Huge Story, Most Readers are Not Getting the Point,March 19, 2012
I've been a fan of Mark Bowden's since I was asked to investigate how he got parts of his story for Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw. Speaking with him directly, already knowing he was a gifted writer, I added patriot and truth-teller to my short list of his attributes. This book would normally be a four for lack of an index, schematics, and perhaps some photographs of working spaces to achieve some contextual sense, but given all the negative reviews that are in my view off the mark, I am going with a five.
Most of the reviews of this book are in my opinion missing at four HUGE points:
01) Microsoft is the source of most of our problems because they build sloppy code and do not do due diligence. Apart from the fact that Microsoft is exceeded in evil only by Google, both of them holding third party developers hostage to mutating APIs and neither of them being at all interested in helping empower human cognition with tools for thinking, Microsoft sells second-rate software backed up by first-rate legal and marketing. The word is long over-due for dumping not must Microsoft, but Apple as well. India just followed Richard Stahlman's advice and pushed Microsoft out of their universities, they are creating the open source alternative, and as I like to paraphrase that world, “put enough eyeballs on it, no bug is invisible.”
I remember being shocked when a book published by a former prisoner of war revealed all of the CIA's sources and methods for secret writing–one reason terrorists and others make photo-copies of incoming and outgoing correspondence these days….
This book provides an excellent overview of sensitive sources and methods used by the U.S. military to intercept and locate electronic transmissions. It specifically “blows” a cover company, two specific kinds of aircraft, and several U.S. Special Operations Forces standard operating procedures. I suspect that NSA and the CIA Centers dealing with terrorism and with crime and narcotics are having the same difficulties recovering from this book that NSA had when President Reagan inadvertently revealed in public that he was receiving transcripts of Politburo cell phone conversations made while in transit, from their car phones.
Having said that, I find that the author has performed very responsibly as an investigative journalist, and that his story is superior in every respect. I even find that he has withheld some key information out of respect for his sources,and that there are many lessons to be learned from this book about how we might improve our transnational campaign against non-state forces that have vastly more money, ruthlessness, and sheer people power than we do.
I like and recommend this book–it is a real-world story, well-researched and well-told.