OVERVIEWS

United States

1990s

A - B

Ameringer, Charles D. U.S. Foreign Intelligence: The Secret Side of American History. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990.

Clark comment: Ameringer devotes 15 pages to "The Craft of Intelligence" and the "Art of Espionage," 11 pages to the American Revolution (failing to mention the establishment by Congress of Washington's Contingency Fund), 19 pages to the period from the Revolution to the Civil War (in which explorers are equated to intelligence officers), 14 pages to intelligence during the Civil War (where the presentation can be termed episodic, at best), 25 pages to the period up to World War I, 12 pages to cryptology, 13 pages to intelligence in World War I, and 13 pages to the inter-war period. In contrast, his chapter on "The Rise and Fall of William Casey" contains 24 pages and the chapter on "The Watergate Syndrome" has 15 pages.

Jeffreys-Jones, I&NS 6.4, finds in this book "a fine historical resonance. It is written in clear prose and strikes a balance between narrative and description on the one hand, and interpretation on the other. No matter that everyone will find something to disagree about in Ameringer's book; it will inform and stimulate its readers."

To Ransom, IJI&C 4.3, the author "has succeeded in making ... complex technical subjects clear and interesting," but he "breaks little new ground." As a potential textbook, it "is certainly one of the best of its genre"; overall, this is an "impressive and comprehensive synthesis." For Stempel, IJI&C 20.1 (Spring 2007), 134/fn.4, Ameringer provides "an excellent and readable swift review of U.S. Intelligence from the country's inception through the Reagan adinistration, including covert action."

Andrew, Christopher. "American Presidents and Their Intelligence Communities." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 4 (Oct. 1995): 95-112. "American Presidents and Their Intelligence Communities." In Intelligence and the National Security Strategist: Enduring Issues and Challenges, eds Roger Z. George and Robert D. Kline, 431-445. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

"Not until the Cold War did any of [George] Washington's successors rival his flair for intelligence." The relations between U.S. presidents and their intelligence communities have gone through three phases: The "Age of Innocence," which lasted until World War II; America's "Age of Transformation" began with the country's entry into World War II; and the "Age of Uncertainty," which in Andrew's judgment continues, began after Kennedy's assassination.

"Among postwar presidents, only three -- Eisenhower, Kennedy (briefly) and [George H.W.] Bush -- have shown a flair for intelligence." Presidents "often underestimated the value of the intelligence they received during the Cold War," and "frequently overestimated the secret power which covert action put at their command." Andrew predicts: "The presidents of the next century, like their Cold War predecessors, will continue to find an enormously expensive global intelligence system both fallible and indispensable."

Andrew, Christopher. For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency From Washington to Bush. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. JK468I6A844

Clark comment: Despite its sweeping title, this book is not a full-blown history of U.S. intelligence as seen through the interaction of the Presidency and the intelligence activities relevant to each time frame. However, it is a good history -- perhaps, even a great one -- of modern U.S. intelligence and the presidents who used or misused it. Andrew's discussion of the presidents prior to Franklin Roosevelt is interesting and occasionally enlightening, but not fully developed. For example, the period from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson is covered in 24 pages and from Wilson to FDR in 35 pages. Roosevelt and World War II get 74 pages. The remainder of the 541 pages of text (minus a 5-page conclusion on "Intelligence After the Cold War") focuses on the period that coincides with the existence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

That small corrective stated, For the President's Eyes Only is the best book now in print on the role of intelligence in presidential decisionmaking for the entire period of the Cold War. The quote by David Kahn, respected author of The Codebreakers and other works on intelligence, on the book's dust jacket is close to the mark: "This is the most important book ever written about American intelligence."

In Chambers' view, the author's "ability to write clearly and engagingly has allowed him to write at great length without boring the reader.... As the first book to take a hard look at the relationship between the Presidency and the intelligence community this book deserves to be read by all for whom intelligence is a major interest." Click for Chambers' full review.

