The Administration: The Silent Service

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What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.

— Sun Tzu, 6th Century B.C.

Chinese military theorist

Inside a U.S. ferret satellite flashing around the earth at 17,000 m.p.h., supersensitive instruments intercept and flick back to Virginia a radio message between Moscow and a Soviet submarine in the Pacific. In Laos, an American listens attentively to the words of a cocktail waiter, then slips him a bar of silver. In an office of the U.S. embassy in Bonn, a rotund Sovietologist digests a stack of reports that may originate from any one of a thousand sources —a barber in East Berlin, a whorehouse madam in Vienna, a U.S. electronics salesman in Darmstadt, an Eastern European propaganda broadside. At an airfield on Taiwan, a black U-2 reconnaissance plane with a Nationalist Chinese pilot at the controls soars off the runway, bound for skies 15 miles above Red China on a photographic mission.

Such is the spiderweb scope and space-age sophistication of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the nation's deep-secret seeker of foreknowledge in the dim, cold demi-world of international intelligence. CIA is America's chief combatant in what Secretary of State Dean Rusk calls "a tough struggle going on in the back alleys all over the world, a never-ending war, and there's no quarter asked and none given."

Cacophony of Protest. So cloaked and gagged is CIA's operation that a majority of Americans cannot recite even its most dramatic feats: its pinpoint reporting about day-by-day developments leading to the explosion of Red China's first nuclear device, its brilliant success in wiretapping Soviet army headquarters in East Berlin,* its nick-of-time revelation in 1962 that Russian missile bases were abuilding in Cuba. Even more mysterious to most Americans than CIA itself is its director, Richard McGarrah Helms, 53, an intense, controlled, self-effacing professional who holds one of the most delicate and crucial posts in official Washington—and whose name has yet to appear in Who's Who in America. Dick Helms has been, in Washington parlance, a "spook" for nearly 25 years. He is a veteran of some of the agency's most labyrinthine operations—from masterminding double agents working at the very heart of Kremlin intelligence to supervising covert U.S. operations that kept the Congo out of Communist control.

Yet no amount of expertise in back-alley battling or electronic espionage could have prepared Helms or CIA for the cacophony of protest that arose last week over yet another facet of U.S. intelligence—the agency's undercover funding of American and international students' associations.

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