Marc Ambinder and D. B. Grady
3.0 out of 5 stars Mish-Mash — Superficial, Avoids Ethics, Corruption, and Cost Issues, April 7, 2013
This is a seriously disappointing book. As another reviewer has noted, and I concur, it is a hodge podge. Worse, it avoids the serious issues of ethics, deep corruption, and the opportunity cost of continuing to spend $70-100 billion dollars a year (depending on how much of the black special operations intelligence world you count) a year to produce what General Tony Tinny has said provided him with “at best” 4% of what he needed to know.
I carefully examined the endnotes and the index first, and rate this book at three stars at best. All ten of the books below are vastly better than this one. While the authors strive to conclude on an intelligent note — when everything is secret nothing can be protected and the cognitive dissonance between real and false secrets will inevitably spawn leaks — there is no substance in this book. It is mish-mash, perhaps useful if integrated into a giant trash can of everything that can be known from open sources, but even there the authors are utterly oblivious to all of the sources that are listed in my own master list, easily found online:
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most)
As one of those who testified to the 1993 presidential commission on secrecy, and to the Aspin-Brown Commission and to the Moynihan Commission, I would have expected much more from these authors. Not only have they barely scratched the surface and presented a mish-mash, but there is no substance to this book. Looking at the authors “credentials” what I find is a big fat zero. This is a C-level (A-F) book written without much thought, simply to sell the book.
This book can safely be ignored by intelligence professionals and the academics that strive to be serious about the craft of intelligence. It is only useful on the margins, for those who might want a few endnotes in a more serious work about secrecy, society, democracy, and the public interest.
See Instead the ten books below, and my category Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy (115) at Phi Beta Iota Public Intelligence Blog.
Secrecy: The American Experience
Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Open Source Intelligence in a Networked World (Continuum Intelligence Studies)
No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence (Praeger Security International)
Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World