Review: Trading Secrets: Spies and Intelligence in an Age of Terror

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Mark Huband

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful to Policy and Intelligence Professionals, as Well as Students and the Public, March 23, 2013

I enjoyed this book, and particularly enjoyed the rather clever the way the author is able to say some pretty devastating things about intelligence failures in a rather bland manner. This book ends with a clear statement on how the US and UK intelligence agencies are trying — and failing — to “future proof” their calling. As I have spent the past 20 years thinking about that topic, for me this book is perhaps more valuable than some might find it–it has helped me to think about what seven points I might make to the serving heads of intelligence if I were asked, and I end my review with those.

At root this book outlines the following:

01 How the UK and US intelligence systems spent 50 years developing sources and methods suited to the Cold War state on state confrontation, only to find that today those sources and methods are largely useless against both fanatical non-state actors and dispersed non-state actors.

02 How the primary value of intelligence in the past may have been the ability to detect plans and intentions being kept secret, but today there are too few surprises, and the real challenge is understanding the underlying political, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, and techno-demographic parameters that make any given body do what it does.

03 Citing Christopher Andrew, how still today, and for the past decade since 9/11, the intelligence communities have no learned to work together nor learn from history.

04 In relation to the elective war on Iraq, the author finds the intelligence elements seriously abused by policy-makers who misrepresented the truth, and now seriously in need of reinstatement, but does not provide a prescription, something I offer below at the end of my review.

05 Knowing what is “really” going on is a grass-roots human intelligence deliverable, and not to be confused with the blithering of the think tanks, academics, media, and agitating activists.

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REVIEWS PENDING — All Three Books Recommended

00 Pending Reviews

The following books are in line for review over this coming week, in the order in which they have been published or will be published.

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Amazon Page

RELEASED:  13 February 2013.  No reviews at Amazon.

How have the intelligence services been forced to adapt to try and combat the threat of terrorism? In this gripping book, former security correspondent Mark Huband takes us inside the shadowy world of intelligence-gathering. Drawing on previously unseen material, unpublished letters and exclusive interviews, he explores how the role and purpose of ‘intelligence' has evolved from its origins in nineteenth-century Ireland to today's fight against terrorism. Using his unique sources, he exposes the hidden blunders of the western intelligence agencies, such as the CIA's total misreading of the KGB's intentions during the Cold War, and the politicisation of intelligence in the build up to the Iraq War, and throws light on their evolving methods, including the manipulation of the media. Ranging from Kandahar to Belfast, this fast-paced book provides not only a compelling account of modern spycraft but a thoughtful and sobering analysis of its current fitness to combat the threat of 21st century terrorism.

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Amazon Page

RELEASED EARLY: 22 March 2013.  1 idiot review at Amazon flagged for deletion.

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side.”–Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln led America through one of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history. Reading his words today, it is clear we still have much to learn concerning what it means to be on God's side.

”There are few people on the scene who can put together mature Christianity with mature politics without compromising either. Jim Wallis does it best–and does it again here.”  —Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Amazon Page

RELEASE DATE IN APRIL 2013. No reviews allowed until release.

Told with candor and passion, Collapse of Dignity is Gómez’s account of the union’s fight, mounted in the face of traitors, armed aggression, death threats, and a political alliance extending all the way up to the presidential residence at Los Pinos. As he fends off absurdly complex legal charges, organizes the resistance from exile in Canada, and uncovers an anti-union conspiracy stretching back to years before the explosion, he only becomes more committed to fighting for the rights of Los Mineros—and by extension the workers of every country.

Gómez’s story is one of outrage, but also one of hope. Though Collapse of Dignity lays bare sickening injustice and inexcusable aggression against the Mexican working class, it is at its core a fervent call for a global workers’ movement that will represent the fundamental rights of every person who works for a living.

Collapse of Dignity is an unblinking and unnerving look inside our world’s labor struggle. Gómez’s incredible account of the fight for justice in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity is a warning, a lesson, and—ultimately—an impassioned call for international change. Essential reading for any working person.”  —Thom Hartmann, Author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

“A riveting story about standing up to big corporations, Collapse of Dignity delivers a message for us all: We the People must force the global corporatocracy to serve us, the workers and consumers. The contrast between Chile and Mexico is a striking call to action.”  —John Perkins, New York Times Bestselling Author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and Hoodwinked

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