I just finished studying it in Barnes and Noble. There are 340 endnotes. About 65 cite anonymous sources...no idea from the notes about how many people and what sort of agenda they brought to the table when they talked to the author. A lot of the remaining notes simply quote other books like Suskind's One Percent Doctrine and Risen's book. This leaves the reader with no idea what those quotes and citations are based on.
Frankly, if you are going to write what amounts to a prosecutor's brief about a deeply controversial topic and hotly disputed set of facts, sourcing needs to be as detailed as possible.
Otherwise, you're emulating the errors of the Intelligence Community in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
I too have reviewed this book and found it sadly wanting. It appears to be just another liberal rant from someone who arrogantly believes that because they think it, it must be true. This book appears to be solely the author's opinion buttressed with "facts" and "anonymous sources" that reinforce her seriously flawed biases. It always amazes me how someone with absolutely no experience or credentials in a particular field can twist randomly gathered information into an entire book / treatise to try and convince others that their opinion is valid. Perhaps, more accurately, this is just another in a long series of "hate Bush books" designed to to make money from the cocktail party set who will buy anything that reinforces their opinions....truth be damned.
Well, I'm agnostic about the book's overall theme...I just know that in the place where I work in the government, the sourcing would be considered wholly inadequate. Frankly, if I was a journalist, I would try to avoid using anonymous sources completely (or just use ones who gave me documentary evidence of something).
I can't help but notice that in some cases, the author makes claims on double and triple-hearsay. If I was writing a de facto prosecutor's brief on the War on Terror, I would stick to information that is either in the public record or stuff someone interview is willing to be quoted by name. There's been enough troubles in the prosecution of the War on Terror to make a highly critical book that is "fair" but I think here the author goes way too far out on a limb with some of her "facts."
I also can't help but notice that some of her "facts" are sourced to Seymour Hersh, who has credibility problems of his own.
I agree it is tough to study an organization or process when no one is allowed to communicate outside of approved channels.
May I ask: how would you go about investigating this government, when it is so closed to anything that may be construed as criticism?
I think that the cloak of secrecy surrounding the current administration makes your conception of journalistic standards seem a little naive. You stated you were in the government; who do you think would give a unbiased point of view and could live up to your standards? I anxiously await your response.
Hey man, ever hear of the Freedom of Information Act? The ACLU certainly has...it's been posting stuff about interrogations that the government had to give to them for years. Ever hear of Congressional testimony? Ever hear of the National Security Archive at George Mason University that specializes in obtaining classified documents from the government?
And to change the subject, how would you react if the government stated a particular thing had happened because an anonymous informant had claimed to have seen a report where someone else interviewed yet another person about something that allegedly happened? You'd either think the government was stupid or corrupt.
Mayer does the exact same thing here in this book...she quotes an anonymous source who claimed to have seen or at least "been familiar" (whatever that means) with a Red Cross report that someone else had done which contained an interview with a terrorist suspect. Talk about flimsy sourcing!
This book is quite adequately sourced. The same old conservative rants/bed-wetting over so-called "liberal rants" and "hate Bush books" no longer have _any_ credibility, are mostly just tiresome, and don't frighten us liberals any more. Bush true-believers will never be convinced of what a demon he is.
If the book is in error, tell us where.
Kayaday, talk about "someone who arrogantly believes that because they think it, it must be true." There has been more than enough evidence to impeach Bush for some years. If only!
There is one thing I want to say on this subject. When the Iraq war is won, Democrats had better not take an ounce of credit for the achievement!!!! It they do, than they will be the biggest hyprocrits that ever lived and books like this will prove it.
S.S. Since when did simply winning a war become it's justification. This is not football. We're talking about 100s of thousands of Iraqis dead _because_ of our invasion. The "justification" was WMDs. There were no WMDs and the Bush administration knew that what little evidence they had was flimsy, at best. The Bush administration, and Bush in particular, lied _to take us to war_! This is not a complex issue. So perhaps you'll understand it.
They are now lying about Iran, even in the face of an NIC NIE "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" of 11/07.
This thread has to do with whether the book was adequately sourced. It was! Are you trying to say otherwise?
I am saying that the book is not properly sourced...It does not come even close to being properly sourced. Who in their right minds would accept as fact a claim about the treatment of a particular terrorist when it is sourced to an endnote that says words to the effect, "Someone familiar with the ICRC report that someone else compiled in which someone else interviewed the terrorist"? If you make grave accusations against someone, you damn well better have better "facts" than something like that.
The Intelligence Community got ridiculed for "sourcing" like this over the Iraq WMD Debacle. It was fair to ridicule it for that sort of failure. It is also more than fair to criticize a book that relies on such flimsy "evidence" to make grave charges against the United States government.
