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Covert Action in Democracy

Updated on June 29, 2010

American always tries to maintain a pristine image and as often as we fail miserably, is deliberately doing something as shady as covert action really a good idea? In traveling the straight and narrow, is covert action consistent with the practice of an open and free democracy? Here’s a question: if we all want peace, why do we practice warfare? Covert action is a supplement to , not a substitute for Democracy. There must be a balance between the extremes of complete corruption combined with underhanded dealings of covert action and the idealistic, benign (verging on naïve) version of democracy. Covert action does have its place; not out front as part of our international policy for the public’s review, but behind closed doors where people specialize in such things, where the lesser of two evils won’t be judged as simply right or wrong, but assessed in relation to the alternatives.

It’s entirely possible for intelligence to remain independent and objective even though covert action is going on. It may be frightening when the rest of the conventional forces don’t know what’s going on and things don’t make sense to them. However, if collectors do their job properly, they will be “calling it like they see it” and reporting just the facts as they collect them. Conventional analysis may be skewed by the impact of covert action in theater. However, analysis by covert elements should account for this “deflection” from reality and provide a more focused “big picture” to executive policy and decision makers.

Ralph McGeehee discusses the pressures that he was under to put a positive spin on things where no credence was given to North Vietnamese sources while much validation was from American conferences and discussions that likely didn’t have the real time, “boots-on-the-ground” knowledge of things. There was also discussion of an incident of using chemical weapons against “Round-eyes” (Americans who’d defected) in a Vietnamese village. Mr. McGee was cut off due to time constraints of the radio station before he could go into depth about the subject, but it was clear that there were American defectors being targeted. The penalties for espionage and treason can carry the death penalty. It was not made clear who these 25 or so Americans were or what placement and access they had to what sensitive information that may have been compromised if they were allowed to live. (McGeehee, 1998) sure there was no due process and all the other stuff that would have lead to a death penalty back in the states, but here’s a thought. If actions speak louder than words, what does cohabitating with a known enemy so far from your homeland say?

McGeehee, R. (1998, June 8). Author of Deadly Deciets. (A. Goodman, Interviewer)



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