster...
...and McMahon resigned in December 1985 over the Iranian arms deals...
...Carter laid down the gauntlet in his 1977 Notre Dame speech when he declared that "being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of Communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear...
...Openly intervening can discredit those the U.S...
...Is it enough to emphasize intelligence over covert action and to report covert actions dutifully to Congress...
...Woodward and Veil represent a faction within that debate...
...they worked out the details of the arms-for-hostage swap with Iran...
...Here lay the source of future disaster...
...His "opening to Iran" created a scandal that would have forced his own resignation...
...It was an operationally independent body whose overall purposes were clearly defined and accepted...
...When his own intelligence officer for the Soviet Union told him that Sterling's theories of an international terrorist conspiracy, advanced in her book The Terror Network, (Berkley, 1984) lacked evidence, Casey responded, "I paid $13.95 for this LbookJ and it told me more than you bastards whom I pay $50,000 a year...
...Inman resigned in 1982 over Casey's attempt to bypass himself and Congress in waging the contra war...
...We believe the example of democracy is a powerful one, one toward . which peoples all over the world will gravitate, given the chance...
...Casey also established close working relationships with NSC officials...
...Unlike Arbenz or Mussadegh, both of whom courted the U.S., recent targets of CIA intervention like Cuba's Castro, Iran's Khomeini, and Nicaragua's Sandinistas have been able to use CIA opposition for their own political advantage...
...Treverton is right, of course...
...And they demanded for the CIA's covert wing the same political independence from Congress and even executive scrutiny that the OSS had had...
...Casey's attempt to improve intelligence foundered on the rock of his own right-wing ideology...
...Rather, his view of the Soviet Union was based on an analogy with Nazi Germany and his World War II experience...
...These included former Director Stansfield Turner (who thanked Woodward for his help in the acknowledgments to his own book, Secrecy and Democracy, Houghton Mifflin, 1985) and Casey's two former deputies, Admiral Bobby Inman and John McMahon...
...Woodward writes in Veil: "He, [Casey] virtually said that the United States was at war with the Soviets...
...But in broader terms, the antagonists were the reformers who wanted to restrain the agency's covert action wing and the CIA officials like Angelton and Helms who still clung to the OSS model...
...Many former intelligence officials like Helms and Ray Cline welcomed Casey's leadership at the CIA...
...According to Treverton, the CIA's early successes in Iran and Guatemala not only contributed to the agency's recklessness, but educated future CIA opponents about what they would have to do to frustrate the CIA's plans...
...I heard you say that you could not conceive any circumstances in which you could not share informationn with this committee...
...In Latin America, for instance, Menges saw a coalition of the Soviet Union, local Communist guerrillas, Cuba, Palestinian terrorists, and Libya targeting Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, and Belize with the purpose of eventually toppling Mexico, what Menges called the "main strategic target...
...Covert action had the advantage of being secret not only from foreign adversaries, but from a critical Congress and public...
...His attempt to assassinate a Shiite terrorist leader, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, resulted in the death of eighty-one innocent people...
...wants to aid by identifying them too directly with the U.S...
...Casey's antiCommunism does not appear to have had the deeply religious dimension of Buckley's or WhittakerChambers's antiCommunism...
...And like the early CIA directors, Casey tried to model the CIA's covert operation wing on the OSS: he thought it should be operationally independent from the Congress and the public, as well as from the State Department, and that it should do whatever would be necessary to carry out its goal, which for Casey meant rolling back the Soviet empire...
...This is not an undeclared war,' he said, and he compared the times with the years when Hitler was not taken seriously...
...His goal was to win territory back from the Soviet Union...
...We're on the cutting edge...
...But these circumstances would have to reflect not merely greater congressional oversight, but a basic change in the foreign policy assumptions of those who run the government and the CIA...
...Tlie charges were on their front pages and their refutation buried away so that few people noted them...
...In his history of the CIA (The Agency, Simon & Schuster, 1986), John Ranelagh reports Colby telling another senior official, "I am going to make the clandestine service part of the CIA, and the CIA part of the intelligence community...
...Just before joining the Reagan campaign in 1980, Casey had been working on a six-hundred-page manuscript, tentatively titled "The Clandestine War against Hitler," detailing his and Donovan's exploits during World War II...
...should generally not intervene...
...He thought that without accountability, the CIA had inevitably abused its own powers...
...It differentiates us from the Soviet Union and is thus a source of U.S...
...As Clarridge began to assemble a contra army in Honduras, Casey provided him with a "private channel'' so that he would not have to go through Casey's deputies...
...In Africa, he saw a similar coalition aiming at South Africa...
...One can carry Treverton's argument a step farther...
...By the time of the Iran-contra scandal, the covert action wing of the CIA had teamed up with the National Security Council to constitute an independent instrument of American foreign policy, distinct from the State and Defense Departments, and not accountable to the president or the public...
...Treverton contends that in the wake of Watergate it has become even more difficult to conceal covert actions...
...For many Americans, the war in Vietnam threw into question the CIA's activities in the third world...
