Under the general label of "subversion," covert operations in fact have a lengthy history in warfare. Fomentation of rebellions by agents of another power has occurred many times in history; examples are British plots with royalist agents against Napoleon (1800–1804), French schemes to overthrow the government of Mexico (1861–1867), German plots in Mexico, Persia, and Turkey (1912–1916), and various governments' machinations during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Recruitment and employment of mercenaries, which can be categorized as a paramilitary activity, dates to at least the eleventh century, and accounts for a substantial fraction of forces in the field during periods of the Middle Ages. A major covert paramilitary operation, which eventually ended in full-scale military intervention, was France's provision of experts and equipment to rebels during the American Revolution (1777–1778). Spanish guerrillas fighting the French Empire (1807–1814) made a major contribution to the downfall of Napoleon I, while Boer commandos raiding into British South Africa (1895–1899) set the stage for the Second Boer War. An example of a political action would be the efforts of Sir William Stephenson and the unit he led, British Security Coordination, to encourage U.S. entry into World War II during 1940–1941.
While states and actors in international relations have always made efforts to convince audiences that their course is the righteous one, the targets of these information campaigns have shifted gradually over time. Propagandists in the American Revolution (1775–1783) sought to convince other Americans to support the rebellion and not the British Crown. In the French Revolution and the succeeding Napoleonic wars (1789–1815) the objects were similarly to justify actions by one's own side and denigrate the enemy. By the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), when the Paris Commune printed leaflets it distributed to German soldiers in an effort to dissuade them from continuing the fight, the target of propaganda began shifting to the adversary side.
During World War I (1914–1918) the whole idea of propaganda was taken to a new level. Possibly because the question of who was responsible for that conflict was deemed so controversial, and possibly due to its intensity as modern "total" war, World War I brought a focused practice of propaganda. As the war continued, with frustrations mounting at the inability to achieve progress on the battlefront, and mutinies of soldiers in the French and Russian armies and sailors in the German navy, ideas for propaganda seemed more and more to have practical application. Propaganda coupled with political action figured in the German decision to provide a train and free passage home for Russian revolutionaries exiled in Switzerland, persons who eventually played key roles in the overthrow of the Russian monarchy. British propaganda in the United States plus astute leaks of intelligence (a telegram from the German foreign minister indicating an intention to conduct subversive activities in the Americas) had an important effect on the U.S. decision to enter the war.
There were more developments during the period 1919–1939. Nazi Germany for the first time created a cabinet-level government department named the Ministry of Propaganda. Since that time the propaganda and public relations roles of officials working in the information ministries of many nations have come to overshadow their role of providing knowledge to citizens. The Germans also created templates for effective propaganda techniques and built theories around them. Although the term "psychological warfare" is best credited to World War II, the main techniques and tenets of the theory existed by the 1930s and were tested by Germany, Italy, and Russia in their interventions in the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish war also proved important to the evolution of paramilitary operations, with the phrase "fifth column" used to denote a (subversive) force that attacks the adversary from within at the orders of an external foe, originating in that civil war.
World War II (1939–1945) featured the use of covert operations by all sides and the introduction of almost all the techniques utilized in modern times. The style of political manipulation used by Germany in Norway, Hungary, Romania, by Japan in India, Burma, French Indochina, by Great Britain in the Middle East, and by the United States in French North Africa all carried traditional propaganda activities to a new level and essentially created modern political action. The rise of popular resistance movements, to Germany in Europe—and to Japan in the Philippines, Burma, and China—brought demands for external assistance and led to the creation of organizations specialized in working with guerrilla movements, such as Great Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE). The ability of the resistance movements to conduct systematic activities behind enemy lines, including both simple espionage and more forceful sabotage and ambush, affirmed the notion that a "fifth column" could function, leading to the postwar creation of "stay-behind networks" intended to replicate the functions of the World War II resistance. At the same time, the notion of supplementing resistance activities with teams of specialists from the out-side, and reinforcing their actions with carefully targeted commando raids, added depth and comprehensiveness to the entire endeavor. This carried paramilitary operations to a new level as well.
