Cory Biram

Date of Graduation

Summer 2013


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Dennis Bowden


At a time when the United States military is reducing its commitments to the Global War on Terrorism and reassessing how it will manage limited resources in a budget- constrained environment, the country is at a critical juncture in which it must evaluate its foreign policy and counterterrorism strategy. The United States faces this challenge on the heels of twelve years of war that saw the decline of its reputation throughout the world. It is vital that the United States Government and the American people carefully scrutinize the policies and activities the United States will pursue during this challenging time. This thesis assists with these efforts by examining one foreign policy tool, the use of covert action. Based on an examination of publicly available information on this complex foreign policy instrument, I conclude that covert operations often contradict and undermine American principles of democracy and international law. Additionally, this work demonstrates that past U.S. covert action has a poor record of success and has frequently caused unintended negative consequences. To create an international environment more favorable to U.S. interests, this thesis suggests that the United States should reconfigure its concept of national security around an enduring objective of global human security. A critical early step in this process should be the abandonment of covert action.


covert action, intelligence, reform, national security, CIA, foreign policy

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


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