Covert Action: secret operations in
foreign countries to influence the political scene there. Iran, 1953. The
CIA helped Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlavi overthrow the government and take the
power he has held for twenty-five years.
1961. The CIA backed the Bay of Pigs invasion, its activities were
publicized, as later were its plans to kill Fidel Castro.
Chile, 1964 and ‘70. The CIA commits money and influence
against Salvador Allende in two elections. He wins the second.
We have to face the possibility, the very real
possibility that the agency may have been behaving like a rogue elephant on
In the seventies, criticism
of the CIA mounts -- part of a general mistrust of government. It presents
new obstacles to covert operations and curbs CIA response to Soviet and
Cuban intervention in Africa. Today, it is generally accepted in Washington
that major covert operations are at a standstill.
I truly believe that the United States and the people, the American
people have got to make a decision here, do they want a secret service and
if they do, do they want an effective one. If so, they've got to decide to
back it. If they're not going to back it, it would be better not to have any
at all because a hobbled service, the illusion that you have an effective
service but don't have one, is worse than having no service at
Good evening, I'm Marilyn Berger,
welcome to The Advocates. Tonight we begin the seventh season of The
Advocates, and we're delighted to be coming to you this year from the new
home of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Tonight we're
debating the future role of the Central Intelligence Agency. The role the
CIA should play in the foreign policy of the United States. For some thirty
years, the CIA has acted in two ways. First it gathers intelligence, the
information which could effect American interests overseas. In the parlance
of the agency this is known as clandestine operations. Then there are covert
actions, secret operations to change the course of events in foreign
countries. These actions have ranged from using money to influence
elections, all the way to actually fielding hundreds of soldiers without
uniforms. Our debate tonight concerns that second function of the CIA,
covert action to influence events in foreign countries. The precise question
is this: Should our foreign policy include covert action by the CIA?
Advocate Barney Frank is the Massachusetts State Representative from Boston.
To defend the proposition that some forms of covert action are
perfectly legitimate parts of a rational foreign policy, I'm going to call
Mr. William Colby, the former director of the CIA and Professor Lyman
Kirkpatrick now at Brown University, a former CIA official. In an emotional
subject like this, precision of terms is important. By covert action we mean
such things as intervening in an election in a foreign country particularly
where one side is being aided by another foreign power, efforts to muster
political influence, efforts to engage in persuasion, propaganda, if you
will, particularly in closed societies which try and control that kind of
information and keep it from getting to its own people. Fundamentally, when
we talk about covert action, we're recognizing that there are situations
when formal diplomatic action would be ineffective, military action
excessive, but that there still is a reason for the United States government
to try and influence foreign political actions, and we don't think, despite
some past errors that the American government is so fundamentally flawed
that we've got to join Monaco and the grand duchy of Luxembourg among those
countries which simply declare unilateral political disarmament.
It's our very strong feeling that in areas all over the world
today, in the Gulf where our oil is so important, in Southern Africa, where
important political changes have to come, but hopefully will come with a
minimum of bloodshed, that a country such as the United States, with our
values, can in a reasonable and democratic fashion, make a decision that we
want to bring our influence to bear in the full range of ways and that may
very well include in political situations where one side is being secretly,
covertly funded, by Colonel Qaddafi in Libya or by the Communists or by any
other group. We ought not be the ones to say unilaterally we won't play,
we'll simply set a moral example, you guys win the game, and we'll go home
feeling better losers.
Marshall is a Boston Attorney. Mrs. Marshall.
Bribery, extortion, false propaganda, kidnapping. These are
covert actions. The dirty tricks of the CIA that pollute our foreign policy.
Tonight to give us a clearer perspective on why covert actions hurt us
abroad and at home, I shall call to the stand, Morton Halperin and Robert
Borosage. Mr. Halperin has served on the National Security Council and in
the Department of Defense. He currently is head of the Center for National
Security Studies in Washington. Mr. Borosage is a lawyer, and expert on
covert activities of the CIA. He has researched and written about them. He
is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Covert actions are
illegal and uncontrollable, we have no idea how many of our tax dollars they
cost us. We do know that for the past 30 years the CIA has systematically
embroiled our nation in assassination attempts, coups, civil wars and
terrorism throughout the world, from Chile to Iran. The result-we've lost
influence where we should have made friends. The weapons of covert action
are weapons of war. To use that in times of peace as we are doing now breeds
contempt abroad and cynicism at home. Watergate and the President, the
Presidency Richard Nixon have taught us, that secrecy and democracy do not
Let me mention just a couple of
things about the CIA before we go to cases. The CIA was established in 1947,
just after World War II and it grew out of the OSS, the Office of Strategic
Services. The CIA was supposed to coordinate the intelligence activities of
about seven governmental agencies. Obviously intelligence activities by
their very nature are not known to the public. Those of the United States
are no exception, except of course for the Bay of Pigs, in 1961. Then with
Watergate, Congress and the public rejected the whole idea of secrecy in
government and it was in this new climate that certain activities of the CIA
that had hitherto been under heavy cover, became public knowledge. We
learned of actions in Chile, Laos, Angola, even in Italy, back in 1948. Now
it's the future role of the CIA that's at issue. In the context of the
serious setback in Iran on the one hand and the prospect of a SALT agreement
and an opening door to China on the other, people in Washington are spending
a good deal of time trying to determine what the proper role of the CIA
should be in our national security. Just how should the agency function?
This Congress is trying to decide on a new charter for the CIA and committee
hearings have already started. So our question comes down to this: Are
covert actions a proper part of our foreign policy? Mr. Frank.
