This is an interesting and informed account of how the major players of the U.S. Intelligence Community have conducted what the administration of President George W. Bush usually called the Global War on Terror. In the course of doing this its author, Mathew Aid, does a good job explaining the complexities involved in that War and specifically provides a very good summary of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and rocky relationship with sometimes ally Pakistan. The book does not cover all of the many intelligence pockets that have been directed towards counter-terrorism, but concentrates primarily on the activities of CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, but also notes the work of the military intelligence services and the NGA. Surprisingly the book also provides what appears to be a fair and accurate assessment of the contributions of both the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Aid provides a balanced and apparently accurate assessment of the overall performance of these agencies. He notes their successes and failures, but makes clear that the U.S. Intelligence System continues to be hampered by serious technical flaws and very weak leadership in its higher echelons. A good read that provides an educated description of how the U.S. in general and its intelligence system in particular has handled the threat of terrorism since the 9/11 tragedy.
Phi Beta Iota: The author is very blunt across the book about the routine lying that seems to be the norm for senior officers in both the military and political arenas. He also has a great story about VP Cheney insisting on 24/7 helicopter cover for Blair Mansion when he was in residence as well as insisting that Google Map fuzz pictures of the place. We do not make this stuff up. We can only wonder at what other insanities uniformed officers accept in their confused substitution of loyalty for integrity.
Bamford on Detail, Steele on Impact–Solid Five Stars
October 17, 2009
Phi Beta Iota: James Bamford is without peer in his understanding of the NSA. He supported it in its earlier books and turned against it in his most recent book, for the same reason we have turned against NSA: it does not provide a return on investment that is remotely tolerable by the taxpayer, who now has the added burden of warrantless wiretapping to deal with. NSA also ignored the Chinese threat that can now ride the electrical power lines into NSA’s computers, and that is the real reason they want their own power generators (see our memorandum online, “Chinese Irregular Warfare“). In our judgement, the next President and the next Director of National Intelligence need to zero out the secret intelligence community, and start over, beginning with an Open Source Agency (see THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest) and a new Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as recommended by Charles Faddis in Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA.
We know Matthew Aid, his book should be considered a follow-on to the work of James Bamford, but as Bamford himself observes, the book on NSA leadership’s high crimes and misdemeanors has yet to be written–it will start with fraud, waste, and abuse, and end with warrantless wiretapping and gross dereliction of duty.
Matthew M. Aid is a native of New York City. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. He has served as a senior manager with several large international financial research and investigative companies for more than 15 years. He is currently a Managing Director in the Washington, D.C. office of Citigate Global Intelligence & Security, where his responsibilities include managing the company’s international investigative and security operations. Aid was the co-editor with Dr. Cees Wiebes of Secrets of Signals Intelligence During the Cold War and Beyond (Cass, 2001), and is currently completing a history of the National Security Agency and its predecessor organisations. He is also the author of a chapter about the National Security Agency in a book published by the University of Kansas Press in 1998 entitled A Culture of Secrecy: The Government Versus the People’s Right to Know, as well as a number of articles on signals intelligence in Intelligence and National Security.