Crystal-clear insights into intelligence failure in Viet-Nam,
April 8, 2000
This is one of two books I regard as essential to an understanding of our intelligence failures in Viet-Nam. DeForrest was a former military enlisted man who ended up managing a great deal of the prisoner interrogation for a major Agency facility in-country. His story ties together a number of important themes, from the failure of Ivy League types to understand what they were dealing with to the inadequacies (and sometimes the superiority) of vast numbers of “contract” case officers who would normally not have been hired, to the very real value of systematically debriefing all prisoners and entering the results into a database amenable to search and retrieval, something we don’t know how to do today. Across every major military operation since Viet-Nam, it has been my experience that we have no table of organization and equipment, completely inadequate numbers of trained interrogators and translators, and no commitment to the tedious but essential work of extracting knowledge from large numbers of hostile prisoners.