Mark Riebling


Riebling, Mark. "The Real Intelligence Failure: Congress's Role." National Review, 28 May 2002. []

"The furor over what our government knew before September 11 has spurred calls for a broad congressional inquiry. But if lawmakers really seek to repair our vulnerabilities ... they must consider their own roles in thwarting the timely collation of vital intelligence."


Riebling, Mark. "Uncuff the FBI: Congress Must Undo the Church Committee's Damage." Wall Street Journal, 4 Jun. 2002.

"The FBI's failure to aggressively investigate Zacarias Moussaoui prior to Sept. 11 ... highlights the need for immediate repeal of congressional limits on national security surveillance."


Riebling, Mark. Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and the CIA. New York: Knopf, 1994. Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11: How the Secret War Between the FBI and the CIA Has Endangered National Security. New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2002. [pb]

Richard Gid Powers, WPNWE, 7-13 Nov. 1994, calls Wedge a "lively and engaging narrative of interagency bungling, infighting, [etc.] in every known intelligence case." Unfortunately, Riebling has turned his material into "a series of '[f]or the loss of a nail the war was lost' stories." For example, he picks up the old and dismissed tale of Popov's Pearl Harbor questionnaire. "Just as misguided and illogical is his thesis that the Kennedy assassination could have been prevented if the CIA had only passed on to the FBI the news that an official at the Soviet embassy in Mexico City who talked to Oswald shortly before the assassination was a KGB agent attached to Soviet death squads.... This points to Riebling's ... unfamiliarity with authorities like Gordon Prange or Gerald Posner, who have laid to rest so much of this tedious conspiracy-theorizing.... The real story in these superficially exciting revelations of official secrets is that there is no story -- the squabbles between ... Hoover and ... Donovan's many successors do not explain the history of our time."

Surveillant 3.6 says that some of its "reviewers did not find [the author's] research and fact-checking sufficiently rigorous.... 'He does not evaluate ... his sources.... He also repeats errors which have been long since discussed in public print and corrected.... [He has] produced another book on a subject of which he knows very little, and understands less.... For example, he states that the U.S. has the only intelligence and security service in the world which divides counterintelligence into domestic responsibility ... and foreign responsibility.... The author could not be further from the truth.... [E]rrors of fact ... also lead to errors of interpretation.'"

For McGehee, CIABASE, January 1995 Update Report, this book is "so rife with unsupported data and conclusions - it loses all credibility." Periscope 20.2 notes that Sam Papich "disagrees with the author's specific conclusions concerning both the Popov case and the JFK/Oswald case as well as his concluding views." Nonetheless, Papich believes he was treated fairly and the book is worth reading. James E. Nolen comments that after 1972 "the liaison role diminished in importance precisely because a broad exchange at all levels in the field and at Headquarters was developing." W. Raymond Wannell notes that it is "unfortunate the author did not pursue his research to the point of eliminating rumor, speculation and biased sources.... Riebling missed the boat."

Beschloss, NYTBR, 6 Nov. 1994, comments that this "thoroughly researched narrative ... is constructed as a series of tales, peopled by picaresque figures from Ian Fleming to Oliver North." According to Riebling, "the Nixon White House quietly encouraged the two agencies to encroach on each other's territory." The author "succeeds ... in persuading the reader that the F.B.I.-C.I.A. conflict was a more important piece of the cold war mosaic than heretofore noted by historians."

According to Robbins, CIRA Newsletter 20.2, "readers of the innumerable exposes of infighting within the American intelligence community" will find "little in Wedge that is actually new. First-time author Riebling, however, does profit from his experience as a Random House editor to bring an exceptionally readable and coherent account ... into one exhaustively sourced work." NameBase finds Riebling's writing to be "articulate and reflective.... In some sections of this book, Riebling appears to have relied heavily on the assistance he received from Edward Jay Epstein.... Fortunately, Riebling explains the Angleton view so competently that it finally makes sense on its own terms."

Loeb, Washington Post, 21 Oct. 2002, notes that the 2002 paperback edition of this work includes "an epilogue which Riebling uses to update his thesis and outline a string of missteps he believes kept the FBI and CIA from preventing al Qaeda's suicide hijackings." If Riebling's thesis "was provocative at the time, it seems prescient now.... Riebling traces the failure of both the FBI and the CIA to share the ample clues they possessed of an al Qaeda plot to the Ames case and its aftermath. The FBI was given authority to police the CIA and wound up ... eviscerating its clandestine service."

[Liaison/U.S./Domestic; FBI/90s]

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