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The Invisible Government Book Cover

The Invisible Government Book Cover

The Invisible Government is a startling and disturbing book. It is the first full, authentic account of America’s intelligence and espionage apparatus, an invisible government. With the CIA at its center that conducts the clandestine polices. The book was a best seller from the authors of “The U-2 Affair”.

The Invisible Government by David Wise and Thomas B. Ross.(New York: Random. 1964. 375 pp. $5.95.) Book review by Charles E. Valpey, from CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM. (Released in full: 18 SEPT 95; Posted: May 08, 2007; Last Updated: Aug 04, 2011; Last Reviewed: May 08, 2007.)

CONFIDENTIAL

The journalist-authors of this best-seller admit that Communist subversion and espionage pose a unique threat to the American people and their government, and they accept the necessity under certain circumstances for secret American efforts to prevent Moscow and Peking from gaining new allegiances. But they profess to believe that our secret attempts to meet the Communist challenge constitute so real a threat to our own freedoms that they must be exposed in as detailed and dramatic a way as possible. If the Soviets are profiting from these revelations, as they are, -Vise and Ross apparently think that such self-inflicted wounds must be endured in the battle against excessive secrecy.

Broadly stated, their thesis is that the U.S. intelligence community, with the CIA at its heart, has grown so big and powerful that it threatens the democracy it was designed to defend. The CIA, they say, conducts its own clandestine foreign policy, and even the President – has been unable to control it. The State Department is powerless to exert policy direction because its ambassadors are kept uninformed and are habitually by-passed by CIA operatives. The Congress has abdicated its legislative role and votes huge secret funds without adequate knowledge of how the money is spent.

If all this were true, American democracy would certainly be in serious trouble, and the alarm professed about the “invisible government” would be justified. But is it true? Strangely enough, the authors themselves provide, ambiguously, a negative answer to this question which is so central to their major thesis. They concede the existence of institutional arrangements designed to give the President and his principal foreign policy advisors the very kind of close policy control over secret operations that they ought to have. Early in the book, they mention the existence of a “Special Group” which :makes the major decisions regarding clandestine operations, though they say it is so secret that it is “unknown outside the innermost circle of the Invisible Government.” The reader must wait through 255 pages to learn that the members of this policy group are no sinister shadows but McGeorge Bundy in the White House, Secretary of Defense McNamara, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Director of Central Intelligence. These are just the officials that one would expect the President to have chosen to advise him on matters of high clandestine policy, and they are far from invisible.

The authors, in order to prove their thesis, do try to show that the Special Group is ineffective: they claim it meets in “a highly informal way without the elaborate records and procedures of other high Government committees”; there is no “outside analysis” and “little detached criticism”; the members are too busy with their other duties to perform their supervisory function adequately. The impression is left that the President and the Secretary of State are not even informed of the Group’s decisions. One must have a very low opinion of the sense of responsibility and competence of the men in these key government positions to believe they behave so cavalierly. And yet if one does not believe this, the authors’ whole portrayal of an irresponsible and invisible government becomes inherently incredible.

Similar treatment is accorded the President’s Board on intelligence activities formed under the Eisenhower administration and reconstituted by President Kennedy. This is dismissed as a superficial facade with the remark that “both committees were composed of part-time consultants who met only occasionally during the year,” and it is implied by use of the past tense that the Board is now extinct. Actually it is very much alive and its membership is no secret, having been announced in a White House release of April 23, 1963. It includes Clark Clifford, William O. Baker, Gordon Gray, Edwin H. Land, William L. Langer, Robert D. Murphy, and Frank Pace. These are able, experienced men who discharge conscientiously their duty of advising the President on the workings of the intelligence community, and it wouldn’t have taken much journalistic initiative to find this out. They have a right to resent being dismissed as “veneer.”

In his last public reference to the CIA, at the time of the Diem crisis in Vietnam, President Kennedy declared, “… I can find nothing, and I have looked through the record very carefully over the last nine months, and I could go back further, to indicate that the CIA has done anything but support policy. It does not create policy; it attempts to execute it in those areas where it has competence and responsibility … I can just assure you flatly that the CIA has not carried out independent activities but has operated under close control of the Director of Central Intelligence, operating with the cooperation of the National Security Council and under my instructions … ” The impression grows that Wise and Ross felt obliged to ignore or at least belittle any evidence that the supervision of American intelligence activity is in responsible hands.

This impression is strengthened by their description of the role of Congress. They grant that the CIA budget and program is subject to review and approval by special subcommittees of the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees of both Houses, but they reject this congressional scrutiny as inadequate. They charge that the subcommittees “are controlled by the most conservative elements in Congress, men who are close personally and philosophically to those who run the `Invisible Government.” Then they state the case for a joint congressional watchdog committee, the one specific institutional reform they argue for. So far the watchdog committee idea has been opposed not only by successive administrations but also by the congressional leadership.

