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Irreparable Harm: A Firsthand Account of How One Agent Took on the CIA in an Epic Battle Over Free Speech

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Quick Overview

Among the last CIA agents airlifted from Saigon in the waning moments of the Vietnam War, Frank Snepp returned to headquarters determined to secure help for the Vietnamese left behind by an agency eager to cut its losses. What he received instead was a cold shoulder from a CIA that in 1975 was already in turmoil over congressional investigations of its operations throughout the world.

In protest, Snepp resigned to write a damning account of the agency's cynical neglect of its onetime allies and inept handling of the war. His exposé, Decent Interval, was published in total secrecy, eerily evocative of a classic spy operation, and only after Snepp had spent eighteen months dodging CIA efforts to silence him. The book ignited a firestorm of controversy, was featured in a 60 Minutes exclusive, received front-page coverage in the New York Times, and launched a campaign of retaliation by the CIA, capped by a Supreme Court decision that steamrolled over Snepp's right to free speech.

In the wake of Snepp's harrowing experiences, his legal case has been used by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton to narrow the First Amendment freedoms of all federal employees, especially "whistle-blowers." Such encroachments make it clear that Snepp's very personal story has a great deal of relevance for all of us and certainly for anyone who has grown increasingly distrustful of the federal government's "national security argument."

Irreparable Harm: A Firsthand Account of How One Agent Took on the CIA in an Epic Battle Over Free Speech

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Among the last CIA agents airlifted from Saigon in the waning moments of the Vietnam War, Frank Snepp returned to headquarters determined to secure help for the Vietnamese left behind by an agency eager to cut its losses. What he received instead was a cold shoulder from a CIA that in 1975 was already in turmoil over congressional investigations of its operations throughout the world. In protest, Snepp resigned to write a damning account of the agency's cynical neglect of its onetime allies and inept handling of the war. His exposé, Decent Interval, was published in total secrecy, eerily evocative of a classic spy operation, and only after Snepp had spent eighteen months dodging CIA efforts to silence him. The book ignited a firestorm of controversy, was featured in a 60 Minutes exclusive, received front-page coverage in the New York Times, and launched a campaign of retaliation by the CIA, capped by a Supreme Court decision that steamrolled over Snepp's right to free speech. In the wake of Snepp's harrowing experiences, his legal case has been used by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton to narrow the First Amendment freedoms of all federal employees, especially "whistle-blowers." Such encroachments make it clear that Snepp's very personal story has a great deal of relevance for all of us and certainly for anyone who has grown increasingly distrustful of the federal government's "national security argument."

Additional Information

Author Frank Snepp
Publisher University Press of Kansas
Format Paperback
Pages 416
ISBN-10 070061091X
ISBN-13 978-0700610914

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