Advertisement
Share

THE TOWER COMMISSION REPORT : Excerpts: A Crisis of Confidence Threatened

From Times Staff Writers

Following are excerpts of the Tower Commission report issued Thursday:

In November, 1986, it was disclosed that the United States had, in August, 1985, and subsequently, participated in secret dealings with Iran involving the sale of military equipment. There appeared to be a linkage between these dealings and efforts to obtain the release of U.S. citizens held hostage in Lebanon by terrorists believed to be closely associated with the Iranian regime.

After the initial story broke, the attorney general announced that proceeds from the arms transfers may have been diverted to assist U.S.-backed rebel forces in Nicaragua, known as contras . This possibility enlarged the controversy and added questions not only of policy but also violations of law.

These disclosures became the focus of substantial public attention. The secret arms transfers appeared to run directly counter to declared U.S. policies. The United States had announced a policy of neutrality in the six-year-old Iran-Iraq war and had proclaimed an embargo on arms sales to Iran. It had worked actively to isolate Iran and other regimes known to give aid and comfort to terrorists. It had declared that it would not pay ransom to hostage-takers.

Public concern was not limited to the issues of policy, however. Questions arose as to the propriety of certain actions taken by the National Security Council staff and the manner in which the decision to transfer arms to Iran had been made. Congress was never informed.

Advertisement

A variety of intermediaries, both private and governmental, some with motives open to question, had central roles. The NSC staff rather than the CIA seemed to be running the operation. The President appeared to be unaware of key elements of the operation. The controversy threatened a crisis of confidence in the manner in which national security decisions are made and the role played by the NSC staff.

It was this latter set of concerns that prompted the President to establish this special review board on Dec. 1, 1986. . . .

What Was Wrong

The arms transfers to Iran and the activities of the NSC staff in support of the contras are case studies in the perils of policy pursued outside the constraints of orderly process.

The Iran initiative ran directly counter to the Administration’s own policies on terrorism, the Iran-Iraq war and military support to Iran. This inconsistency was never resolved, nor were the consequences of this inconsistency fully considered and provided for. The result taken as a whole was a U.S. policy that worked against itself.

The board believes that failure to deal adequately with these contradictions resulted in large part from the flaws in the manner in which decisions were made. Established procedures for making national security decisions were ignored. Reviews of the initiative by all the NSC principals were too infrequent.

The initiatives were not adequately vetted below the Cabinet level. Intelligence resources were underutilized. Applicable legal constraints were not adequately addressed. The whole matter was handled too informally, without adequate written records of what had been considered, discussed and decided.

This pattern persisted in the implementation of the Iran initiative. The NSC staff assumed direct operational control. The initiative fell within the traditional jurisdictions of the departments of State, Defense, and CIA. Yet these agencies were largely ignored. Great reliance was placed on a network of private operators and intermediaries.

How the initiative was to be carried out never received adequate attention from the NSC principals or a tough working-level review. No periodic evaluation of the progress of the initiative was ever conducted. The result was an unprofessional and, in substantial part, unsatisfactory operation.

In all of this process, Congress was never notified. . . .

A Flawed Process

The arms sales to Iran and the NSC support for the contras demonstrate the risks involved when highly controversial initiatives are pursued covertly.

The initiative to Iran was a covert operation directly at odds with important and well-publicized policies of the executive branch. But the initiative itself embodied a fundamental contradiction.

Two objectives were apparent from the outset: a strategic opening to Iran and release of the U.S. citizens held hostage in Lebanon. The sale of arms to Iran appeared to provide a means to achieve both these objectives. It also played into the hands of those who had other interests--some of them personal financial gain--in engaging the United States in an arms deal with Iran.

In fact, the sale of arms was not equally appropriate for achieving both these objectives. Arms were what Iran wanted. If all the United States sought was to free the hostages, then an arms-for-hostages deal could achieve the immediate objectives of both sides. But if the U.S. objective was a broader strategic relationship, then the sale of arms should have been contingent upon first putting into place the elements of that relationship. . . .

For some (U.S. officials), the principal motivation (in the Iran initiative) seemed consistently a strategic opening to Iran. For others, the strategic opening became a rationale for using arms sales to obtain the release of the hostages. For still others, the initiative appeared clearly as an arms-for-hostages deal from first to last.