One resistance function added sabotage to older forms of subversion. Sabotage was used against enemy transportation systems, communications networks, and war production. These tactics could be useful in specific situations, such as the work of the French resistance in hampering German transport, and thus the response to the 1944 invasion of Normandy. The technique could also work generally, reducing war production or inflicting delays on critical shipments. In the sense of World War II as a "total" war, the subversive effort against the enemy war economy could be fitted together with regular military operations, such as the bombing of factories, and with import-export controls, preclusive buying of raw materials, and other measures to affect the adversary's economy. The experience brought a realization that a nation could wage economic warfare. Ultimately this added a new category to the varieties of covert operations.
Psychological warfare also attained new levels during World War II. The growth of electronic means of communication started before the war, and by 1939 had reached the point that broadcast radio was widely distributed among populations in every nation. This created a new field for the dissemination of propaganda, and every belligerent was careful to put its message on the airwaves. By the same token, one could mimic and masquerade as the enemy's radio broadcasters, gaining credibility for a propaganda message that might otherwise be rejected. This in turn opened a field in "black" and "gray" media operations, which pretended to various degrees to be those of the adversary.
In leaflets and newspapers and other older techniques, World War II brought a more systematic approach to psychological warfare. Scientific research became a major contributor, with theories of how people absorb information, how they build belief systems, and why people change their minds. Psychological warfare planners began to make decisions on complete campaigns, with comprehensive activities in many media, consistent themes across the different forms, messages evolving over time (and modified to take into account actual developments on the war fronts), and specific goals and objectives. Opinion research and prisoner interrogation became an important guide for ways to frame the psychological warfare themes.
A further major development of World War II would be that belligerents realized that these distinct elements of covert operations could be combined into coherent efforts with multiple facets. In addition, one could build a "strategy," specific plans using numerous tactics to gain particular objectives. It is instructive that in at least three of the crucial war theaters of 1939–1945—western Europe, the Middle East, and South-east/East Asia—the Anglo-American alliance created specialized headquarters to control all covert operations.
One more innovation of the 1939–1945 period was the creation of national-level organizations to carry out these activities. On the American side, for example, it is of interest that the initial entity in this field was formed to manage propaganda activity. This unit, the Office of the Coordinator of Information, soon metamorphosed into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a national intelligence organization headed by the same individual (William J. Donovan). The propaganda function continued to be consolidated, but under a second entity, the Office of War Information. Over a very short time the OSS became a full-service intelligence organization. Its branches for intelligence reporting (Research and Analysis), counterespionage (called X-2), and spying (Special Intelligence) were under a deputy director for intelligence and are not of concern here. But the OSS had a separate directorate for operations and that included branches for special operations (which worked with resistance networks), morale operations (for psychological warfare of the "black" and "gray" varieties), a set of operations groups (middle-size commando units tasked with specific targets), a maritime unit (for naval covert operations where necessary, but mainly to transport OSS officers and supply shipments to points behind enemy lines), and a special projects office (a parallel activity for highly sensitive operations, especially ones related to then-exotic weapons, such as atomic bombs or biological weaponry). At its late-1944 peak the OSS employed almost 13,000 men and women, about 7,500 of them overseas, with a fiscal year 1945 budget (in then-year dollars) of $43 million.
At the field level, OSS operations were carried out by "detachments." For example, OSS Detachment 101 served in Burma and mobilized an army of Kachin tribesmen against the Japanese. Detachment 202 worked in China, training nationalist Chinese, carrying out some sabotage missions, and having some contacts with the Chinese communists. In Europe, OSS detachments worked in the Mediterranean, where they assisted resistance forces in Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, and later in northern Italy. These operations succeeded an initial OSS penetration into French North Africa, from which later activities were controlled. Western European activities were controlled from London and included paramilitary actions in France, Norway, Germany, and Austria. In every one of these areas the OSS maintained a delicate relationship with allies, including secret services of Great Britain, France, and China. The covert operators of the OSS simultaneously learned from their allies and cooperated with them, but the nations frequently had cross-cutting purposes in local situations.
