June 8, 1961 – CIA Director Allen W. Dulles Argues for “Special Covert Ops Group” With Autonomous Ability to Approve Operations

On this day in history, CIA Director Allen Dulles began a bid by the agency to increase its purview to carry out covert operations. As John Prados and Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi point out, writing for the George Washington University National Security Archive:

Intelligence practice has always been a matter of indirection, secrecy and deceit. In United States covert operations this has included applying the technique of “plausible deniability.” Under that concept operations and activities are carried out in such fashion as to keep hidden the hand of the CIA or the United States, or in other ways to make it possible to deny U.S. involvement.”

Allen Dulles

During the Cold War era, they report, “plausible deniability was standard procedure.”

You can read a history of how the Special Ops program evolved and how it was used in this online briefing book: Understanding the CIA: How Covert (and Overt) Operations Were Proposed and Approved during the Cold War: New Collection of Declassified Documents Illuminates the Role of Presidents and Top Advisers in Guiding and Sanctioning CIA Activities from Cuba to Africa, 1961-1974.

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