Part 4 of our series on the creation of the CIA.

Even the CIA’s original legal counsel warned them that covert missions were illegal – but they did them anyway. On December 14, 1947, they were ordered to execute “covert psychological operations designed to counter Soviet and Soviet-inspired activities.” Their first mission was to spend tens of millions of dollars of secret cash to influence the Italian elections. “We were terrified…. and going beyond our charter,” according to an early CIA operative.