With the end of the war, President Harry S. Truman reorganized U.S. intelligence. Believing the existing OSS to have become superfluous, Truman dissolved it on 20 September 1945. The organization's analytical arm was folded into the Department of State as the Office of Research and Intelligence. The OSS espionage elements were attached to the Department of War as the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). Field detachments were broken up, with some personnel continuing on with the SSU, some going to related groups like the army's Counterintelligence Corps, and others demobilized. Psychological warfare capability at a reduced level continued within the army, and its ranger battalions contained whatever commando and unconventional warfare capability remained. The capacity for conducting paramilitary operations was entirely eliminated.
Two factors combined to change the system introduced in the immediate postwar period. One was President Truman's continuing dissatisfaction with the organizational structure of U.S. intelligence. In January 1946, Truman introduced an executive oversight body he called the National Intelligence Authority to supervise the work of a new director of central intelligence (DCI) who would run a central intelligence group. The new arrangement continued to be unsatisfactory and in 1947, when Truman designated omnibus legislation to deal with universal military training, create a national military establishment and secretary of defense, as well as the National Security Council, the president included provisions for the new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Signed into law on 26 July 1947, the National Security Act of 1947 continues to this day as the statutory authority underlying the CIA. Apart from laws that govern restricted aspects of intelligence work, such as retirement policy, the DCI's responsibility to safeguard sources and methods, the public identification of undercover intelligence officers, and the like, the 1947 act is the only charter the agency has. This is significant for covert operations because the 1947 act says nothing about them. Instead, all covert operations (and many other CIA activities as well) have been based on a single clause of the law, which states that the CIA can "perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct." The mandate was simultaneously incredibly broad, very thin, and ambiguous, so much so that on at least four occasions (1947, 1962, 1969, and 1974) lawyers in the office of the CIA's general counsel warned that the statutory authorization was insufficient to cover covert operations.
The second factor that transformed intelligence roles and missions was the growth of hostility between the United States and Russia, which gave rise to the Cold War. This ideological conflict pitted democratic ideals against the authoritarian communist politics of Russia (then called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The Cold War struggle seemed to call for the kind of all-out commitment, including covert operations, that had characterized World War II. Thus the NSC directive on covert operations made explicit reference to communism and Russia in establishing provisions for covert action.
In response to demands for action the U.S. intelligence community and the executive branch quickly devised new entities for covert operations. The CIA, Department of State, and military pooled personnel and resources to form the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which assumed the mantle of authority. The NSC 10/2 directive had specifically ordered the CIA to create the Office of Special Projects, much like the OSS did, for this purpose, and this unit, renamed OPC, also absorbed the Special Procedures Group the CIA had formed to carry out psychological warfare in December 1947. By 1949, OPC had 302 personnel, seven overseas stations, and a budget of $4.7 million. By 1952 personnel had risen to 2,812 plus 3,142 contract employees, who were spending $82 million and working from forty-seven overseas stations.
One of the first major U.S. covert operations was intervention in Italian politics in 1947–1948 to prevent an electoral victory by the Italian communist party. This political action started a lengthy involvement in Italy, which continued through at least the 1970s; it also set the standard for CIA political action programs. A similar intervention in France was designed to weaken the French communist party, while actions on the propaganda/psychological warfare front included funding journals and newspapers (the CIA would have a controlling interest in the Rome Daily American, for example), the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the World Assembly of Youth, the "gray" broadcast station Radio Free Europe, and the "black" (at least initially) station Radio Liberty. Both the CIA and OPC began programs to furnish financial support to publications and books deemed suitable for advancing the anticommunist cause, and money was laundered through the Marshall Plan and the Ford Foundation among others. Much of this knowledge emerged in a spate of revelations in 1967, forcing President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint a special commission under deputy attorney general Nicolas de B. Katzenbach to investigate these political actions. One lesson that would be repeatedly relearned is that covert operations are fraught with political consequence for the initiator as well as the target.
