CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

2010s

Generally

M - Z

Mazzetti, Mark. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. New York: Penguin, 2013.

Bergen, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2013, finds that, in this "deeply reported and crisply written account," the author "documents the militarization of the CIA and the stepped-up intelligence focus of Special Operations forces." While recounting "the important shifts in the architecture of the U.S. military and intelligence communities," this work "also reveals the many eccentric characters who emerged during this era of shifting portfolios and illustrates another important theme of the book: the privatization of intelligence operations, which were traditionally a core government function."

For Orzetti, Proceedings 139.12 (Dec. 2013), the author provides "a thoroughly researched and thought-provoking portrait of ... the most consequential shift of the American national security complex since the Cold War." Freedman, FA 92.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2013), "Mazzetti describes in compelling detail the agency's turf battles with the Pentagon, its awkward relations with its Pakistani counterpart, and its reliance on a motley collection of freelancers and private contractors." Willing, Studies 57.3 (Sep. 2013), comments that while the book "is not a negative screed,... it does little to acknowledge the CIA's successes or to offer historical context."

Seeger, Studies 57.4 (Dec. 2013), says the author's "writing style is clear and concise, and his access to senior officials in the US government is obvious." However, he "selects his research material ... in large part to support" a biased viewpoint. "[F]or anyone outside the IC, the book simply reads like a list of failures in Washington and in the field.... [T]his litany of failures tends to obscure other stories -- discussed but covered less thoroughly in The Way of the Knife -- that underscore that fact that good leaders can cooperate to resolve bureaucratic conflict. These stories do not receive equal treatment within Mazzetti's discussion of failures and bureaucratic conflict."

Mickolus, Ed. The Secret Book of CIA Humor. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2011.

Peake, Studies 56.1 (Mar. 2012), finds pleany of humor here, all of which "will provoke at least a smile, but none of it is secret."

Miller, Greg. "Muslim Cleric Aulaqi Is 1st U.S. Citizen on List of Those CIA Is Allowed to Kill." Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2010, A8. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

A U.S. official said on 6 April 2010 that Anwar al-Aulaqi "has become the first U.S. citizen added to a list of suspected terrorists the CIA is authorized to kill." The Muslim cleric, who resides in Yemen, "was previously placed on a target list maintained by the U.S. military's Joint Special Operations Command and has survived at least one strike carried out by Yemeni forces with U.S. assistance.... Because he is a U.S. citizen, adding Aulaqi to the CIA list required special approval from the White House."

Morell, Michael, with Bill Harlow. The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism -- From al Qa'ida to ISIS. New York: Twelve, 2015.

Even before this book by the former DDCIA was officially released, it had garnered news reports (not reviews). See Greg Miller, "Former CIA Official Cites Agency's Failure to See al-Qaeda's Rebound," Washington Post, 3 May 2015, and David E. Sanger, "Ex-C.I.A. Official Rebuts Republican Claims on Benghazi Attack in 'The Great War of Our Time,'" New York Times, 3 May 2015.

Romeo, Christian Science Monitor, 12 May 2015, and CIA Quarterly 40.2 (Summer 2015), says this work "offers a rich haul of gossipy insider details" but "also makes many strong and unsettling claims." In the end, Morell "presents a persuasive and powerful case that without substantial financial and political investment in disrupting international terrorism, most of the future threats" that he has identified "are not simply possible but inevitable."

Mudd, Philip. Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Peake, Studies 57.4 (Dec. 2013), says the author provides "an absorbing account, from a senior analyst's point of view, of the CIA and its efforts to combat al-Qaeda and conduct the war on terror." Mudd also "served for several years as the deputy director" of the FBI's National Security Branch.

Rodriguez, Jose, Jr., with Bill Harlow. Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Peake, Studies 56.2 (Jun. 2012), finds that the "central focus" of this book "is on two controversial issues" the author dealt with while head of the Counterterrorism Center (the destruction of the videotapes of the interrogations of two al Qaeda terrorists) and the National Clandestine Service (the use of enhanced interrogation techniques). "Hard Measures presents the veteran officer's position with candor and clarity and should be considered carefully."

Scahill, Jeremy. "Former Top CIA Spy: How US Intelligence Became Big Business." The Nation, 7 Jul. 2010. [http://www.thenation.com]

The author provides a lengthy report on a public discussion in June 2010 at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, specifically on the remarks of Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, with regard to the CIA's use of contractors in covert operations. He "estimated that 'many more than half' of the personnel who worked under him at the CIA's counterterrorism center were private contractors.... Grenier largely defended the use of contractors, primarily because he said he believes that the government, in a time of war, needs to be able to hire skilled, specialized personnel capable of securing the necessary security clearances....

