Review: Long Strange Journey–An Intelligence Memoir

6 Star Top 10%, America (Founders, Current Situation), Atrocities & Genocide, Censorship & Denial of Access, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Country/Regional, Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Disease & Health, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), History, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Security (Including Immigration), Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

Patrick G. Eddington (Author)

5.0 out of 5 stars6+ Deep Moral Practical Look at Loss of Integrity Across US National Security

February 28, 2011


It is difficult for any intelligence book to make it to my 6+ category, or top ten percent. What brings this book to the very top of the heap is the skillful weaving of a constant appraisal of the moral in tandem with the practical. Sight unseen I knew this book would be a five, but it jumped to six when I read it from the back to the front and saw:

Page 354: The Agency has become inbred, ossified, parasitic…a prescription for the abuse of individual rights and fatally flawed analyses of the world-at-large that have plagued CIA over the past 30 years…

In the same concluding chapter he slams Congress for not demanding full access to classified information and the Congressional intelligence committees for serving as controllers of Congressional access rather than oversight bodies, with a particular disdain and disinterest in whistle-blowers; the Pentagon for infecting its own troops with alleged medicine that cause neurological problems, and for consistently covering up and lying to one and all about the causes of Gulf War syndrome; and the US Government generally for isolating “military medicine” from civilian medicine to the point that the troops are guinea pigs for bad science, and then victims of cover-ups that would not be countenanced outside the Pentagon.

Page xxiii: [Admiral Edwin] Layton's message [on failure of Pearl Harbor] was simple and timeless: human ego, ambition, and fear always will be a menace to sound intelligence work, and to accountability when people get killed.

The book has to be read as an indictment of intelligence leadership (more like craven administratorship) and it ignores the raw fact that the intelligence “leaders” do what they do because their political masters ALSO lack integrity, in striving to please and keep their paycheck they give up their integrity and “go along.” I have commented on this at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, particularly in the posting entitled: Journal: Politics & Intelligence-Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both (13 October 2009).

Unlike the books below that I also recommend, this book is inter-agency and inter-disciplinary in nature, and it weaves three great crimes against humanity together: the criminal lack of integrity and intelligence within the US intelligence community; the criminal lack of integrity in the Pentagon with respect to the consequences of its poor decisions; and the criminal lack of integrity in the Pentagon with respect to military medicine, the protection of veterans with proper equipment, and the treatment of veterans disabled by a chemical brew that we created ourselves. The level of detail and the careful documentation in this book is extraordinary. the fact that Congress will not hold hearings on this book and will pretend it does not exist is yet one more basis for impeaching all of our Senators and Representatives, each in daily violation of Article 1 of the Constitution.

The details abound, from imagery analysts not receiving human intelligence reports to the daily abuse of women, the ineptitude of CIA in collection management of technical assets, the down-right unethical bad behavior on the part of DIA seniors throwing their weight around, the detailed refutation of media reports on how US learned specifics (e.g. Iraqi build-up for Kuwait was reported by a friendly military attache, not US technical systems); the role that imagery DID play in elevating the Kuwait invasion by Iraq into a possible threat to Saudi Arabia (the real reason US went “all in”), the betrayal of the Kurds, the praise for Charlie Allen in his days as National Intelligence Officer for Warning (also when I knew him, being a case officer assigned to terrorism in the field), the deliberate political blinding of our satellites by our own policy-making, the conflicts of interest and corruption within the Armed Services Committee (both Members and staff), the persistence of old and unfounded biases among executive policy consumers of intelligence, severe “short-staffing” in key elements (at the same time that billions went out the door for contractor vapor-ware), the repeated Pentagon declaration of chemical detection as “false alarms” when in fact they were not and the ignored chemicals went on to create Gulf War Syndrome (blood comes out of every orifice), the Pentagon classifying medical records of entire units to cover up their high crimes and malfeasance against our own troops, the neo-Nazi nature of the various security officers, used to intimidate and silence rather than to protect….all of this is deja vu for me, but very properly the subject of a book that should outrage the public. For this we are paying $70-90 billion a year, and as General Tony Zinni is on record as saying, that produces “at best” four percent of what top clients need (and nothing for everyone else–see my CounterPunch article on “Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else.”

There are countless other details in this book, and I for one would love to use it to teach ethics to incoming, mid-career, and senior intelligence officers. Right now, they have no ethics. They are the secret intelligence equivalent of what Madeline Albright so famously described herself and other diplomats, as “gerbils on a wheel.”

The final sad exasperating sigh for me was this, page 301 on my second pass through the book. It is a “security question.”

“Do you believe that Pat Eddington would let his conscience or principles override his obligations under the secrecy agreement?”

I have myself never violated my secrecy agreement and gotten CIA approval for those books focused directly on intelligence, including the first one, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World but this question captures all that is wrong with our national intelligence community. It is unethical, unprofessional, a waste of tens of billions, out of control, and doing more damage than good.

Tip of the hat to Secrecy News and Steve Aftergood for recommending this book, which has also been posted as a recommended item at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog.

I am a former CIA case officer who served in three of the four directorates, and left because of the culture of corruption that prevailed there and prevails still today, with the difference being that most of the employees today are much younger and less experienced in the Directorate of Analysis, and much older and out of touch with modern movements and technologies in the Directorate of Operations. Science & Technology died in the late 1980's, the only good news is they spend a fraction of what DARPA wastes.

I strongly endorse this book as being fact-based, honorable, worthy of every citizen's attention, and a stake in the heart of CIA, which I have called “the walking dead.” They are–along with the rest of the secret intelligence community that costs us $76-90 billion a year–a travesty, largely waste, fraud, and abuse. Good people, trapped in a rotten system, with a Director that either does not know, or does not care, that he has been lied to from day one.

Other books supporting this author's focus on corruption, deceit, and denial, that I have reviewed, are:
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
Lost Promise
Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the CIA
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
In Search Of Enemies

There are important positive books about CIA, but they are far over-shadowed by the above and other accounts.

For a sample of how the US Government classified all information about the willful murder of US troops by Israel, see:
The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship

My own books are all free online, and while they are more holistic and objective, focusing on the craft of intelligence, the plain raw truth is that the US secret intelligence community costs too much, does too little, and desperately needs the kind of leadership that only a group committed to usable intelligence (decision-support) and total integrity can provide. That group is NOT in place today. Those of us who do know how to do “the right thing” instead of the wrong thing wronger, are unemployed–and we keep our souls intact. That's the tradeoff, and it should not be that way–being an intelligence officer with integrity should be, along with being a teacher and a researcher with pure integrity, the highest calling in the land. Today, as fellow case officer Robert Bauer puts it so well, USA political leadership is a prostitute, and I do believe that makes the US intelligence community a chambermaid to prostitution, they are certainly not qualified to pimp anything but lies, fraud, waste, and abuse.

This book makes me proud of the spirit of conscience and integrity that is the best of America, and totally ashamed, as I have been for some time, of the ineptitude and lack of integrity across the entire US Government (executive, legislative, and judicial). What is done “in our name” is almost always corrupt, and very often a crime against humanity. The truth is helpful, but only when it is heard.

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