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President's Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations since World War II

President's Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations since World War II

by John Prados

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to the author, covert operations conducted by the U.S. since 1947 have contributed little to American national security. The record reveals failures to be far more numerous than successes, and the latter (Operation Ajax in Iran and Operation Success in Guatemala are cited here) had only short-term effects. Prados concentrates on presidential direction of paramilitary action, i.e., the use of armed forces supported by the U.S. to affect events in other nations. Readers will be startled to learn how active a role Truman and Eisenhower played in defining policies and ``erecting mechanisms'' for conducting covert operations. After analyzing the working relationship between President Reagan and CIA director William Casey, with particular reference to Nicaragua, Prados argues that presidents have too much freedom of action in covert operations and that at the same time congressional oversight committees have very limited impact. He calls for bipartisan attention, ``preferably before the next paramilitary debacle''which, he warns, is otherwise ``but a matter of time.'' Prados is author of The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Intelligence and Russian Military Strength. (November 24)
Library Journal
The current Iran-contra arms affair will not seem surprising to readers of Prados's absorbing account of the covert operations of the CIA and the Pentagon. Not only have such operations been with us from the very start, but they have not been solely the work of so-called ``rogue elephant'' operatives. Covert activities have been a matter of high state policy despite a running record of failure or short-term successes. There is much to be learned from Prados's remark that presidents have been ``avid users'' of covert action and from his analysis of the pitfalls and dangers. Not least of the troubles is the strain on American institutions. Somber but important reading. Henry Steck, Political Science Dept., SUNY Coll. at Cortand

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HarperCollins Publishers
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