Welcome to The Advocates,
Mr. Colby, we've defined covert actions somewhat and
you may expand on that, why is it important today, is it just a hangover
from the Cold War, which some of you, out of nostalgia, are trying to
Well, I think it's important
because we need to be able to influence foreign situations. We need to be
able to influence them through diplomatic action, through economic action,
and if necessary, through military action. But the last would be an extreme
way of using our influence against some threat to our country. There are
lesser means which we could use which are assistance to some group in
But why covert? I mean
isn't that unworthy of a great country? What are we skulking around for? Why
don't we be proud of what we're doing and do it openly and let everyone
Because there are some situations in
which you cannot operate openly. It's just plain impossible. It's illegal or
it discredits people, it gives people a reason for discrediting, ah, ah,
friends of ours in another country. When the Soviets were putting fifty
million dollars a year into Italy to support the Communist part there, and
its various front groups, the United States could have stayed out of that
and seen Italy taken over, through that means. But instead, we believe it
important to support the democratic and socialist forces there, so that they
could have the parties and they could have the Congresses and the
publications and the activists. That kind of secret activity had to be
secret on our side because it was illegal under the laws of Italy, it was
illegal for the Soviets and it was also illegal for us.
Let me ask you though, today, that's some time ago
and it was successful, what about today, where in the world, literally,
would we want to do covert activity today?
Well I think there's several occasions right now that call for a good hard
look at it. In Central America, are we condemned to sit idly and watch the
situation polarize between brutal dictator and leftist extremists? Or could
we give some quiet help to some decent reasonable people in that country to
build their political strength and offer an alternative. In Southern Africa,
there's no question about whether black majority rule is going to come, but
the question is whether it's going to come through violence, or through
compromise and whether it will be led by the extremists of white and black
or by responsible black leaders.
You say we
find some good people and help them, that's not what we saw up on the screen
there, we saw people shooting at other people, I mean, what do you mean,
what is covert action in those situations you talk about in the Third World.
There are people who will say that it's a case when we go into Third World
countries of us bullying ourselves in there and buying up people and pushing
people around, what would a covert action of a successful kind look like in,
in ideally to you, in a situation like that?
Well, I think the lesson we've learned about covert action is that
you can't do it from here with wires. You have to fiat fine people in
another country in their cause will struggle for it, and if necessary, die
for it. And they will do that, if they can get the aid that's necessary,
sometimes that aid has to be secret. That's what the people in the Bay of
Pigs were doing. They believed it important to try to replace the
totalitarian government that Castro was establishing with a democratic
government, not to reestablish Bastista's rule, but to replace it by a
political coalition and if they had succeeded, incidentally, I think the
American people would have met it with a roar of approval and we would not
have had a Cuban missile crisis a year and a half later.
Thank you Mr. Frank, before we go to Mrs. Marshall
for cross examination, may I just ask a question? There seems to be a long
distance between aiding a political party and fielding an army in another
case, Is it possible to have covert action that has limits, or once you give
the agency the right to have covert action, must they have the right to do
No, I don't think they need to
have the right to do anything. One of the early presidential directives to
CIA was to go out and be more ruthless than our adversaries and in the
twenty five years that followed there were some situations that I would not
defend at all. Such as the attempts to assassinate Mr. Castro. But, in,
there are situations, where mere help to a political pro-program by help to
posters and leaflets and things like that is that not enough when they're
facing a brutal enemy with weapons and in those situations you need to give
your friends the weapons with which to fight that enemy.
I see, Mrs. Marshall, it's your turn for cross
Assassinations, Mr. Colby,
I take it that you and I agree as you just mentioned that assassinations are
sort of out of the range, we don't do that.
I'm the fellow who issued the regulations against it.
That's right so in theory you don't object to the
United States issuing directives against certain kinds of actions, if they
go beyond the bounds.
As we agree on that, I'd like to look a little bit
at what you consider or have called the lessor means or the "quiet help."
Take for example, payments to ah, elected officials in foreign governments,
those are illegal in some situations, aren't they?
Surely, espionage is illegal, and frequently we have to pay for
information for that.
Now those payments incidentally for
covert actions are
Are not to influence their vote in
most cases, they are to support them to rally political strength.
Mr. Colby, it's not the most cases that we're
concerned about. I think in many cases they are to influence votes but let
us agree to disagree on that. I want to focus for a moment
Well, I beg your pardon, I think my factual knowledge
of what these cases were- most of the cases were exactly the support of
Mr. Colby, you
probably do have more information than I do because most of the information
is secret, that is one of the problems that a citizen of the United States
has, it can't get the information, I can't get the information.
It hasn't been secret from the Senate and the House
Committees and the Presidential Commission that invested, investigated
It has been secret for nearly
thirty years and that's why they.
by definition it has to be secret.
Colby, to return to the payments to the bribery of foreign officials if I
may call it that. You are aware of course of the attempts by the South
Korean government to bribe our officials here. Did you agree with that
particular tactic on behalf of the South Korean government?
Of course not, it's illegal under our laws and we
enforce our laws. I told you the action was illegal.
But you somehow approve of when the United States
does that abroad but you don't approve when another country does it to
I don't approve when foreigners try to
recruit spies here and I don't approve of it when foreigners try to
influence our politics illegally. But nonetheless, I don't disarm myself
from espionage abroad nor from aid to friends of ours abroad.
Believe me, Mr. Colby, I'm not suggesting that we
disarm ourselves, I'm suggesting that we arm ourselves, that we act openly
and not in secret. I'd like to mention another example. I take it that you
and I would agree that you don't approve of torture.
I certainly don't.
Would you agree of giving support to people that you know
No, and I think the best evidence
the CIA hasn't been doing that, has been presented by Mr. Philip Agee in a
book attacking CIA, accounting a case in which he said that he had
recommended that people be sent to Washington for CIA training so they would
not use torture anymore.
that. Are you suggesting to me that the CIA gave no support whatsoever to
the Savak security police of Iran, the Dina, the security police of Chile,
we have been giving no support whatsoever...
