HONORABLE MEN: My Life in the CIA by William with Peter Forbath Colby
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HONORABLE MEN: My Life in the CIA

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As Director of Central Intelligence, Bill Colby spent most of his time testifying before Congressional investigation committees on CIA malpractices. Apparently, the White House felt not that Colby was spending too much time testifying, but testifying to too much. The flap over Colby's memoirs has already started, and centers on his claim that he was dismissed as DCI by Ford because he favored cooperation with the investigations in order to get out the ""whole picture"" of Agency activities and undermine the extravagant stories in the press. Colby says that then-V.P. Rockefeller, who headed a ""blue ribbon"" panel on the CIA, asked him if he couldn't say less in his testimony than he was saying. Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, likened Colby's testimony to ""confession."" Colby's claims are rather flimsy (despite the rush to issue denials), resting on only three explicit but ambiguous statements; and even in the worst light they hardly amount to another attempted cover-up. But Colby's main aim is to argue his case that the CIA must figure out a way to disseminate the information it gathers to the public without giving away its trade secrets. There is a big chunk of pragmatism underlying this open stance, since Colby feels that, in the present political climate, the CIA has no choice but to open up and show everyone what a good job it does. In Colby's case, the jobs have included channeling money to center parties in Italy in the mid-1950s and advocacy of a ""people's war"" strategy in Vietnam, which included the infamous Phoenix project (Colby denies any involvement in the assassinations of 20,000 suspected NLF agents). Colby's classic CIA background--Princeton, Columbia Law School, a Catholic New Deal anti-Communist liberal--and curious ability to endorse virtually any act on the basis of Communist ""subversion"" without recognizing the subversiveness of the CIA itself, give the book more than headline-grabbing interest.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster