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The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Cultureby Ishmael Jones
Synopses & Reviews
American Presidents make decisions on war unaware that the human source intelligence provided by the CIA is often false or nonexistent. From Harry Truman during the Korean War to George Bush during the War on Terror, modern Presidents have faced their darkest moments as a result of poor intelligence. The CIA has assured Congress and the President that intelligence programs in hostile areas of the world are thriving, when they simply do not exist.
The CIA is a broken, Soviet-style bureaucracy with its own agenda: to consume federal funds, to expand within the United States, to feign activity, and to enrich current and former employees. After 9/11, billions of dollars directed by Congress to increase the number of officers working under deep cover on foreign streets have disappeared without the CIA fielding a single additional, productive officer overseas.
The Human Factor makes the case for intelligence reform, showing the career of an accomplished deep cover CIA case officer who struggled not with finding human sources of secret information in rogue nations, but with the CIAs bloated, dysfunctional, even cancerous bureaucracy. After initial training in the US, Ishmael Jones spent his career in multiple, consecutive overseas assignments, as a deep cover officer without benefit of diplomatic immunity. In dingy hotel rooms, Jones met alone with weapons scientists, money launderers, and terrorists. He pushed intelligence missions forward while escaping purges within the Agency, active thwarting of operations by bureaucrats, and the ever-present threat of arrest by hostile foreign intelligence services. Jones became convinced that the CIAs failure to fulfill its purpose endangers Americans. Attempting reform from within proved absurd. Jones resigned from the CIA to make a public case for reform through the writing of this book.
Effective American organizations feature clear missions, streamlined management, transparency, and accountability. The CIA has none of these. While it has always hired good people, it wastes and even perverts employees. The CIA is not doing its job and must be fixed. Until it is, our lives and the lives of our allies are in jeopardy.
After spending decades as an agent to the CIA, Jones unravels the blunders and grave mistakes the U.S. has made over the years and makes the case for much-needed intelligence reform.
George W. Bushs presidency was poisoned by a lack of human source intelligence on 9/11, Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Carter was humiliated by the hostage crisis in Iran. The Bay of Pigs was President Kennedys greatest blunder. Vietnam ended the Johnson presidency and Korea ended Trumans. In each case, American blood and treasure were spent; and in each case, a lack of reliable intelligence played a great role.
CIA officers are, needless to say, skilled and accomplished professionals. Unfortunately, the organization they inhabit is stifling, misguided, and careless. In the darkness of secrecy, with unlimited tax dollars and little or no accountability, the CIA bureaucracy has mutated into a leviathan that serves its own aims.
From 1989 to 2002, Ishmael Jones carried out continuous field assignments for the CIA, pursuing WMD targets in the Middle East and Europe and terrorist targets in the Iraq War. Appalled by the stifling layers of bureaucracy and unable to reform the agency from within, Jones resigned with an unblemished record and this astonishing story to tell.
The Human Factor is the story of a deep-cover agent facing both the day-to-day obstacles of survival and ludicrous challenges from his own agencys impenetrable bureaucracy. If the CIA is to be fixed—and for our own security it must be—The Human Factor may constitute the first step in that direction.
About the Author
ISHMAEL JONES was born in the United States and raised in the Middle East, East Asia, and East Africa. He attended universities in the United States and served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. In the late 1980s he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as a deep-cover officer for eighteen years, focusing on human sources with access to intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.
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