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Covert Action

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In what is now seen as the twilight of the Cold War, James E. Baker and I published a book entitled Regulating Covert Action: Practices, Contexts, and Policies of Covert Coercion Abroad in International and American Law.' A variety of covert activities were commonly being conducted in international politics in the use of military, economic, diplomatic, and propaganda instruments. Even when certain important phases in the applications of any of these instruments to particular cases were manifestly overt, they were often preceded and followed by covert phases. One general popular response was that all covert activity, as distinct from intelligence collection, is unlawful. Our study attempted to assess, realistically, the extent, if any, to which, or the conditions under which, the international legal process viewed covert actions as lawful.

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