Re: Covert vs Clanedstine, was Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 21:37:39 MST

On Saturday, November 24, 2001 9:44 PM Michael M. Butler
> Significant sidebar:
> Lots of people don't keep this distinction in mind, and it's a useful one,
> so at the risk of sounding too much like an armchair saber rattler or
> There is an important notional distinction between "covert" and
> Covert: an operation or event whose source is concealed or deniable.
> A failed covert activity gets outed--and either categorically denied or
> eventually acknowledged, sometimes (eventually) both. The objective is
> to sanitize/sterilize the identity or allegiance of the operators, not
> the operation. Examples abound.
> Clandestine: an operation whose very existence _remains concealed_
> The world at large, and the target in particular, stays unaware that the
> or event in question ever took place. Hypothetical example: US special ops
> stealing or sabotaging suitcase nukes.

Okay, I'll buy your distinction. However, most of what are put into the
first bin -- covert operations -- are actually only covert from US public.
If the CIA is funding or training a local group to overthrow some government
wherever, usually the people in that country know the US government is
behind it. (See _Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century_ by
Angelo Codevilla for more on this. My review of it is at


Daniel Ust

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