With the obvious exception of Viet Nam, nothing the U.S. Government has done in recent years in the field of foreign policy has created so much controversy as its intelligence operations, especially the secret subsidizing of private American institutions. The sinking of the Liberty with the loss of 34 American lives during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the capture of the Pueblo by North Korea in 1968 brought home to the American public the dangers involved in one type of intelligence collection and embarrassed an already beleaguered Administration. Of all the U.S. intelligence organizations, the Central Intelligence Agency has been the most vociferously attacked. It has been accused of perpetrating the 1967 Greek coup, arranging the death of Ché Guevara and even fanning the flames of the recent student riots in Mexico as a means of influencing the Mexican Government to adopt an anti-Castro stance in hemispheric affairs.
Some critics of CIA view it as omnipotent and evil; others attack it as bumbling and incompetent. Although only a minority accepts either of these extreme characterizations, many Americans and foreigners are concerned about CIA's activities, and they are far from reassured by repeated official statements that it is an efficient and fully controlled instrument of the U. S. Government. The CIA has undoubtedly contributed more than other agencies to the alienation from the U. S. Government of an important segment of the academic-intellectual community and of young people; the arrival of its recruiters on a college campus is more likely to start a student riot than those of any other institution-with the possible exception of talent scouts from the Dow Chemical Company.
Present attitudes toward CIA represent a sharp departure from the situation a decade ago. Yet in the immediate postwar years there was considerable uneasiness about establishing such an organization. To do so seemed undemocratic and out of keeping with American traditions. Many Americans regarded spying as a dirty business, and looked on interfering in the internal affairs of other nations as inconsistent
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