I said that CIA has not been giving support to torture. Now what
other countries do in some cases may not meet our standards, that's
I see, so we do give support to
people who may be torturing, that we know are torturing but we don't give
support to them to torture.
States gave a great deal of support to Joseph Stalin in a big war, and he
was the runner of the great Gulag Archipelago.
We're not talking about wars, Mr. Colby, we're talking about
peace time activities.
I am talking about a
A struggle we may talk
A level of struggle.
Are you telling me that the United States is
permanently at war with the rest of the world, is that what you're telling
No, I'm not saying that, I'm saying you
use it selectively, when the President approves it and now when the
committees of Congress are aware of it and accept it. And that happens to be
the conclusion that Mr. Senator Church came to after suggesting the
possibility of CIA being a rouge elephant. He signed the report eight months
later after the investigation that CIA was not out of control.
Mr. Colby, given that we seem to disagree on what
is appropriate behavior for countries such as ours which supports democratic
values, I hate to quote quotes, but not too long ago you said that to
abandon covert action would not have a major impact on the current security
of the United States. Is that a position that you still adhere to?
I said that in 1972 and at that time, as I remember,
it was 1972, approximately 1972.
And at that time, I think that
was an accurate statement.
And at this
time it's not.
I would say that at this
time with the additional troubles we're facing in the Persian Gulf in
Central America that we have some new situations, that now, in my mind, call
I would suggest to you Mr.
Colby, that the troubles that we face in the Persian Gulf, especially in
Iran, can be directly traced to the intervention of the CIA, and not to
No, I just disagree with you
on that. There are lots of other reasons for those troubles.
I have no further questions. Thank you Mr.
Mr. Frank, you have some further
questions for Mr. Colby?
Yes, Mr. Colby,
you referred to Senator Church and I think people many of them feel it would
be nice if we could do this kind of covert activity, if it could be
controlled, but Senator Church said the problem is inherently with the
secrecy here, ah you guys have been a rogue elephant. Now you were sabooed
during much of that period that he was talking about. Isn't it the case that
you're going to be inherently going off doing things on your own or can we
as a democratic society maintain a covert action capability and still have
some democratic controls over it?
have all the controls we want. For twenty years we didn't want to have
controls. And those were the twenty years in which Senator Church concluded
that CIA was not under control, but reported to its president and did his
will. At this time, we have a new' situation in which we have presidential
rules, we have a clear set of guidelines including certain things that are
prohibited, and we have two very effective committees of the Congress
watching what CIA is doing to make sure that it stays within the guidelines.
Yes, you can have controlled operations of this nature. Under our
Let me ask you though,
whether, maybe Americans are just kind of too gaucky for this kind of thing,
what about it just being inherently unsuccessful, I mean everybody always
hears about this one that got messed up and that one messed up. Can we as a
people run a successful, covert, sophisticated, subtle, political, kind of
thing or do we have to leave that to the British?
We have run a number of successful ones, I've mentioned the ones in
Western Europe when we defeated a Soviet attempt to take the Western Europe
over through subversion. In the Congo in the middle sixties, the question
was whether that great country soon to be independent, would fall under the
hand of leftist extremists supported by the Soviet Union and Chequevara, or
under Belgium puppets of the mining companies there. And the answer was that
we supported a black nationalist leader who made that country independent,
it didn't make it the finest and most beautiful country in the world, but it
did certainly give a better solution than either of those two
Thank you Mr. Frank, thank
you Mr. Colby for joining us on The Advocates. Mrs. Marshall, you now have
an opportunity to call a witness in rebuttal, please.
I call Morton Halperin. Mr. Halperin, we have
heard Mr. Colby expostulate at length about controls over covert action of
the CIA, let me just make clear that we are not talking about intelligence
gathering, we're talking about the covert operations. What do you think
about the controls?
Well, I think Mr.
Colby is right that by and large the CIA has been under the control of the
President although there are some instances when they've gone off to some
extent on their own. The main problem is that the President cannot be
controlled. The presidents have used covert operations to bypass the
democratic process within the United States.
Why would a President who has access to a whole range of
alternatives want to use covert operations?
Because if he wants to do something, as in Chile, Richard Nixon
wanted to urge the military to have a coup, to end constitutional government
and to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile. He knew
that if he tried to do that openly, it was the American public and the
Congress that would object and therefore he resorted to covert operations.
Similarly, President Ford in Angola, knew that the public would not stand
for that intervention and so it was kept secret from the American public,
not from the people in Angola.
suggesting to me that the reason why we need covert activities is to shield
the American public from what its government is doing and not to shield the
people abroad, because of illegal laws of the other realm of
I would say that's the primary
role, that the people abroad generally know that we're intervening in their
society. The people that it's kept from is the American public, people
inside the executive branch of the American government and from
Mr. Halperin, let me raise
another issue. Mr. Colby has made a great deal of the fact that we have a
diplomatic intervention and then we bring in the Marines. And in between,
there's nothing except "God bless the CIA with its covert operations." Is
that what were talking about?
there's a great deal in between. The case of Western Europe which he cited
in, which is always cited, it's the one great success of the CIA which
involved a whole range of activity we had a massive economic aid program
called the Marshall Plan. We had a massive military assistance program we
had American citizens openly writing letters to people in Italy, saying to
vote for a non-Communist government. The United States government was
openly, actively intervening in many different ways. As we can do in other
places in the world and as we do do. And covert operations at best is a
marginal addition to that but it comes at an enormous cost to our democratic
So I take it you're not talking
about stopping Americans interference or attempts to influence abroad, but
you do have a strong reaction to covert operations.
