Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Overt Covert Action

The Orange Revolution, assassinations in Lebanon, mercenaries in Macedonia. The pot is boiling and intelligence services can be assumed to have an influence on what is going on. But perhaps the nature of covert operations has slowly changed over the last 20 years. At least that is what Frederick L. Wettering, a former CIA CO officer thinks.

Among the trends he points out in his article in International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence is privatization. Propaganda and paramilitary action is to a high degree put into the hands of foundations and companies. This has the interesting effect that it can be done overt as opposed to the state's need for keeping those operations covert. National Endowment for Democracy is mentioned - a Quasi-NGO ('Quango') that is publicly funded put private is now giving the support to opposition groups in other countries that CIA would have been giving before.

Military companies like Dyncorp and MPRI are undertaking the training of local forces.

Wettering is not too happy about this outsourcing. He is furthermore warning against Rumsfeld's plans of establishing covert capabilities within the Department of Defence (as he has already done). Apparently the Army and the Navy had organisations like that in the 70s and they had some catastrophic 'flops'.

Another thing that is undermining Covert action is the way military action has been used in the state system:

?My former colleague and mentor Charles Cogan has written that ??the era of ... covert action is largely a thing of the past?? because ??covert action has become so difficult in terms of authorities and in terms of carrying it out, that military action has come to be regarded almost as a substitute for covert action?

Wettering, Frederick L. ?(C)overt Action: The Disappearing ??C??? in International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence Vol. 16, No. 4, 2003


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