OVERVIEWS

United States

2000s

L - Q

Miller, Russell A., ed. U.S. National Security, Intelligence and Democracy: From the Church Committee to the War on Terror. London: Routledge, 2008.

Carey, AIJ 28.2 (2010), comments that the editor "succeeds admirably in compiling a broad array of commentators with unique insights into the Church Committee's processes and conclusions."

Odom, William E. Fixing Intelligence for a More Secure America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. 2d ed. 2004.

Lichtblau, NYT, 16 Mar. 2003, finds that "Odom's important and thought-provoking book ... offers a cogent if sometimes labored primer on how the intelligence community works (and doesn't work) and why its labyrinth of competing agencies has impeded the flow of information within the government.... Much of the problem, he argues, can be traced to the dual hats worn by the head of the C.I.A.... [He] demands wholesale changes.... Make the director of the C.I.A. into the czar of the nation's intelligence industry.... Rename and restructure the C.I.A. to distance it from its record of embarrassments.... And strip the F.B.I. of its role as the nation's chief spy catcher." Odom "teases readers with insightful glimpses into the problems in the intelligence community without providing many of the necessary details to bolster his case.... [H]e relies too often on bureaucratic doublespeak and charts to make his point."

According to Adams, Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2003, "Odom produces a detailed reform proposal that is also born out of decades of puzzling out intelligence conundrums." Similarly, Freedman, FA 82.3 (May-Jun. 2003), calls this "a forcefully and cogently argued book. It is a necessary read for anyone concerned about the future of intelligence." On the other hand, Hanyok, I&NS 20.2 (Jun. 2005), says that Odom "makes some useful observations and suggestions for reform of US intelligence. Unfortunately, much of the fabric of the book's arguments is sewn with assertions based on little evidence and is rent by numerous errors of fact and history."

Peake, Studies 48.2 (2004), says that the problems Odom seeks to correct are largely operational, but he "does not show how restructuring would fix the operational problems that were, for the most part, due to poor performance all around, not the organizational structure in the units involved." Wirtz, IJI&C 17.2, finds this a "highly accessible discussion of reforming intelligence." However, "the organizational structure outlined by Odom, which is intended to produce conformity when challenged by adversity, is not likely to be the best way to foster innovative thinking." Also, "nothing in the historical record suggests that military organizations are any less likely to be surprised than are their civilian counterparts."

For Marrin, PSQ 119.2 (Summer 2004), the author's "structural reform proposals boldly challenge conventional intelligence community management thinking, but the potential effects that the reforms might have on the intelligence community's effectiveness are impossible to evaluate because he does not address organizational processes." Therefore, "Odom's assessment is incomplete." Wales, H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews, Nov. 2003 [http://www.h-net.org], comments that the author's occasional bouts of institutional favoritism are ... unfortunate, and constitute the only serious flaws in an otherwise superb book."

Pounder, Air & Space Power Journal 18.4 (Winter 2004), says the author "presents a clear and concise plan for intelligence reform, built around a 'national manager' concept for the intelligence community as a whole, as well as its major disciplines." However, Odom's "book glosses over the bottom-line question: will [his proposed] reorganization actually 'fix' the problems plaguing our intelligence system, or simply lead to more empire building inside the beltway?"

Office of the Director of National Intelligence. An Overview of the United States Intelligence Community. Washington, DC: 2007. [http://www.odni.gov/who_what/061222_DNIHandbook_Final.pdf]

Although this 31-page "DNI Handbook" carries a 2007 date, it was completed and cleared for release in December 2006. These are one-to-four-page official statements about the 17 components of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Paglen, Trevor. Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World. New York: Dutton, 2009.

From publisher: This book is the "story of a young geographer's road trip through the underworld of U.S. military and C.I.A. 'black ops' sites. This is a shadow nation of state secrets: clandestine military bases, ultra-secret black sites, classified factories, hidden laboratories, and top-secret agencies.... Run by an amorphous group of government agencies and private companies, this empire's ever expanding budget dwarfs that of many good sized countries."

Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, 30 Jan. 2009 [http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy], finds that this work "has important limitations and defects." Although the author "is a fluid writer with an eye for paradox and incongruity," he "is not a perfectly reliable guide to secrecy policy and practice." Examples of several errors -- as well as, "blank spots" in his narrative -- are given. "Paglen is so fascinated by the corruption of secrecy that he misses an opportunity to think more critically and more deeply about the subject.

Powers, Thomas. Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda. New York: New York Review of Books, 2003. Rev. & exp. ed. New York: New York Review of Books, 2004.

According to Adams, Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2003, this book "collects 24 reviews ... of more than 60 intelligence books. These discerning essays span 25 years and provide a revealing history of the victories, defeats and ambiguities of Cold War and post-Cold War intelligence gathering."

Peake, Studies 47.3, notes that "[m]any of the important books on intelligence are reviewed with Powers' characteristic thoughtful eloquence.  In fact, one learns as much about his views on the intelligence matters of the day as about the books he reviews.  And while he is addicted to the theory that the 'government is addicted to secrecy,' he nevertheless manages to accomplish his intent to 'convey . . . what the intelligence business is like, and how the Americans have gone about it.'" Nevertheless, "Powers' ... judgments were not always right at the time, and unfortunately he has not updated the major errors in light of the new material available."

For Haines, Diplomatic History 28.3, some of Powers' essays by their very nature "are beginning to show their age"; nevertheless, "most remain fresh and relevant.... Powers concludes that the outcome of the Cold War depended heavily on the CIA's work,... NRO's satellites, and NSA's Sigint capabilities." Prados, I&NS 18.4, calls Intelligence Wars "a fascinating trip down memory lane, through a whole swath of memorable works of history, peppered with useful observations on the craft both yesterday and today."

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