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Richard Immerman – From the OSS to the CIA: Whither Go Covert Operations?

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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 Richard Immerman (Temple University) – From the OSS to the CIA:Whither Go Covert Operations?

Historians continue to wrestle with the riddle of the CIA’s fundamental identity. Is it the linear descendent of the World War II OSS? What is the relationship among its diverse missions and directorates, especially analysis and operations? What about the “Company” is fact, and what is fiction? In an effort to decipher the enigma that is the CIA, this paper explores the convoluted path by which it acquired responsibility for the planning and execution of covert operations, including those that required training in, inciting, or initiating violence. I argue that that the CIA’s capability to conduct these operations, the capability that is so integral to its identity as well as its mission, did not evolve linearly from the OSS but was a product of a confluence of strategic, political, and organizational interests that transformed the CIA’s founders’ original intent.

Richard H. Immerman is Professor and Edward J. Buthusiem Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in History at Temple University and the Marvin Wachman Director of its Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy. His most recent book is Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz, and his is currently writing The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA. From September 2007-December 2008 Immerman served as Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Integrity and Standards and Analytic Ombudsman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Contact information: Department of History, Temple University, Gladfelter 915, 1115 W. Berks St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA.

Email: rimmerma@temple.edu

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