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John Sano discusses his course on Covert Action

In this interview, Prof. John Sano discusses the course that he teaches at IWP on Covert Action and National Security (IWP 678, 4 credits). Prof. Sano is Former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service.

What do you cover in your course?

My course (Covert Action and National Security) covers the theoretical and practical aspects of this unique intelligence/foreign policy tool.  Through case studies, we explore the advantages and disadvantages in the application of covert action – the methodologies used and its impact on U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.

What makes your course unique?

This course offers unique insights into a previously unknown but highly mythicized intelligence tool.  We debunk the common misconceptions surrounding the use of covert action and instead focus on how it has and can be used to solve particularly difficult foreign policy dilemmas. 

Is one likely to find such a course at an institution other than IWP?

While many graduate programs offer courses on the Intelligence Community and the role of intelligence, few – if any – touch upon covert action as an intelligence method. No other school, either at the undergraduate or graduate level, offers a course dedicated specifically to the use of covert action as a mechanism to promote and protect U.S. national security interests.

What makes your course useful to students?

Students interested in a career in the field of intelligence, or foreign policy, would benefit from this course as it discusses both the history and the practical application of covert action.  Be it from its initial planning stages, to its secret implementation, as a unique element within the intelligence and foreign policy arenas – directed solely by the CIA, but with participation by other US government entities – Dept. of State, Dept. of Defense, etc. – covert action is an often overlooked, but integral element in the conduct of foreign affairs.