General Overviews


T - Z

Theoharis, Athan G. Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence but Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002.

For the first chapter of Chasing Spies see: http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/theoharis.htm.

Zaid at http://writ.findlaw.com/books/reviews says that Theoharis "offers an extraordinary amount of fascinating -- though often dry -- details of the FBI's counterintelligence efforts against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.... [This] work reveals the FBI's crucial hidden role in generating a culture of suspicion and blacklists that helped fuel McCarthyism['s] beliefs." For Whitaker. I&NS 17.3, this work documents that "Hoover and the FBI transformed an investigation of Soviet espionage into a conservative anti-Communist witch hunt that missed most of the spies, but damaged American democracy."

Robarge, Studies 47.3, calls this "a useful, although at times tendentious, cautionary tale about how the FBI conducted counterintelligence against the Soviets from the 1930s through the 1950s." According to the author, "the FBI’s investigations of Soviet espionage in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were far more extensive and intrusive than we have previously known, yet few spies were caught and even fewer tried." However, Theoharis "tends to play down the scope and effect of Soviet espionage in America.... Although Theoharis has compiled a troubling account of FBI abuses, he overstates the extent to which the Bureau still operates in Hoover's shadow."

To Wannell, IJI&C 16.3, the author seems fixated "against the FBI's interest in or investigation of Communists." The FBI's history from 1924 to 1936 indicates that Theoharis's report that "FBI officials authorized wide-ranging investigations of Communists ... is, at a minimum, an overstatement.... Theoharis's intimate knowledge of certain FBI matters is impressive. But his assertions that the Bureau during the Cold War failed in counterintelligence and instead served to promote the politics of ... McCarthy lead to the conclusion that he perhaps has an agenda to be served."

Theoharis, Athan. The FBI and American Democracy: A Brief Critical History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2004.

Jeffreys-Jones, Chronicle of Higher Education (21 Jan. 2005), refers to the author as "the most authoritative critic of the FBI's civil-liberties malpractices." Theoharis argues "says that current scaremongering and unthinking support for the enhancement of FBI powers 'could, in the extreme, undermine both the spirit and the foundations of our cherished democracy'.... His is an excellent narrative of FBI excesses since 1908, but he blinkers his analysis of current security problems by disregarding the roles of the CIA and the National Security Agency."

Theoharis, Athan G. The Quest for Absolute Security: The Failed Relations Among U.S. Intelligence Agencies. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2007.

Keiser, Proceedings 134.3 (Mar. 2008), notes that the author believes "'absolute security' is an illusory quest." This work "is a most useful historical review." Noting the author's claim that "increased centralization will only lead to more abuses by the intelligence agencies," Peake, Studies 52.1 (Mar. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), finds that the book fails in its effort to make its point.

Theoharis, Athan G. "Secrecy and Power: Unanticipated Problems in Researching FBI Files." Political Science Quarterly 119, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 271-290.

Wannall, W. Raymond. The Real J. Edgar Hoover: For the Record. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing, 2000.

Clark comment: This is a good and honest man's impassioned defense of Hoover, the director and the person. However, that defense comes primarily through attacking William C. Sullivan, the disaffected former FBI senior manager, and Anthony Summers, whose book is most notable for the sexual proclivities ascribed to Hoover. Blaming Sullivan for many of the FBI's ills in the 1960s does not actually make Hoover look particularly good as a manager. And too many words are wasted on the dreck spewed by Summers. In addition, the production quality of this book is quite low, and the organization is at time confusing. Nonetheless, getting Wannall's take on his boss makes this a worthwhile read. (FYI: My copy of this book is missing pages 17-32.)

According to Jonkers, AFIO WIN 30-00 (28 Jul. 2000), the author "served in the FBI for 33 years," rising to the rank of Assistant Director. He "knew everybody in the organization and where the skeletons were buried." Wannall provides "a different view ... from the prevalent caricatures [of Hoover]. It is a picture of a man brought in as part of the effort to clean up a corrupt Justice Department in 1924 , a man totally dedicated to a clean, effective and incorruptible FBI, who was involved in an enormous range of activities and relationships over half a century of service." Wannall "has done his research and does not hesitate to point out some of the warts.... Highly recommended reading."

Fulton, IJI&C 14.4, finds that "Wannall shows Hoover to be a highly disciplined human being with a sense of humor, a propensity to be a jokester, and a compassion for others." The author "vigorously attacks accusations against Hoover of perversion, homosexuality, crossdressing, and transvestite activities."