Paramilitary operations got under way in collaboration with the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The Americans made a start in 1950–1952 by joining in an attempt to overthrow the communist government of Albania. The OPC, by this time, had lost its institutional independence and become part of the Directorate of Plans (DDP) within the CIA (in another 1952 reorganization the OPC and the directorate's other major unit, the espionage-centered Office of Special Operations, would be entirely merged) so that the actor on the American side of these operations was officially CIA. The CIA and SIS were allied in paramilitary operations into Russia (now Ukraine and Belarus), Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Much of the burden in those operations was carried by the SIS, but in Poland, where there would be another combined paramilitary-political action, the CIA carried the burden. Every one of these operations was known to the adversary and had been penetrated by means of the Russians placing spies of their own within the CIA–SIS apparatus. All the operations failed by 1953. (However, it should be noted that anticommunist Russians continued efforts to make some kind of inroad into the USSR until at least the late 1950s.) The CIA moved on to greener pastures. The lesson here would be that covert operations against the communist enemy—the mandated target when the CIA created its covert operations program—were too difficult to carry out.
In general, operations proved most successful where the CIA had freedom of movement and good access, which in this period meant western Europe. A particular concern was the creation of stay-behind networks that would function just like the World War II resistance had in the event the Russians overran western Europe in a future war. Such nets were successfully created in virtually every western European country from Italy to Norway, including neutrals such as Sweden and even nations under military occupation like Austria. In some countries the secret networks were tied in to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense planning. In all of them the conservative political bent of adherents to the groups gave the CIA certain political contacts. Secrecy lasted for several decades, until a rash of detailed revelations during the early 1980s led to controversy, with parliamentary inquiries in more than one European country and attendant embarrassment for the United States. The lesson here contradicts an aphorism often heard from intelligence officers, that successes remain secret while only failures become known to the public. More accurately, every covert operation above a certain size will ultimately become known.
It would be during the early 1950s that the CIA's Directorate of Plans achieved its classic covert victories. One came in Iran in 1953 in conjunction with SIS, where the Americans and British induced an unusual coup in which a constitutional monarch overthrew the government of his own country. Here the shah of Iran, relying upon popular support of the CIA, had mobilized and ousted a left-wing populist cabinet to create a virtual military dictatorship. In another victory in 1954, the CIA overthrew the elected Labor Party (socialist to communist ideologically) government of Guatemala, through a combination of psychological warfare, paramilitary action by a small force, and diplomatic pressure. Again the successor government was a military dictatorship.
The shah of Iran managed to hold on to power through the late 1970s by a combination of economic modernization and political repression, but the suppression of moderate political forces in his country forced opposition to align with a fundamentalist religious movement that ultimately toppled the shah in a 1979 revolution. At that time the U.S. embassy would be taken over, and American diplomats (and the officers of the CIA station) held hostage for 444 days, with the United States painted as the "Great Satan" to the Iranian public. In the years since the Iranian revolution, the United States was unable to restore a balanced relationship with Iran. Worse, the Iranians supported terrorist groups in the Middle East through the 1980s, which significantly harmed American interests and took lives, hostages, and made other depredations in a succession of incidents.
In Guatemala the military government installed by the covert operation replaced a democratic tradition and handed power to other military regimes or authoritarian oligarchies that maintained authority by high security. Beginning in 1968 the military inaugurated a war against the peasantry that endured into the late 1990s, leaving more than half the population of the country displaced internally and with a death toll in excess of 60,000.
A lesson here is that covert operations successes do not always lead to achievements to be proud of, possibly due to the moral, political, and empirical compromises necessary in pursuit of the short-term action. In addition, long-term effects can be more detrimental to U.S. interests than the improvements gained by the original success.
A further characteristic of these covert operations is that they were aimed not at Russia or its Soviet bloc but at Third World countries. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration in the end would be very active in covert operations, all of them against putative communist foes, and almost all in the Third World. Among these were projects carried out in Vietnam (1954–1956 paramilitary efforts), Eastern Europe (1953–1956 psychological warfare), Indonesia (1958 paramilitary), Laos (1958 political action; 1959–on paramilitary), Tibet (1959–on paramilitary), Cuba (1960–on paramilitary and economic warfare), and Congo (1960–on). Eisenhower bequeathed to John F. Kennedy a number of these ongoing activities. President Kennedy actually assumed the entire blame for the dismal CIA failure at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, an operation whose dimensions had been set by his predecessor.
