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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administrationby James Risen
Synopses & Reviews
With relentless media coverage, breathtaking events, and extraordinary congressional and independent investigations, it is hard to believe that we still might not know some of the most significant facts about the presidency of George W. Bush. Yet beneath the surface events of the Bush presidency lies a secret history — a series of hidden events that makes a mockery of current debate.
This hidden history involves domestic spying, abuses of power, and outrageous operations. It includes a CIA that became caught in a political cross fire that it could not withstand, and what it did to respond. It includes a Defense Department that made its own foreign policy, even against the wishes of the commander in chief. It features a president who created a sphere of deniability in which his top aides were briefed on matters of the utmost sensitivity — but the president was carefully kept in ignorance. State of War reveals this hidden history for the first time, including scandals that will redefine the Bush presidency.
James Risen has covered national security for the New York Times for years. Based on extraordinary sources from top to bottom in Washington and around the world, drawn from dozens of interviews with key figures in the national security community, this book exposes an explosive chain of events:
Not since the revelations of CIA and FBI abuses in the 1970s have so many scandals in the intelligence community come to light. More broadly, Risen's secret history shows how power really works in George W. Bush's presidency.
"Lucid, balanced and brimming with surprises, this is a — to borrow a notorious phrase — slam dunk exposé of the CIA's recent snafus. New York Times reporter Risen is broadly sympathetic to the CIA, and his tactful use of inside sources shifts much of the blame away from field agents and toward the brass in Washington, where CIA Director George Tenet's eagerness to please his political masters and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's bureaucratic skills create the conditions for a perfect storm of intelligence failures. The book's disclosures about secret prisons, 'renditions' — the transfer of suspects to countries which may torture them — and domestic wiretaps are likely to be talking points for some time, but its lasting value will be as a record of how the CIA came so tantalizingly close to the truth about Iraq's nonexistent nuclear arsenal. The retelling of one undercover operation shows the agency had direct evidence that there was no nuclear program in Iraq, but chose to doubt its source. Other scenes from the secret war on terror make novelist John Le Carre look like a timid plotter: a single misdirected message in 2004 brings down the agency's entire spy network in Iran, four years after a harebrained scheme had given Tehran flawed blueprints for a nuclear weapon-hoping to sow confusion, but possibly helping Iran to arm itself faster. Risen has written a thrilling, depressing and worrying book." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] explosive little book....It is riveting, anonymously sourced and feels slightly overdramatized, but it has the odious smell of truth." New York Times Book Review
"[A]n urgent contribution to the country's common good by a skillful and courageous reporter." Los Angeles Times
"A good bit of Risen's book will be familiar to anyone who keeps up with the news, but he has done a masterful job in pulling information together in one place and making sense of it." Sacramento Bee
"Risen's book is both unsettling and unsatisfying." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About the Author
James Risen covers national security for the New York Times. He was a member of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2002 for coverage of September 11 and terrorism, and he is the coauthor of Wrath of Angels and The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB. He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and three sons.
Table of Contents
A NOTE ON SOURCES
1. "Who Authorized Putting Him on Pain Medication?"
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History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory