When New York Times report James Risen published his previous book, State of War, the Times ended its delay of over a year and published his article on warrantless spying rather than be scooped by the book. The Times claimed it hadn’t wanted to influence the 2004 presidential election by informing the public of what the President was doing. But this week a Times editor said on 60 Minutes that the White House had warned him that a terrorist attack on the United States would be blamed on the Times if one followed publication — so it may be that the Times’ claim of contempt for democracy was a cover story for fear and patriotism. The Times never did report various other important stories in Risen’s book.
5.0 out of 5 starsResponsible and Compelling — Avoids Some of the Darkest Facts, October 16, 2014
A more timely relevant book for US citizens could not be imagined, at least by me. By the sheerest coincidence, I have also recently read two books that in my view form a tri-fecta of perspective that could help launch an abolishment of the present government of the USA, a two-party tyranny in service to the legalized crime families of Wall Street.
I won’t repeat my summary reviews of those two books, here I will only say that while Tom Engelhardt is ably laying out the criminal insanity of what we have now in the way of a secret government that has become a “lockdown state” toxic to all forms of life everywhere, Micah has documented why the progressive and activist civil movements are dead in the water without a clue, and Darrell has documented how there are at least 25 billionaires out there who want to get it right but have no one to work with.
1.0 out of 5 starsExcellent Guide to Morons in Power, June 19, 2013
This is the single best book for understanding what morons in power think when they pretend to think but are actually pursuing ideological and financial objectives far removed from the public interest.
The authors, who demonstrate how far one could get in the Cold War military without reading or thinking, call this a military assessment. It is not. It is a one-track discourse on why we need to use our heavy metal military to wipe out Syria and Iran and intimidate Libya and Pakistan. It avoids discussing Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Central Asia, Muslim Africa, and Muslim Pacifica. This is not analysis, this is flim-flam.
By way of context in my specific criticism of this book, let me just note that the bibliography does not reflect any appreciation for strategy, e.g. Colin Gray’s “Modern Strategy”, or Col Dr. Max Manwaring and Ambassadors Corr and Dorff’s “The Search for Security”, or Willard Matthias “America’s Strategic Blunders” or Adda Bozeman’s “Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft” or Jonathan Schell’s “Unconquerable World.” I looked in vain for any sign the authors might comprehend the strategic context in which their specific beliefs and recommendations can only be seen as ill-advised. For example, a reference to Shultz, Godson, and Quester (at least one of whom is a neo-conservative), “Security Studies for the 21st Century”, or Robert McNamara and James Blight “Wilson’s Ghost”, or Dean Jeffrey Garten’s “The Politics of Fortune”, or Republican and conservative Clyde Prestowitz’s “Rogue Nation”, or Ambassador Mark Palmer’s “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil”. No cognizance of Kissinger, even.
5.0 out of 5 stars You need a brain to read this book; if you have one, the book will scare you,February 17, 2012
I have been keeping in touch with “alternative” sources for some time, ever since I realized in about 1988 that neither the US secret intelligence world nor the US media were at all reliable — they are each very good at what they choose to do, but that does not include the public interest.
I am hugely impressed by this author. He does detailed, meticulously documented research and the presentation is excellent. I especially like footnotes I can see while reading the body instead of endnotes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Six Stars & Beyond–Open Heart Surgury on a Corrupt Ignorant Government,September 29, 2011
The author himself begins the book with a reference to Dispatches (Everyman’s Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) followed by Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition, to which I would add A Rumor of War. This is a great book, an important book, and I salute the Department of State people with integrity that approved it for publication, while scorning the seventh floor craven autocrats that have bullied the author for telling the truth. This book is the real deal, and I have multiple notes along the lines of gifted writing, humble *and* erudite, quiet humor, ample factual detail, gonzo-gifted prose, an eye for compelling detail, *absorbing,* a catalog of absurdities and how not to occupy a country.
Late in my notes I write “Reality so rich it stuns. A time capsule, priceless deep insights into occupation at its worst.”
And also write down an alternative subtitle: “The Zen of Government Idiocy Squared.”
This is a book, from a single vantage point, of the specifics of “pervasive waste and inefficiency, mistaken judments, flawed policies, and structural weakness.” Speaking of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), the author says “We were the ones who famously helped past together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck.”
3.0 out of 5 stars Here’s the Documented View of Others, and Then Some,August 30, 2011
At three stars–everyone deserves to tell their side of the story, I am pleased to note that this is the ONLY review that is in the middle, all others being on the extreme of blind hate or blind faith.
These ten books serve as my alternative reading list on Dick Cheney and his regime–I believe that George Junior had the best of intentions and was played like a fiddle by Cheney, while also undermined by his own family and the two-party mafia.
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
My review extracts from the book and itemizes over 20 impeachable offenses, many involving the deliberate degradation of Colin Powell, all of which merit retrospective indictment, investigation, and public confession of the truth.
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
My review extracts core insights by this author on how Dick Cheney was able to make millions of smart people do stupid things.
The Bush Tragedy
I am among those who feel Bush Junior was well-intentioned and played like a fiddle by Dick Cheney, who overturned Presidential decisions without a qualm. He is a Walker and a misfit in relation to the Bush Crime Family, Dick Cheney was closer to the Bushes than their own black sheep son, and he knew it.
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
Three months prior to 9/11, Dick Cheney scheduled a national counter-terrorism exercise for “the day” and put the command center on the piers of New York City instead of using the existing Command Center in the World Trade Center. Nine nations warned us of 9/11 in advance; the FBI blew off two walk-ins, one in Newark, one in Orlando, and CIA conspired to not share key information with the FBI. In all of this, one man alone, orchestrated the mix of institutionalized ineptitude and high crimes and misdemeanors: Dick Cheney.
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies
Dick Cheney made the most of 9/11–he certainly Let It Happen (LIH), but he needed 935 lies to fully exploit it for his own ideological ends–CIA, less George Tenet, got it right with the defecting son in law and line crossers. Tenet betrayed what little CIA has left in the way of integrity the way Cheney betrayed the Republic.
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
It started with Senator Phil Graham (R-TX) and came to its fullest depth of depravity under Clinton, but for Dick Cheney, this was the lesser criminal conspiracy–he did much more with military power to dishonor and deprive the Republic of blood, treasure, and spirit.
The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict
My review extracts key facts for public consideration.
Grand Theft Pentagon :Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror
My review summarizes the manner in which the Bush Crime Family in particular, Cheney as their hit man, has used the Pentagon to steal trillions from the public treasury.
The Mafia, CIA and George Bush
One of the better books underlying an entire literature on deep secrecy, off budget gold-based funding, and other impeachable offenses.
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
My fellow case officer tells one of the best stories around. Personally I would like to see the Saudis avoid what has happened in Egypt and is about to happen in Syria, but unless they listen, they are next. We have been enablers as well as abject subjects.
As the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, I would enjoy reading this book and picking it apart as Colin Powell has, but this is one book I will never buy for the reasons outlined above. It is quite enough for me to have Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell, and Condolezza Rice, among others, call into question the veracity of much of this book.
I offer as a gift to the public my book review lists, all of reviews I have written, all findable online by searching for the exact titles. The first two are summary of all the positive and negative books I have reviewed in the past eleven years on Amazon. Below those two links are some of the applicable negative sub-lists (also within the negative list).
I hope Dick Cheney lives long and prospers–I mean him no ill will and no retrospective punishment, but before he dies, I would like to see him indicted and forced to appear before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to be subject to sustained interrogation by a real professional (no torture) to get all the facts on the table. As Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide has said so beautifully, “When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.”
Relevant lists, search for exact titles on any search engine (all reviews lead back to their Amazon page):
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)
Within the above negative list, see especially:
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dereliction of Duty (Defense)
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Disinformation, Other Information Pathologies, & Repression
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Empire as Cancer Including Betrayal & Deceit
Worth a Look: Impeachable Offenses, Modern & Historic
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Bankruptcy of US Economy, Federal Reserve Malfeasance
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Class War (Global)
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate & Transnational Crime
Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate Lack of Integrity or Intelligence or Both
Chuck Spinney, along with Pierre Sprey and Winslow Wheeler and a few others, one of the top twelve brains with integrity on US defense fraud, waste, and abuse, raves about this book, calling it “one of the very best books of the subject of guerrilla warfare and insurrection that I have ever read.” For myself, this would normally be a four, but since Chuck is one of my intellectual way points, I won’t argue and go with five. I can see what Chuck likes so much about the conclusion–it is a summary of the “true cost” of a government that lacks both intelligence and integrity, and strives to perpetuate global war as a matter of momentum. The author does an excellent job of including in the “total cost” the mental and physical disability toll, the social toll, the foreign “collateral damage” toll, and of course the financial toll including all the borrowing that has been done “in our name” but not in our interest.
Anthony Cordesman is by any rational measure an expert in defense, security, and intelligence issues. Virtually his entire career has been devoted to the study and analysis of these issues, yet he would probably be the first to note that he has also never stopped learning new things about all of them. All this is by way saying that this 2007 book that he authored is well worth reading and pondering.
Cordesman argues that the entire U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is dysfunctional to such an extent that U.S. security is at risk. He documents his claim in 11 chapters organized as `challenges’ to be over come. His central theme, however, and one that is revisited in almost every chapter is that for too long the civilian and military leadership of DOD has failed to link strategy, force plans, programs, and budget. Rather, these core DOD processes are each executed in a vacuum. Strategic goals do not inform organizational structuring of military forces or military design and procurement programs. The procurement programs in turn are not informed by either proposed or actual military force structure or operational doctrines. Strategy, force plans, and programs are not reflected in accurately in budget formulation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) appears to be incapable of integrating these processes. DOD civilian management has equally failed to integrate these core processes. This across the board failure of leadership has been most clearly demonstrated in the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that should have uncovered this lack of integration and argued for tying the budget formulation process directly to the design of force structures and programs designed to equip those structures. Instead the QDRs have steadily declined in quality to the point that the 2010 QDR was so badly formulated as to be palpably worthless.
Cordesman has done a good job in documenting the problems within DOD and has buttressed his argument with numerous charts and graphs. Still this book is a rather dry read although it is a very important analysis of the flawed processes by which DOD is trying manage the defense of America. It should also be noted that Cordesman and his two co-authors do not work for the government. Cordesman holds the Chair for Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a widely respected Washington think tank. CSIS published this study.
Both a Tour of Substance, and an Eye Opener for Book People
July 29, 2010
This is a 6 Star and Beyond book and is so categorized at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where one can browse all 1600+ of my non-fiction reviews sorted into 98 categories and easily found with keywords–I’ve tried for years to get Amazon to give us this functionality and finally created it for my own work.
I was so impressed, so engaged, so absolutely educated by this author that I spent no less than four hours, and it might be as much as six, creating a table of all 120 films that he mentioned, with the directors, the year of release, and hot links. The complete list with hot links is at Phi Beta Iota, and should have been an appendix–I certainly give the list to the author should he wish to post it anywhere.
A few highlights, followed by the complete table of 120 films:
Chapter and Verse But No Footnotes–a Cornerstone Read
June 17, 2010
Jeffrey St. Clair
I come late to this book, published in 2005 and consisting of well-organized Op-Eds published in CounterPunch from 2000-2005. My review is primarily for my own benefit (my notes) and those who follow my reviews of non-fiction at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where you can browse categories in a way that Amazon refuses to implement (e.g. see all my reviews on Corruption or on Pathology of Military Power, or on Government Crime, etcetera).
The lack of footnotes troubles me, not because I doubt the details this extraordinary author brings forward (including many details NOT covered by the 1,600 books I have reviewed, many centered on this very topic), but because I believe the author’s body of work would be enhanced if he included footnotes–I would go so far as to respectfully suggest that he write and publish on his personal blog the version with footnotes and links, and then publish the “clean” version at CounterPunch with a link to the notes version.
The best thing I can say about this specific book is that regardless of how many other books you might have read (I list ten suggestions with links at the end of this review), this book has details the other books do not have. It is a must read, and most especially so in the aftermath of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meeting with Lockheed and other CEO’s to assure them that the money will keep on coming–I was utterly stunned when I read that, and realize that for all of his intelligence, Robert Gates has zero interest in actually defending America–he’s the Chief Thief. As he attempts to place Jim Clapper in the position as Director of National Intelligence, which oversees $75 billion a year in waste, I can only shake my head–Chief Thief and Mini-Me Thief. It is time the American people, led by Grover Norquist, leader of Americans for Tax Reform, to engaged in a massive tax revolt that redirects all tax revenue to local banks, in escrow for local needs. The Federal Government is OUT OF CONTROL.
As I look over the titles of the 33 Op Ed pieces, I have two thoughts: first, that this really is a spectacular collection of thoughful public interest criticism, very well organized; and second, that this same book could be written about every Cabinet Department, every State Governor, every Mayor across America. We have institutionalized looting in ways that even the most corrupt countries such as Guatemala have not even begun to exploit. The federal government is full of good, well-intentioned people, but it is also managed and manipulated by an elite that considers our tax dollars their privilege to spend, and that has to end.
Especially interesting to me were details on the Bush Family, including worthless relatives that helped companies climb to billions in revenue; details about George Bush Junior that were known before he ran for President but not properly presented to the public; details over the entire book on the treasonous displacement of uniformed personnel by contractors; technical exposes of specific mobility and weapons systems; and the over all DETAILED, balanced presentation of public intelligence in the public interest.
Here are ten other books I recommend to complement this one (if my reviews are buried at Amazon, they are easy to find at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, all with links there back to Amazon’s page for the book, and to my review at Amazon as well so you can harvest comments if any, and/or vote.
I do not link to my own books, including ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, as they are easy to find and also available free online. The bottom line is that Obama sold out to play Bush in black-face, with zero change in the constant treason that has characterized the Executive and Legislative Branches since at least the 1990’s when Newt Gingrich destroyed bi-partisan comity and Bill Clinton inhaled the vapors of Wall Street.
America needs both a tax revolt, and an honest Director of National Intelligence (DNI) able to create a Smart Nation in which we harness our collective intelligence and simultaneously ressurect national education and integrity; national research and integrity; and of course national decision-support (intelligence) and integrity. That alone will bury the current corruption because any DNI smart enough to do that will also be smart enough to tell Congress that intelligence and Whole of Government reform can be job and revenue neutral from state to state and district to district.
Captures the Essence, Leaves Out a Lot, April 26, 2010
I have mixed feelings about the movie, having read and reviewed most of the books on Dick Cheney’s treason and our going into Iraq on the basis of 935 lies to the public and the United Nations, but on reflection it captures the essence:
1) The intelligence given to one and all was false
2) CIA was not at fault–CIA (not George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, himself guilty of treason)–got it right right from both the defector son in law and the line crossers that Charlie Allen demanded: kept the cook-books, disposed of all stocks, bluffing for regional power sake.
3) Bremer was a world-class idiot in disbanding the army and ending the Baath Party
4) DIA played along–the current US military leadership has lost all of its integrity (and Panetta is not much better than Tenet was, which really surprised me)–and was all too willing to kiss up while kicking down.
There is so much left out of this (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Ahmed Chaliba Iranian agent of influence) that I was tempted to go with four stars but had to go with five–for what it set out to do, this movie is spectacular.