Peake, AIJ 16.1, says that Andrew "tends to over-emphasize" the later presidents' attitudes toward SIGINT as a touchstone for judging whether individually they had a "flair" for intelligence. And his judgments about which presidents had that flair are debatable: "In this reviewer's judgment, Kennedy's ["flair"] performance fell far short of Truman and Roosevelt ["no flair"] by almost any measure." In the final analysis, however, this is "an immensely interesting and informative book. Christopher Andrew has demonstrated with vigor that he, too, has a real flair for intelligence."

For Thomas, WPNWE, 6-12 Mar. 1995, "Andrew ... does not moralize. He has an eye for telling detail and a good sense of balance. He appreciates that the CIA is neither a magic wand nor a bunch of thugs, that intelligence is critical to wise foreign policy, and that presidents are all too human."

Economist, 11 Mar. 1995, believes that "for those who view American intelligence in terms of extremes -- whether as ... super-conspiracy or as ... bunglers ... -- this book will serve as a corrective." This is because Andrew "accepts the argument that, far from being the 'rogue elephant' the CIA was once dubbed, American intelligence has pretty faithfully followed the dictates of American presidents, from George Washington to George Bush. And that when it has erred ... this has been in the main at the behest of the presidents."

Finding the book "[f]ull of anecdotes and fresh insights," Surveillant 4.2 comments that it "reveals how [the Presidents'] use -- and in some cases misuse -- of the increasingly important military, diplomatic, and political tool [of intelligence] contributed to the success or failure of American policy." Dallek, NYTBR, 19 Feb. 1995, observes that Andrew has "written a thoughtful, judicious book.... [This] is as objective an account as seems possible on so controversial a subject."

Shulman, I&NS 11.1, praises Andrew for his "impartial stance and energetic prose," and calls the work "the best survey to date of the history of American strategic intelligence." The reviewer does note, however, that the text frequently "appears rushed," and that the book lacks an explicit thesis. To Cohen, FA 74.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1994), Andrew "provides a richly detailed account of the uses to which American presidents have put U.S. intelligence agencies." However, the "brisk narrative ... is seldom leavened by much analysis."

In one of the more negative reviews, Bates, NIPQ 12.1, says that he "didn't learn anything new from it and there is an awful lot missing before Franklin Roosevelt. But then, researching the[] more recent presidents is easier. There are better books to buy." And Theoharis, AHR, Dec. 1996, comments that Andrew "often fails to distinguish carefully between military and political intelligence and between intelligence gathering and covert operations."

Berkowitz, Bruce D., and Allan E. Goodman. Strategic Intelligence for American National Security. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. [pb] 3d ed., 1991.

Kozak, APSR 84.3, argues that Berkowitz and Goodman provide "a very systematic, thorough, authoritative survey that applies solid political science, policy science, and political theory to the important study of the gathering, processing, and utilizing of U.S. intelligence." Their work is "methodologically sophisticated and additive," and "raises some of the profound questions posed by intelligence activities in a free society.... A number of normative prescriptions for better practicing the 'craft of intelligence' ... seem right on target."

According to Cline, PSQ 104.4, this work "provides a competent description of the process of intelligence collection and analysis and presents a rapid overview of the issues that are still viewed as controversial." One criticism that can be made is that the authors did not address the interface between the intelligence process and the national policymakers. Cline, concludes, however, that the book "is brief, readable, and crisply efficient in providing a good starting point of reference of the basic elements of the process of intelligence."

Surveillant 1.5 notes that Berkowitz and Goodman are "[c]ritical of many Washington sacred cows" and are seeking "to establish terms for a public debate on U.S. intelligence policy and planning in years ahead."

For Jervis, IJI&C 3.3, the book offers an "informative overview of American intelligence processes and problems." However, it "can be faulted for not fully addressing emerging trends," such as "the growing role of Congress ... as a consumer of intelligence." Johnson, I&NS 5.3, sees the book as "the best primer available on the core mission of the intelligence community," but faults the authors for "underestimat[ing] the attractiveness and implications of covert action." Lowenthal points out that the third edition "has an afterword reflecting on the challenges facing intelligence in the aftermath of the Cold War."

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