January - April

Materials presented in chronological order.

Risen, James. State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. New York: Free Press, 2006.

Clark comment: This is the author's version of the war on terrorism. In part because it was preceded by the articles in the New York Times on NSA's domestic surveillance activities, the book has been causing ripples since day one of its publication.

Ensor, CNN, 4 Jan. 2006, reports that according to State of War "[s]everal U.S. agents in Iran were rounded up after the CIA mistakenly revealed clues to their identities to a covert source who turned out to be a double agent.... [W]hile confirming the mistake, knowledgeable current and former officials told CNN that the allegations that agents were lost as a result are not true.... CIA Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Millerwise Dyke issued this statement [on 3 January 2006] about Risen's book: [Excerpt] 'Readers deserve to know that every chapter of "State of War" contains serious inaccuracies. The author's reliance on anonymous sources begs the reader to trust that these are knowledgeable people. As this book demonstrates, anonymous sources are often unreliable.'"

Peake, Studies 50.3 (Sep. 2006) and Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), concludes that "[w]hat we have ... is a collection of newspaper columns in book form that leaves the readers either wondering how much is true or rather satisfied that it proves the preconceived notions they have long held.... On the continuum of journalistic and societal value, State of War is less typical of the contributions of former New York Times reporter James (Scotty) Reston and more like those of author Kitty Kelly."

For Freedman, FA 85.3 (May-Jun. 2006), the author has produced "a short and at times disjointed book, packed with startling stories, a number of which appear to be true." [Clark comment: What about the others?] Risen "focuses on the 'secret history" without bothering to explain the known history that would provide context."

Shafer, Slate, 3 Jan. 2006, argues that the newspaper version of Risen's NSA surveillance story is "more accurate and disciplined" than the book version. "The fundamental difference between good book chapters and good newspaper articles boils down to this: The highest journalistic standard in New York book publishing is one of liability. 'Did we libel anybody?' At newspapers like the Times it is, 'Is it true?'"

To Prados, I&NS 23.5 (Oct. 2008), this book proved to be a "disappointment.... [It] contains nuggets of interest but does not rise to the level of a 'history,' secret or otherwise." Byman, Washington Post, 15 Jan. 2006, finds this work "fascinating and frustrating." The author "delivers a series of anecdotes that, while entertaining, often lack sufficient nuance, sourcing or context." And Risen "doesn't help readers understand the tradeoffs and constraints that policymakers and intelligence professionals face.... Good war stories, however colorful, do not make a great book."

Ratnesar, Time, 9 Jan. 2006, comments that while the book "covers ground that is broadly familiar," it also "is punctuated with a wealth of previously unreported tid bits about covert meetings, aborted CIA operations and Oval Office outbursts." The author's "reporting isn't bulletproof.... [H]e relies heavily on anonymous sources, and several anecdotes ... are attributed to a lone leaker."

Linzer, Dafna, and Griff Witte. "U.S. Airstrike Targets Al Qaeda's Zawahiri." Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2006, A9. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 13 January 2006, a CIA Predator drone fired an air-to-ground missile at a compound in Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. U.S. sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the target was Ayman Zawahiri, second-ranking al Qaeda leader and chief deputy to Osama bin Laden.

Witte, Griff, and Kamran Khan. "U.S. Strike on Al Qaeda Top Deputy Said to Fail." Washington Post, 15 Jan. 2006, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Pakistani officials said [on 14 January 2006] that a U.S. missile strike intended to kill al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri had missed its target but had killed 17 people, including six women and six children. Tens of thousands of Pakistanis staged an angry anti-American protest near the remote village of Damadola, about 120 miles northwest of Islamabad," where the attack took place.

Meyer, Josh. "CIA Expands Use of Drones in Terror War." Los Angeles Times, 29 Jan. 2006. [http://www.latimes.com]

According to U.S. officials, "the United States is expanding a top-secret effort to kill suspected terrorists with drone-fired missiles as it pursues an increasingly decentralized Al Qaeda.... The CIA's failed Jan. 13 attempt to assassinate Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri in Pakistan was the latest strike in the 'targeted killing' program.... Several U.S. officials confirmed at least 19 occasions since Sept. 11 on which Predators successfully fired Hellfire missiles on terrorist suspects overseas."

Gertz, Bill. "Intelligence Intransigence." Washington Times, 5 Feb. 2006. [http://www.washingtontimes.com]

Intelligence officials say that there "has been opposition to restructuring and reform from bureaucrats within the DNI, CIA and FBI."

The officials said that the CIA "needs more qualified overseas intelligence officers to conduct the core mission: penetrate foreign targets such as China, Iran, North Korea and Syria." CIA Director Porter J. Goss "has focused his reform efforts on the CIA's espionage branch known as the Directorate of Operations, which was renamed the National Clandestine Service and now includes the Defense HUMINT Service and representatives of the FBI's new National Security Branch. According to intelligence officials, CIA-reform efforts have been opposed by career officers who regard the changes as political interference....

"Other officials said the CIA's espionage branch continues to be hobbled by too few trained and experienced case officers. The total number of deployed intelligence officers ... is fewer than 1,000. During the 1980s, the CIA had as many as 8,000 case officers around the world.... Also, of the deployed officers, some 200 of them have been working in Iraq for the past year or more to set up an Iraqi intelligence service, although critics of the effort said that it isn't clear that Iraq needs the service, or one modeled on the CIA.... The shortage of overseas case officers has created an overreliance on setting up liaison ties to foreign services, and in many nations, including those in South America, the CIA station is limited to one officer who relies on information from foreign intelligence."

Gellman, Barton, and Dafna Linzer. "Top Counterterrorism Officer Removed Amid Turmoil at CIA." Washington Post, 7 Feb. 2006, A6. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 6 February 2006, Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA's Counterterrorism Center for the past year, "was relieved of his position" following "months of turmoil atop the agency's clandestine service, according to three knowledgeable officials.... Grenier's predecessor at the Counterterrorism Center ... moved on to become chief of the National Clandestine Service.... Sources said the two men differ sharply in style....

"The CIA's Counterterrorism Center, like the agency itself, has been shoved from its preeminent position in a turbulent reorganization of the intelligence community.... Some of the center's responsibilities have since shifted to a new interagency counterpart that reports to Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte."

Robinson, Linda, and Kevin Whitelaw. "Seeking Spies: Why the CIA Is Having Such a Hard Time Keeping Its Best." U.S. News and World Report, 13 Feb. 2006, 35-41.

This is not an unsympathetic look at the difficulties facing the politically and institutionally diminished CIA (my characterization, not the authors, but one to which their presentation certainly points) and its Directorate of Operations (now the National Clandestine Service). But it is, nonetheless, basically a downbeat assessment. By downbeat I mean that the challenges so clearly delineated by this lengthy article are of sufficient magnitude that the authors', "If the D.O. can somehow manage to....," essentially tells the story. Includes side-bar, L.R., "No NOC-NOC Jokes," p. 40.

Harris, Shane. "Silencing the Squeaky Wheels." National Journal, 28 Apr. 2006. [http://nationaljournal.com]

"The CIA has imposed new and tighter restrictions on the books, articles, and opinion pieces published by former employees who are still contractors with the intelligence agency. According to several former CIA officials affected by the new policy, the rules are intended to suppress criticism of the Bush administration and of the CIA. The officials say the restrictions amount to an unprecedented political 'appropriateness' test at odds with earlier CIA policies on outside publishing."

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