Aside from its effects on world opinion of the United States and consequences in Latin American diplomacy, the Bay of Pigs failure had a major impact on U.S. national security policy overall. President Kennedy and his advisers were induced to review ways of making policy, approving covert operations, and U.S. capabilities for covert and unconventional warfare. Kennedy determined to make the U.S. military, not the CIA, responsible for all paramilitary activity that met certain criteria. Kennedy also credited the CIA failure with instilling in him a new attitude of skepticism regarding advice from government bureaucrats. Finally, at the most fundamental level, Kennedy intimates report that in the wake of the Bay of Pigs failure, the president actually considered breaking up the CIA.
While President Kennedy changed the way he did business, he did not reduce reliance on CIA covert operations. Kennedy continued all the covert actions that had been in progress when he came to office. Far from giving up on the Cuba action after the Bay of Pigs disaster, he ordered a renewed project called Mongoose. Kennedy added major covert operations in Vietnam. In fact, where the Eisenhower administration had approved 104 covert operations in eight years, Kennedy's approved 163 in slightly more than three years. From political action in British Guiana to reorganized activity in Africa, the CIA's work was global during this period. Part of the rise in numbers of approvals can be accounted for by more stringent rules on what kinds of covert operations required National Security Council subcommittee approval—one post–Bay of Pigs reform—but reliance on the method nevertheless remained strong.
Kennedy's rules on approvals began an evolution of procedures, each time more explicit, that endured at least through the 1980s and that came to involve Congress as well as the executive branch. Even under the Kennedy-Johnson rules, most covert actions never rose to the NSC level. The Richard M. Nixon administration added a requirement that its NSC monitoring unit, called the 40 Committee, review annually the covert operations that were in progress. In 1974 reporting requirements expanded into Congress, with the CIA required to report to eight different committees under the Hughes-Ryan Amendment. The agency chafed under this restriction and later won a reduction in the reporting requirements to where notifications must go to the Select Intelligence Committee in the Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House of Representatives. A "presidential finding" that a given operation is in the national security interests of the United States is the required notification. These findings, in turn, came into question during the Iran-Contra affair of the late 1980s, which raised questions as to whether findings could be retroactive, unwritten ("mental" in the phrase of Attorney General Edwin Meese), furnished after the activities in question had been carried out, and so on. Reforms that followed clarified the presidential finding system such that the documents are provided in advance, kept current, that covert operations are of a certain size, and provide other important details.
For a brief period during the Gerald R. Ford administration (1976–1977) the executive branch maintained its own Intelligence Oversight Board to monitor the appropriateness and implementation of covert operations. Otherwise this has been among many functions of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), except during the James Earl Carter administration (1977–1981) when that entity was temporarily abolished. Subject to presidential goals, style, and whims, such executive monitoring has been of limited utility; for example, it did not protect President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) from the excesses of Iran-Contra or other difficulties attributable to highhanded actions by his director of central intelligence, William J. Casey. Meanwhile, the NSC group approving covert operations has gone through a series of identity changes: 303 Committee (Johnson administration), 40 Committee (Nixon/Ford administrations), NSC Special Coordinating Committee (Carter administration), National Security Planning Group (Reagan administration), NSC Deputies Committee (George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations); but the unit has retained essentially the same membership in terms of the offices held by participants.
The Johnson administration ended the covert operation against Cuba and phased out CIA action in the Congo. However, it encouraged a coup in Ghana and brought major intelligence resources to bear in Bolivia against Che Guevara, a hero of the Cuban revolution. In Chile the Johnson administration carried out a political action during the 1964 elections to prevent any victory by Chilean socialists. In Asia, the Johnson-era CIA terminated the Tibetan paramilitary operation, attempted a political action in Indonesia (1965–1966), and carried out full-scale secret wars in Laos and South Vietnam. Johnson also continued CIA funding for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty's "gray" psychological warfare campaign.