...In Veil, Woodward shows that under William Casey the CIA resumed the "rogue elephant" role that it had been forced to abandon after the Church and Pike Committee hearings in 1975...
...In a Presidential Order, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance amended the 1947 act that limited covert actions to those "affecting the national security...
...The revelations about the CIA's attempt to prevent democratically elected Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from taking office in 1970 and about CIA attempts to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders bolstered congressional and public resolve to rein in the CIA...
...Casey divided the globe between territory held by the Soviet Union and territory held by the U.S...
...The CIA's covert action wing became the means of carrying out an interventionist foreign policy that lacked congressional and popular support...
...In the spring t)f 1984, Casey ordered an intelligence estimate on Mexico...
...In a moment of boastful candor, Casey told a Senate Intelligence Committee staff member, "We have a chance to establish our own foreign policy...
...hundred-page news story driven by the novelty of details...
...For this reason, Casey became obsessed with overthrowing the Sandinistas, whom he believed had handed Nicaragua over to the Soviet Union...
...Casey's closest tie came to be with Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North...
...When the CIA (initially called the Central Intelligence Group) was formed the next year, the Strategic Services Unit became the nucleus of the CIA's covert action wing...
...Woodward reveals almost nothing of Casey's early life, and Casey remains throughout Veil a news peg rather than a real character...
...I said I cannot now conceive," Casey replied...
...But even a higher threshold may not be sufficient to discourage an adventurer like Casey...
...Menges had justified the attempt at overthrowing the Sandinistas by pointing to the Soviet threat in Mexico...
...Turner also favored congressional oversight...
...Casey put Duane R. "Dewey" Clarridge in charge of covert action in Latin America in spite of Clarridge's ignorance of Spanish and Latin American politics and history...
...But the question raised by Veil is whether the CIA can be reformed...
...He made Constantine C. Menges, a right-wing crank from the Hudson Institute, his national intelligence officer for Latin America...
...It is not simply the aura of derring-do, but rather the fact that it seems to represent a "middle option" between doing nothing and openly 18 December 1987: 755 intervening in another country's affairs...
...Covert action, which is by nature more limited in scope than open intervention, has also become increasingly ineffective...
...Spies who gather intelligence operate covertly, but covert action, which is the responsibility of the CIA's 752: Commonweal Directorate of Operations, is aimed not merely at intelligence but at intervening in a country's internal affairs, whether through propaganda or paramilitary means...
...Clarridge, the former Rome station chief, impressed Casey by his ' 'can do'' attitude...
...which, like Veil, was composed in the wake of the Iran-contra scandal...
...In 1955, Casey drew up the incorporation papers for his friend William F. Buckley, Jr.'s National Review...
...can rule out ever engaging in covert action...
...And the CIA itself in its first decades was patterned after and run by veterans of the OSS...
...Thus, Woodward virtually ignores the CIA's covert activity in Afghanistan a more promising subject from Casey's standpoint and does not attempt to see the agency through the eyes of zealots like Menges, de Graffenreid, or North, but rather through the eyes of the dissenters like McMahon and Inman...
...But Treverton acknowledges that such cases "will be rarer and rarer.'' In effect, Treverton's critique of covert action is a prescription for its de facto elimination...
...Horton eventually resigned over the Mexico estimate...
...The principal antagonists were EIA Director William Colby, who sought to reform the agency, and domestic intelligence chief, James Angelton, who had established the extensive domestic surveillance campaign...
...The post-Vietnam-Watergate battles over the CIA's direction not only pitted a Democratic Congress against the CIA but also one group of CIA officials against another...
...As CIA director, Casey was trying to recreate both the OSS and the pre-Watergate CIA...
...In its first years, the CIA appeared to enjoy the same clear definition and it sought the same operational independence...
...In his book, Turner charged Casey with attempting to run the CIA like the OSS...
...Kenneth de Graffenreid had been on the CIA transition team that had recommended that covert actions become the province of a separate agency and that the CIA and FBI merge into a super domestic surveillance agency...
...and if North can be believed, discussed the diversion of Iranian arms funds and their use both to fund the contras and to set up a secret "off the shelf action agency...
...I cannot conceive now of any circumstances under which they would result in my not being able to provide this committee with the information it requires," Casey told the 754: Commonweal Senate Intelligence Committee...
...As a journalist, Woodward reveals his own perspective through the selection of detail rather than through his own comments on those details...
...Casey, who was Donovan's Chief of Secret Intelligence for the European Theater, got his ideas of how an intelligence agency should work from that experience...
...If we believe that, then we must also believe that the example is powerful in our external behavior, not just in our internal arrangements...
...This question is addressed directly by Gregory F. Treverton's Covert Action (Basic Books, $19.95, 293 pp...
...Later revelations of CIA intervention, from Chile to Angola, only strengthened many Americans' conviction that the CIA was the instrument of an indiscriminate antiCommunism that befriended any antiCommunist regime, no matter how retrograde, and tried to subvert any leftwing regime, believing it to be a beachhead for Soviet Communism...
