Covert Action and National Security

IWP 678
4 credits 

Covert Action (CA) remains a highly controversial and generally misunderstood element within the Intelligence Community. Title 50 of the United States Code defines Covert Action as: "...an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly..." Lying somewhere between overt diplomatic initiatives and direct military intervention, CA is often referred to as the "third option" when addressing foreign policy issues that impact on U.S. national security interests. This course will address the many facets of CA, both through selected case studies as well as the parameters that have evolved over the years to manage its myriad aspects - determining what CA can, and equally important, cannot accomplish. We will also see how CA, as conducted by the CIA, is often used in a dual track program alongside State Department initiatives in an effort to resolve particularly difficult foreign policy dilemmas.

Principal Professor


   John R. Sano
Professor; Former Deputy Director, National Clandestine Service, CIA {read more}