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December 22, 2016
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May 11, 2012
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September 29, 1975
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ALIL A-" Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/05/11 : CIA-RDP99-00418R000100100050-6 11i t; 29 SEP7 Yi3E 1975 Toward R~stothg the Necessary . It was a year ago this month that the first revelations of Cen- tral Intelligence Agency dabbling in Chilean politics came out. Since then, more than a quarter-century's worth of skeletons (not to mention exotic weapons) have tumbled from the agen- cy's closet. Today the CIA is the least secret espionage service in the world, and its director, William Colby, the most visible and in- terrogated master spy in recent history. The agency has been in hot water before, of course. But unlike the uproar that followed the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, the current controversy threatens the very existence of the CIA. The CIA has lost, perhaps forever, the special dispensation that it was allowed by many Americans and their elected rep- resentatives for the first 27 .years of its existence. Few people today accept unquestioningly the notion that clandestine foreign operatives are a necessary evil. Even fewer would unblinkingly buy the assurance voiced by former CIA Director Richard Helms: "The nation must to a degree take it on faith that we, too, are hon- orab!e men devoted to her service." Almost daily, newspaper ed- itorials, legislators and some presidential hopefuls characterize the CIA as a wasteful anachronism at best, an international men- ace and national disgrace at worst. This month populist Can- didate Fred Harris drew cheers from an audience of Democrats in Minneapolis when he proclaimed, "We've got to dismantle the monster!" In light of the reports of the commis- sions headed by former Under Secretary of State Robert Murphy and Vice Presi- dent Nelson Rockefeller, released in June, and of the recommendations that will be forthcoming (probably next February or March) from the Senate committee head- ed by Democrat Frank Church and also from Democratic Congressman Otis Pike's House Select Committee, there is no dan- ger that the agency will escape long-over- due reforms. The real danger is that all this intensive scrutiny will lead to ill-conceived corrective measures that could damage the CIA. The legitimate and vital functions of the CIA have already, suffered severely (TIME, Aug. 4). So has morale. "Until this . becomes.a truly secret agency again," said a high CIA official last week, "a lot of our people are not going to be able to do their jobs." Thus the challenge to Congress is not how to pull the agency apart but how to put it back together. Few critics have questioned the CIA's intelligence-gathering activities; they zero in on the agency's covert activities, which should be de- fined and controlled but which cannot be abandoned altogether. Part of the problem has been that the assorted' Washington hearings on the CIA have concentrated too narrowly on specific horror stories, which have led many Americans to regard the agency as a bureaucratic Frankenstein's monster that has run amuck both at home and abroad. This is a simplistic and unfair impression. Considering the size of the agency (an estimated 20,000 employees operating on a budget that may be as big as $6 billion a year) and the enormous volume of activities it has been called upon to perform in its 27-year history, the provable in- stances of malfeasance are comparatively. few. Moreover, the CIA to some extent was a victim of historical circumstance. When the Chile story broke last year, the military and foreign policy es- tablishments had met their Viet Nam. The presidency had met its Watergate. Congress was reasserting itself. The CIA was theob- vious next candidate for scrutiny. In the welter of publicity that followed the Chile revelations, much of the evidence confirmed that the CIA had indeed from time to time violated its charter and the constitutional rights of Americans, not to mention common sense. A number of these vi- olations can be blamed on the zealotry, villainy or stupidity. of some CIA operatives, especially among the "spooks," or covert-ac- tion specialists. Many other abuses were, at root, presidential abuses.. For example, the agency's illegal surveillance of the anti-Viet Nam War movement reflected Lyndon Johnson's ob- sessive suspicion that Communist infiltrators were behind much of the opposition to his Administration. "I just don't understand why you can't find out about all that foreign money that is be- hind those war protesters," Johnson complained to Helms in 1967. The CIA was just one of a number of federal agencies that Richard Nixon tried to subvert. Although the agency gave some assistance to the plumbers who broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, it later sidestepped White House ploys aimed at involving it in Watergate. Partly as a result, Nixon re- placed Helms in 1972. If Presidents have misused and abused the CIA, Congress has ducked its responsibility to supervise the operations and ac- tivities of the agency. So far, there has been relatively little ev- idence proving that the CIA acted without presidential autho- rization. On the other hand, there is much to indicate that it bypassed congressional oversight-largely because Congress did not want to be bothered, or was embar- rassed by supervising its activities, partic- ularly the agency's covert operations. What then should be done? Gerald Ford has indicated his determination to su- pervise the CIA closely. Legally he has to. Congress last year attached an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act requiring that the President personally "certify" all for- eign covert actions. A case can be made that this law should be repealed. The Pres- ident of the U.S. is now the only head of state of a major power who is not insulated from public responsibility for a clandestine operation should it be ex o ed p s . To help protect the presidency, and per- haps to restore a sense of checks and balances in the field of in- telligence, Congress should establish a joint Senate-House over- sight committee that would replace the four congressional units that have so inadequately watched over the CIA in the past. In- deed a similar proposal was made by the Rockefeller commis- sion in its report to the President. The committee membership should rotate in order to avoid the past, situation, which allowed the agency to mount covert operations abroad--and counter- intelligence activities at home-with the passive, usually ex post facto blessing of a few old reliable friends in the legislature. Pre- sumably.. the agency might also find it more efficient and secure to report to one committee of Congress rather than four. . The new committee should be empowered to approve-or disapprove-in advance any major clandestine activity by the CIA, like the army of Laotian tribesmen supported by the agen- cy from 1962 until 1973. The Constitution's provision that Con- gress alone has the right to make war should extend to small, secret wars as well as large ones. Covert armed intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, apart from being ex- pensive and often ineffective, has fostered worldwide suspicions that the U.S. is behind nearly every political upheaval that con- forms to American interests. More congressional supervision might reduce the numberofsuch operations and reduce those sus- picions-though there is no guarantee of either 'result. On the other hand, the CIA probably should be allowed some leeway to nv ll L -?