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The US Covert Action

Compare any two of the cases discussed in the course (except the Bay of Pigs and the Berlin Tunnel).
Base your analysis with the questions provided in the “Lecture Notes” for Week 1:
(1) What was the objective of each operation? Was there an overriding policy imperative or were they

missions to gain access to the adversary�s information?
(2) What oversight or legal review occurred during their planning?

(3) Who or which organizations were accountable for the operations? What turf issues arose prior to or

during the operations?

(4) What resources were necessary to successfully carry them out?

(5) What was the cost/benefit analysis of each operation? Weigh their risks, especially when they are

publicly exposed.

(6) In evaluating each operation, what objectives were achieved and what unintended consequences



The US Covert Action

Question one
On June 18, 1948, a new directive given from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came up
with a new directive, NSC 10/2, which superseded the NSC 4-A. The NSC 2/10 gave directives
on a new operation called covert action rather than the mere physiological operations as they
were used and defined in the NSC 4-A. The covert actions were defined as those activities and
operations, which were conducted or sponsored by the U.S. Government against hostile foreign
states or groups in support of friendly foreign states or groups, but which are so planned and
executed that any U.S. government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons
and that if uncovered, the U.S. government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility. It is not
possible for any military operation to be carried out without them getting known to the public
that it is the U.S. government behind those operations [1].
The design of the communications and flow of directives gives room or gaps for the leakage of
the information. First, the directive requires the creation of a new Office of Special Projects
during any covert operation. The office shall be run by a Chief Officer who shall be appointed by
the joint committees of security, CIA and National Security Council. The officer shall be
reporting to the director of CIA who shall also report to the National Security Council. The NSC
is responsible for holding meetings and making decisions that are to be followed by the Chief of
the office of Special Projects. These series of communications and decision-making has
involved so many people that we cannot trust anybody along the line of communication for
keeping the information secret. There are officers who may not be satisfied with such operations
and in turn will have to expose the operations to the enemies. There have been so many U.S.

army officers who have left operations because they have felt that what the country is doing is
not right, and such people have ended up exposing the government [2].
Army operations cannot just be carried out in an imaginary manner, since they are real. The U.S.
is one of the world’s strongest countries and its form of attack is unique from the others. This is
very evident in the kind of weapons that they use and the way they carry their operations.
Therefore, the country cannot support another country in the fight without getting noticed; they
shall be notice, the news will be all over the world, and it will be too easy to deny.
Deniability of action is not the best form of defending our country from retaliatory form of
attack, but rather installing proper security systems will be very important. Proper measures need
to be put in place in order to keep the covert actions very secretive. One of this is to ask the U.S.
government never to involve themselves directly in the field as fighters. This will help in hiding
the direct identity by the enemies. The possible action that can be taken is to offer financial
support to the nations that the U.S. supports so that they can buy the weapons by themselves
without giving out its weapons to those nations.
Secondly, whenever the operations are carried out, it is very necessary to remove very length
bureaucracies that are unnecessary. The communication line should involve as few people as
possible. Long communication lines provide loopholes along the communication through which
the information can leak out to the enemies [2]. For instance, the CIA director does not have to
report to the NSC for decisions affecting the CIA, let all the decisions be made within CIA. Let
the operations be very dependent they should not be monitored with other security agents. The
appointment of the Chief of Special Projects let it be done in a very secretive manner and the

appointment of the soldiers should be done through thorough scrutiny for the most trustworthy
soldiers [2].
Question two
The selling of arms to foreign countries was banned in the early 1980s, but during that time,
there were a series of protests in Iran where there were demonstrations carried out against the
then president Shah. Shah was one of the closest friends to the United Nations in that time. The
demonstrations were so violent and so many U.S. citizens were taken to captivity by the
revolutionists. The Nicaraguan rebels also arrested great U.S. government officials and took
them captive. This prompted the U.S. to act in order to save the captives. In a bid to save the
situation, the then U.S. president Reagan initiated the Boland amendments that prohibited the
Defense department, The CIA and any other government agencies, from providing military aid to
the contras from December 1983. The Reagan administration circumvented these limitations by
using the National Security Council (NSC), which was not so much recognized in the law, to
issue arms to the contras [3]. Reagan approved the plan for the sale of weapons to the Iranians.
The first missiles were sent from Israel to Iran and after that, American hostage Benjamin was
released. In the second plan, they negotiated on the release of Major General Richard. The
second load of missiles was released and Major General Richard was released. The funds from
the sale of the missiles were diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras through a second enterprise.
Reagan authorized the transfer of arms to Iran through the enterprise in order to remove U.S
from liability. After that, they took for the third transaction for the release of U.S. citizen who
were held hostage. On February 1986, US sent 1000TOWs to Iran but then things did not work
out because they were not released. Later, the story got exposed by a Lebanese newspaper and

