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See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism Paperback – January 7, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


“See No Evil is a compelling account of America’s failed efforts to ‘listen in’ on the rest of the world, especially the parts of it that intend to do us harm.”
–Wall Street Journal

“Robert Baer was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field
officer in the Middle East.”
–Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

From the Inside Flap

In his explosive New York Times bestseller, top CIA operative Robert Baer paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides startling evidence of how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA's efforts to root out the world's deadliest terrorists, allowing for the rise of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the continued entrenchment of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

A veteran case officer in the CIA's Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, Baer witnessed the rise of terrorism first hand and the CIA's inadequate response to it, leading to the attacks of September 11, 2001. This riveting book is both an indictment of an agency that lost its way and an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism, and includes a new afterword in which Baer speaks out about the American war on terrorism and its profound implications throughout the Middle East.

"Robert Baer was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field
officer in the Middle East."
–Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

From The Preface
This book is a memoir of one foot soldier's career in the other cold war, the one against terrorist networks. It's a story about places most Americans will never travel to, about people many Americans would prefer to think we don't need to do business with.

This memoir, I hope, will show the reader how spying is supposed to work, where the CIA lost its way, and how we can bring it back again. But I hope this book will accomplish one more purpose as well: I hope it will show why I am angry about what happened to the CIA. And I want to show why every American and everyone who cares about the preservation of this country should be angry and alarmed, too.

The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead. Americans were making too much money to bother. Life was good. The White House and the National Security Council became cathedrals of commerce where the interests of big business outweighed the interests of protecting American citizens at home and abroad. Defanged and dispirited, the CIA went along for the ride. And then on September 11, 2001, the reckoning for such vast carelessness was presented for all the world to see.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140004684X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400046843
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ROBERT BAER is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States; and See No Evil, which recounts Baer's years as a top CIA operative. See No Evil was the basis for the acclaimed film Syriana, which earned George Clooney an Oscar for his portrayal of Baer. Baer writes regularly for and has contributed to Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

615 of 631 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former clandestine case officer, leaving the Agency in 1988 after unsuccessfully chasing terrorists for a few years, I knew we were in bad shape but I did not realize just how bad until I read this book. The author, working mostly in the Near East (NE) Division of the Directorate of Operations, and then in the Counter-Terrorism Center when it was just starting out, has an extremely important story to tell and every American needs to pay attention. Why? Because his account of how we have no assets useful against terrorism is in contradiction to what the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) told the President and his top advisors at Camp David on Saturday 15 September. According to the Washington Post of 31 January 2002, page A13, on the 15th the DCI laid out an ambitious "Worldwide Attack Matrix" and told the President that the United States had a "large asset base" from its years of working the terrorism target. One of these two men one is closer to the truth than the other. In my judgement, I believe Baer has three-quarters of the weight on his side. This discrepancy warrants investigation, for no President can be successful if he does not have accurate information about our actual capabilities.
There are four other stories within this excellent book, all dealing with infirm bureaucracies. At one level, the author's accounting of how the Directorate of Operations has declined under the last three leaders (as the author describes them: a recalled retiree, an analyst, and a "political" (pal)) is both clearly based on ground truth, and extremely troubling.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Robert Baer provides a very interesting read and and warning for the future. He shows us how the old CIA operators in the Operations Division were trained to gather intelligence from human sources, who most of the time remained on the American payroll for years. This is the way we won the Cold War. But now, Baer tells us, the CIA has been eviscerated and is a shell of its former self, more preoccupied with political correctness and telling senior leaders what they want to hear. The human agent has been replaced by total reliance on satellites, electronic eavesdropping and other technology we have had for many years, but which are no substitute for a human being. He calls the failure of our intelligence networks regarding 9/11 a disaster and makes a compelling case that if we do not go back to the human element of intelligence gathering, such tragedies will become more and more frequent. Anyone interested in our national security should read this book.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on March 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
'See No Evil' documents Robert Baer's career as a CIA field officer, but it also does much more. It shows us how intelligence in this country has drastically changed since the Cold War and the tragic consequences we as a nation are paying for those changes.
At the beginning of his career, Baer describes himself as an extremely unlikely candidate for the CIA. He relates experiences of his training and facts from many events that we just _think_ we know about. Baer's story makes for very interesting and exciting reading as he describes the thrills and dangers of his first several years as a field officer. It was an incredibly tough and dangerous job, but a necessary one, as the author adequately demonstrates.
Excitement quickly turns to anger for both the author and the reader. As the Cold War ends, the reader will learn how the CIA took a dramatic turn, seeking to gain intelligence from satellite surveilance rather than from agents in the field. Why not? The technology is available and fewer lives will be lost. Sounded like a good idea at the time, but not to Baer. You'll read about how terrorists in the Middle East and in other parts of the world were quickly ignored after the Cold War in favor or special interests in Washington. You'll also see how close we really were to putting an end to Saddam Hussein forever. You'll read about many other events that will surprise you, shock you, and make you mad as hell. 'See No Evil' made me experience all those feelings and more. How could the CIA have fallen to such a level as Baer describes in this book? What a terrible price we as a nation have paid and continue to pay for our lack of top-notch intelligence.
I'll admit that twenty years ago I pretty much ignored all the fighting and disputes going on in the Middle East.
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76 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Melody Moore on January 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As odd as it may seem coming from a operative overseas, this book reveals why we were left open for attack more so than any other write on the market. Washington certainly would not let us in on what was happening with the terrorist networks, since they really did not have information they SHOULD of had. That is the one convincing message of this astounding book. Our government deliberately let our guard down. After leaving Iraq militarily inept, our government thought that was the victory and could live with a few foreseen terrorist attacks. The USS Cole type of attack, and embassies bombed considered acceptable losses. According to this book, they wouldn't care to believe 911 was a possibility so they gave up on any routine type of terrorist intelligence prevention matters. This book is worth buying, I'm sorry I cannot mention all the info here, but the book is written in a way that draws you in and interests you even if you had zero interest in the matter. I read it since my brother left it at my home, I picked it up, and was taken. The book is of high material quality as well. Another excellent book and must read concerning 911, Afghanistan, speaks of this religious deviance by saying they in fact would bring the buildings down by insane actions and deny it was terrorism but divine direction and future occurrences is SB 1 or God by Karl Mark Maddox
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