-?? Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/05/11 : CIA-RDP99-00418R000100100050-6 ! I! lei _ I Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/05/11 : CIA-RDP99-00418R000100100050-6 carry out, on its own recognizance, smaller-scale projects, es- pecially those in which intelligence gathering and covert oper- ations overlap. The CIA must also be able to carry out nonmilitary clan- destine actions, such as the funding of pro-American political forces in countries where the Soviets are' backing their own can- didates. as they did in Portugal earlier this year.. But these too' should be regularly reviewed with the oversight committee. It should also'be allowed to see a breakdown of the CIA's budget, and should be informed about the agency's use of "proprietaries," like the defunct airline Air America, cover firms (private com- panies that allow the agency to use overseas branches as fronts), and any American individuals or organizations it intends to-en- list in its projects. Closer congressional scrutiny of the CIA, com- bined with more thoughtful presidential supervision, would pro- vide a check against the CIA's getting involved with organized crime, as it did in the anti-Castro ventures. But even stronger congressional scrutiny cannot assure that the CIA will run properly. There is a basic contradiction be- tween the-secrecy and even deceit required by an organization like the CIA and the full'disclosure and responsibility expected of a democratic government. It is a contradiction that the U.S. somehow must live with, since no organizational reform can com- pletely solve this problem. Moreover, Congress is a large and 'sometimes undisciplined Schlesinger ordered an extensive housecleaning and began sweeping out the unreconstructed cold-warriors. Colby, a vet- eran of the covert side himself, has followed through on that pro- gram and reoriented the agency toward more relevant, "clean- er" enterprises, such as providing economic and agricultural intelligence and combatting international terrorism and narcot ics smuggling.' While much of the controversy so far has concentrated on co- vert actions, there have also been shortcomings in the collec- tion, evaluation and dissemination of information through the Government. Ray Cline, a former deputy director for intelli- gence at the CIA and chief of State Department intelligence and research at the time of the Yom Kippur War, is convinced that the failure of the agency to predict that war would break out in the Middle East was a lack of coordination between State, CIA and the National Security Council. "The furor over alleged cloak-and-dagger misdeeds of the past diverts attention from the fact that our central intelligence system is in deep trouble for an entirely different reason," says Cline. "It has not been as ef- fective as it should be in its crucial central task of coordinating and evaluating information relating to the national security." Presidential Candidates Harris and Morris Udall, former De- fense Secretary Clark Clifford and other CIA critics have rec- ommended that the CIA should be confined exclusively to* in- body of individualists. The more widely a secret is known in the Capitol, the more likely it be leaked. Thus both the House and Senate need to strengthen their existing regulations for pre- venting breaches of security-perhaps by penalties as severe as dropping from committees those members who can be proved to have illegally leaked secrets to the press or the public. One dan- ger involved in having more congressional scrutiny of the CIA is that members of the House and Senate, as well as their staffers, will become the target of increased espionage by Washington- based foreign agents. One Communist secret service is known to be beefing up its Capitol Hill contacts already in anticipation of Congress's playing a more active role in U.S. intelligence. Unfortunately, the facts of international life that always made the CIA more of a necessity than an evil are still real. Despite detente and the ending of the cold war, for example, the branch of Russia's.KGB (committee for state security) that is in charge of for- eign operations has stepped up its clandestine projects around the world, often using foreign Communist parties as conduits for money and bases of operation for agents. Western experts report that the KGB department with responsibility, for Japan, India, In- donesia and the Philippines has increased its budget, apparently in response to Moscow's belief that the U.S. instill on the defen- sive in Asia following the collapse of South Viet Nam. In the current furor over the CIS, genuine reforms under- taken within the intelligence community have tended to be over- looked. During his brief tenure as CIA director in 1973, James telligence gathering. They propose that covert actions, now in the hands of the CIA's deputy director of operations, should be as- signed either to the Pentagon or to a new agency. This is. not a good idea. First, intelligence gathering, especially by covert means, and clandestine foreign operations inevitably overlap and often involve the same agents. To divide them artificially would risk duplication, inefficiency and-more serious-the possibility of intelligence gatherers and clandestine operators bumping into each other and being discovered. For the Pentagon to oversee co- vert actions, as Harris suggests, would *give the military a license to initiate paramilitary adventures. That might be a cure worse than the disease. Since clandestine operations are justifiable chief- ly as a means of heading off full-scale conflict what Colby calls "an alternative between diplomatic protest and sending in the Marines"-they should be kept separate from the Defense Department. The best official report to date on the CIA-more thorough and fair than the Rockefeller study, in the view of impartial in- telligence eaperts-was produced by former Under Secretary of State Murphy's Commission on the Organization of the Gov- ernment for Conduct of Foreign Policy. The report concluded: "Covert action cannot be abandoned, but it should be employed only where clearly essential to vital U.S. purposes and then only after a careful proem of high-level review." The Cut is.stil the most appropriate Government agency to carry out that difficult, often unpleasant but inevitable mission. ? . Strobl Telbolt Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/05/11 : CIA-RDP99-00418R000100100050-6