...When a junior CIA analyst, based on a week's visit, produced a draft warning of imminent revolution and extensive Soviet and Cuban penetration, Casey approved it...
...We are the action agency of the government...
...If there is an underlying political view in Veil, it is very close to that of Turner in Secrecy and Democracy...
...Covert interventions, by definition initiated in secret, nonetheless eventually become public, usually sooner rather than later...
...In the fierce Watergate-era battles over the CIA's direction, Casey took the side of Angelton and Helms...
...There might be cases, Treverton writes, like Iran in 1953 and Guatemala where '' the politics of a foreign country lare] so finely balanced that a little U.S...
...Some of the most spectacular details like Woodward's bedside visit to the dying Casey have been questioned and debated, but the most important details, those that reveal Casey's mode of operation at the CIA, have not been...
...It lacks the clear perspective of history and the motivational details of a biography...
...Vance insi'sted that covert actions be "absolutely essential to the national security...
...Menges had substituted for the old Communist conspiracy what he called a worldwide "destabilization coalition...
...He was an active member of the OSS veterans' organization, a group that included many prominent CIA officials, including former CIA director Helms, who had worked for Casey in London...
...But Treverton insists that covert action is increasingly an illusory option...
...De Graffenreid did not have solid evidence for this theory, but by its nature it was irrefutable...
...The picture could not be more damning...
...To the despair of Casey's Deputy Director, Admiral Bobby Inman, de Graffenreid became the NSC liaison with the CIA...
...Within the political establishment, the CIA began to lose its prestige...
...After successes in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954, the CIA disgraced itself in the Bay of Pigs and Indochina...
...According to Turner, a CIA director has the choice of emphasizing intelligence "while also informing policy-makers about the possibilities of covert action" or emphasizing covert action while "doing his best to keep the intelligence reporting unbiased...
...Casey was a conservative when Ronald Reagan was still a liberal Democrat...
...it did not have to submit itself to congressional oversight or press interviews...
...assistance to one side will be decisive...
...De Graffenreid had a pet theory that the Soviet Union was foiling American electronic surveillance with a vast electronic disinformation project of their own...
...influence in the world...
...he Watergate scandal dealt the final blow to the CIA's insularity...
...was not formally at war with the Soviet Union, Americans perceived the Soviet Union to be a direct threat, and they had no objection to an agency whose purpose was to thwart Soviet expansion...
...Treverton argues for "setting a higher threshold" for the use of covert action...
...CIA consultation was strictly informal, on a "buddy system," and when the press discoverd a CIA covert action, it generally kept its mouth shut, as the New York Times did when its reporter Tad Szulc uncovered planning for the Bay of Pigs invasion...
...Woodward's forte is journalism...
...By Reagan's second term, Casey had established his own agency within but also separate from the CIA an OSSstyle operation relying on Menges and other cranks for intelligence, Clarridge and North for execution, and the Saudis for money...
...At the same time, the CIA's political rationale came into question...
...There may be circumstances in which covert action would be justified just as it was clearly justified in World War II...
...was at war with the Soviet Union just as it had been at war with Nazi Germany...
...It is also an instrumental value," Treverton writes...
...Casey's view of the Soviet Union was that of the early National Review: he saw it as the center of an international conspiracy seeking world domination, and he believed that the U.S...
...What they have lost from CIA harassment they have gained in political legitimacy...
...The scandal cast doubt upon the right of executive-branch agencies to act without congressional supervision...
...He was interested in taking one back from the Soviets a clean, visible victory," Woodward writes...
...The highly acclaimed OSS, which dropped thousands of agents behind enemy-lines, was disbanded in 1945, but its clandestine apparatus, the Strategic Services Unit, was transferred to the War Department...
...asey brought into the CIA people who shared his worldview...
...He listened to Menges and to conspiracy buff Claire Sterling rather than to his own intelligence experts...
...Of course, Casey's attitude toward the CIA was also conditioned by his political backgrouind...
...Congress and the press extended to the CIA the same kind of immunity that it had extended to the OSS...
...fter Veil was published, Senate Intelligence Committee members wondered why Casey had been willing to tell Woodward secrets that he had never revealed to them, but it is fairly clear from reading Veil that Casey was not Woodward's principal source...
...When senior intelligence officer John Horton objected, Casey became furious and charged Horton with wanting to suppress evidence...
...He denied that the CIA had done anything wrong in its three decades, and he rejected the need for congressional oversight...
...In the wake of Watergate and of these disclosures, Congress passed legislation requiring covert actions to be justified by an explicit presidential finding and requiring the CIA to notify congressional committees of covert actions...
...Rather, Woodward seems to have relied heavily on former CIA officials who opposed Casey's attempt to remake the CIA...
...Well, I thank you, sir,'" New York Senator Daniel P. Moynihan replied...
...It can also bring about a superpower confrontation and make withdrawal more difficult...
...His guerrilla army in Nicaragua only succeeded in providing the Sandinistas with a pretext for solidifying their own rule...
...Treverton does not think that the U.S...

Vol. 114 • December 1987 • No. 22


 
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