Whatever the intent, almost from the beginning the initiative became in fact a series of arms-for-hostages deals. The shipment of arms in November, 1985, was directly tied to a hostage release. Indeed, the August-September transfer may have been nothing more than an arms-for-hostages trade. . . .

While a high-level meeting among senior U.S. and Iranian officials continued to be a subject of discussion, it never occurred. Although Mr. (Robert C.) McFarlane went to Tehran in May of 1986, the promised high-level Iranians never appeared. In discussions among U.S. officials, the focus seemed to be on the prospects for obtaining release of the hostages, not on a strategic relationship. . . .

While the United States was seeking the release of the hostages . . . it was vigorously pursuing policies that were dramatically opposed to such efforts. The Reagan Administration in particular had come into office declaring a firm stand against terrorism. . . . The Administration continued to pressure U.S. allies not to sell arms to Iran and not to make concessions to terrorists.

No serious effort was made to reconcile the inconsistency between these policies and the Iran initiative. . . .

The board believes that a strategic opening to Iran may have been in the national interest but that the United States never should have been a party to the arms transfers. As arms-for-hostages trades, they could not help but create an incentive for further hostage-taking. As a violation of the U.S. arms embargo, they could only remove inhibitions on other nations from selling arms to Iran.

This threatened to upset the military balance between Iran and Iraq, with consequent jeopardy to the (Persian) Gulf states and the interests of the West in that region. The arms-for-hostages trades rewarded a regime that clearly supported terrorism and hostage-taking. They increased the risk that the United States would be perceived, especially in the Arab world, as a creature of Israel. . . .

As the arms-for-hostages proposal first came to the United States, it clearly was tempting. The sale of just 100 TOWs was to produce the release of all seven Americans held in Lebanon. Even had the offer been genuine, it would have been unsound. But it was not genuine. The 100 TOWs did not produce seven hostages. Very quickly the price went up, and the arrangements became protracted. . . . While release of all the hostages continued to be promised, in fact the hostages came out singly if at all. This sad history is powerful evidence of why the United States should never have become involved in the arms transfers.

NSC Activities

The activities of the NSC staff in support of the contras sought to achieve an important objective of the Administration’s foreign policy. The President had publicly and emphatically declared his support for the Nicaragua resistance. That brought his policy in direct conflict with that of the Congress, at least during the period that direct or indirect support of military operations in Nicaragua was barred.

Although the evidence before the Board is limited, no serious effort appears to have been made to come to grips with the risks to the President of direct NSC support for the contras in the face of these congressional restrictions. Even if it could be argued that these restrictions did not technically apply to the NSC staff, these activities presented great political risk to the President. . . .

Because the arms sales to Iran and the NSC support for the contras occurred in settings of such controversy, one would expect that the decisions to undertake these activities would have been made only after intense and thorough consideration. In fact, a far different picture emerges.

The Iran initiative was handled almost casually and through informal channels, always apparently with an expectation that the process would end with the next arms-for-hostages exchange. It was subjected neither to the general procedures for interagency consideration and review of policy issues nor the more restrictive procedures set out in NSDD (National Security Decision Directive) 159 for handling covert operations. This had a number of consequences.

(National Security Council principals met only once, Aug. 6, in the last six months of 1985, during which Israel made three proposals to the United States on the Iran initiative and made three arms deliveries to Iran.

(The proposal to shift to direct U.S. arms sales to Iran was considered by the President at a meeting on Jan. 17, 1986, which only Vice President (George) Bush, White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan and NSC officials Donald Fortier and Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter attended.)

There was no subsequent collective consideration of the Iran initiative by the NSC principals before it became public 11 months later. . . . Two or three Cabinet-level reviews in a period of 17 months was not enough. . . .

At each significant step in the Iran initiative, deliberations among the NSC principals in the presence of the President should have been virtually automatic. . . . The meetings should have been preceded by consideration by the NSC principals of staff papers prepared according to the procedures applicable to covert actions. . . . Had this been done, the objectives of the Iran initiative might have been clarified and alternatives to the sale of arms might have been identified.

Limited Initiative Review

Because of the obsession with secrecy, interagency consideration of the initiative was limited to the Cabinet level. . . .

As a consequence, the initiative was never vetted at the staff level. This deprived those responsible for the initiative of considerable expertise--on the situation in Iran; on the difficulties of dealing with terrorists; on the mechanics of conducting a diplomatic opening. It also kept the plan from receiving a tough, critical review. . . .

