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Fixing the Spy Machine: Preparing American Intelligence for the Twenty-First Century [Paperback]

by Arthur S. Hulnick
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 30, 1999 0275966534 978-0275966539

With the end of the Cold War and the dawning of a new century, the U.S. intelligence system faces new challenges and threats. The system has suffered from penetration by foreign agents, cutbacks in resources, serious errors in judgment, and what appears to be bad management; nonetheless, it remains one of the key elements of America's strategic defense. Hulnick suggests that things are not as bad as they seem, that America's intelligence system is reasonably well prepared to deal with the many threats to national security. He examines the various functions of intelligence from intelligence gathering and espionage to the arcane fields of analysis, spy-catching, secret operations, and even the business of corporate espionage.

Hulnick offers a variety of ideas for making the system work better and for attracting the kinds of new intelligence professionals who will build a stronger intelligence system in the next century. Fixing the Spy Machine suggests that the role of the Director of Central Intelligence, the person who runs both the CIA and oversees the U.S. Intelligence Community, should be depoliticized and made stronger. It also concludes that people are responsible for making the system function, not its bureaucratic structure. Still, intelligence managers are going to have to become less risk-averse and more flexible if the system is to function at its best.

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Editorial Reviews


"Art Hulnick has succeeded where many others fail by summarizing decades of experience inside the U.S. intelligence community with today's students of intelligence in mind. In this lively review of enduring intelligence issues, he identifies the core problems created by the presence of secret organizations in American democracy. Fixing the Spy Machine also explains how the communication revolution is changing the way intelligence agaencies do business and the steps needed to bring U.S. intelligence into the information age. Students will enjoy the way Hulnick describes the nuts and bolts of the U.S. intelligence community, while experts will appreciate the way he describes how organizational cultures hampter innovation and performance. If you ever wanted to learn about the day-to-day issues that confront intelligence professionals, Fixing the Spy Machine is the book for you."-James J. Wirtz Associate Professor of National Security Affairs Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California and author of The Tet Offensive: Intelligence Failure in War

About the Author

ARTHUR S. HULNICK is a thirty-five year veteran in the intelligence profession, including seven years as an Air Force Intelligence Officer and twenty-eight years in various assignments in the Central Intelligence Agency.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (November 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275966534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275966539
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,152,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scholarly Insider's View May 29, 2000
Students of intelligence have been blessed this year with the publication of two outstanding books on American intelligence: Mark Lowenthal's "Intelligence" and Arthur Hulnick's "Fixing the Spy Machine."
Hulnick, a retired intelligence officer and former "CIA Officer in Residence" at Boston University and one of the Agency's first public spokesmen, provides a stimulating overview of the major problems facing the US intelligence community. It is a particularly useful book for those who seek a professional's critical view on issues ranging from the need for better recruitment to improved coordination between civilian and military clandestine activities.
Although Hulnick clearly has considerable sympathy for the needs of the intelligence community, this is by no means an uncritical whitewash. On the contrary, it is a thoughtful probing of present and future problems facing US intelligence and policy makers.
I would rate this book as one of a handful any serious student of US intelligence should read and own --- to come back to often as a reference volume.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has two good features-the author really does understand the personnel issues, and hence one can read between the lines for added value; and the book is as good an "insider" tour of the waterfront as one could ask for. How the book treats the CIA-FBI relationship, for example, is probably representative of how most CIA insiders feel. The book does not reflect a deep understanding of open sources and tends to accept the common wisdom across the intelligence bureaucracy, that all is "generally okay" and just a bit of change on the margin is necessary. In this respect, it is a good benchmark against which the more daring reformist books may be measured.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unique Contribution December 20, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book handicapped by a rather silly title. The author of the book is Arthur Hulnick who after seven years with navel Intelligence had a successful career as an analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He has written a very thoughtful and accurate description of the U.S. Intelligence System and the processes of intelligence production. Of course the book tends to be somewhat CIA centric since Hulnick was a CIA employee, but the book still covers the entire system quit well. Although published in 1999, his book has as much relevance today as it did when it was published.

Hulnick provides a very good, if general, account of the processes associated with intelligence analysis and clearly knows what he is talking about. He is also one of the few writers on intelligence to address the issue that the CIA and other intelligence agencies tend to have very poor management and lack management training programs. Although Hulnick devotes some discussion to intelligence reform, the most valuable contribution of his book is his candid discussions of how the U.S. Intelligence System actually works as seen from the viewpoint of someone who was immersed in that system. His careful discussions and observations make good reading for both intelligence professionals and for folks who just wish to know what intelligence is all about. This book would be a good companion to "Secret Agencies" by Loch K. Johnson and "Intelligence from Secrets to Policy" by Mark M. Lowenthal (both available at

In reading this book this reviewer noted a certain ambiguity that is common to intelligence professionals of long service in the way Hulnick discussed the intelligence system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portentious in hindsight July 23, 2004
Excellent analysis of the problems that have plagued the US intelligence system with cogent policy recommendations. Its criticism of the undue reliance placed on technical collection over analysis and human resources was timely advice that was unfortunately not followed.
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