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Parent Issue
Day
31
Month
January
Year
1975
OCR Text

UNDERCOVER: THE MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN SECRET AGENT, by h. lloward Munt, BerkleyPutnam, SH5. Books and exposés on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) domínate the media at present, with Congress and the President jumping on the publicity bandwagon to check out the spy stories. Pomestic spying, international assassinations' and right-wing revolutions eau all be attriblited to Amcncan empire building sponsored by the CIA. In the midst of much of the foregoing outrage stands infamous Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt. Depicted during the Senate hearings as a bumbling spy with an ill-fïtting wig talking to Dita Beard about the International Telephone and Telegraph I ITT I scandal or puiling off au ill-fated cloak-and-dagger burglarv at the office of Daniel Ellsberg"s psychiatrist, Hunt's twenty-one years with the CIA have been mostly ignored. Rather than being an incompetent spy in the televisión Maxwell Smart vein, Hunt was in reality a powerful figure enjoying the adolescent game of intrigue and politica! manipulation promoted by the CIA. In his memoirs, Hunt is quick to point out that he was really a "smart" person maligned by the media. While his life story does little to show he can think deeper than the black and white line of the friend-enemy cammunist-"free world". he proves clever at the "all important" task of moving up the ladder to power and authority. By the end of his career in the CIA, according to Hunt, he has been the moving forcé behind a political coup in Guatemala, eneineered a replacement eovernment for Castro to follow the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasión, and ultimaiely become chief of the covert action aun of t he Domestic Operations División. When Nixon wanted to irivolve the CIA in the Watergate coverup, lie used Hunt's name as a threat. On one of the White House tape?, Nixon says: "Hunt. tliat will uncover a lot of tliings. You open that scab, there's a heil of a lot of things, and we just feel it would be detrimental to have this thing go any further." ". . . This fellow Hunt . . . he knuws too damned much." Reading Hunt's memoirs, it is obvious that he should know much about the dercover opeations of the CIA, and the resulting secret opeiations óf tlie Nixoh administration. Bui as a loyal agent u the bitter end, even hts life story becomes a propaganda etïort tor bis tonner employers. The 300 plus pages teil only what I Howard Hunt thinks the public should safely be told. On loyalty, Hunt admits he saw himself as "a career officer of the CIA whose protessionalism required that he respond to the orders of whatever administration mighl be in power." Since the publication of the book. Hunt has admitted on the witness stand under outh that parts of his reporting of the Watergate stories was less than truthfuf. nd in receñí months, speculaüon on his rolo m domestic o'perations gives strength to the sense that something is missing. During lus simi with domestic ORerations, Hunl claims the primary airfi of liis unii was publishing propaganda materials no inention of spying on American citizens excepl Barry Gohiwatei dunne the ll)i4 elections which Hum claims to have found "disturbing." Adding fuel to allegations that Mimi luis remained loyal are the recent allegations by Charles Colson thai llunt may have passed White House nformation on to ihe agenc) . ftei lus forma) retiremenl from the CLA. Hunt was emploj ed to do "public relations" work by Muilen Compon) . .1 reputed ('IA front corpora t ion. Like mos! of Hunt 's earliei low grade novéis on sp life, the writing ot Undervover is stylisticall) slow and amateurish, II Hum can be trusted ai .ill. lus descriptions t ('IA training, lus namedropping and old boy network structure do reveal something about the knul of people involved in American tntelligence. Hunt 's own unquestioning antiommunlsl sentiment: (;is well as anti-homosexual, anti-liberal, ;md axtti-everything else that doesn't ring truc to the politica! riglit's definition of motherhood, apple pie and true-blue patriot ism) is bound to leave the taste of paranoia in many reader's mouths. The major downfall of the book is what Hunt doesn't say. and the contfalUOUl t'eelinguf a coverup undercuts snything the book may have revealed about the inner woikings of the American intelllgence community. For that, we will just have to keep waiting tor a few more Vietor Marchen is and Phillip Agees to come out of the pervading cloak.