Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA

Overview

From its founding in the aftermath of World War II, the Central Intelligence Agency has been discovered in the midst of some of the most crucial—and most embarrassing—-episodes in United States relations with the world. Richard Nixon's 1969 presidential order that declared CIA covert operations necessary to the attainment of American foreign policy goals was an acknowledgment that secret warfare tools had a much wider application than just the cold war conflict with the Soviet Union. The question of what, ...

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Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA

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Overview

From its founding in the aftermath of World War II, the Central Intelligence Agency has been discovered in the midst of some of the most crucial—and most embarrassing—-episodes in United States relations with the world. Richard Nixon's 1969 presidential order that declared CIA covert operations necessary to the attainment of American foreign policy goals was an acknowledgment that secret warfare tools had a much wider application than just the cold war conflict with the Soviet Union. The question of what, exactly, these operations have contributed to U.S. policy has long been neglected in the rush to accuse the CIA of being a "rogue elephant" or merely listing its nefarious deeds. Safe for Democracy for the first time places the story of the CIA's covert operations squarely in the context of America's global quest for democratic values and institutions. National security historian John Prados offers a comprehensive history of the CIA's secret wars that is as close to a definitive account as is possible today. He draws on three decades of research to illuminate the men and women of the intelligence establishment, their resources and techniques, their triumphs and failures. In a dramatic and revealing narrative, Safe for Democracy not only relates the inside stories of covert operations but examines in meticulous detail the efforts of presidents and Congress to control the CIA and the specific choices made in the agency's secret wars. Along the way Mr. Prados offers eye-opening accounts of the covert actions themselves, from radically revised interpretations of classic operations like Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and the Bay of Pigs; to lesser-known projects like Tibet and Angola; to virtually unknown tales of the CIA in Guyana and Ghana. He supplies full accounts of Reagan-era operations in Nicaragua and Afghanistan, and brings the story up to date with accounts of more recent activities in Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq, all the while keeping American foreign policy goals in view.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Prados has performed a valuable service....A comprehensive and superbly researched effort that is both engrossing and disturbing.
Midwest Book Review
If you're studying the CIA's operations and routines you can't be without Safe for Democracy.
Choice
This is the most detailed single volume on the modern history of US covert operations.
Military History
Safe for Democracy argues its author's case very well, and it opens some very serious questions for scholarly military historians.
CHOICE
This is the most detailed single volume on the modern history of US covert operations.
Journal of American History
A rare degree of success....His coverage is unusually comprehensive and objective....An authoritative, original work....Prados demonstrates his virtuosity.
The Historian
The book has many strengths…[Prados] introduces a mountain of newly declassified documents and information from memoirs and interviews. The book thus contains much new detail about individuals involved in covert operations and project costs.
James Bamford
This definitive history of covert action is both timely and necessary.
Kai Bird
Prados brings together in one colorful narrative a sweeping history of America’s covert wars.
Thomas Powers
Safe for Democracy is history for adults—not White House spin but what really happened and why.
Lloyd Gardner
Highly readable, this is intelligence history, and intelligent history at its best.
Norman Polmar
A comprehensive and up-to-date account.
Blue Voice - Bruce Miller
Prados... constructs factual narratives of events based on thorough research with minimal analytic interpretation interspersed.
Foreign Affairs - Lawrence D. Freedman
Prados is an extraordinarily tenacious researcher....[This book is] an impressive achievement.
Poliltical Science Quarterly - Dimitris Keridas
A well-researched, detailed, and vivid account....Prados proves a master of his subject.
Arthur M. Schlesinger
Factual and capacious...if anyone writes hereafter about CIA's covert actions without consulting Prados, the result will be woefully deficient.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Factual and capacious...if anyone writes hereafter about CIA's covert actions without consulting Prados, the result will be woefully deficient.
Choice
This is the most detailed single volume on the modern history of US covert operations.
Booklist
Prados has performed a valuable service....A comprehensive and superbly researched effort that is both engrossing and disturbing..
Midwest Book Review
If you're studying the CIA's operations and routines you can't be without Safe for Democracy.
Choice
This is the most detailed single volume on the modern history of US covert operations.
Frontline
The record which [Prados] sets out of the CIA's doings . . . is riveting.
Foreign Affairs
Prados is an extraordinarily tenacious researcher who has madea career of exploring the activities of the intelligence community, particularly covert operations. He builds his case using whatever evidence he can find. There may be arguments about points of detail and some inferences, but this account of the "secret wars" undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency since its founding in 1947 is an impressive achievement. Many of the stories are familiar -- the coups in Iran and Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the embrace of dubious rightists in Central America -- but what is striking is the range of countries in which the CIA has meddled and how counterproductive that meddling has so often been, even when the short-term goals were achieved. The anger generated (the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddeq still factors into Iranian attitudes toward the United States), the poor choice of political friends, and the ease with which the CIA fits into conspiracy theories have ended up undermining U.S. interests in the long run. This book does not suggest that the CIA is a rogue arm of the government; the problem is that a covert capability proves too tempting to presidents seeking quick fixes to otherwise intractable problems.
Journal Of American History
A rare degree of success....His coverage is unusually comprehensive and objective....An authoritative, original work....Prados demonstrates his virtuosity.
Historian
The book has many strengths…[Prados] introduces a mountain of newly declassified documents and information from memoirs and interviews. The book thus contains much new detail about individuals involved in covert operations and project costs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566638234
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 2/16/2009
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 700,598
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

John Prados is widely recognized as one of the foremost historians of national security affairs. A Columbia University Ph.D., his major books include Presidents' Secret Wars, Pentagon Games, Keepers of the Keys, Inside the Pentagon Papers, The Blood Road, Valley of Decision, The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, and Combined Fleet Decoded. Mr. Prados is a senior fellow at the National Security Archives and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword xiii

Major Figures in the Book xvii

Acronyms Used in the Book xxxi

1 The Gamut of Secret Operations 3

2 The Cold War Crucible 28

3 The Secret Warriors 42

4 "The Kind of Experience We Need" 58

5 The Covert Legions 78

6 Bitter Fruits 97

7 Adventures in Asia 124

8 "Acceptable Norms of Human Conduct Do Not Apply" 145

9 Archipelago 162

10 The War for the Roof of the World 184

11 "Another Black Hole of Calcutta" 204

12 The Bay of Pigs: Failure at Playa Girón 236

13 Cold War and Counterrevolution 273

14 The Secret War Against Castro 298

15 War in Southeast Asia 337

16 Global Reach 366

17 The Southern Cone 396

18 From "Rogue Elephant" to Resurrection 431

19 The Mountains of Allah 467

20 The Reagan Revolution 493

21 Bill Casey's War 507

22 Project Democracy 539

23 Full Circle 572

24 The Struggle for Control 606

25 Safe for Democracy 640

Notes 649

A Note on Sources 675

Index 679

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