The intelligence input into the decision process was clearly inadequate. First, no independent evaluation of the Israeli proposals offered in July and August (1985) appears to have been sought or offered by U.S. intelligence agencies. . . .

Second, neither Mr. (Manucher) Ghorbanifar nor the second channel seem to have been subjected to a systematic intelligence vetting before they were engaged as intermediaries. . . . It was not until Jan. 11, 1986, that the (CIA) gave Mr. Ghorbanifar a new polygraph, which he failed.

Notwithstanding this situation, with the signing (by President Reagan) of the Jan. 17 finding, the United States took control of the initiative and became even more directly involved with Ghorbanifar. The issues raised by the polygraph results do not appear to have been systematically addressed. . . .

Third, although the President recalled being assured that the arms sales to Iran would not alter the military balance with Iraq, the board could find no evidence that the President was ever briefed on this subject. . . .

There appeared little effort to face squarely the legal restrictions and notification requirements applicable to the operation. . . .

Finally, insufficient attention was given to the implications of implementation . . . should the NSC staff rather than the CIA have had operational control; what were the implications of Israeli involvement; how reliable were the Iranian and various other private intermediaries; what were the implications of the use of Mr. (Richard V.) Secord’s private network of operatives; what were the implications for the military balance in the region; was operation security adequate. . . .

The concern for preserving the secrecy of the initiative provided an excuse for abandoning sound process. Yet the initiative was known to a variety of persons with diverse interests and ambitions--Israelis, Iranians, various arms dealers and business intermediaries, and Lt. Col. (Oliver L.) North’s network of private operatives. . . . As a consequence (of secrecy), important advice and counsel were lost. . . .

The only staff work the President apparently reviewed in connection with the Iran initiative was prepared by NSC staff members, under the direction of the national security adviser. . . . (The staff work) was frequently striking in its failure to present the record of past efforts--particularly past failures. Alternative ways of achieving U.S. objectives--other than yet another arms-for-hostages deal--were not discussed. . . .

No formal written minutes seem to have been kept. Decisions subsequently taken by the President were not formally recorded. . . . The effect of this informality was that (the) initiative lacked a formal institutional record. . . . It made it difficult to determine where the initiative stood, and to learn lessons from the record that could guide future action. . . .

Contra Support

It is not clear how North first became involved in activities in direct support of the contras during the period of the congressional ban. . . . In the evidence that the board did have, there is no suggestion at any point of any discussion of North’s activities with the President in any forum. There also does not appear to have been any interagency review of North’s activities at any level. . . .

North apparently worked largely in isolation, keeping first McFarlane and then Poindexter informed. . . .

The board did not make a judgment on the legal issues raised by (North’s) activities in support of the contras. . . .

The manner in which the Iran initiative was implemented and North undertook to support the contras are very similar. This is in large part because the same cast of characters was involved. In both cases the operations were unprofessional, although the board has much less evidence with respect to North’s contra activities.

Arms Transfers

With the signing of the (President’s) Jan. 17 finding, the Iran initiative became a U.S. operation run by the NSC staff. North made most of the significant operational decisions. He conducted the operation through Secord and his associates, a network of private individuals already involved in the contra resupply operation. To this was added a handful of selected individuals from the CIA. . . .

Because so few people from the departments and agencies were told of the initiative, North cut himself off from resources and expertise from within the government. He relied instead on a number of private intermediaries, businessmen and other financial brokers, private operators and Iranians hostile to the United States.

Some of these were individuals with questionable credentials and potentially large personal financial interests in the transactions. This made the transactions unnecessarily complicated and invited kickbacks and payoffs. This arrangement also dramatically increased the risks that the initiative would leak. . . .

The result was a very unprofessional operation.

Secord undertook in November, 1985, to arrange landing clearance for the Israeli flight bringing the HAWK missiles into a third-country staging area. The arrangements fell apart. A CIA field officer attributed this failure to the amateurish way in which Secord and his associates approached officials in the government from which landing clearance was needed.

If Ghorbanifar is to be believed, the mission of McFarlane to Tehran was undertaken without any advance work, and with distinctly different expectations on the part of the two sides. This could have contributed to its failure.

But there were much more serious errors. Without adequate study and consideration, intelligence was passed to the Iranians of potentially major significance to the Iran-Iraq war. At the meeting with the second channel on Oct. 5-7, North misrepresented his access to the President. He told Ghorbanifar stories of conversations with the President which were wholly fanciful. He suggested without authority a shift in U.S. policy adverse to Iraq in general and (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein in particular.

