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Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States

Loch K. Johnson

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Oxford University Press
02 January 2018
History; Military history: post WW2 conflicts; Espionage & secret services; Military intelligence; Security services
All democracies have had to contend with the challenge of tolerating hidden spy services within otherwise relatively transparent governments. Democracies pride themselves on privacy and liberty, but intelligence organizations have secret budgets, gather information surreptitiously around the world, and plan covert action against foreign regimes. Sometimes, they have even targeted the very citizens they were established to protect, as with the COINTELPRO operations in the 1960s and 1970s, carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against civil rights and antiwar activists. In this sense, democracy and intelligence have always been a poor match. Yet Americans live in an uncertain and threatening world filled with nuclear warheads, chemical and biological weapons, and terrorists intent on destruction. Without an intelligence apparatus scanning the globe to alert the United States to these threats, the planet would be an even more perilous place.

In Spy Watching, Loch K. Johnson explores the United States' travails in its efforts to maintain effective accountability over its spy services. Johnson explores the work of the famous Church Committee, a Senate panel that investigated America's espionage organizations in 1975 and established new protocol for supervising the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the nation's other sixteen secret services. Johnson explores why partisanship has crept into once-neutral intelligence operations, the effect of the 9/11 attacks on the expansion of spying, and the controversies related to CIA rendition and torture programs. He also discusses both the Edward Snowden case and the ongoing investigations into the Russian hack of the 2016 US election. Above all, Spy Watching seeks to find a sensible balance between the twin imperatives in a democracy of liberty and security. Johnson draws on scores of interviews with Directors of Central Intelligence and others in America's secret agencies, making this a uniquely authoritative account.
By:   Loch K. Johnson
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 244mm,  Width: 163mm,  Spine: 48mm
Weight:   952g
ISBN:   9780190682712
ISBN 10:   019068271X
Pages:   624
Publication Date:   02 January 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Loch K. Johnson is one of America's leading experts on the nation's intelligence organizations. He is the Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia and served as staff director of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, as well as assistant to the chairman of the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence. Johnson is the author of America's Secret Power and The Threat on the Horizon, both published by Oxford University Press.

Reviews for Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States

This is a learned, mighty and magisterial book. * Professional Security Magazine * In this insightful examination of America's struggle to balance liberty and security, Johnson... writes from personal experience and extensive scholarship, so readers will encounter a great deal of information, much of it unsettling... [A] thoughtful, not terribly optimistic analysis of the perpetual tension between secret services and liberal democracy. * Kirkus *


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