Nick Cullather -The CIA, the Culture of Intelligence Failure and the Bogotázo of 1948

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Event Date: 29 April – 1 May 2011
East Midlands Conference Centre
University of Nottingham  
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RJ



Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory


Professor Nick Cullather (Indiana University) – The CIA, the Culture of Intelligence failure, and the Bogotazo episode of 1948

The notion of ‘central intelligence’ was alien to American ears in 1946. Americans learned what to expect from the CIA through a recurring political ritual known as an ‘intelligence failure.’ Instead of lowering expectations, intelligence failures reminded Americans of the crucial role of intelligence, the sacrifices they were willing to make to get it, and the deference owed to intelligence professionals.  When a riot disrupted the OAS conference in 1948, Congress declared it “a Latin Pearl Harbor” and blamed the infant agency for failing to sound the alarm.  This first episode revealed  how much the new spy service depended on maintaining the public’s faith in prediction.

Nick Cullather is associate professor of History at Indiana University.  He is author of The Hungry World:  America’s Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia (2010) and Secret History:  The Declassified Account of the CIA’s Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954 (2006).

Contact details: History Department, Indiana University, Ballantine Hall, Bloomington, IN 47405.

E-mail:  ncullath@indiana.edu

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