"Grenier rejected the notion that Blackwater would have been specifically hired by the CIA for assassination operations." Asked "why the CIA might use a company like Blackwater at any stage of a lethal operation instead of using US military special forces teams.... Grenier pointed to the complicated logistics of preparing such operations.... Overall, Grenier was generally supportive of the use of private contractors, though he did offer some criticisms." He expressed concern "about the 'revolving door' between government and the private sector," and "endorsed moves to ban CIA personnel from returning as contractors less than a year after leaving the agency....

"I asked Grenier about the US military classifying operations that might traditionally be considered intelligence operations ... as 'preparing the battlefield,' making them a military rather than an intelligence operation. Some critics have suggested that such classification is an attempt to avoid Congressional oversight of certain covert operations. 'That's a very interesting dodge,' Grenier said. 'It has not kept the Department of Defense from trying, at least in my view and the view of others in the intelligence community, to at least to some degree overstep their bounds.'"

Shapira, Ian. "For CIA Family, a Deadly Suicide Bombing Leads to Painful Divisions." Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2012. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

This article looks at the impact on Gary Anderson and his three children of the death of their wife and mother, Jennifer Matthews, in the December 2009 suicide bombing at the CIA installation in Khost, Afghanistan.

See also, Jennifer Skalka, "Slent Stars: The Secretive Life of Jennifer Matthews and an Inside Look at a Bloody, Unfinished War," Intelligencer 19.1 (Winter-Spring 2012): 25-31. [Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Washingtonian magazine.]

Warrick, Joby. The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA. New York: Doubleday, 2011.

Hendricks, Washington Post, 22 Jul. 2011, finds "admirable drama" in The Triple Agent, the story of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, the Jordanian doctor whose December 2009 suicide bombing of the CIA base at Khost in Afghanistan killed nine people. The author's "account is potent, swift, sometimes prone to the lazy phrase..., descriptive rather than reflective, anonymous in voice rather than textured and ... undaring of prose. He has a skill with words but lacks a felicity with them, and he is not much interested in exploring the large moral questions his tale raises. He is also firmly establishmentarian "

For Drogan, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jul. 2011, this is "a compelling narrative" by "a brilliant reporter and a fine writer." However, "the book comes off at times as a hurried snapshot more than a nuanced portrait. There is too little context or history, and several minor errors, sometimes breathless prose and repetitive passages don't help." Noting that the author "tears back the curtain on how the CIA conducted the operation," Goldman, Associated Press, 18 Jul. 2011, concludes that Warrick "clearly got help from the CIA and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) to write his book." This "riveting tale" is "a must-read for counterterrorism and spy junkies."

Garber, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), says that this "is an absorbing book, although a difficult one to evaluate without personal knowledge of the events and without access to the classified internal examinations of the tragedy.... [O]ne glaring omission ... is discussion of what led [Jordanian intelligence officer Ali] bin Zeid to think" that using al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda "was even worth trying.... One other criticism of this worthwhile book is that it essentially reads like a dramatic screenplay rather than an analysis of historical events."

To Daniel, Proceedings 137.11 (Nov. 2011), the author tells his "story in a gripping style worthy of the best fiction." He "is at his best" in portraying "the personal side of the drama.... The only obvious defect" is that he "fails to capture and develop the motivations" of al-Balawi" whose "character arc ... seems incomplete and ultimately unconvincing." Freedman, FA 90.6 (Nov.-Dec. 2011), notes that "Warrick shows how the pressure for results led the CIA to take shortcuts when it came to handling an agent who some feared, correctly, was too good to be true."

Terrill, Parameters 42.1 (Spring 2012), comments that this "is a well-researched book that has a great deal to say about the ways in which intelligence organizations under pressure can be drawn into the deadliest of traps." For the reviewer, the "extensive biographic information about the Americans killed in the Khost strike ... can easily become excessive.... Nevertheless, on balance, this is an exceptionally valuable book that is well worth the short time required to read it." it." For Chapman, IJI&C 25.2 (Summer 2012), this is "[a]n excellent book, leading to deeper thought about the world of spies. It is like no other."

Whittle, Richard. Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution. New York: Henry Holt, 2014.

Whitlock, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2014, finds that the author narrates "[t]he unlikely circumstances that led to the birth of the Predator ... in fresh and authoritative detail." His "reporting ... is methodical and credible.... Whittle's best material appears in the final chapters, when he delivers action-packed details about how the CIA and the Pentagon used armed Predators to hunt for al-Qaeda leaders immediately after 9/11."

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