The WMD Debate


The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction



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."

Duelfer, Charles. Hide and Seek: The Search For Truth in Iraq. New York: PublicAffairs, 2009.

Peake, Studies 54.1 (Mar. 2010), notes that the author worked with both the post-1991 United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) and the CIA's Iraq Survey Group (ISG). This book "is much more than a record of Duelfer's dogged, frustrating, and ultimately successful WMD efforts. His insights about intelligence analysis, interrogation techniques, the value of experience in the field, the penalties for inadequate planning, the need to pursue all diplomatic avenues, and the limits of the UN Security Council are worthy of serious thought."

Wilson, Joseph C., IV. The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's C.I.A. Identity -- A Diplomat's Memoir. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004.

Reports about Ambassador Wilson's book include: David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson, "Former Envoy Talks in Book About Source of C.I.A. Leak," New York Times, 30 Apr. 2004; and Susan Schmidt, "Book Names Iraqi in Alleged '99 Bid to Buy Uranium," Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2004, A16.

Thomas, Washington Post, 16 May 2004, comments that the first 300 pages of this book are "a worthy, occasionally entertaining, if overlong, chronicle of diplomatic service that would never have been widely published but for Wilson's involvement" in his wife's outing as a CIA operative. The section of the book that deals with the flap, the last 130 pages, "is repetitive and self-dramatizing" and "does not reveal much in the way of 'news.'" See also, Valerie Plame Wilson, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007).

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