That's right, because they are outside the
possibility of control within a democratic society. People in the United
States cannot reject that policy because they don't know that we're engaged
I want to pick up on some of the
examples that Mr. Colby used. He seemed to be concerned about two areas as
far as I could tell, in fact, he said that things had deteriorated
dramatically from 1972 to 1978. The first is in Southern Africa. He says that
black majority rule is inevitable, but we must be in there supporting the
moderates. What do you think about that policy?
Well if you take the case of Rhodesia, there is an illegal
government in Rhodesia. It's not recognized by anyone, the UN has labeled it
illegal, and those who are opposing that government have asked for our
Does the United States
consider it an illegal government?
Official policy of the United
Yes, yes, and there's
no reason why we cannot give aid and assistance to those who are opposing
that government and choose if we want to among the different groups that are
opposing that government and give them aid openly.
You're talking about open aid, open support.
Open aid and open assistance.
Technical support of whatever. What about the
second area that Mr. Colby
Halperin; I'd say even
What about the
second area that he's concerned about, ah, namely the Gulf areas, the access
Well, I think the Iranian case
demonstrates that the CIA cannot give us that protection. Iran
What do you mean by that?
Well, Iran is a country in which the CIA has been
operating openly and fully, engaging in covert operations, cooperating with
the Iranian secret police, advising the Shah of what to do and the result of
that was a government that became so out of touch with its people that it's
in effect been overthrown and what I think the United States government
would now recognize is a movement with broad support within the society.
That I think demonstrates is that letting the CIA loose in a country far
from guaranteeing that will have access to the raw materials and the
resources we need, in fact makes it likely we will alienate the population
and have people running through the streets screaming "First the Shah, now
Mrs. Marshall, we'll need
a very short question and a short answer.
Concerning the endless struggle, that Mr. Colby talks about the
threat from abroad, what do you think about that?
I think our strength is to be an open democratic society and to
openly support other open democratic societies and that's how we will win
Thank you Mr.
Thank you. Mr. Frank, do you
have some questions for Mr. Halperin?
I'm all for being an open democratic society, but, and, talking to other
open democratic societies, but that would be somewhat of a limited
conversation, so I guess the question is what happens in those parts of the
world which are in fact not open democratic societies? Now what I'd like to
understand is the nature of your opposition. As I understand from what you
told Mrs. Marshall, it is not that you oppose interfering in other countries
affairs. You pointed out in fact that there are other ways we can do that,
openly, politically, financially, we can have trade embargoes. So you say
the problem is that we are doing it at an enormous cost to our society, and
that I'd like you to explain what the enormous costs to our society are. I
know Mr. Nixon
principle of a democratic society is that the people can decide whether to
elect or reelect their leaders based on what they've done. If our leaders
are doing things that we don't know about for example, the Ford
Administration was intervening in Angola, doing it secretly, testifying to
Congress in way that kept secret the fact that we were intervening. If that
had not come out, people would have voted on whether to elect Mr. Ford
again, or not, without knowing that he was in fact in Angola.
Mr. Halperin, do you think that the Angolian
intervention played any significant part in the 1976 election? You must talk
to voters I never heard of.
that the people have a right to know what their government is doing. They
then have a right to decide whether they want to take that into account or
But I think that's the point. Yes I
think it is possible for people to exaggerate the value of anything,
including covert action.
It's not a
question of exaggerating
No, but please, I
was trying to agree with you that covert action is not essential in many
ways and people have mentioned its marginal use. But I think there's also
marginalia on the other side and you talked about two Presidents, and you
said you know these guys get away with all this stuff, Nixon and Ford, Nixon
in '73 and Ford in '75, two of the less successful political Presidents, and
one got himself thrown out of office, and one became the first incumbent to
get defeated in quite a while.
because these things happened to come out. But the CIA will tell you that
they cannot perform those operations unless the leaks stop.
Well let me ask about that question, not defending
the past things, Mr. Nixon did not like constitutional government in Chile,
he didn't like it much in Washington. I'm not here to talk about that. The
question is whether in the future we are capable as a people, and there are
people on the right mostly who say, "look government is inherently a bad
thing, and it's too many people and it's too crowded and you can't handle
these things, and you'd better not try, you'd better not try secret action,
you'd better not try to get housing built for low income people, you'd
better not try and stimulate the economy because it's too complicated for
you." Now my question is on secrecy. If we swear off secrecy because it's
not compatible with democratic government, what about espionage? Doesn't
that have to be done in secret? Don't we have to do espionage secretly and
in some ways withhold from a lot of people what we're doing?
Well, but the issue there, people know that we're
engaging in espionage and trying to gather information around the
But they know were engaging in
covert activity, as a general principle.
I'm telling them
right now, let them listen.
not yet the president, and the president does not admit that he engages in
covert operation or what countries he's intervening in and I think there's a
Should we announce
what countries we're spying on? Is that your principle? Please announcement:
We are spying on the following countries: But we won't tell you who the
spies are, I mean what, what's the difference.
I agree that espionage raises some of the same kinds of issues
and I think there's a question of how far.
Well why don't you give it the same kinds of answers?
Because it's a different subject.
Well we can talk about it, we've got a couple of
No, Mr. Frank, the subject
Why, yes to covert action and no,
I think that there should
be in fact very severe limits on the kind of espionage we conduct in the
developing countries of the world for exactly the same reasons that we
should not be conducting covert operations.
But your principle does say we don't do much espionage, like
But if you look at...
you've raised the question of developed, of closed societies, if you look at
what the United States did in Europe and in the Soviet Union, we conducted
for many years a clandestine radio broadcast to the Soviet Union and we said
we had to do those covertly, it was called Radio Liberty and Radio Free
Europe, when it became public. We now do it openly, it's voted...