Finally, in the nine-point agenda discussed on Oct. 26-28, he committed the United States, without authorization, to a position contrary to well established U.S. policy on the prisoners held by Kuwait.

The conduct of the negotiators with Ghorbanifar and the second channel were handled in a way that revealed obvious inexperience. The discussions were too casual for dealings with intermediaries to a regime so hostile to U.S. interests. The U.S. hand was repeatedly tipped and unskillfully played. The arrangements failed to guarantee that the U.S. obtained its hostages in exchange for the arms. Repeatedly, North permitted arms to be delivered without the release of a single captive.

The implementation of the initiative was never subjected to a rigorous review. North appears to have kept Poindexter fully informed of his activities. In addition, Poindexter, North and the CIA officials involved apparently apprised Director (of Central Intelligence William J.) Casey of many of the operational details. But North and his operation functioned largely outside the orbit of the U.S. government. . . .

Congress Never Notified

Congress was not apprised either of the Iran initiative or of the NSC staff’s activities in support of the contras.

In the case of Iran, because release of the hostages was expected within a short time after the delivery of equipment, and because public disclosure could have destroyed the operation and perhaps endangered the hostages, it could be argued that it was justifiable to defer notification of Congress prior to the first shipment of arms to Iran. The plan apparently was to inform Congress immediately after the hostages were safely in U.S. hands.

But after the first delivery failed to release all the hostages, and as one hostage release plan was replaced by another, Congress certainly should have been informed. This could have been done during a period when no specific hostage release plan was in execution. Consultation with Congress could have been useful to the President, for it might have given him some sense of how the public would react to the initiative. It also might have influenced his decision to continue to pursue it.

Legal Issues

In addition to conflicting with several fundamental U.S. policies, selling arms to Iran raised far-reaching legal questions. . . .

The Arms Export Control Act, the principal U.S. statute governing arms sales abroad, makes it unlawful to export arms without a license. Exports of arms by U.S. government agencies, however, do not require a license if they are otherwise authorized by law. . . .

Whether . . . U.S. involvement in the (1985) arms transfers (to Iran) by the Israelis was lawful depends fundamentally upon whether the President approved the transactions before they occurred. . . .

On balance the board believes that it is plausible to conclude that (the President) did approve them in advance.

Yet even if the President in some sense consented to or approved the transactions, a serious question of law remains. . . .

Under the National Security Act, it is not clear that mere oral approval by the President would qualify as a presidential finding that the initiative was vital to the national security interests of the United States. The approval was never reduced to writing. It appears to have been conveyed to only one person. The President himself has no memory of it. And there is contradictory evidence from the President’s advisers about how the President responded when he learned of the arms shipments which the approval was to support. . . .

Throughout the Iran initiative, significant questions of law do not appear to have been adequately addressed. In the face of a sweeping statutory prohibition and explicit requirements relating to presidential consent to arms transfers by third countries, there appears to have been at the outset in 1985 little attention, let alone systematic analysis, devoted to how presidential actions would comply with U.S. law. . . .

Failure of Responsibility

The NSC system will not work unless the President makes it work. . . . By his actions, by his leadership, the President therefore determines the quality of its performance.

By his own account, as evidenced in his diary notes, and as conveyed to the Board by his principal advisers, President Reagan was deeply committed to securing the release of the hostages. It was this intense compassion for the hostages that appeared to motivate his steadfast support of the Iran initiative, even in the face of opposition from his secretaries of state and defense.

In his obvious commitment, the President appears to have proceeded with a concept of the initiative that was not accurately reflected in the reality of the operation. The President did not seem to be aware of the way in which the operation was implemented and the full consequences of U.S. participation.

The President’s expressed concern for the safety of both the hostages and the Iranians who could have been at risk may have been conveyed in a manner so as to inhibit the full functioning of the system.

The President’s management style is to put the principal responsibility for policy review and implementation on the shoulders of his advisers. Nevertheless, with such a complex, high-risk operation and so much at stake, the President should have ensured that the NSC system did not fail him. He did not force his policy to undergo the most critical review of which the NSC participants and the process were capable. At no time did he insist upon accountability and performance review.

Had the President chosen to drive the NSC system, the outcome could well have been different. As it was, the most powerful features of the NSC system--providing comprehensive analysis, alternatives and follow-up--were not utilized. . . .

