Summary: Legacy of Ashes

Part One

  1. This part discusses the origin of the spy business in the United States and how it serviced the American people against any plot from its international enemies. The section indicates how General Donovan through his intelligence services, OSS, would become part of the military unit that aided in gather intelligence. “they wanted the spy service to serve the, not the president.” (5).
  2. The formation of the Central Intelligence Group was inaugurated by the presidential appointment under President Harry Truman. Initially, there were no “given great responsibility without equivalent authority” provided for the directors (14). The only purpose of the intelligence was to provide daily information to the president on what was happening around the world in secret. But, the group did not have an actual office, and its temporary office was “situated in Berlin” (15).
  3. Russian and British intelligence was countering the spread of American knowledge around the world. However, Russian intelligence was more than two centuries old, and their spies were all over. Thus, the country was always ahead when it came to understanding aspects such as “development of the cold war” (21). Hence, just like the British and Russian spies, the American spies provided detailed information of what plans the east and the west plotted in the events of the cold war.
  4. The structural hierarchy, the growth of power and institutionalization of the capital aid for the CIA was determined in the 1940s (30). The organization’s main work was “covert operations which remained its main duty for more than twenty years.” (30). The ability to understand its role led to the expansion of the CIA. Under the authority and power of Frank Wiesner, “more American spies were recruited from the Pentagon to Park Avenue to Yale and Harvard as well as Princeton” due to their talents (33). Also, at least “33-stations were set up as home offices for organization within six months in different cities.” (33).


Part Two

  1. CIA’s role in the United States, as well as covert operations around the world, were determined during President Eisenhower’s era. The president wanted an organization that could do the dirty work for him without implicating the presidency, the white house or the executive. Their roles included “editing a breaking story to make sure an irritating field foreigner was removed from American soil or improve covert options in other regions including Tokyo” (77). The other was that the CIA would use any force or power in them, in any country, from “bribery to coercion to brute forces as well as the use of stealth and cunning tricks” (80). The mission was clear, regardless of position held, including “ambassadors” (79), intelligence was to be gathered and presented to the president.
  2. The greatest achievement of the CIA was to gather information about the oil-deposits of the Iranian oil pits which the British had secured the buy of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (82). America’s military took over Iran’s airports and roads of transport which secured power for the west. As a result, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt held a meeting in Tehran in December 1943 leaving Iran a dry country without any support (82).
  3. The CIA credibility was tested in the Guatemalan and Nicaragua’s war. The CIA was involved in numerous “unethical actions” (104) where politics was played. The idea was to intentionally sabotage the Guatemala where the president, Jacobo Arbenz, was to be overthrown by rebels led by Castillo Armas (93). The CIA played an integral part in aiding the assassination of dozens of Guatemalans to ensure that Castillo won the coup and evicted the president from power. This brought a lot of controversies back in America especially with the correspondent news from leading media houses (104).
  4. Congress questioned the use of the CIA since its essential aid in the Iron Curtain issue (105). Representatives wanted to know what the purpose of the organization was about and how it serviced America. But, the CIA was protected from any public scrutiny including its operations, capital incentives and its efficiencies (105).
  5. The actual duty of the CIA was developed where foreign political involvement was its main duty (119). The CIA would operate outside American borders including operations to do with America’s most significant allies and enemies such as Japan (117). The services were coordinated by ambassadors who served as conduits to providing information to the American presidents.


Part Three

  1. The issue in supporting the Dominican tyrant, Trujillo determined the power of the CIA. America supported the tyrant but, a wave of opposition against the leader rose. The CIA advised President Kennedy not to be involved since it would implicate the nation and the organization (172).
  2. The CIA work in the western hemisphere was to predict whether countries such as Brazil would become “the second Cuba” which America did not want (189). But, the CIA’s capability was in doubt compared to Russia’s spy agency. The efforts to boost the CIA credibility was needed (190).
  3. No credible information was ever collected on Cuba’s missile armament. It took “over forty years” (199) to determine that Cuba was gearing into the armament of missiles against America.
  4. CIA was used to build guerilla warfare in Vietnam which would identify America’s hold in the country.



  1. How come there is little information about the undertakings of the CIA in different countries?
  2. Does the law safeguard the work of the CIA without public knowledge?
  3. Is there need to

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