Based on hundreds of interviews with CIA officials, national security experts, and legislators, as well as a thorough culling of the archival record, America's Secret Power offers an illuminating and up-to-date picture of the CIA, stressing the difficult balance between the genuine needs of national security and the protection of individual liberties. Loch Johnson, who has studied the workings of the CIA at first hand as a legislative overseer, presents a comprehensive examination of the Agency and its relations with other American institutions, including Congress and the White House, and looks closely at how it pursues its three major missions--intelligence analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action.
At once fascinating and sobering, Johnson's book reveals how the best intelligence reports can be distorted or ignored; how covert actions can spin out of control despite extensive safeguards, as in the Iran-Contra scandal; and how the CIA has spied on American citizens in clear violation of its charter. Further, he provides a thorough review of legislative efforts to curb these abuses, and suggests several important ways to achieve the delicate balance between national security and democratic ideals.
"...a fine overview....a refreshing approach."--James J. Wirtz, Defense Analysis
"[Johnson] writes in clean, easy prose about the covert actions that grab the headlines but, happily, his book ranges across the agency's functions. It is imbued throughout with good sense about how secret intelligence and democratic society can be made to coexist."--Foreign Affairs
"Breaks new theoretical ground...and adds important data about many contemporary intelligence activities....the importance of Johnson's contribution to the debate about he future of U.S. intelligence agencies cannot be stressed enough."--American Political Science Review
"Johnson's experience as a staffer on various Congressional intelligence oversight committees is evident throughout, both in his impressive command of detail and in his general 'Capitol Hill' orientation."--American Politics Review
"A meticulous study of increasing congressional assertiveness and distrust....The book is also prescriptive and, as such, written for a wider audience in Washington....The book then is aimed at two audiences: those interested in the role of the CIA; and those interested in congressional oversight. Both audiences will find this book excellent."--Political Studies
"A magiserial study....A fair-minded and balanced critique of the CIA and intelligence policy....Must now be considered the standard work on the Central Intelligence Agency."--International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
"Solid work. Readable."--Dan Struble, Occidental College