See all my non-fiction book reviews on Iraq via Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog.
If you like this movie, I also recommend all the 9-11 Truth Movement DVDs. What our government does in our name is nothing short of treason and a betrayal of the public trust.
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
(2003- 2009: 139 journalists killed)
27 March 2010: Full spread sheet and optimal links added below Amazon review.GOT TO RUN, Links later today.
Beyond Five Stars…Gifted Mix of Intelligence, Integrity, Insight Deeply Rooted in History and Firmly Focused on Today’s Reality
March 21, 2010
I do not always agree with Ralph Peters, but along with Steve Metz and Max Manwaring, both at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army, I consider him one of America’s most gifted strategists whose integrity is absolute. He simplifies sometimes (e.g. Iraqis turned against Al Qaeda because of the demand for marriage that was refused followed by the bloodbath execution of the family by Al Qaeda, not because of anything the US did) but that aside, Ralph is the ONLY person that reminds me of both Winston Churchill–poetry and gifted turns of phrase on every page–and Will Durant, historian extraordinaire. Ralph has a better grasp of history, terrain, and the military than Robert Kaplan, and deeper insights into our failed military leadership (no longer leaders, just politically-correct administrators out of touch with reality) than my favorite journalist-adventurer, Robert Young Pelton.
I have read and reviewed most of Ralph’s books, and am proud to consider him a colleague and a fellow Virginian. Ralph is the only author whose books jump to the top of my “to read” pile, and I absorbed this masterpiece over the course of moving my own flag from Virginia to Latin America. US national and military intelligence have completely given up their integrity, and it resonated with me that the key word that Ralph uses throughout this book–a word I myself adopt in my latest book in carrying on the tradition of Buckminster Fuller on the one hand, and most respected mentor-critic Chuck Spinney on the other–is that very word: INTEGRITY.
Thanks to Steven Aftergood & Secrecy News for the heads up on the new book The Iraq Papers. Secrecy News’ email newsletter describes it this way:
An extensive compilation of official documents, policy advocacy statements, and assorted commentary on the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 is presented in “The Iraq Papers,” a new book from Oxford University Press.Since it seems that there will be no new official reckoning of the Iraq war or other Bush Administration policy choices, it will be left to others to achieve their own understanding of the Bush era and its aftermath. “The Iraq Papers” provides one possible documentary starting point.”The decision to invade Iraq launched a new doctrine of preemptive war, mired the American military in an intractable armed conflict, disrupted world petroleum supplies, cost the United States billions of dollars, and damaged or ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Iraqis,” the book states.The book editors are not overly perplexed by these events. Somewhat heavy-handedly, they offer their own interpretation of events involving the decisive influence of neo-conservatives, the unitary executive, and a U.S. drive to global hegemony, among other factors. Alternative explanations are not considered here.
An Utterly Superb Intellectual Contribution–a Major New Reference
January 10, 2010
This book is a gift to humanity, a foundational reference of such extraorindary value that I earnestly believe it should be required reading for every single liberal arts program in the world, and used as a core book in all graduate international relations programs.
Part I reviews the history of peace movements; Part II reviews core themes of peace within religions, populism, democracy, social justice, responsibility to protect and wraps up with three cahpters on a moral equivalent, realizing disarmament, and realistic pacifism.
The footnotes, the bibliography, and the index are world-class. The paper is glossy and annoyingly unreceptive to ink, but as a library volume or one that does not allow notes, this is an absolute top-notch production at a phenomenally reasonable price. I have the note mid-way: utterly brilliant blending of works of others within own architecture–superior scholarship.
HUGE EYE-OPENER; Pashtun Peace Army in Pakistan-Afghanistan, the Servants of God, discussed on pages 193 and 313. I’ve been working Information Operations (IO) and used to do Covert Action and I am pretty sure neither CIA nor DIA have a clue that this is a major historical movement that could be reactivated.