The first study of clandestine operations was initiated 1988 in hopes of learning about the relationship between the President and the intelligence committees of Congress. Stephan F. Knott, an Assistance Professor of Political Science at the Untied States Air Force Academy, picked up this study of clandestine operations. In Knott’s recently published book (1996) Secret and Sanctioned, he unveils the reality that not only were clandestine operations in the Cold War recently, been had also been used in times dating back to our Forefathers. Knott’s account of covert operations involving some of our most admired leaders (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln etc.) gives clear evidence that even the most admired respected of our leaders weren’t completely honest dealers.
The fact that covert operations were undoubtedly active in the times our Forefathers are illustrated within the realm of Secret and Sanctioned. Knott’s main purpose in writing this book was to notify his audience that the age-old tradition of clandestine operations wasn’t started with a new generation of politicians, but had been embedded within the political system since the beginning of the American Revolution. Knott worked with several well-educated professors in research of his book, he consulted many different sources such as Professor Dennis Hale, a chairman of the Political Science Department at Boston College and Arthur S. Hulnik a professor of International Relations at Boston College as his resources of information about American intelligence activity.
Stephan F. Knott details several different cases in which covert operations were throughout the years. His first subject was the covert operations, which involved George Washington’s plan to capture William the IVth, the heir to the throne of England while had authorized on his stay in the states in March of 1782. Washington had authorized three kidnappings, that of Benedict Arnold, Sir Henry Clinton William the IVth. Washington also used the death penalty without a second thought to get the information needed.
In one plot in the book with the characters John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, statesmen in 1700’s, who both made great impact regarding the American Intelligence Capability through their writing and through their actions as influential political leaders. They were both involved in clandestine activities in the government during the time that they had served in the American Revolution. Hamilton worked under Washington taking care of many clandestine operations as Jay took the counterintelligence and espionage activities in New York. John Jay an appointed member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence by the Continental Congress was very happy that he got selected to head up an intelligence network with our “Britain friends.” Jay established oversea operations with the French. It was Jay first introduced invisible ink to Silas Deane to use as he traveled through enemy territories with the persona of a merchant from the colonies. Deane used the invisible ink in order to correspond with Jay as he spied on foreign relations. In case of exposure it was important that the letters were written in a way that ensured that only certain person’s could decipher the real meanings of each document. Deane’s secret mission was to pieces for twenty-five thousand men. The letters that used in order to communicate with one another sounded lie ordinary letters and could only be deciphered by the intended readers. Many letters contained information about the military and what they had supplies as far as the amount of supplies carried on a certain ship. Knott then went on to talk about funding that was relevant for the clandestine activities that had happened during the term of George Washington and thereafter.
Washington set up the Contingency Fund during the Revolutionary War as means of supporting his intelligence operations. It was used primarily for foreign policy making giving the president control of the agreements. This bill was debated with an unknown diplomatic appointment. The House of Representatives wanted to know what Washington was going to spend money on. Washington’s side argued that the House only needed to be concerned with whether or not salaries are to be made or not. Some House member were strongly against giving the president so much executive power, so the debate lasted months as the House and the Senate met and decided at last that they would pass the bill but would only give the stipulation of thirty thousand dollars. The president did however have certain limitations. The general appropriation allowed the president to decide where to appoint executive agents while consulting Senate. This decision was brought up Congressman Lee who thought that the president shouldn’t be able the president should have to consult another authority. While he argued this point, another congressman by the name of Smith was contradictory toward taking the power away from the president saying that the president needed to be able to exercise his executive power to the fullest. The bill was finally passed in April of 1790 after much debate. The bill gave the president the executive power to act as he chose.
Thomas Jefferson is a great example of use of executive power in clandestine operations. Jefferson was for the belief that the president had the right to authority in order to broaden the American interests and send them abroad. Jefferson was an American interests and send them abroad. Jefferson was a French envoy and secretary of state before he became president of the Untied States. During that time he completed many missions and as president he planned many missions and made it possible for these missions as president he planned many missions and made it possible for these missions and made possible for these guts of foreign governments. Jefferson worked at the internal government Jefferson used many different types of covert operations. His strategies in clandestine activities included bribing foreign leaders, toppling a foreign government and providing indirect but tangible assistance to an insurgency designed to remove the Old World Powers from the North America continent. Jefferson loved his New World (America) as he referred to it and did not care for the Old World (foreign countries). He thought of the foreign lands ads uncivilized and liked to try and help foreign countries by influencing them with his own policies that he used in the Americas. His need to put the Americas above foreign relations drove Jefferson to make heinous operations occur.
The selection of Secret And Sanctioned was written as away for the author to make sure that credit was due to historical clandestine activities that happened during the time of the American Pre-Cold War. Different political leaders are singled out and written about in this book, some examples of them are as follows: Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, George Bush. Giving the subject and an expanse of two hundreds and four years. The covert operations included in this edition include kidnapping, theft, propaganda, and espionage.
One case scenario is when Abraham Lincoln used several spies and influential people as a means to turn the masses in North America and Europe against the Confederacy. His motive was that he could bring the Union together if he could see that the people held animosity towards the Confederacy during the war. After he had been successful in that mission he established the first intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, now known as CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The CIA became a nig part in the Iran-Contra affair during the term of former President George Bush. Bush’s hands were tied because of the law he forced to pass to limit the CIA’s capabilities in the conflict.
Secret And Sanctioned touches each subject, thoroughly giving the reader the straight facts and letting the reader in on the secrets of the past. The central part of the book is to let the readers in on the truth, to inform the readers that at almost every time in history dishonest dealings were going on during the American Cold War. This book addresses the facts about what occurrences happened during and Washington’s term as well as future leaders of America. Throughout the book, many clandestine operations are recounted. While I have given some examples, it should be apparent that the examples I have given are well rounded enough to give the reader an insight into how clandestine activities have affected the country throughout the terms of the nation’s many leaders.
Secret and Sanctioned proved to be a very resourceful book. It was able to help me understand the United States government both in the past tense and present tense. When I had initially started to read this volume I hadn’t quite understood what types of clandestine activities had been involved with throughout the years. My knowledge of clandestine operations proved to be elementary as I read further into the book allowing me to realize that I had been very na?ve with what was going on in America.
Knott’s foremost reason for writing Secret and Sanctioned was to inform the public that clandestine activities were indeed present during the American Cold War and in earlier generations. His writing technique is very straightforward and factual. Precise in his style by only permitting the facts to be addressed. His narration’s of each episode were unbiased and let the readers read without getting the impression that he would have believe that the episode was either right or wrong. Secret and Sanctioned both cleared up my beliefs and altered my opinion of certain president’s dealings. Such as Washington, Lincoln, Adams etc. This book was very informative and spellbinding to read. It keeps you on your toes and allows the readers to judge for themselves. Knott’s gives straight facts and keeps his opinions to himself. His technique is thorough in content and descriptive.
Secret and Sanctioned is excellent reading material for anyone who would like to learn about clandestine activities involving our Forefathers and some of our other infamous presidents. It helps to clear up information that you may have obtained in more ineffectual way. American Politics have been present to me in a more direct manner through this book. Secret and Sanctioned is definitely a good book to read when you want to know why politicians act the way they act today. This book also showed me how much power the president has.
Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations
And the American Presidency. By Stephan F. Knott.
University of Oxford Press, 1996. 258pp.