Covert Actions

Gregory F. Treverton's use of a qualifier ("Oversight of CIA's Secret Operations Is Untidy but on Target," Op-Ed Page, Oct. 10) is revealing. He states, "The Reagan Administration wanted to make use of covert action much more frequently than its predecessor had, and the oversight committees, reflecting the mood of Congress and probably of the American people as well, assented to that expansion of covert action." The case of aid to the Contras attempting to overthrow the government of Nicaragua is an example of covert action which is definitely not supported by the majority of American people.

The question Treverton avoids is the most troubling: Are covert actions necessary in a democratic country? The reality of covert actions is that they are kept secret from the American people because many of them are either illegal (the mining of Nicaraguan waters and the Iran-Contra affair, to give examples of violations of international and U.S. laws) or immoral, and would not receive public support.

Both House Speaker Jim Wright's revelations about CIA activity in Nicaragua and the terrorism finding signed by President Reagan which "appeared to permit assassinations" illustrate this point. Leaks to the press curb such abuses, and the scandal and government denials which follow merely show that the actions should not have been taken in the first place.


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