President Reagan’s personal management style places an especially heavy responsibility on his key advisers. Knowing his style, they should have been been particularly mindful of the need for special attention to the manner in which this arms sale initiative developed and proceeded. On this score, neither the national security adviser nor the other NSC principals deserve high marks. . . .

The principal subordinates to the President must not be deterred from urging the President not to proceed on a highly questionable course of action even in the face of his strong conviction to the contrary.

In the case of the Iran initiative, the NSC process did not fail, it simply was largely ignored. The national security adviser and the NSC principals all had a duty to raise this issue and insist that orderly process be imposed. None of them did so. . . .

None of the principals called for a serious vetting of the initiative by even a restricted group of disinterested individuals. The intelligence questions do not appear to have been raised, and legal considerations, while raised, were not pressed. No one seemed to have complained about the informality of the process. No one called for a thorough re-examination once the initiative did not meet expectations or the manner of execution changed. While one or another of the NSC principals suspected that something was amiss, none vigorously pursued the issue.

Mr. Regan also shares in this responsibility. More than almost any chief of staff of recent memory, he asserted personal control over the White House staff and sought to extend this control to the national security adviser. He was personally active in national security affairs and attended almost all of the relevant meetings regarding the Iran initiative. He, as much as anyone, should have insisted that an orderly process be observed.

In addition, he especially should have ensured that plans were made for handling any public disclosure of the initiative. He must bear primary responsibility for the chaos that descended upon the White House when such disclosure did occur.

McFarlane appeared caught between a President who supported the initiative and the Cabinet officers who strongly opposed it. While he made efforts to keep these Cabinet officers informed, the Board heard complaints from some that he was not always successful. Vice Adm. Poindexter on several occasions apparently sought to exclude NSC principals other than the President from knowledge of the initiative. Indeed, on one or more occasions Secretary (George P.) Shultz may have been actively misled by Poindexter.

Poindexter also failed grievously on the matter of contra diversion. Evidence indicates that Poindexter knew that a diversion occurred, yet he did not take the steps that were required given the gravity of that prospect. He apparently failed to appreciate or ignored the serious legal and political risks presented. His clear obligation was either to investigate the matter or take it to the President--or both. He did neither. Director Casey shared a similar responsibility.

Evidence suggests that he received information about the possible diversion of funds to the contras almost a month before the story broke. He, too, did not move promptly to raise the matter with the President. Yet his responsibility to do so was clear.

Other Principals

The NSC principals other than the President may be somewhat excused by the insufficient attention on the part of the national security adviser to the need to keep all the principals fully informed. Given the importance of the issue and the sharp policy divergences involved, however, Secretary Shultz and Secretary (of Defense Caspar W.) Weinberger in particular distanced themselves from the march of events.

Secretary Shultz specifically requested to be informed only as necessary to perform his job. Secretary Weinberger had access through intelligence to details about the operation. Their obligation was to give the President their full support and continued advice with respect to the program or, if they could not in conscience do that, to so inform the President.

Instead, they simply distanced themselves from the program. They protected the record as to their own positions on this issue. They were not energetic in attempting to protect the President from the consequences of his personal commitment to freeing the hostages.

Director Casey appears to have been informed in considerable detail about the specifics of the Iranian operation. He appears to have acquiesced in and to have encouraged North’s exercise of direct operational control over the operation. Because of the NSC staff’s proximity to and close identification with the President, this increased the risks to the President if the initiative became public or the operation failed.

There is no evidence, however, that Director Casey explained this risk to the President or made clear to the President that North, rather than the CIA, was running the operation. The President does not recall ever being informed of this fact. Indeed, Director Casey should have gone further and pressed for operational responsibility to be transferred to the CIA.

Director Casey should have taken the lead in vetting the assumptions presented by the Israelis on which the program was based and in pressing for an early examination of the reliance upon Ghorbanifar and the second channel as intermediaries. He should also have assumed responsibility for checking out the other intermediaries involved in the operation.

Finally, because congressional restrictions on covert actions are both largely directed at and familiar to the CIA, Director Casey should have taken the lead in keeping the question of congressional notification active.

Finally, Director Casey, and, to a lesser extent, Secretary Weinberger, should have taken it upon themselves to assess the effect of the transfer of arms and intelligence to Iran on the Iran/Iraq military balance, and to transmit that information to the President.