But espionage is a little different. I would not
want to be the guy who openly spied on Black September or some of the other
terrorists groups or the, and I do not think that that would be a good
We have an international treaty
with the Russians in which we each agree that we're going to conduct
espionage against the other.
the subject tonight is covert operations, not the clandestine
Yes, yes Ms. Berger, but when
arguments are used against covert operations which will remain alive if we
still have espionage, what's the point, well let me get off espionage then,
and let's get this to law enforcement. Now I'm a member of a legislature
which authorizes state police to go, I hope, sneak around, and do a little
bit of deception and secrecy. We do a lot of secret law enforcement, I mean
the basic principle is this.
what is legal, as Mr. Colby has admitted, covert operations are
No, no, no, when the Washington
DC police set up their sting, when they fenced stolen goods they were
acting. If you and I acted that way we'd be away right now if they caught
us. But they did it and it was very successful.
Mr. Frank, a quick question and a quick answer.
But it was legal for them to do that.
Alright, it was only a legality we're worrying
about, not secrecy.
No, and it's also
secret and it corrupts the society.
you very much. Mr. Halperin, thank you very much for joining us. For those
of you who may have joined us late, we're debating whether the Central
Intelligence Agency should engage in covert operations. Mr. Frank has
presented one witness in favor of covert operations by the CIA and Mrs.
Marshall has presented one witness against it. And before we go on, I'd like
to mention that his season study guides based on research materials for the
Advocates are being distributed to 90,000 social studies teachers around the
country and we'd like to welcome them and especially their students into our
audience and we look forward to hearing their reactions and comments on the
series. Now let's go back to the case about CIA covert operations. Mrs.
Marshall, I believe you have another witness.
I call Robert Borosage. Mr. Borosage has spent the past several
years investigating the covert actions of the CIA, he has also defended
American citizens whose lives have been violated by our intelligence
agencies. Mr. Borosage, I want to get away from espionage and back into what
we're talking about. We are talking about using covert actions to secretly
meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. Over the past couple of
years, there have been scandals, public outcries, Congressional testimony,
have the scandals of the CIA ended?
Well certainly the exposure of them has, for the most part, but what s clear
is that the plumbing is still in place, the clandestine apparatus that the
CIA maintains around the world is still there and nothing has changed there.
Moreover, no substantive legal restrictions have been issued on the CIA the
president has issued an executive order which banned assassination, but it
also gave the CIA the authority to do covert operations, covert actions
around the world.
Are you telling me
that after all the Congressional testimony and all of the debates there have
been, no substantive restraints placed on the CIA and its covert
Exactly, except for the
presidential limitation on assassination.
Mr. Borosage, I understand that one of the problems that we have
tonight is that covert operations are by definition secret, but based on
your investigations of what the CIA has been doing in the past, does that
tell you anything about what they are doing right now, today?
Well it's hard to project, but what's clear from
the Congressional investigation is that most CIA activities are broken into
about three parts.
One is election bribery, the
massive influx of aid and assistance to people that the CIA denotes as the
people we're going to support, in otherwise free elections.
Could you give us some examples of
The classic example is that of
the interference in Chile for over a decade trying to keep Salvador Allende
from being elected by the people of Chile to office.
And you hear Mr. Colby say that he would agree
that that should go on in the future so we can assume that that's going on
I think that's certainly one of
the areas the CIA wants to continue working in.
What are some of the other areas?
The second major area is propaganda.
Excuse me, wants to continue working in or is working in?
Well, they're secret, as an American citizen, I
don't know the next revelation will find out where they're working. I would
suspect that they're working in that area right now to the extent that there
are free elections left in the Third World. The second area is massive
propaganda. The beaming of false messages through radio networks, through
press services, the Senate Committee found for instance the CIA had over a
hundred press services that it controlled which had blanketed
What do you mean by "it
Well, it literally
controlled the news articles that they would disseminate. Its agents or its
contract agents, etc.
You're telling me
they were manufacturing news?
disseminate both true news, false news and true news in a false way to
distort reality. The way they like to do it is to do it in a concentrated
way that overlaps so they can have an effect on an entire world view of a
group of people in a small country.
Borosage, listening again to Mr. Colby, he seems to be focusing on the Third
World. Don't we have a legitimate foreign policy objective of countering
hostile Soviet or any other hostile activity in situations which are
somewhat volatile? Isn't that what we are really talking about?
Well, let me just... the third area of the CIA'S
activities are paramilitary operations and those are directed to the Third
They are directed to the Third
For the most part, and certainly
in the last decade. The interesting thing about them is in time after time
that we've seen it exposed, the CIA is not generally involved in those
things in countering the Soviet Union. Too often it's involved in trying to
support a faction that we agree with or disagree with.
What are some paramilitary operations?
For example, when Mr. Colby mentioned the Congo,
the CIA'S own intelligence report said that Lumumba in the Congo was
independent of the Soviet Union, he was a nationalist leader who was
incredibly popular. The CIA'S covert action program was designed to keep the
Congoese parliament from meeting, because if they met they would elect
Lumumba, and it was designed in the end to try and assassinate Lumumba.
That, Mr. Colby would describe as countering Soviet influences there. I
would describe it as going after nationalist often socialist leaders who are
very independent. Mossadegh is another example in Iran.
Thank you. Excuse me Mrs. Marshall, Mr. Frank has a
chance to redirect, ah to cross examine the witness.
