Bamford, James. "My Friend, the Spy." New York Times, 18 Mar. 2001. [http://www. nytimes.com]
The author, who knew FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen as a friend, writes: "[I]f the criminal charges prove correct, hidden deep behind [a] pious, anti-Communist facade was a disturbing, bifurcated psyche" -- "[a] man who could leave Sunday Mass and load a dead drop with top-secret documents or march in protest at the killing of 'unborn children' while coolly sending American spies to their deaths."
Bamford, James. "NSA -- Projects and Prospects." Intelligence Quarterly 1, no. 2 (1985): 5-6. [Petersen]
Bamford, James. A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies. New York: Doubleday, 2004.
Farah, Washington Post, 6 Jun. 2004, comments that this "[h]ighly readable and well-researched ... account offers new insights into how the Sept. 11 hijackings occurred." The author "does a superb job of laying out and tying together threads of the Sept. 11 intelligence failures and their ongoing aftermath." In the last third of the book, he sets out "to show that key figures in the Bush administration ... locked in a plan to wage war in Iraq well before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He charges that ... four leading hawks manipulated" the CIA, DIA, and NSA "in a desperate attempt to justify a regime change in Iraq that they had been strategizing to bring about for years."
According to Duffy, Time, 14 Jun. 2004, "Bamford alleges that the CIA not only failed to detect and deter the secret army of Muslim extremists gathering over the horizon in the late 1990s but also failed to take action when a group of Administration hard-liners, backed by the Pentagon chief and Vice President Dick Cheney, began to advance the case for war with Iraq in secret using data the CIA widely believed weren't supportable or were just plain false. Instead of fighting back, Bamford argues, the CIA for the most part rolled over and went along."
Kruh, Cryptologia 29.1 (Jan. 2005), calls A Pretext for War "a riveting chronicle of what happened on September 11.... This is an eye-opening book that you will find difficult to put down."
Bamford, James. The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982. With New Afterword. New York: Penguin, 1983. [pb] UB251U5B35
Clark comment: This work continues to be reviled by critics; but if Bamford had not written it, we would not have had an early, serious, and in-depth look at NSA's activities and organization. It is not completely superceded by Bamford's later Body of Secrets (2001). Pforzheimer suggests that the book "must be used with caution because of some errors of fact." The Afterword in the 1983 paperback edition includes material on the British spy, Geoffrey Arthur Prime, and on Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of NSA.
For Lowenthal, the book is "[s]tronger on organizational history than on the actual work of signals intelligence." Watson, et al, Encyclopedia, p. xiii, notes that Puzzle Palace "is the result of an outstanding research effort, and it provides a detailed and accurate study of the agency." Powers, NYRB, 3 Feb. 1983, and Intelligence Wars (2004), 243-255, comments that the author "has assembled all that was known, and much that was unknown," about NSA, "but the result does not make for light reading." Except for a handful of stories, the "book reads like a study of AT&T," with methodical lists of organizational detail.
For some insights on Bamford's monumental research effort, see Paul Constance, "How Jim Bamford Probed the NSA," Cryptologia 21, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 71-74.
Bamford, James. The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. New York: Doubleday, 2008.
Bob Kerrey, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2008, finds this an "important and disturbing" book that is "revealing and provocative." The author's "is the sobering story of how America's Cold War national security apparatus has struggled to respond" to the "storm of changes" that occurred in the 1990s. Bamford "convincingly makes the case that our intelligence problems had little to do with the limitations imposed on the NSA or other agencies"; rather, "deep-seated divisions and rivalries among U.S. intelligence agencies helped the hijackers go undetected." Bamford's "apparent negativity toward Israel is a significant distraction," and he "is entirely too sympathetic" to the 9/11 terrorists.
For Christensen, Cryptologia 33.4 (Oct. 2009), "[b]ias is ok, but it's a bit overwhelming in this book.... [DIRNSA] Michael Hayden ... seems to be portrayed as never, never doing anything right.... The Shadow Factory raises important issues but in a way that presents no balance."
Richelson, I&NS 25.2 (Apr. 2010), also sees Hayden as "a Bamford target, sometimes quite unfairly." The author often seems to be wearing two hats -- "journalist and polemicist. As a result, in some areas his account is biased (at times exceedingly so), or incomplete, or both." The reviewer notes in particular Bamford's "distaste for the actions of the Israeli government." At times, the author's "unbalanced view is simply annoying; in other cases, it undermines his description of events." The reviewer also comments on "Bamford's intermittant sourcing."
[NSA/00s/Gen & Overviews]
Bamford, James. "The Walker Espionage Case." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 12, no. 5 (May 1986): 110-119.
Return to Balb-Bam