The three parts of CIA: SECRET WARS cover successive periods: Undercover Operations runs from the institution of the CIA in 1947 – after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour – to 1976, Lost Illusions deals with the developments from 1977 to 1990, and One War Begets Another discusses the recent past, from 1990 to 2001, and pays extensive attention to the role of the CIA in the events before and after 11 September. The filmmakers interview leading CIA executives, including a host of former directors of the agency, as well as journalists and other people involved. Incorporating talking head interviews and archive footage, the film offers a wide-ranging portrait of the intelligence service, with special attention for the ‘secret operations’, such as coups d’état in Iran, Guatemala and Chile, but also domestic actions against leftwing Americans and a large operation in Vietnam. Director William Karel focuses particularly on the mistakes made by the organisation. The CIA was taken by surprise (Iranian revolution, collapse of the Soviet Union), made blunders (the Bay of Pigs invasion) and had to contend with Watergate, Irangate and the revealing investigation by a senatorial commission in 1976. But although some interviewed ex-CIA agents are very critical - with hindsight - of the agency, others will have nothing to do with this.