Covert operations

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A good discussion on covert operations comes from the April 1989 Cato Institute Policy Analysis "The Pitfalls of U.S. Covert Operations" by David Isenberg:

"Covert operations, by definition, are difficult to examine. Because they are shrouded in secrecy, one is never sure whether all the relevant data concerning their scope, origin, and degree of success are at hand. Yet it is apparent that governments will continue to insist on having covert operations as an option. What motivates the United States to undertake such actions and how well the United States has been served by these measures are especially crucial issues.

"An examination of U.S. covert-action policy since World War II reveals two facts that are not always fully appreciated. First, both the scope and the scale of such operations have been enormous. Paramilitary operations--which can be more accurately described as secret wars, the most extreme form of covert action--have resulted in countless deaths and immense destruction. Covert operations have become the instrument of choice for policymakers who assume that a cold war status quo is inevitable.

"Second, the success of U.S. covert operations has been exaggerated. Some operations, such as the one against the Soviet Union in the early postwar years and the later one against Castro, were outright fiascoes. Other operations, such as the ones involving Greece and Iran, which were once acclaimed successes, left a legacy of anti-Americanism that continues to hamper the conduct of our foreign policy. Moreover, because such operations have almost always become public--Nicaragua being an obvious example--debates over their legitimacy have fostered considerable domestic divisiveness."

See the remainder of Isenberg's lengthy analysis.


"The Covert Action Group (CAG) was formed in 1989 to cover Special Operations Command (SOCOM) operations that could not and/or would not ever be reported to or tied with any oversight and would include domestic counterintelligence and counterterrorist, operations technically outside official Central Intelligence Agency jurisdiction or the oversight auspices. Such operations could not be tied to being under Presidential sanction, legislative oversight, or central intelligence directive, in order to avoid compromising situations as evident in the failed arms operations of late 1980's. In other words, CAG handles national and international situations that need to be plausibly deniable and/or that other agencies can not or do not want to be involved in." [1]

"Personnel for CAG would be managed from the 'outside' through 'contracting' firms with funding provided by SOCOM. One of those contracting firms, Rogers Consulting International (RCI). RCI is managed and operated by Benjamin Rogers (aka Ben Stevens or Bishop). RCI currently has domestic offices in Miami (FL), Fairfax (VA), Chicago (IL), Seattle (WA), San Francisco (CA), Corpus Christi (TX), New Orleans (LA) and New York City (NY). Internationally, RCI expects to open offices in the UK, Italy, Israel, Belgium and several other countries." [2]


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