America's Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society

Oxford University Press
Free sample

Based on hundreds of interviews with CIA officials, national security experts, and legislators, as well as a thorough culling of the archival record, America's Secret Power offers an illuminating and up-to-date picture of the CIA, stressing the difficult balance between the genuine needs of national security and the protection of individual liberties. Loch Johnson, who has studied the workings of the CIA at first hand as a legislative overseer, presents a comprehensive examination of the Agency and its relations with other American institutions, including Congress and the White House, and looks closely at how it pursues its three major missions--intelligence analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action. At once fascinating and sobering, Johnson's book reveals how the best intelligence reports can be distorted or ignored; how covert actions can spin out of control despite extensive safeguards, as in the Iran-Contra scandal; and how the CIA has spied on American citizens in clear violation of its charter. Further, he provides a thorough review of legislative efforts to curb these abuses, and suggests several important ways to achieve the delicate balance between national security and democratic ideals.
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About the author

Loch K. Johnson is Regents Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia, and was recently named a Meigs Professor, the University of Georgia's highest teaching honor. He has served on the Senate and House committees on intelligence and on foreign affairs and has been a consultant to the National Security Council, the U.S. State Department, and the Senate Subcommittee on Separation of Powers. He is the author of A Season of Inquiry, the winner of the 1986 Certificate of Distinction of the National Intelligence Study Center, and America As a World Power (1991).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Mar 14, 1991
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9780195361537
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Intelligence & Espionage
Political Science / Security (National & International)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"The Ghosts of Langley offers a detail-rich, often relentless litany of CIA scandals and mini-scandals. . . [and a] prayer that the CIA learn from and publicly admit its mistakes, rather than perpetuate them in an atmosphere of denial and impunity."
—The Washington Post

From the writer Kai Bird calls a “wonderfully accessible historian,” the first major history of the CIA in a decade, published to tie in with the seventieth anniversary of the agency’s founding

During his first visit to Langley, the CIA’s Virginia headquarters, President Donald Trump told those gathered, “I am so behind you . . . there’s nobody I respect more, ” hinting that he was going to put more CIA operations officers into the field so the CIA could smite its enemies ever more forcefully. But while Trump was making these promises, behind the scenes the CIA was still reeling from blowback from the very tactics that Trump touted—including secret overseas prisons and torture—that it had resorted to a decade earlier during President George W. Bush’s war on terror. Under the latest regime it seemed that the CIA was doomed to repeat its past failures rather than put its house in order. The Ghosts of Langley is a provocative and panoramic new history of the Central Intelligence Agency that relates the agency’s current predicament to its founding and earlier years, telling the story of the agency through the eyes of key figures in CIA history, including some of its most troubling covert actions around the world. It reveals how the agency, over seven decades, has resisted government accountability, going rogue in a series of highly questionable ventures that reach their apotheosis with the secret overseas prisons and torture programs of the war on terror. Drawing on mountains of newly declassified documents, the celebrated historian of national intelligence John Prados throws fresh light on classic agency operations from Poland to Hungary, from Indonesia to Iran-Contra, and from the Bay of Pigs to Guantánamo Bay. The halls of Langley, Prados persuasively argues, echo with the footsteps of past spymasters, to the extent that it resembles a haunted house. Indeed, every day that the militarization of the CIA increases, the agency drifts further away from classic arts of espionage and intelligence analysis—and its original mission, while pushing dangerously beyond accountability. The Ghosts of Langley will be essential reading for anyone who cares about the next phase of American history—and the CIA’s evolution—as its past informs its future and a president of impulsive character prods the agency toward new scandals and failures.
All democracies have had to contend with the challenge of tolerating hidden spy services within otherwise relatively transparent governments. Democracies pride themselves on privacy and liberty, but intelligence organizations have secret budgets, gather information surreptitiously around the world, and plan covert action against foreign regimes. Sometimes, they have even targeted the very citizens they were established to protect, as with the COINTELPRO operations in the 1960s and 1970s, carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against civil rights and antiwar activists. In this sense, democracy and intelligence have always been a poor match. Yet Americans live in an uncertain and threatening world filled with nuclear warheads, chemical and biological weapons, and terrorists intent on destruction. Without an intelligence apparatus scanning the globe to alert the United States to these threats, the planet would be an even more perilous place. In Spy Watching, Loch K. Johnson explores the United States' travails in its efforts to maintain effective accountability over its spy services. Johnson explores the work of the famous Church Committee, a Senate panel that investigated America's espionage organizations in 1975 and established new protocol for supervising the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the nation's other sixteen secret services. Johnson explores why partisanship has crept into once-neutral intelligence operations, the effect of the 9/11 attacks on the expansion of spying, and the controversies related to CIA rendition and torture programs. He also discusses both the Edward Snowden case and the ongoing investigations into the Russian hack of the 2016 US election. Above all, Spy Watching seeks to find a sensible balance between the twin imperatives in a democracy of liberty and security. Johnson draws on scores of interviews with Directors of Central Intelligence and others in America's secret agencies, making this a uniquely authoritative account.
A hands-on, practical survival guide from retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson—adapted for civilians from actual special forces operations—to eluding pursuers, evading capture, and surviving any dangerous situation.

In today’s increasingly dangerous world, threats to your personal safety are everywhere. From acts of terror to mass shootings, and from the unseen (and sometimes virtual) matrix of everyday crime, danger is no longer confined to dark alleys or unstable regions. Potentially life-threatening circumstances can arise anywhere, anytime, and Clint Emerson—former Navy SEAL—wants you to be prepared.

100 Deadly Skills contains proven self-defense skills, evasion tactics, and immobilizing maneuvers—modified from the world of black ops—to help you take action in numerous “worst case” scenarios from escaping a locked trunk, to making an improvised Taser, to tricking facial recognition software. With easy-to-understand instructions and illustrations, Emerson outlines in detail many life-saving strategies and teaches you how to think and act like a member of the special forces.

This complete course in survival teaches you how to prevent tracking, evade a kidnapping, elude an active shooter, rappel down the side of a building, immobilize a bad guy, protect yourself against cyber-criminals, and much more—all using low-tech to “no-tech” methods. Clear, detailed, and presented in an easy-to-understand and execute format, 100 Deadly Skills is an invaluable resource. Because let’s face it, when danger is imminent, you don’t have time for complicated instructions.
National security intelligence is a vast, complex, and important topic, made doubly hard for citizens to understand because of the thick veils of secrecy that surround it.

In the second edition of his definitive introduction to the field, leading intelligence expert Loch K. Johnson guides readers skilfully through this shadowy side of government. Drawing on over forty years of experience studying intelligence agencies and their activities, he explains the three primary missions of intelligence: information collection and analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action, before moving on to explore the wider dilemmas posed by the existence of secret government organizations in open, democratic societies. Recent developments including the controversial leaks by the American intelligence official Edward J. Snowden, the U.S. Senate's Torture Report, and the ongoing debate over the use of drones are explored alongside difficult questions such as why intelligence agencies inevitably make mistakes in assessing world events; why some intelligence officers choose to engage in treason against their own country on behalf of foreign regimes; and how spy agencies can succumb to scandals -including highly intrusive surveillance against the very citizens they are meant to protect.

Comprehensively revised and updated throughout, National Security Intelligence is tailor-made to meet the interests of students and general readers who care about how nations shield themselves against threats through the establishment of intelligence organizations, and how they strive for safeguards to prevent the misuse of this secret power.

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