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The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture Paperback – April 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Scathing and unauthorized.”
"Controversial, eye-opening account"
This book should be required reading for anyone who serves in our government or is served by it. But beware: Reading The Human Factor will make you very, very angry.”
Max Boot, Senior fellow in national security studies, The Council on Foreign Relations; author of The Savage Wars of Peace and War Made New
Jones (the cover name the Agency gave him during his first training course), a Marine who joined the Agency’s clandestine service and became a case officer in the late ’80s, paints a devastating and alarming picture of a vast bureaucracy he calls a corrupt, Soviet-style organization’.”
Michael Ledeen, National Review Online
Mr. Jones obviously believes that the United States deserves the best intelligence organization in the world. He believes passionately that every American taxpayer is being cheated because we are paying scores of billions of dollars for a bloated, ineffective, risk-averse organization that cannot perform the mission for which it was created.”
John Weisman, The Washington Times
Ishmael Jones represents an altogether uncommon breed of CIA officer, one willing to risk life and career in the pursuit of gathering better intelligence. If the CIA as a whole shared this one officer’s relentless pursuit of WMD sources, terrorists, and the rogue nations that support them, then we might find ourselves in a much safer world today. With his book The Human Factor, Jones relates the details of his extraordinary career with a notable lack of bravado and a tremendous amount of dry wit.”
Lindsay Moran, author of Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy
The Human Factor is an enormously important book and a surprisingly accessible read. Hopefully, it will propel the reform debate beyond the usual tinkering . Call him Ishmael, or not, but I call him a patriot.”
David Forsmark, Frontpage Magazine
Top Customer Reviews
The author was a Non-Official Cover (NOC) Officer, something he is not allowed to say, but he no doubt has infuriated the pretentious at CIA by making it clear that virtually all of CIA's case officers are under Department of State cover.
I will list the false notes first. While I have not been active in clandestine operations since 1988, the following troubled me:
1) Ability to work on own funds with pay and expense gaps of up to $200,000 at a time.
2) Excessive travel to HQS and entry into HQS. In my day NOCs did not come inside at all.
3) Implied knowledge of inside operations and actual sighting of final cables--in my day, NOCs were handled as prize agents, and never saw any official traffic.
4) Agents (the ones committing treason) complaining to HQS to get their NOC fired? This is way over the edge.
5) Uninformed view on JAWBREAKER and First In with respect to public story--however, it is now it is coming out that Bin Laden was believed killed by multiple air bursts over Tora Bora, and the "flight" to Jalabad might have been a CIA deception ordered by the White House, and the only good explanation for why General Franks refused to drop a Ranger battalion, knowing it was merely in support of a CIA fabrication.Read more ›
Please allow me to make a few comments that might contribute to Robert Steele's excellent review.
Although the term "spy" is bandied about to sell books, for example, Valerie Plame's book, "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy...", case officers are not spies -- they handle, administer, and manage spies. As such Plame was not a spy, yet her career is typical: four years of training in the US, two years in an embassy overseas under diplomatic cover gathering tidbits at cocktail parties, four more years of training in the US, possibly a couple of months as a NOC (Non-Official Cover) case officer where she was not involved in any positive intelligence operations, (it takes years to become truly productive, if at all), and then ten more years in the US doing bureaucratic functions. I leave it to the reader to decide whether the taxpayer got his money's worth.
I do not mean to pick on Plame, but her story is typical. Very, very few case officers are effective, and when they are, it is in violation of policies and procedures from headquarters and only after taking extreme risks, both with regard to their physical safety and their career.Read more ›
Deep cover spy Ishmael recounts details about inept CIA training and torture courses, dodging co-workers trying to sabotage his work, falling prey to a dead-baby con scheme in Bombay, and the hilarious saga of his friend, the world's worst spy. I read an advance copy that should be the same as the final - and believe some of its revelations are explosive: the inability to place spies in foreign countries, the CIA's growth within the USA, disappearing money, work avoidance schemes, and great gaps in intelligence. A few paragraphs on the Plame incident are enlightening.
The Twins, a pair of CIA professors, pop up to intrude upon intelligence operations; a hunt for CIA pornography users decimates deep-cover spies overseas. CIA employees hire their spouses as managers in a confusion of nepotism. And bloody Iraq, a place of such absurd violence that ordinary CIA risk aversion is temporarily on hold.
The CIA's just a big couch potato, a failure at providing intelligence but an expert at feeding itself and growing ever larger. The consequences of this nonpartisan book could be far-reaching and CIA reform should be on the top of the Obama, (Hillary) or McCain agendas. CIA reform may well be the most important thing Americans can do as a nation to protect themselves. The author's decision to donate his book profits gives his case even greater strength.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mind blowing tongue in cheek precise explanation as to why all non military bureaucracies eat their own young. Mr. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nick Saganis
Bought this book as a gift for my husband after reading other positive reviews. My husband complemented me on my choice. Overall a great purchase.Published 4 months ago by Lala B
A well-written expose of just how screwed up the CIA is. If the book can be believed, and I think it can, the CIA needs to be totally dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Melvin Frisbey
Everyone in the National Security Community should read this. Also the candidates. That means YOU, Ben Carson.Published 7 months ago by Wayne B. Norris
A highly critical personal recounting of an Agency officer's experiences working under cover overseas. Some of the officer's suggestions for improvement have real merit. Read morePublished 9 months ago by John Ives
Sad story as another information gathering agency turns into an HR department and typical D.C. bureaucracy where nothing really gets done anymore.Published 13 months ago by P. Aaron Jones
I don't know quite how he worked for a bureaucracy for so long for which he had that much disdain, but he was perfect for his job.Published 16 months ago by Robin Eschliman
Finished the book last year and decided to write a review today. I found it a great read! I agree with much of your analysis of the book the Mr. Steele. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Johnnie