Role of Israelis

. . . Even if the government of Israel actively worked to begin the initiative and to keep it going, the U.S. Government is responsible for its own decisions. . . . U.S. decision-makers made their own decisions and must bear responsibility for the consequences.

The Aftermath

. . . The board found evidence that immediately following the public disclosure (of the Iran-contra operations), the President wanted to avoid providing too much specificity or detail out of concern for the hostages still held in Lebanon and those Iranians who had supported the initiative. In doing so, he did not, we believe, intend to mislead the American public or cover up unlawful conduct.

By at least Nov. 20, the President took steps to ensure that all the facts would come out. From the President’s request to Mr. (Atty. Gen. Edwin) Meese (III) to look into the history of the initiative, to his appointment of this board, to his request to discuss this matter fully and to review his personal notes with us, the Board is convinced that the President does indeed want the full story to be told. . . .

McFarlane described for the board the process used by the NSC staff to create a chronology that obscured essential facts. McFarlane contributed to the creation of this chronology which did not, he said, present “a full and completely accurate account” of the events and left ambiguous the President’s role. This was, according to McFarlane, done to distance the President from the timing and nature of the President’s authorization. . . .

The board found indications that North was involved in an effort, over time, to conceal or withhold important information. . . .

It appears from the copy of (Casey’s) testimony (to congressional committees) and Poindexter’s meetings (with committee leaders) that they did not fully relate the nature of events as they had occurred. The result is an understandable perception that they were not forthcoming.

The board is also concerned about various notes that appear to be missing. Poindexter was the official note taker in some key meetings, yet no notes for the meetings can be found. The reason for the lack of such notes remains unknown to the board. . . .

Recommendations

There is no magic formula which can be applied to the NSC structure and process to produce an optimal system. . . . One problem affecting the NSC staff is lack of institutional memory. This results from the understandable desire of a President to replace the staff in order to be sure it is responsive to him. Departments provide continuity that can help the council, but the council as an institution also needs some means to assure adequate records and memory. . . .

We recognize the problem and have identified a range of possibilities that a President might consider on this subject. One would be to create a small permanent executive secretariat. Another would be to have one person, the executive secretary, as a permanent position.

Finally, a pattern of limited tenure and overlapping rotation could be used. Any of these would help reduce the problem of loss of institutional memory; none would be practical unless each succeeding President subscribed to it. . . .

The flaws of procedure and failures of responsibility revealed by our study do not suggest any inadequacies in the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 that deal with the structure and operation of the NSC system. Forty years of experience under that act demonstrate to the Board that it remains a fundamentally sound framework for national security decision-making. . . .

As a general matter, the NSC staff should not engage in the implementation of policy or the conduct of operations. This compromises their oversight role and usurps the responsibilities of the departments and agencies. But the inflexibility of a legislative restriction should be avoided. . . .

We urge the Congress not to require Senate confirmation of the national security adviser. . . .

We recommend that the national security adviser chair the senior-level committees of the NSC system. . . .

The obsession with secrecy and preoccupation with leaks threaten to paralyze the government in its handling of covert operations. Unfortunately, the concern is not misplaced. The selective leak has become a principal means of waging bureaucratic warfare. . . .

Most recent administrations have had carefully drawn procedures for the consideration of covert activities. The Reagan Administration established such procedures in January, 1985, then promptly ignored them in their consideration of the Iran initiative.

We recommend that each administration formulate precise procedures for restricted consideration of covert action and that, once formulated, those procedures be strictly adhered to. . . .

It is critical that the line between intelligence and advocacy of a particular policy be preserved if intelligence is to retain its integrity and perform its proper function. In this instance, the CIA came close enough to the line to warrant concern. . . .

We recommend that Congress consider replacing the existing intelligence committees of the respective Houses with a new joint committee with a restricted staff to oversee the intelligence community, patterned after the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy that existed until the mid-1970s. . . .

We recommend against having implementation and policy oversight dominated by intermediaries. We do not recommend barring limited use of private individuals to assist in United States diplomatic initiatives or in covert activities. We caution against use of such people except in very limited ways and under close observation and supervision.

If but one of the major policy mistakes we examined had been avoided, the nation’s history would bear one less scar, one less embarrassment, one less opportunity for opponents to reverse the principles this nation seeks to preserve and advance in the world. . . . Modest improvements may yield surprising gains.

This is our hope.


Advertisement