Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby

Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby

Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby

Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby

Synopsis

From his years as America's point man in Vietnam to his mysterious death in 1996, William E. Colby was one of the most enigmatic figures of the Cold War. Whether it was in CIA operations against Russia, anti-Communism in Western Europe, covert action in Southeast Asia, or its involvement in the Watergate affair, Colby stood at the center of the agency's secret activities. Lost Crusader for the first time uncovers the real story of this master spy, from his beginnings in the OSS to his tumultuous years as Director of Central Intelligence in the 1970s. Reviled by many outside the CIA for his role in Vietnam, he was later cast as a scapegoat by the Nixon White House during the Church and Pike congressional investigations of CIA activities. Based on extensive research and interviews with key participants, John Prados offers new revelations on the CIA in Western Europe and elsewhere: a fresh analysis of the notorious Phoenix program in Vietnam, and the most authoritative account of agency involvement in the bloody Indonesian coup of 1965 that overthrew Sukarno and brought General Suharto to power. Moreover, Prados has uncovered new evidence on the CIA's role in the 1963 assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam and also furnishes the first account of the action at the top level of the CIA during the final demise of South Vietnam in 1975. A masterful study of a master spy, Lost Crusader offers vital insight into the Cold War, Vietnam, and the inner workings of the CIA.

Excerpt

In the wake of the tragic terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, it was almost impossible for people to hear that the bloody attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., did not represent a failure of American intelligence. That is, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its counterparts in the United States intelligence community somehow had to have known about the terrorists’ plans for these events and had ignored the information, or worse, misapplied or misanalyzed the intelligence. These allegations of cia failure were tremendously widespread at the time. But what is especially significant is that charges of cia ineptitude persisted both before and after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks: where so much in America changed in the passage from before September 11 to after, harsh criticisms of the cia have remained consistent. If anything, they have risen to accusations of agency buffoonery.

Public attitudes are related to the Central Intelligence Agency's predispositions toward secrecy. American understanding of the work of the cia is so vague and ill-informed that the grossest kinds of rumors and misinformation about it flourish. the cia and the other intelligence agencies have actually preferred this state of affairs, using pat lines about how their work must remain secret, with their mistakes known but their successes never seeing the light of day. in sum, there has been a veritable cult of secrecy, the darkness preserved by games with the Freedom of Information Act, selective recall and release of records, carefully constrained responses to congressional inquiries, and similar measures.

At the height of the Cold War, the CIA's cult of secrecy seemed acceptable because the agency was ranged against an ultimate enemy. in the contest between the West and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the entire social and political systems of both sides seemed to be at risk. Even then, however, certain methods and techniques of the spy agencies were not acceptable in a democratic society. in its zeal for prosecuting the Cold War, the cia had used many such techniques, especially in operations in the lessdeveloped countries of the Third World. the political pressures of the mid1970s were such that formal investigations of the cia and the other elements . . .

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