THE REAL C.I.A. by Lyman B. Kirkpatrick


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The author left his post as Inspector General of the C.I.A. not long after the Bay of Pigs; here he corrects propter hoc impressions (he says he wanted to enter academic life). Mainly, he tries to undo recent criticism of the agency itself. He question-begs specific domestic issues like the N.S.A. scandal, ignores foreign governments made and unmade by the C.I.A. as in Iran and Guatemala. But any sound attack on the agency must challenge it in terms of its political framework of institutional controls, which Kirkpatrick takes utterly for granted. And given this major premise, his argument that the U.S. needs diligent intelligence and espionage is valid. As a documentary fragment, the book has some value. Kirkpatrick waxes forthrightly autobiographical, reviewing his 23 years of intelligence experience and describing the organization of the agency as he saw--and helped make--it. Focusing on bureaucratic developments, he stresses the agency's separation from policymakers. The style is anecdotal: ""Beetle"" Smith, Senator McCarthy, Francis Powers, Batista are successively suspended in the bland flow of explanation, argument, and personal detail. In sum, not a serious brief for the defense but a smooth, casuistic little memoir, flavored by the vanity and humor of a successful cold warrior, the loyalty and caution of a topnotch organization man.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1967
Publisher: Macmillan