In 1971, during the Nixon administration, funding for the radios stopped, no longer supported by Congress. This administration continued the secret wars in South Vietnam and Laos and escalated the latter by bringing into it whole battalions and artillery units of third-country nationals (in this case, Thais). The CIA's Directorate of Plans was retitled the Directorate of Operations. To benefit Israel, the administration carried out a mid-intensity paramilitary campaign in Iraq, arming Kurdish tribesmen to fight the national government. Nixon's best-known covert operation would be a large-scale political action in Chile aimed at preventing the emergence of socialist government and, when that failed, at creating such economic and social dislocation in Chile that the government of President Salvador Allende would topple. That occurred in 1973, giving way to a military dictatorship that held sway until the early 1990s. At the close of the century, General Augusto Pinochet, leader of the Chilean military junta, was defending himself from an array of foreign and Chilean criminal indictments flowing from his takeover and governance. The shift in international legal norms toward greater attention to human rights issues, termination of sovereign immunity in mass murder cases, and the absence of a statute of limitations for war crimes complicated recruitment for covert operations in the twenty-first century.
The end of America's Vietnam War (1961–1975), in which U.S. combat operations terminated in early 1973, brought a reduction in CIA covert operations capabilities as experts retired, their contracts were not renewed, and CIA proprietaries such as Air America were liquidated. One consequence would be fewer covert operations through the 1970s. The Ford administration initiated one significant paramilitary campaign in Angola, against a socialist majority party backed by Cubans and Russians. Halted by a Senate amendment prohibiting expenditure of funds, the Angola action attained the distinction of being the only covert operation formally ended by a congressional vote. The Carter administration worried about Angola but focused its covert efforts in west Africa and particularly Afghanistan, after the Russian intervention there at the end of 1979. The latter would be a fresh CIA multilateral initiative, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and China enlisted to assist a paramilitary effort.
William J. Casey ran the CIA for the Reagan administration between 1981 and 1987. This period was more active for covert operations than any time since the Eisenhower years. Under Casey the CIA resumed covert assistance in Angola and conducted additional paramilitary campaigns in Mozambique, Chad/Libya, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Iran, and Nicaragua. It was reported in 1984 that fifty major covert operations were in progress at that time as compared to ten during the final year of the Carter administration.
An operation the CIA conducted at a low level in Cambodia had the United States in support of a communist faction that had murdered more than a million people when it was in power. In both Cambodia and Afghanistan, the United States was allied with erstwhile enemy the People's Republic of China. Afghanistan would be the closest the CIA came to a classic covert victory in the 1980s. Fundamentalist Muslim groups—armed by the CIA and trained by the United States—and Pakistan fought the Russians to a standstill and forced them to withdraw in 1989. But neither the CIA nor the Russians stopped aid to their respective factions in Afghanistan until 1992; a decade later fighting was still disrupting that country and had brought to power a faction that shielded terrorists whom the United States considered a major threat to its national security. Worse still, the terrorists benefited from CIA training—Arabs actually have a term, "American Afghan," for Muslim fundamentalist fighters who got their start in the CIA war of 1980–1989—and the sophisticated weapons the agency provided. In the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., one irony would be the fact that this action could lead the United States into an alliance with Russia in a further covert operation in Afghanistan.
In Latin America a CIA covert operation of the Reagan years led to a constitutional crisis in the United States. This was the paramilitary effort against the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Standard paramilitary tactics proved ineffective enough that the CIA resorted to third-country nationals and a CIA-directed ("unilateral" is the term) mining campaign against Nicaraguan ports. The CIA then misled Congress about these actions, resulting in a suspension of funds to the agency campaign. The zealous CIA director Casey combined with White House NSC staff aides to run the covert operation outside the system, using money derived from the sale of weapons to Iran. This involved President Reagan in several violations of U.S. law and called his leadership into question. The formal CIA program eventually resumed, and a negotiated end to Central American fighting ended the bloodshed, but in the United States a special prosecutor appointed by the court continued investigations and prosecutions of officials involved in these events until well into the administration of President George H. W. Bush.
Covert actions did not end with Reagan. In the Bush administration there were CIA paramilitary efforts in Iraq after the Gulf War of 1991 and in Panama (1989). The CIA would also become quite involved in political action in Somalia in conjunction with the U.S. humanitarian intervention there (1992–1993). For the most part, however, the time is too recent to report very much regarding covert operations during either the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Judging from the policy statements, however, a high proportion of these can be expected to have been against such "nonstate actors" as drug cartels and terrorist groups. Prime examples are the actions initiated globally by the United States following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.