Reuel Marc Gerecht/Edward G. Shirley


Gerecht, Reuel Marc. "The Counterterrorist Myth." Atlantic Monthly, Jul.-Aug. 2001, 38-42. []

"America's counterterrorism program in the Middle East and its environs is a myth.... In Pakistan, where the government's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency and the ruling army are competent and tough, the CIA can do little if these institutions are against it. And they are against it. Where the Taliban and Usama bin Ladin are concerned, Pakistan and the United States aren't allies.... Behind-the-lines counterterrorism operations are just too dangerous for CIA officers to participate in directly.... Unless one of bin Ladin's foot soldiers walks through the door of a U.S. consulate or embassy, the odds that a CIA counterterrorist officer will ever see one are extremely poor."


Gerecht, Reuel Marc. "The Sorry State of the CIA." On the Issues. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Jul. 2004. [] ["A version of this article appeared in the July 19, 2004, issue of The Weekly Standard."]

George Tenet's departure from the CIA "provides an opportunity to properly assess and repair the agency's weaknesses, but real reform requires confronting the entrenched bureaucracy and strengthening the clandestine service in order to infiltrate and thwart terrorist organizations."


Shirley, Edward G. (pseud., Reuel Mark Gerecht)

1. "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" The Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1998, 45 - 61.

The pseudonymous Shirley savages the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO), describing, in the words of the lead blurb to the article, "a corrosive culture in which promotion-hungry operatives collect pointless intelligence from worthless foreign agents."

When he stays within the timeframe that he was with the CIA (by his account from 1985 to 1993), Shirley's narrative can be accepted as a version of the "truth" as seen, heard, and interpreted by one individual. Even there, however, much of what he says resembles the generalized bitching that goes regularly in almost any organization. More important is that when Shirley strays beyond his firsthand experience, an event which occurs often, especially in remarks about how matters have transpired since his departure, little credibility can be given to his remarks. It is extremely doubtful that he has the kind of access that would allow any sort of meaningful criticisms of present policies and procedures.

Combined with the general lack of commonsensical judgment clearly shown in his book, Know Thine Enemy, Shirley's whining in this article leaves me very pleased that he has found employment outside the national security structure.

Two anonymous letters, similarly critical of the DO, are published in the May 1998 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, together with a response from Shirley. See

2. "CIA Needs Reform, Not New Missions." Wall Street Journal, 19 Nov. 1998, 22.

The author favors an Operations Directorate that is smaller, elite, more covert, and remote from politically motivated missions like its involvement in the Wye River Accords. DCI Tenet's success in getting new funding for the CIA allows it to avoid reform.

3. Know Thine Enemy: A Spy's Journey Into Revolutionary Iran. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.

Clark comment: This book is not about intelligence, but about a purported private clandestine trip from the Turkish-Iranian border to Teheran and back by a former (and clearly disgruntled) CIA employee.

However, as Chambers notes, "intelligence does play an important part as one of the sub-topics of the book. Particularly, it deals with two dilemmas with solutions that Shirley did not like and that played roles in his decision to leave the CIA. One revolved around the question of whether the case officer should be a generalist or a specialist [he favors the specialist argument], and the other was around the problem of freedom of action of case officers" (with Shirley on the side of greater freedom of action for officers in the field). Click for CHAMBERS' full review.

Peake, History 26.4, suggests that a "book on intelligence written under a pseudonym should make one cautious, especially when no reason for hiding is given and no sources to support the story are provided." He also notes that the book's "subtitle just is not accurate."

As a former CIA Operations Officer, Chapman, IJI&C 10.4, has some real problems with Shirley's account: "If an agent gave me a report such as this book, my inclination would be to deep-six it in a burn bag, pay off the agent, and never see him again. Is this stuff for real?" Beyond that, the reviewer finds it difficult to believe the picture of contemporary Iran painted by Shirley -- one where everyone hates the mullahs and loves Americans. Chapman clearly feels that there is some larger goal behind the production of a book seemingly designed to further a new U.S. opening to Iran.


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