Thank you. Mr. Borosage, I believe that Mr. Colby's
example was in the post- Lumumba period in the Congo. But I want to get
again the basis for the objection. Is your objection to our intervention in
the Third World countries or anywhere else by covert action, that it's
ineffective? I mean if it could be effective, if we could help counteract a
Qaddafi or somebody in a Gulf state with a more moderate type, would you
oppose that in principle?
I would say
two things. One is Vice-President Mondale concluded that one of the things
about covert action that was wrong with it was that we don't do it very
well... I think that's probably good and the reason is that we tend to be a
society that tries to open up and work in free ways. That means the press
meddles in the covert operations, something that the CIA objects to and
tries to restrain, that means that our people are not quiet. They want to
know what our government's doing.
it worked, would you be for it? If we could do it better?
then, why don't we talk about that, cause we can maybe all agree
Well, take the CIA success. The
CIA was successful in Chile. It ended a hundred eighty years of democratic
government and we ended up with a military coup.
No, but that's not the question, Mr. Borosage. I agree that there
are a lot of things that have happened in the past. Let me say that if we
were going to dismantle everything in the government that Richard Nixon
misused, we could move the White House from the Potomac to Walden Pond and
grow peas. The question is whether because Richard Nixon abused something,
we quit and say "oh, we can't handle it", we'd have no housing program, we'd
have nothing. My question is, again, I think it's important to understand
the basis for your objection.
to the question, Mr. Frank.
is, if it could work, would you be willing to try it, or do you have some
objection in principle to our using propaganda, or political influence,
leave aside paramilitary if we could intervene by political, financial, or
propaganda means would you be opposed in principle to it?
I oppose in principle and in practice, the
maintenance of a secret clandestine apparatus around the world to engage in
covert operations, the whole range of covert operations.
Why, on moral grounds?
On moral ground, on what this country stands, on terms of what
this country stands for, on practical grounds, because it's
Well how does what we
stand for... suppose you go into a situation where it's an undemocratic
society, or a, how about aid to Suarez in Portugal when they were coming out
of a dictatorial period, when we gave them some money.
That's an excellent example of why we don't need
to do covert operations. The social democratic parties throughout Europe
aided the Suarez government, they did so openly, everyone knew about it. It
was only the CIA that was meddling about, trying to slip a few dollars under
Might it be that the Portuguese
people would see other Western Europe countries somewhat differently than
the United States? Are you saying that a form of action that's politically
effective for the social democrats in West Germany or the socialists in
France is the same for the United States?
I'm saying that you can't support free elections abroad by
subverting them with secret money.
that subverting them? Well let me ask you, we did give money to Suarez. Was
that therefore not a free election? Let's stick with that.
I think it subversed the process, yes.
Does that mean Suarez is an illegitimate government?
It was not a free election? Let's examine the consequences of what you say.
We gave money you said secretly in Portugal, others gave it openly. You say
when we give money secretly we subvert a free election. Did they then not
have a free election in Portugal? Is he an illegitimate guy?
Mr. Frank, if you would let me answer the
Mr. Frank, let him answer the
Ok, over time, if you
continue to subvert elections, you continue to gain the election of parties
that are not supported by the people. In reality, over time, what that leads
to is a massive frustration among the majority of people in a country and
what that leads to is the kind of activity that takes place in countries
where the election
You still didn't answer the question. We're talking
about what happened in Portugal.
what I'm saying if that over time the secret influence, the secret
development of money, etc. subverts the whole process.
But how about if we did it as a one time thing, in
an emergency situation. My question is…
That's what Richard Nixon thought, he thought one time.
Excuse me Mr. Borosage, what if the Communists were
putting money in for the Communist side, thereby subverting the election.
Would you oppose a countervailing contribution?
Yes, I would, a secret contervailing contribution. I think the
way to respond to that is to do so openly. I don't think we should operate
in the back alleys just because the Soviet Union does so. You can respond to
that in two ways. You can help the friendly party or the friendly
government, expose the Soviet contributions and use that as part of the
electoral platform or you can give open money to people of your choice as
the social democrats did in Portugal.
if it's going to be very ineffective and they're doing it one way. Why
should we not go into the back alleys...
But Mr. Frank, we can't argue about effectiveness cause you said
we can't point to the last twenty five years of CIA failures.
But we can argue, I'm trying to pose a question you
will answer, Mr. Borosage, and I'm willing to vary it to get an
Mr. Frank, we're up to Mrs.
Marshall now for some further questions for Mr. Borosage.
Mr. Borosage, let me clarify one thing. Mr. Frank
keeps referring to Mr. Nixon and Mr. Ford. Are those the only two presidents
that abused the covert actions of the CIA?
Well CIA covert operations have been going on since 1948 and I
would say that there have been abuses since then, from the
Let me take a hundred and
eighty degree about turn. We've been focusing on foreign affairs, let's look
at the domestic implications. What has been the impact of us here at home by
having the CIA, having this capability of secret interference in other
I think we are just beginning
to discover the kinds of implications of maintaining a clandestine
What do you mean?
Mr. Colby mentioned that the Bay of Pigs invasion
would be a success if it had succeeded. Well it didn't succeed and one of
the legacies of the CIA is a pool of terrorists trained by the CIA that
exist in Miami and have done hundreds of bombings in Miami, New York, ended
up working with the Chilean Dina , the Chilean secret police in engaging in
covert operations and assassinations of people in the hemisphere and even on
the streets of Washington. That's the legacy of the CIA. More directly, I
think what you get is that you create a mentality in the government, you
create a clandestine bureaucracy that is engaged in lawless activity, that
believes that no restrictions can govern its behavior, because it has a
higher morality in quote "the struggle." The result is inevitably that that
mentality comes home. I don't think it's an accident that Howard Hunt and
the four Cubans found in the Watergate were CIA related.
