The Need To Know: Covert Action And American Democracy

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The Need To Know: Covert Action And American Democracy

By the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force
Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1992
148 pp. $9.95
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Spawned by the Cold War, covert action as a routine instrument of foreign policy may be suspect when the United States no longer faces an ideological adversary across the globe. A 15-member task force chaired by Richard E. Neustadt of Harvard recommends tight new restrictions, mainly that overt means to achieve the same purpose be thoroughly canvassed first, that private action groups come under the same accountability requirements as government agencies and, most important, that covert action be undertaken only in support of policies that have been fully and publicly articulated. Notable is the eloquent dissent of task force member Hodding Carter III, who calls the practice an "addiction" of the Cold War: "To continue covert action now is to admit that we have become what we have fought."