If this book is widely accepted at its face value within the United States, it can only reduce public confidence in the intelligence services and make it more difficult for them to recruit the able men and women we shall need in the difficult days that lie ahead. Although incomparably better researched than its forerunner by Andrew Tully,1 it too tends to portray the American on the clandestine fronts of the cold war as typically a reactionary, unscrupulous blunderer. One chapter purports to describe the desperate efforts of the Peace Corps to prevent itself from being infiltrated by the CIA. Leaders of the Corps are represented as being so fearful that CIA will disobey presidential directives and attempt to infiltrate that they take the most elaborate precautions. The implication is clear that CIA’s responsibility made such precautions necessary. Only at the end of the chapter will the reader find a brief sentence admitting that no single case of attempted infiltration was ever discovered.

Another effect of the book is to expose for the first time certain individuals and organizations as having intelligence connections and thus sharply increase their vulnerability to Soviet attack. A spokesman for Random House has been quoted as claiming that the book contains nothing that had not already appeared in public print; but in the first chapter the authors boast that “much of the material has never been printed anywhere else before.” They insist that they have stayed “within the bounds of national security” but appear to have reserved to themselves the right to decide what those limits are. Such an attitude raises serious questions as to the responsibility of the journalist in a free society in a time of cold war. In Great Britain, which is second to none in its devotion to liberty, there exists an Official Secrets Act under which the authors would have been tried and sentenced to prison. Such a law in this country is not feasible, but in its absence the American journalist carries an even heavier responsibility than his British counterpart.

By far the most damaging consequence of this book will have been its exploitation by the propaganda apparatus of the Soviet and Chinese regimes. The CIA has understandably been for a long time a primary target of the Soviet KGB, and everything from forgeries to full-length books have been inspired by the Soviet propagandists in their efforts to destroy the reputation of American intelligence organizations and undermine their effectiveness. The KGB technicians must find it hard to believe their good luck in being donated so much useful ammunition by a reputable American publisher and two certifiable non-Communist journalists. The book is being reprinted and replayed in press and radio from one end of the world to the other. That much of this material has been printed before does not reduce the value to the Soviets of having it gathered in one volume under such genuine American auspices.

The problem of balancing freedom with security has been an ancient dilemma for democratic states in their long struggle to survive against aggressive totalitarianism. This book may serve to dramatize the problem, but it does not provide any deep insight or new solutions. It was written not to enlighten but to shock and to sell.
By: Charles E. Valpey
Source: Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI), of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

About the authors: David Wise is American investigative journalist and writer on intelligence and espionage. His book, The Politics of Lying won the 1975 Orwell Award. David Wise was born in New York in 1930. After graduating from Columbia College he became a journalist. In 1951 he joined the New York Herald Tribune. After the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 Wise became the newspaper’s White House correspondent.
Thomas B. Ross was born in New York in 1929. After graduating from Yale University he served in the United States Navy. During this period he saw active duty in the Korean War.
After leaving the navy he worked for the International News Service and the United Press International. In 1958 he became a member of the Washington Bureau of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wise joined forces with Thomas Ross to research the events surrounding the shooting down of the Lockheed U-2 spy plane on 1st May, 1960. Their book, The U-2 Affair was published in 1962.

Wise and Ross now began work on a new book called Invisible Government. John McCone, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, discovered that the book intended to look at his links with the Military Industrial Congress Complex. The authors also claimed that the CIA was having a major influence on American foreign policy. This included the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran (1953) and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954). The book also covered the role that the CIA played in the Bay of Pigs operation, the attempts to remove President Sukarno in Indonesia and the covert operations taking place in Laos and Vietnam.

John McCone called in Wise and Ross to demand deletions on the basis of galleys the CIA had secretly obtained from Random House. The authors refused to made these changes and Random House decided to go ahead and publish the book. The CIA considered buying up the entire printing of Invisible Government but this idea was rejected when Random House pointed out that if this happened they would have to print a second edition. McCone now formed a special group to deal with the book and tried to arrange for it to get bad reviews.

Invisible Government was published in 1964. It was the first full account of America’s intelligence and espionage apparatus. In the book Wise and Ross argued that the “Invisible Government is made up of many agencies and people, including the intelligence branches of the State and Defense Departments, of the Army, Navy and Air Force”. However, they claimed that the most important organization involved in this process was the CIA.

Other books by Wise includes The Espionage Establishment (1967), The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power (1975), The American Police State: The Government Against the People (1978), The Spy Who Got Away (1988), Nightmover (1995), Cassidy’s Run (2000), Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America (2002) and Democracy Under Pressure (2004).

Ross worked for the Chicago Sun-Times until President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (1977 to 1981). Other posts held by Ross included Senior Vice President of NBC News, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs of RCA and Senior Vice President and Worldwide Media Director for Hill and Knowlton.

In April 1994 President Bill Clinton appointed Ross as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for Public Affairs at the National Security Council and Deputy White House Press Secretary.

Thomas B. Ross died of pancreatic cancer on 24th October, 2002 at Eastern Long Island Hospital.
Source: Spartacus Educational

The CIA in the Invisible Government of Wall Street

In 1948, after the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, James Forrestal, as the first Secretary of Defense, became alarmed at signs that the Communists might win the Italian elections. In an effort to influence the elections to the advantage of the United States, he started a campaign among his wealthy Wall Street colleagues to raise enough money to run a private clandestine operation. But Allen Dulles felt the problem could not be handled effectively in private hands. He urged strongly that the government establish a covert organization to conduct a variety of special operations.

