Review: Piercing the Veil of Secrecy–Litigation Against U.S. Intelligence

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda

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5.0 out of 5 stars John 8:32, Ye Shall Know the TRUTH…,

May 15, 2004
Janine M. Brookner
Disclosure: I knew and served with Janine Brookner as a case officer overseas. I liked her then and I like her now even through I have not heard from her since we ran into one another in the halls near SOG Maritime in the late 1980’s. She deserved to win her case against the white-boy wanna-be-preppy bubbas that are destroying the Directorate of Operations today, and now, with the modest sum she got after paying her lawyer, she has–after law school and substantive experience taking on US Intelligence Community lawyers–*nailed it* with a book that is both a lawyer’s dream and every intelligence professional’s awakening.

I have myself had experience with security morons (these are the guys that got to their high ranks after twenty years of checking safes at night), and I have also had experience with the very high quality people that CIA has in the Office of the General Counsel and in some positions in security. Interestingly, when I had my problem with morons, the Deputy Director of Security was a woman, she got it, and she fixed it. On balance, from experience, I give CIA as a whole and the US Intelligence Community over-all, very very high marks for being good to its people and bending over backwards to avoid harassment. If anything, as the Ames case showed, the Agency has been too tolerant of aberrant behavior (alcoholism, adultery, divorce, and suicide are too high in the DO, although this has improved in the past ten years). I also have to give the Agency’s publications review process an A+. Tough love critic of the CIA/IC that I am, I have *never* felt abused by the righteous and correct process that I signed a lifetime deal on.

There are, however, with the above as context, two major problems that this book addresses, and Janine Brookner has earned my “beyond five stars” for the service she renders with her methodical and documented endeavor. This book is an instant classic and reference manual in two ways:

1) When “management” decides to railroad someone, they have unlimited power to do so, and most people cannot fight back. I was myself rail-roaded by a man named Ted Price, a real mediocrity, a small man with a Napoleon complex, and it took me years to get the system to clean up the mess he made. I was not smart enough to fight back legally. This book empowers the many people who have been set to “Fitness for Duty” physicals (emphasis on showing them to be nuts, or scaring them into resigning for fear of being officially classified as nuts and barred from further federal employment). I know several such people, both analysts and operators, and in every single case it was management that was nuts or derelict in its duty, not the officers. The officers were all out-spoken, deeply in love with their profession and proud of their work, and loath to see the system break down as it has (and as we all knew it would from about 1985 onwards). Had the “nuts” been listened to in the 1980’s and 1990’s, 9-11 would not have happened and George Tenet would not be making excuses for having faired to unscrew the Directorate of Operations in the past seven years. Now he needs another five years, with the same fools in charge? Please.

2) The other area where this book is vital is in outlining in terms that any Senator or Representative (most of them lawyers) can understand–there needs to be a legal section in the National Security Act that is inevitably making its way toward passage. I used to think that a FISA Court Ombudsman–someone we all trust, like Ken Bass, one of the twelve masters of the court, or Janine Brookner herself, was the solution. What this book had demonstrated to me is that there are both too many problems (and more remedies than I realized), and someone has to codify a body of law that remediates the dysfunctionality of personnel protections within an archipelago of secret fiefdoms.

This book is relevant to both the lawyers and the serving professionals in each of the seven tribes of intelligent work: national, military, law enforcement, business, academia, NGO-investigative journalism, and citizen-labor-religions, because all organizations in the last ten years have been moving toward what one early critic of the CIA called “the cult of secrecy.” Credit card companies and other vendors are including binding arbitration on their terms as a condition of the sale, and those not reading the fine print are trapped into giving up all of their existing rights under due process law, including rights to a jury trial. Secrecy goes hand in hand with corruption and bad practices that desires concealment, so this book is relevant as a guide to what happens when secrecy and corruption are taken to their nth degree.

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