And are you suggesting that that mentality cannot
be controlled by Congressional supervision?
I don't think that it can be controlled. In 19, ah , when they
set up the CIA, it was going to be controlled by Congressional oversight and
it wasn't. In 1961, with the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy announced that he would
control the CIA and he didn't. In 1967, when the student scandals came out
we were told the CIA was under wraps, a year later operation CAOS started
which was the massive spying on American citizens. I think that people who
believe you can control a clandestine bureaucracy with Congressional
oversight are far more naive that people who hope that America will
represent democracy in the world.
you Mr. Borosage, thank you for coming to the Advocates. Mr. Frank, would
you call your next witness please.
I'd like to call Lyman Kirkpatrick please. Mr. Kirkpatrick, having had a lot
of experience with the CIA as inspector general and elsewhere, let's start
with this question of control, we're told that it's inevitable that we can't
control a clandestine bureaucracy. In your experience has the CIA been out
of control during the periods that we've talked about, the sixties that Mr.
Borosage just referred to for instance?
I don't think the CIA was ever out of control. I think you're
talking about policy makers as much as anything. I think any clandestine or
any bureaucracy can be controlled if there's a will to control it.
Well you say policy makers, in other words, you
suggest what people have been critical of the CIA in the sixties had in
mind, or in the seventies, was that they didn't really like the foreign
policy of the United States and that CIA as part of that foreign policy is
being criticized, but it is not that the, let me ask you, has the CIA in
your experience been acting at variance with general American foreign
Whenever the CIA tried to
act at variance with foreign policy generally the people concerned were
gotten rid of. The CIA is a service organization. It has no end in itself,
it's responsible to the government of the United States.
Well what about the argument that Congressional
oversight is not going to work, and that a clandestine organization cannot
be in its nature subjected to Congressional oversight? Has Congressional
oversight functioned in your experience, or can it in the future?
It has functioned and it can function and it
is my impression that the two committees, one under a Massachusetts
Congressman in the House and the other in the Senate, are both functioning
as effective oversight bodies. Now, I've talked to members and the staff of
both committees recently, they feel that they're effectively overseeing the
Let me ask you from
your dual perspective as a member of an academic faculty now, a political
scientist, and as a former CIA person. We've heard that the CIA corrupts
America, there was reference to four Watergate people involved in the CIA.
Of course, we'd probably abolish the legal profession before we abolish the
CIA if Watergate involvement with the criteria, but in your experience from
both perspectives, has the CIA been a corrupting force in American politics?
Has there been negative feedback from CIA activity?
Well I think that when the perspective of
history is seen and the emotions of moments that may loom large when their
particular failure is known, one of the disconcerting factors about the
discussion this evening is we've been talking primarily based upon failures,
and the ones that have become well known publicly. A lot of CIA covert
operations have never become known publicly.
Are there successes, are we capable as a people of having successful
covert action that's not morally outrageous?
Well if you, if you're meaning covert action as being
operations which are secret from the inception through the operation and
forever thereafter, I think we are capable of it if we want to, the
interesting part is generally the revelations of the successful ones have
not come from within.
Are there successful
ones that can't be revealed or haven't been?
There have been.
the future, if you were making American foreign policy now would there be
cases where you think there would be some successful covert activity of a
type that would not be morally offensive to the American people?
I would think that it would be very wise for
the United States government to keep a facility, a capability for covert
action available, for use under discreet circumstances, for use when the
President and his senior advisors having analyzed the situation and being
assured by the top intelligence people, that it was feasible and could be
carried out covertly to use it, but only under those
With a Presidential
Correct as the law now
requires, the President must sign-off on each covert action. This was passed
in 1974, incidentally, and certified to Congress that it was in the national
But we heard from Mr. Borosage
that that's really not necessary that when the Russians start acting
covertly in the back alleys or Colonel Qaddafi or someone else, we ought to,
true to our traditions, respond in an open way with the stars and stripes
forrowed and out there and tell everybody we're there. Can we do it as
Well, I don’t
think you can be, you can engage in political action effectively. I think as
a politician, if you don't object to that phrase, you know perfectly well
that foreign, open foreign support, can be the death knell for most
political figures, or political parties even. If it seems that they're being
wielded and manipulated by a foreign body and I think this is so.
So if we countered secret Russian influence with
open American influence we would not be countering that influence
I think we'd be totally
Mrs. Marshall, do you have
I most certainly do,
Mr. Kirkpatrick. You seem to have brushed aside the domestic implications of
the capability of the CIA to conduct covert operations. You are now a
university professor. Do you believe in academic freedom?
Are you aware of the fact that the Church committee concluded
that the current CIA activities on United States campuses were a threat to
committee was in 1975 Mrs. Marshall, We're talking about future United
States foreign policy.
I've always objected to
CIA activities covertly on any United States campus.
So you would not agree that the CIA should have
any activities on United States campuses?
I do not believe the CIA should have any covert activities of
any sort in the United States.
understand so we now have it as clear differentiation. If the constitution
goes to the territorial boundaries of the United States and then stops you
can go three miles out of sea and then it’s a free zone.
Well the law of 1947 said the CIA would have
no domestic activities.
Let me ask you
about one of the other questions that you raised. You have talked about
successes and you've indicated that we don't know about successes and I'm
having the same problem with you that I had with Mr. Colby, namely, I'm a
citizen, I don't belong to the CIA, I don't work for the CIA, I don't have
access to their data. But you have talked about endless successes. You also
have said the CIA is a service organization in carrying out our foreign
policies. Are you aware of the fact that the same Church committee having
reviewed twenty five of CIA successes as they were presented to that
Committee by the CIA concluded that it did not advance our foreign policy
Well the Church
committee said many things. After all there are nearly eight thousand pages
of reports from the Church committee.
