THE CIA UNDER REAGAN, BUSH, AND CASEY: The Evolution of the Agency from Roosevelt to Reagan by Ray S. Cline

THE CIA UNDER REAGAN, BUSH, AND CASEY: The Evolution of the Agency from Roosevelt to Reagan

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The disjuncture between the title and subtitle is indicative: this is actually a ""revised edition"" of Secrets, Spies, and Scholars: Blueprint of the Essential CIA (1976)--and anything that former Deputy CIA Director Cline had to tell once has been overshadowed by, notably, William Colby's Some Honorable Men. What is left today is essentially a memoir of little note surrounded by a pitch for intelligence gathering and analysis, with an apology for covert actions. Cline recaps his own recruitment from Harvard into naval intelligence for the wartime OSS (predecessor of the CIA). He makes much of the company he kept: H. Stuart Hughes, William Langer, Hajo Halborn, Carl Schorske, Herbert Marcuse, and other first-rate scholars--forgetting that the main enemy was Nazi Germany and there were many eÉmigrÉs and native-born specialists eager to contribute to its defeat. (The fact that most of them left when the war was over--or were forced out because of leftist politics--is something he omits.) Cline is not, however, totally uncritical: policy planners, in his view, overestimated the effectiveness of covert operations. He argues, for instance, that toppling Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh to reinstall the Shah was easy: one push, and over he went. But the operation was judged a terrific success and, to Cline's regret, fueled enthusiasm for other such. Some of the distinctions are fine ones: thus, it was proper for the US to back the Christian Democrats in Chile during Allende's presidency, but not to attempt to remove him by force. In this case, Nixon gets the blame and the CIA gets off easy. The book is sufficiently up-to-date to include discussion of current Director Casey's near miss with the Senate (Cline is a Casey fan) and support for the Reagan administration's efforts to roll back legislation limiting the Agency's freedom by making it more accountable. It's all predictable and almost none of it is news.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1981
Publisher: Acropolis