Due to external attacks from enemy rival countries, and terrorist organization it has made it necessary for each and every country in the world to have its own intelligence organization to alert it of any potential national threat. The intelligence does not only concentrate on external attacks but other issues such as drug trafficking, proliferation of arms and any other illegal activity within the country. This paper will look at the functions of the CIA and if there is conflict of interest in their work.
The United States of America has not been left out in forming its own intelligence unit. The Central Intelligence Agency, or commonly known as the CIA was established in the year 1947. This was after the then President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, the main reason for the establishment of the CIA was to give support to the president and above all the National Security Council and other security organs make the right decisions on National security (Couch, pg 230).
The Central Intelligence Agency has been given the mandate to feed all the relevant security apparatus and departments reliable, accurate, and most of all timely information regarding any national security threat. The CIA is also responsible for the collection of information, analyzing it and then submitting the report to 13 responsible intelligence community agencies such as the National Security Agency, Defense intelligence Agency among others. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorists attack the powers and mandate of the CIA was expanded more workers were also employed. “There’s a huge cultural and generational issue at stake here,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. Official. “A lot of the people hired since 9/11 have done nothing but tactical work for the past 12 years,” he said, “and intellectually it’s very difficult to go from a tactical approach to seeing things more strategically.” initially the work of the CIA was only to provide information but in the Afghanistan war the intelligence sends its own paramilitary unit (January, pg 220).
From time in memorial the Intelligence community of the United States of America has been expanding, after the World War II came to an end countries such as the U.S.S.R regularly adversaries who assisted in justifying the Intelligence community above all Covert Action. The Cold War played a major role in shaping the whole intelligence community. The fight against communism during the Cold War, mainly made use of Covert action however the benefits and even the legality of its continuous use should be considered compared to the heavy costs. Regrettably, the use of covert action still remains one the most guarded government activities (January, pg 220).
After the cold war came to an end, dwindling budgets and the changing of the international environment called for a review of the use of covert action so as to find out its significance and aptness in the face of the changing policies of foreign matters and the priorities in National Security. In spite of the ideological belief that the use of covert action requires a country that is democratic the modern day threats to the national security does not only justify the continuous use of covert action but also its suitability. In the modern world the use of covert action is viewed differently and some people are against its use. In the modern world covert action is used to control, manipulate, and even counter national security threats such as International organized crime, proliferation of nuclear weapons, and governments or countries that prove to be hostile to the United States of America. In that perspective of monitoring other states the Director of CIA recently during his confirmation noted the developments that were taking place in the Arab World he said “Recent events in the Arab world, however, indicate that C.I.A. Needs to improve its capabilities and its performance still further” (Weiner, pg 220).
The CIA main aim it to investigate other countries and organizations that are regarded as a potential threat or hide out of terrorist organizations. The CIA in not allowed to investigate any citizen of the United States of America unless the person is involved in terrorist activities in other parts in the world or even within the Country. Covert action is necessary but most of the time it is done without the country being investigated having any clue about it, in regard to the morality of the covert action Charles Beitz says the action “serve rather than subvert the aims of democratic government.” Practically, defining covert action is very difficult. In the diplomatic circles it is very normal for a country to try and convince the other on certain issues even though the truth behind such attempts or the intentions of the country involved may not be explained totally. This is because most of the time the reasons remain the secret of the government (January, pg 220).
Covert action entails certain activities, support, covert propaganda, paramilitary actions to help overthrow or support the regime in power, and economic operations. It should be noted that covert action should be differentiated from concealed collection efforts. Covert action is in place for the sole purpose of influencing some foreign conditions, whereas concealed operations are in place so as to provide the Intelligence Community of the United States of America with information (Daugherty, pg 240).
CIA at times uses propaganda to either prevent a regime from coming to power or to help it maintain the grip of power. In the year 1947 the CIA used propaganda in Italy to prevent the communists from winning in the election, an estimated 10 million dollars was used in the activity, even though the propaganda succeeded and the Christian- Democrat’s won the use of propaganda in the modern world is very limited. Ironically in the First World War propaganda was used against the American government by the British which finally managed tom convince the America to join the war even though they were at first neutral. Even though there were other reasons joined the Allied forces which included the attack on the Unites States shipping line, the war itself was as a result of a failed or ineffective propaganda that was aimed at the officials of the United States (Coll, pg 200).
There are instances where the CIA has been victims of propaganda and in such cases they were forced to counter the propaganda with propaganda as well. A good example is during the Carter regime when the Soviets started a massive propaganda campaign aimed at the United States. That was as a result of the United States use of a neutron bomb, to counter the claim and the propaganda of the Soviets the CIA likened the bomb to Soviets own SS-20 (Intelligence, pg 220).
As a result of the historical success of the usage of propaganda as well as the dangers associated with not making use of it both prior to, and all through, the Cold War there has been calls to stop the use of propaganda. Unlike during the Cold War when there was not much usage of technology, the modern world has drastically changed as more and more people have the access to computers. Any Propaganda can spread all throughout the world in minute propaganda in Russia can even affect the Stock Exchange in America. In the modern world approximately 98 % of the propaganda can either be true, or has a basis of exaggerated truth (Callanan, pg 230).
This type of propaganda is very significant to the United States especially in countries that spread false information against the United States. Regrettably there are cases where the use of propaganda has proved vital; in the year 1954 the CIA used propaganda to remove the pro-communist leader by the name of Jacobo Arbenz exclusive of violence. The CIA spread propaganda that there was a revolution in the country and that there were army troops were moving towards the capital city. In anxiety and fear the pro-communist leader resigned in fear of the revolution. Such a trick might not work in the modern world but it is still practiced (Bauder, pg 210).
Every institution has the mandate or the work that has been allocated to them or it. The CIA has been given the responsibility of collecting intelligence information that can aid the government and the Security Council makes timely and accurate decisions on matters that relate to National security. Even though the fact that the CIA is also responsible for the implementation of avert action can be seen as a conflict of interest as they are still the same organization that collects the information it is not. Being the organization that collected the intelligence information they are better suited to implement the avert action as they are more conversant with the happenings.
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Daugherty, William J.. Executive secrets: covert action and the presidency. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. Print.
Intelligence and Policy: The Evolving Relationship. New York: Defense Technical Information Center, 2004. Print.
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Weiner, Tim. Legacy of ashes: the history of the CIA. New York: Doubleday, 2007. Print.