Chapter 15 - Covert Action

Neutrality Act of 1794

What is the text of the Neutrality Act?

What was the original purpose of the Neutrality Act?

What did Jefferson say about the Neutrality Act?

What does it mean if we are at war?

Does peace mean no declaration of war?

What if the president says it is alright for a private group to military action, say rescuing a hostage?

What about private companies training foreign armed forces to fight our friends?

What is the Logan Act?

Could this have been used against Jane Fonda in the Vietnam War?

What about Sean Penn visiting Iraq?

Are there 1st amendment issues?

Has the law been enforced?

Implementing the National Security Act of 1947?

Why is it hard to look back to 1947 and make determinations about covert action as it is currently understood?

Why might the formal congressional record not be an accurate picture of whether congress intended for the CIA to carry out cover actions?

What provision of the Act could shelter covert action?

What did the CIA general counsel say in 1947?

What did annex NSC-4[/]A, adopted by the National Security Council (NSC) at its first meeting, provide?

How was this expanded by NSC-10/2?

Were these approved by President Truman?

What is plausible denial and how does presidential approval undermine it?

How did Congress try to limit plausible deniability in 1974?

What is the recourse if the president does not comply with this law?

What does this tells about questions of whether CIA was authorized to carry our covert actions?


US v. Lopez-Lima, 738 F.Supp 1404 (1990)

What was defendant charged with?

How is it that he is on trial in the US?

Where did he spend most of the previous 20 odd years?

Who did the hijacker say sent him to Cuba?


Why a hijacking?

What is the defense?

What is the real purpose of the defense?

Does the CIA want to provide the information to support this defense?

What is judge supposed to do if the legal effect of the agency not complying with a discovery order because the information is classified means that the defendant cannot mount an effective defense?

What does the judge have to evaluate to determine if the information is essential to the defense?

In this case, is the information essential to the defense if the CIA did not have the authority to authorize the hijacking?

Can the defendant claim detrimental reliance?

What does Executive Order 12,333 provide?

Does this really tell us what the law is?  How can the president create an exception to this executive order?

Since Executive Order 12,333 was not signed in 1964, what do we need to know about it?

What did the Church Committee find that supports defendant's theory?

Even if the order was new policy, what else does the judge have to determine?

Why is Section 5 and NSC-4[/]A important in the court's analysis?

How was this expanded in National Security Council Directive 5412-1?

Did the CIA have to clear its actions with the Department of Justice?

Was there evidence that the agency carried out activities that broke laws?

What is the evidence that Congress did not care?

How did the Hughes-Ryan Amendment change this in 1974?

What prompted this amendment?

What did the court find about the authority of the CIA to authorize the hijacking?

What of the claims by the administrative that if it had authorized it, that would have been illegal and that defendant cannot rely on the authorization?

What else does the court say the defendant must show to use this defense?

What will he need to do that?

How does this put the CIA in a bind?

Judge Ryskamp tossed out the air piracy charge during a two-day hearing on whether the defendant's right to a speedy trial had been violated.

There was little review of CIA covert operations through the 1950s - why? 

What does a 1954 report about the CIA tell us the thinking in those days?

What is the tension between accountability and secrecy for covert activities?


What was the CIA doing in Chile in 1970 and 1973?

Why were did we care about Allende?

Who came to power in 1973?

Why was our relationship with him problematic?

Lead to the Church Committee 1976

What was the Church Committee most concerned with?

What principles did it establish for covert activities?

Must be exceptional, not routine

Must be consistent with American principles

No clandestine funding bad guys who do bad things just because they are on our side

Congress has to decide on that

Should consider long term consequences of the actions

What procedural limits did it recommend?

Everything is reported to the congressional oversight committee before it is done

Unexpected actions can only be funded from a fixed contingency fund, must be reported, and the fund will not be topped up until approved by the committee

How did Ford and Carter defuse the pressure for congressional action?