the transaction was stopped after the hostages were released. This destroyed the relationship
between the U.S. and Iran [3].
In Congo, there were mixed interests in the mineral rich country. The U.S. was keeping close
watch on it, and the Soviet Union too was watching the country closely [4]. The country was
colonized by the Belgium by then but in the fight for freedom, Patrice Lumumba became the first
prime minister for the Congo Republic. The economic interest in the country by the US saw the
country blown down to pieces with a series of fights. Upon taking office, Patrice Lumumba
started to fight against the Belgium in an effort to end the European control over the mineral rich
country. Lumumba’s government wrote to the UN to help them in the fight but their requests
were turned down because the US was interested in the country. Congo turned to Moscow for
help who responded by offering military planes that flew the Lumumba’s troops to Katanga
province, which was one of the country’s richest province that was totally controlled by the
Belgium troops [4]. The US sent in the CIA for a covert operation to end the Lumumba regime.
The CIA had to meddle into the Congolese politics to influence the politics so that they can
achieve their aims. It was one of the most expensive covert actions with a series of unsuccessful
attempts of murdering Lumumba. However, it was one of the very successful covert actions in
which the US never engaged in direct attacks with the Soviets and China military. The CIA in
coordination with the Belgian intelligence subsidized two opposition senators to pass a vote of
no confidence with the government of Lumumba. After the passing of the vote of no confidence
then they were to nominate one of the senators as the new prime minister. They also funded the
demonstrations, labor movements and propaganda against Lumumba. The move by the CIA
faced a lot of drawbacks and at last, the CIA found Mobutu who they used to turn against
Lumumba [5]. Mobutu took over and Lumumba was arrested and provided protection under the

UN troops. Later on, he was shot dead at Katanga. In terms of cost benefit analysis, this covert
operation was very expensive unnecessarily. The government spent a lot of money in the attacks
against the Lumumba government. At last, they achieved the objective of dominating the Congo
politics and influencing the mineral rich country.
Question three
The covert actions do not demonstrate the elements of respect to democracy and human rights
[6]. The covet actions especially after the cold war are signs of lack of democratic growth in the
way the US government intervenes in the operation of security in other countries. The covert
actions have led to demonstrations in which friends and relatives have lost their loved ones. The
covert actions have been conducted through the funding of the opposition leaders of the countries
in question so that they can rally against the government of the day. A democratically elected
government is removed from power in a democratic manner, which is the rule of democracy. The
use of money and power to influence the actions of other nations around the world are actions of
the late centuries, which were very beneficial during the time of the cold war and the world war.
In this era, these methods are cannot be tolerated in US which is believed to be one of the worlds
democratic countries [6].
The use of the covert action has led to the loss of several US soldiers in the name of keeping the
interests of the country in other countries. This has brought a lot of discomfort in the security of
the nation in the fear of retaliatory attacks from the enemies. There have been several measures
that have been put in place in order to ensure that the country is safe, some of these
methodologies have caused a lot of discomfort to the citizens of the nation. In fact, the covert

actions have seen the US making a lot of enemies instead of friends a trend which is totally
unacceptable in the global world [7].
Another disadvantage of the covert action is the amount of resources, both financial and
weapons, that are utilized in the conduct of the covert actions. These resources should be utilized
in running other beneficial projects that can help improve the life of the Americans.
In essence, the only benefit that the US gains in all these covert actions is the respect as a supper
powerful country of the world. They have continually gained control and maintained their selfish
interests in the countries where these actions have been carried out. The country has benefitted so
much in terms of trade but this trade is only exploitative to those countries. This has seen the
economy of the US kept on top if the world map but from unfair and exploitative means of
controlling governments for their benefits [7].
In the case of the Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power and his actions against the Syrian opposition,
the US government should come in a friendly party interested in ending the situation under
question. The president should seek more democratic and official means of ending conflicts in a
country. These can involve mediations and negotiations to be carried out. The two opposing
parties should be able to come to the agreement and live a peaceful life together. The president
should organize for a convoy that will reunite the Syrian government in a democratic manner
without causing any side effects. This will ensure respect to democracy and human rights. This is
the best way for the US president to intervene; humanity and peace for the Syrians should prevail
against economic interests of the US.



[1] U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume V, Vietnam 1967: Note on

U.S. Covert Actions.

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