They are not eight thousand pages of conclusions.
But the Church committee also commended the CIA for its
that. Mr. Kirkpatrick, I want to know exactly what you talk about when you
mention maintaining a capability. What exactly do you mean by maintaining a
I mean, I mean Mrs.
Marshall that you cannot create covert activities full blown from one' s
forehead, that you have to have trained professionals. They are based upon
the same type of activities that clandestine intelligence operations are.
You have to know how to operate in a secret way to get information or money
or whatever you're using to a foreigner without jeopardizing that person's
But isn't that
precisely the problem we're talking about Mr. Kirkpatrick, to maintain the
capability we are going to have hundreds of thousands of people trained in
the United States to operate secretly abroad. Are you telling me that they
won't operate secretly abroad until there's some determination back in
I'm telling you that
they will not operate secretly abroad unless they're authorized to by the
policy level of the United States government.
Are you suggesting to me that it was the foreign policy of the
United States government to overthrow the constitutional government in
Chile, was that our foreign policy?
I certainly suggested that.
should overthrow a constitutional government?
I believe it's pretty well established in the official
documents, particularly Congressional hearings.
That we should overthrow constitutional governments?
Well they certainly did not want a Allende in
I see, so that when we
don't want somebody in a government, even if they have democratic processes,
even if they have free elections, even if they have freedom of speech and
the United States does not like them, we go in and overthrow them?
I didn't say that, I said the policy makers
made that decision. I think they were totally wrong.
I see, but the CIA carried it out in any
Well the CIA has just two
alternatives. They either refuse to obey the President's order and have
people put in that will do it.
isn't the problem that we have here Mr. Kirkpatrick, that it's precisely
because the President has available to him, every single president as Mr.
Borosage has said, has had available to him an organization that will first
operate secretly, second, will not challenge the presidential orders, and
that is precisely why the American people cannot put any kind of check on
But Mrs. Marshall. If
our system of checks and balances established by the Constitution of the
United States, which was written in 1787, bears any value at all, we have a
Congress which is supposed to be doing this.
I understand that.
would say that the fault we're talking about tonight lies with three
elements of the government, not just the CIA, but Congress for failing in
oversight, presidential misuse, and the CIA for failures.
I understand, but the fact that Congress fails in
oversight should not be an argument for giving the CIA license to conduct,
to carry out covert activities, surely you cannot be arguing that.
But surely Mrs. Marshall, the Congress can
stop anything that it starts. There is a saying in Washington that what
Congress grants it can also take away.
That is precisely why there are many people in this country who are strongly
urging that the Congress outlaw secret activities.
Well they're your representatives and if they
decide that they're going to declare covert operations illegal, then they
will not be carried out.
Thank you Mr.
Kirkpatrick. I have no further questions,
Thank you very much. Mr. Kirkpatrick, thank you very much for joining us on
The Advocates. Now let's go to the closing arguments. Mr. Frank you have one
Thank you. Let's start with the
Church committee, because Mrs. Marshall forgot to mention that the Church
committee recommended that we continue our covert action capability. They're
not for ending it. Because they don't buy the argument on which the right
and the left have come to converge in some ways, that past failures in a
particular government program mean that you abolish that government program
in the future. The question is whether we as a country are somehow uniquely
disqualified among countries in this world to defend legitimate and
important needs through a range of issues and tools which would include some
things that have to be done secretly. We've been told that that's the
problem, that a democratic society cannot do anything secretly. Mr. Halperin
admitted to his credit that his argument really means that you don't do much
espionage. It also means that you don't do much law enforcement because if
you're worried about people who are trained to do secret things lurking
around your society, you're probably going to have to dismantle a large part
of your police forces who, to be effective, do some things secretly. In this
world in which we live, if you argue for some reason that secrecy is out and
everything has to be done openly you're simply not going to be able to do an
effective job at some very important things. And the question is in some
ways a philosophical one. Can a majoritarian society such as ours
legitimately delegate to a part of itself the right and duty to do certain
things that are important in self defense secretly? And if we say that
because people have done those badly in the past or because we didn't like
the policy which they were serving, that we can't do it, we cripple
ourselves in a substantial number of areas, not just foreign
Thank you Mr. Frank, Mrs.
Marshall, Mrs. Marshall, you too have one minute.
Our country says that its foreign policy is based on a desire to
see freedom and full human rights for everyone. Tonight our opponents have
suggested that in order to achieve that goal we need something called covert
operations. Let me remind you what that euphemism means, it doesn't mean
just slipping a few dollars to an occasional political party. What it does
mean is planting false information in the foreign press, hiring mercenaries
to fight undeclared wars, getting involved in assassination plots,
supporting secret police who engage in torture, that is what covert action
has meant in the thirty years of history with the CIA and we have no right
to believe it will be any different. Our opponents seem to think that there
is weakness in acting openly and honestly. We see strength in acting on our
principles. They believe the ends justify the means, I would suggest to you
that without the right means we'll never get to the ends. They say as you
heard so clearly, the CIA doesn't make foreign policy, it's just carrying
out orders. That's a chilling and all to familiar reminder of an abdication
of responsibility. I would suggest to you that we use the weapons of war in
times of war when we're trying to wield a just peace we lock them away and
hope we never have to use them.
you. Now we hope, we hope that we'll hear from you in our audience. How do
you feel about it. Should our foreign policy include covert action by the
CIA? Send us your comments and you vote yes or no on a postcard to: The
Advocates, Box 1979, Boston 02134. And we hope you'll join us next week.
Thank you Mr. Frank, Mrs. Marshall, and your distinguished witnesses, for
joining us on The Advocates. And thanks to our hosts here at the Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard University. Good night.