Because there was no specific provision for covert political operations spelled out in the 1947 Act, the National Security Council – in the wake of the events in Czechoslovakia and Italy – issued a paper in the summer of 1948 authorizing special operations. There were two important guide lines: that the operations be secret and that they be plausibly deniable by the government.

A decision was reached to create an organization within the CIA to conduct secret political operations. Frank G. Wisner, an ex-OSS man, was brought in from the State Department to head it, with a cover title of his own invention. He became Assistant Director of the Office of Policy Coordination.

Under this innocuous title, the United States was now fully in the business of covert political operations. (A separate Office of Special Operations conducted secret actions aimed solely at gathering intelligence.) This machinery was in the CIA but the agency shared control of it with the State Department and the Pentagon. On January 4, 1951, the CIA merged the two offices and created a new Plans Division, which has had sole control over secret operations of all types since that date.

It is doubtful that many of the lawmakers who voted for the 1947 Act could have envisioned the scale on which the CIA would engage in operational activities all over the world. President Truman later maintained that he had no idea that this was going to happen. In a syndicated newspaper article, date-lined December 2 I, 1963, he wrote: “For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government…. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment that I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue – and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.”

It was under President Truman, however, that the CIA began conducting special operations. Although the machinery was not established until 1948, one small hint of what was to come was tucked away in a memorandum which Allen Dulles submitted to Congress back in 1947. It said the CIA should “have exclusive jurisdiction to carry out secret intelligence operations.”

The CIA is, of course, the biggest, most important and most influential branch of the Invisible Government. The agency is organized into four divisions: Intelligence, Plans, Research, Support, each headed by a deputy director.

The Support Division is the administrative arm of the CIA. It is in charge of equipment, logistics, security and communications. It devises the CIA’s special codes, which cannot be read by other branches of the government.

The Research Division is in charge of technical intelligence. It provides expert assessments of foreign advances in science, technology and atomic weapons. It was responsible for analyzing the U-2 photographs brought back from the Soviet Union between 1956 and 1960. And it has continued to analyze subsequent U-2 and spy-satellite pictures. In this it works with the CIA in running the National Photo Intelligence Center.

Herbert “Pete” Scoville, who headed the Research Division for eight years, left in August of 1963 to become an assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was replaced as the CIA’s deputy director for research by Dr. Albert D. Wheelon.

The Plans Division is in charge of the CIA’s cloak-and-dagger activities. It controls all foreign special operations, such as Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs, and it collects all of the agency’s covert intelligence through spies and informers overseas.

Allen Dulles was the first deputy director for plans. He was succeeded as DDP by Frank Wisner, who was replaced in 1958 by Bissell, who, in turn, was succeeded in 1962 by his deputy, Richard Helms.

A native of St. David’s, Pennsylvania, Helms studied in Switzerland and Germany and was graduated from Williams College in 1935. He worked for the United Press and the Indianapolis Times, and then, during World War II, he served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy attached to the OSS. When the war ended and some OSS men were transferred to the CIA, he stayed on and rose through the ranks.

Ralph E. Casey of the General Accounting Office, a watchdog arm of the Congress, testified in 1946 that McCone and his associates in the California Shipbuilding Company made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000.

“I daresay,” Casey remarked, “that at no time in the history of American business, whether in wartime or in peacetime, have so few men made so much money with so little risk and all at the expense of the taxpayers, not only of this generation but of generations to come.”

Again, McCone denied the accusation. He insisted that the investment of California Shipbuilding – including loans, bank credits and stock, in addition to the cash-amounted to over $7,000,000. He also disputed Casey’s profit figures as inflated. In any event, he testified, the government got back 95 percent of the profits in taxes.

Another of McCone’s business activities which provoked opposition was his long relationship with the international oil industry. During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on his nomination in January, 1962, McCone told of his former directorship of the Panama Pacific Tankers Company, a large oil carrying fleet, and of the $1,000,000 in stock he held in Standard Oil of California, which operates extensively in the Middle East, Indonesia and Latin America.
“Every well-informed American knows,” commented Senator Joseph Clark, the Pennsylvania Democrat, “that the American oil companies are deep in the politics of the Middle East (and) the CIA is deep in the politics of the Middle East.”

Clark opposed McCone’s appointment on the ground that his ownership of the oil stock amounted to “a legal violation and a very unwise holding.” McCone offered to dispose of the stock but the committee refused to consider it. From the tenor of the questioning it was clear that the great majority of senators was not at all disturbed by McCone’s record. They were, in fact, abundantly impressed.

“I have not had the opportunity of knowing Mr. McCone well, only through reputation,” said Senator Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Democrat, “but in looking over this biography, to me it epitomizes what has made America great.”
Source: Spartacus Educational

Readers may download the full book The Invisible Government
Or separate chapters from American Buddha Online Library

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