For Presidents, Cabinet Members, Commanders, & Senior Staff,
January 10, 2001
“Over the past two centuries only four American presidents-Washington, Eisenhower, Kennedy (briefly), and Bush-have shown a real flair for intelligence.” This 660-page book documents this assessment, and ends with the conclusion “The presidents in the twenty-first century, like their Cold War predecessors, will continue to find an enormously expensive global intelligence system both fallible and indispensable.” His general findings in the conclusion are instructive: presidents have tended to have exaggerated expectations of intelligence, and have frequently overestimated the secret power that covert action might put at their command. For all that failed, both in intelligence not getting it right and presidents not listening when it did, intelligence undeniably helped stabilize the Cold War and avoid many confrontations. This book is extremely relevant to the emerging discussion, in 2001, about the need to depoliticize the position of the Director of Central Intelligence, and perhaps to consider a new National Security Act of 2001.