COVERT ACTION

By Country/Region

Iraq

Post-9/11

Materials presented in chronological order of the events discussed.

Woodward, Bob. "President Broadens Anti-Hussein Order: CIA Gets More Tools to Oust Iraqi Leader." Washington Post, 16 Jun. 2002, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to informed sources, "President Bush early this year signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use lethal force to capture the Iraqi president."

Tucker, Mike, and Charles Faddis. Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq. Guildford, CT: Lyons, 2008.

Clark comment: In terms of operational detail, this work cannot compete with Schroen's First In (2005) or Berntsen's Jawbreaker (2005) on the intital operations in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Whether this is the fault of the brave and dedicated Faddis, who led the CIA team into northern Iraq, or his journalist co-author Tucker is difficult to ascertain. In some ways, this book reads as though the journalist just turned on his pocket recorder and let Faddis take the lead in the conversation; and that Faddis too often simply vented his deeply felt frustration over the way things played out in his assignment. Were there no challenging questions? Was there no seeking for greater depth of understanding? Other than a few brief quotes from a handful of other opinionated individuals, there is no research to back up Faddis's arguments. That Faddis clearly believes Washington (he ultimately blames President Bush as the person in charge but both DCI Tenet and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are heaped with scorn as well) dropped the ball in its failure to use the CIA assets in Iraqi Kurdistan to carry the war to Saddam's forces in the north. Washington's failure to deal with Turkey's intransigence on the movement of men and supplies through Turkish territory undoubtedly hampered the team's efforts (and ultimately the entire war effort) and placed its members and their Kurdish partners at even greater risk. Rumsfeld's refusal to allow the team to be the lead operational unit in the north when the war started reeks of CIA envy. Faddis may well be correct in his appraisal of these and other matters, but it is impossible to validate on the basis of this book alone. I would have preferred to read more first-hand information about the organization and conduct of operational activities than constant (and repetitive) rants about how this effort was screwed up by Washington.

Keiser, Proceedings 135.1 (Jan. 2009), calls this an "engaging account" of the activities of an eight-man, CIA-led counterterrorist team in Iraqi Kurdistan prior to and during the formal invasion of Iraq in March 2003. However, "the book's epilogue is disappointing because it detracts from impressive combat actions by lurching into a largely unrelated agenda."

For Matt P., Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010), Faddis "provides a litany of alleged US strategic mistakes in the preamble to the war." He is also "crudely critical of the Scorpions, the CIA-trained Iraqi-Arab force charged with conducting sabotage inside regime-controlled Iraq.... This book has limitations. The interviews with Faddis reflect one point of view, sometimes leaving the book thin on context"; and Tucker "misses opportunities to put Faddis's insights into perspective." Although it "is little more than an edited interview with one former CIA officer," the book is still "a relevant addition to intelligence discourse."

Ciralsky, Adam. "Scandal: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy." Vanity Fair, Jan .2010. [http://www.vanityfair.com]

The relationship of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater (now Xe), with the CIA was not merely as "a contractor; he was, insiders say, a full-blown asset. Three sources with direct knowledge of the relationship say that the C.I.A.'s National Resources Division recruited Prince in 2004 to join a secret network of American citizens with special skills or unusual access to targets of interest.... Prince says that ... he did much of his work on spec, claiming to have used personal funds to road-test the viability of certain operations.... According to two sources familiar with his work, Prince was developing unconventional means of penetrating 'hard target' countries."

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