But I guess some people only condemn things that are improperly sourced when a report or a book says something they don't agree with. In contrast, if it says something that they DO agree with, they don't give a damn about the sourcing. "Cherry-picking" is practiced by people on all sides of an argument like this.
I am absolutely confident that if the Democrats take the White House in 2008 and the situation in Iraq continues to improve, a lot of critics of the war will suddenly discover that they supported it all along.
This being said, I am sure that some Republicans will suddenly discover that they have serious issues with the entire enterprise.
Please define "winning." No supporter of this illegal war appears to be able to do so. I suppose if the Brits had won the Revolution or Hitler had won WWII, that would have made them all right for you then, and we would have been the bad guys, since in your little world might apparently makes right.
Winning the war is the point at this time, not it's justification. Do you need this war justified in order to give freedom to the Iraq people? If you want Iran to run in and take over Iraq, after all we have done than whatever you say is pointless. Have you been in Iran Lately? Do you actually trust Iran????????? Were you alive when they took our diplomats hostage in 79? Would you bet your life and those of your family and the lives of the people in Israel on that NIC NIE "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" of 11/07 report? Just don't bet my families life on far left spin. This book, just like anything about the Iraq war written by a Democrat is definately not adequately sourced. Just like the media in the tank for Obama is not adequately sourced. WHY????? Because they don't show the other side. Why, because they hate Bush. If you believe that everything said about Bush by Democrats is true....Than you are living in LaLa land.
Where the people in Iraq live in a free democracy. That is simple. If the Brits had won the revolution you would have an English accent and be living in a free Society right now. If Hitler had won WWII, than you would be speaking german and killing Jews. You decide what is right and what is wrong. Since you are living in the best country in the world and you are living the way you are because we won those wars, than you tell me if you are a bad guy or not. If you say you are, than you are living in the wrong country. I suggest moving. Simple as that.
It's hard to top Toranto's point in the WSJ - "a new book reports that unnamed sources reported to the author that a report exists that says terrorists reported being tortured.
That is, not only are we being asked to take the word of terrorists--whose training material instructs them to claim they have been tortured--but we are being asked to trust terrorists' claims that are reaching us fifth-hand (or fourth-hand if you spend $27.50 for the book). It's a big game of telephone.
And we thought the New York Times was against listening to terrorists' phone conversations.
Interesting arguments---but let me get it straight----alot of you folks are pissed off that Mayer did not meet intellectual and academic rigor for proper sourcing. Well---where were you guys when the the staff of the revered V.P. took us into a trillion dollar war on the basis of B.S. from Achmed Chalabe?
maskirovka, did you read the book? What does "study" mean? Do you mean that beyond reading the book, you applied sustained attention to the details and examined the endnotes and sources to such a degree that you can credibly evaluate and comment upon the merit of the content?
To quote maskirovka... "Ever hear of the National Security Archive at George Mason University that specializes in obtaining classified documents from the government?" Ever hear of Cheney's refusal to turn over the classified documents his office has been producing to the Archives and even trying to insinuate he is essentially a "fourth" branch of the government that is completely immune to oversight?
After reading this discussion yesterday, when I had free time I checked my copy to see if this was correct. The endnotes refer to page number of which the actual book is 335 pages long, not a count of the endnotes. In honesty the endnotes section is 23 pages long. On page 338 (the first full page of the endnotes) there were 22 endnotes, which means there are over 400 endnotes.
There is a sort of funky feature in the bibliography, as far as I could tell, the authors doesn't list the interviews conducted of even her non-anonymous sources. She says that the book came together out of a series of pieces she did in the New Yorker, and those are listed as sources. Anyone know is it standard to not list primary sources from a prior work? I guess authors quote other books they have written and do not list all those sources? Maybe its fine. Accepted bibliographic shortcut? Anyone?
"the staff of the revered V.P. took us into a trillion dollar war on the basis of B.S. from Achmed Chalabe?"
So that is the line isn't it? There are those who will buy this book to feed a conspiratorial mindset that ignores the evidance from years of war and continuing conflict, policy decisions by three administrations, dozens of UN resolutions and a year of debate, hundreds of Congressional meetings and votes, endless speeches from both sides of the isle, thousands of pages of confirmation from intelligence agencies the world over and years of monitoring by NGOs - all so they can claim, like so many Democrat Congressman, that the whole thing was a deception engineered by a couple guys from some back room.
And then there are those sane enough not to. Yes, there is a dark side alright and the tortured thinking that feeds into it is far more real than the torture this silly book claims to document.