Covert Action

U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt

In the aftermath of bloody and inconclusive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has relied heavily on covert operations. Drone strikes, the signature tools of the “light footprint” war the United States is increasingly fighting, have devastated Al Qaeda’s senior leadership. Special forces raids have produced key intelligence coups. The CIA has steadily transformed itself from an organization combating the intelligence efforts of foreign countries into a key operational tool in the fight against terror groups. But many observers worry that such tactics create more enemies than they kill and lack the accountability of more overt military conflict. As the long war continues, covert action is the new normal.

Latest in Covert Action

Secrecy: Press Behavior

Jack Goldsmith's Interview With Dean Baquet, Executive Editor of the New York Times, on Publication Decisions About Intelligence Secrets

In light of CIA Director Mike Pompeo's criticism of the New York Times' publication of a CIA officer's identity, we are reposting Jack Goldsmith's 2015 interview of Times executive editor Dean Baquet on the paper's publication of sensitive information.

intelligence oversight

Five Important (Or At Least Interesting) Provisions in the Intelligence Authorization Bill HPSCI Passed

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which HPSCI (the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) voted out last week, contains a number of very interesting, but little-noticed, provisions. Here are my top-five highlights.


Hersh's Account of the Bin Laden Raid is Journalistic Malpractice

When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible. Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky.

Subscribe to Lawfare