Waterman, Shaun. "Analysis: FBI Heads New Cyber Task Force." United Press International, 21 Apr. 2008. [http://www.upi.com]

In the summer of 2007, "the FBI quietly established" the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force "with U.S. intelligence and other agencies to identify and respond to cyber threats against the United States.... [A]ccording to the man in charge, Shawn Henry, the bureau's deputy assistant director in charge of its cyber division," the group "has 'several dozen' personnel working together at an undisclosed location in the Washington area."

Weiss, Murray. The Man Who Warned America: The Life and Death of John O'Neill, the FBI's Embattered Counterterrorism Warrior. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Peake, Studies 48.3 (2004), comments that Weiss' approach "does more than tell the story of John O'Neill's career. It also gives a look at the FBI and the way it functions, its traditions, its rigid rules that often result in self-inflicted wounds, and the reasons why it was something less than an efficient counterterrorist organ."

Wise, David. Cassidy's Run: The Secret Spy War over Nerve Gas. New York: Random House, 2000.

Macartney, AFIO WIN 18-00 (5 May 2000), notes that this is the story of U.S. Army Master Sergeant Joseph Cassidy who "spent 23 years as an FBI double agent, feeding misleading information to his GRU handlers about US chemical weapons programs." According to Vernon Loeb, "IntelligenCIA: A Spy War Exposed," Washington Post, 1 May 2000, Operation SHOCKER was "the FBI's longest running [CI] case of the Cold War," lasting 21 years. Cassidy "exposed 10 Russian spy handlers and surfaced three 'illegal' Russian agents," while passing thousands of pages of "carefully vetted classified documents" to the Russians.

For Naftali, New York Times, 30 Apr. 2000, this work "is a meticulous reconstruction of a hitherto unknown counterespionage case.... Wise raises the possibility that the Cassidy deception operation backfired with horrendous consequences. Citing circumstantial evidence, he suggests that it compelled the Soviets to expand production of chemical weapons.... But lacking any rich sources in the chemical and biological weapons programs of the former Soviet Union, Wise is not able to build a persuasive case.... Wise has done readers a service in bringing Cassidy's remarkable tale to life."

See also, Raymond L. Garthoff, "Polyakov's Run," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 56, no. 5 (Sep.-Oct. 2000): 37-40, which discusses the deception/disinformation aspects of the Cassidy operation in connection with a similar operation run through Soviet Col. Dmitri Polyakov (Top Hat/Bourbon).

Zegart, Amy. "9/11 and the FBI: The Organizational Roots of Failure." Intelligence and National Security 22, no. 2 (Apr. 2007): 165-184.

The author argues the FBI's failures related to 9/11 were the product of three organizational deficiencies: (1) longstanding structural weaknesses; (2) perverse promotion incentives; and (3) internal cultural pathologies. Her conclusion: "Yes, individuals made mistakes, but it was the system that failed us."

Zegart, Amy B. Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Pillar, FA 87.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2008), finds that the author "strains to fit the record of the CIA's and the FBI's handling of terrorism" into her thesis that "traits inherent to any large organization, especially a government agency, prevent it from adapting well to new challenges and a new mission." In the process, "her straining leads to factual errors," many of which "stem from her extremely heavy reliance on postmortem inquiries, especially the 9/11 Commission report. In fact, much of Spying Blind is little more than a repackaging of that report." Zegart and Pillar exchanges barbs about Pillar's review in "Letters to the Editor," FA 87.3 (May-Jun. 2008): 164-165.

For Peake, Studies 52.1 (Mar. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), this work "is a thought-provoking, detailed analysis of current problems that takes historical precedent and the judgments of many distinguished thinkers into account." However, "she does not offer convincing evidence" to prove her assertions that "organizational weakness" or "organizational factors" account for the CIA's and FBI's failures to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

Wirtz. IJI&C 21.3 (Fall 2008), sees this as a "well-crafted analysis" and "an important and beautifully executed book. Nevertheless, portions of [Zegart's] argument are more compelling than others." To Hulnick, I&NS 24.5 (Oct. 2009), the author's "thesis is marred by her lack of understanding of the realities of the intelligence world, and how change takes place in government.... [T]he system works a bit better than she believes, but her analysis is worth contemplating."

To Hastedt, Perspectives on Politics 7.4 (Dec. 2009), "[w]ith her emphasis on the enduring impact of organization and the role of organizational deficiencies in contributing to intelligence failures, Zegart has made an important contribution to the literature on intelligence." Nevertheless, "[r]eferencing the volume and nature of recommndations made by intelligence commissions as evidence of the well-established need for organizational reform is somewhat problematic."

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