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Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11: How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security Paperback – November 6, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Riebling is editorial director at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He has written on national-security issues for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the National Review. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Rep Sub edition (November 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743245997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743245999
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books you know people in high places should read, but of course they never will. If they actually do, they of course will be thwarted in their efforts to implement any corrections that are pointed out by the book, because the institutional forces that are involved are way too powerful, and way to attached to their perks and spheres of power to shift any, even for reasons of National Security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was essentially the creature, or creation anyway, of J. Edgar Hoover, who was the director of the Bureau for a record 46 years (a record not likely to ever be broken). Hoover built up the organization from an obscure office in the Department of Justice into a behemoth that ran down the "moto-bandits" of the 20's and early 30's (Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machinegun Kelly) and then helped put the East Coast mob into retreat, at least temporarily, in the mid-30's. By then he'd become powerful enough that he felt his power and authority should be expanded.

One of the directions in which he wished to extend his power was toward political dissent and disloyalty in the U.S. Hoover himself was apparently pretty apolitical, at least as far as partisan Republican vs. Democrat issues were concerned, but he was very disturbed by Communist influence, and possible Nazi influence, in the U.S., and he apparently felt that he should be in charge of rooting out the elements of these philosophies that were in the U.S.

Tied up with this was the issue of espionage. For a while, Hoover had a clear field, but when the U.S. entered World War II, his FBI, clearly a law enforcement agency trained to catch criminals, wasn't very good at catching spies.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found the World War II and the Cold War parts of this book pretty fascinating, and maybe the most enjoyable to read. The portrayal of Hoover is very nuanced and fair. The Epilogue about 9/11 is sobering and hits on some themes that I haven't read anywhere else. America was left virtually defensless, Riebling argues, because of the Clinton administration's fateful decision to elevate the FBI over the CIA -- to pursue a law enforcement approach to what had traditionally been intelligence problems. He shows how the Aldrich Ames spy case left CIA bureaucratically paralyzed, and how the FBI, under Louis Freeh, exploited the chance to become America's premier national security power. He traces the numerous interagency foul-ups which led inexorably to our national unpreparedneness for 9/11. He shows how the FBI's suspicion of a mole in CIA -- who turned out to be the FBI's own Hanssen -- sowed distrust which discouarged the sharing of information. This linking of 9/11 failures to the damage wrought by Hanssen and Ames is one of the most important labyrinths explored by Riebling, and I have the feeling that a whole book could be written about this aspect alone.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read WEDGE when it was first published in 1994 and I just re-read it with the new Epilogue. I am stunned by how prophetic Riebling was and by how he shows so indisputably that 9/11 was caused by the same interagency conflict that has caused so many other tragic intelligence failures over 60 years.
In places Riebling goes into a lot of detail, which can be a bit eye-glazing if you are not a spy buff; but if you are one, this is a gold mine of unearthed facts and totally original, highly persusaive, indeed compellingly logical interpretation.
The writing is generaly good but uneven; sometimes flat, but sometimes nearly as good as anything in the Engish language. Would be very interested to see what Riebling produces next as I marked him a talent, perhaps a major talent, and it has been eight years between books for him. From what he has been writing at National Review Online about 9/11 and intelligence I take it he is still working these issues and clearly he is working them as well as anyone.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although I know the CIA better than I do the FBI, I have spent time in the past ten years with law enforcement officers from over 40 countries including the US, and the bottom line is that the FBI bureaucracy (Supervisory Special Agents and the politically-motivated upper tiers of FBI management) are a worse threat to US security than individual terrorist groups, for the simple reason that as long as the FBI leadership remains in denial, in secret, and ineffective, the entirety of our homeland defense is incapacitated.
The earlier version of this book focused on the decades of historical enmity between CIA and FBI--in the early years, Edgar J. Hoover was clearly to blame for a culture of hostility between the two agencies and between the FBI and military intelligence--in one instance he actually suppressed early knowledge of Japanese intentions on Pearl Harbor obtained from a German agent tasked to fulfill their targeting requirements.
In later years the CIA took on more responsibility for shutting out the FBI, consistently refusing to brief them in to either internal counterintelligence failures, or foreign operations with a strong domestic counterintelligence matter.
What the author has done in the aftermath of 9-11 is update the book and make it even more relevant to every citizen and every elected official and every bureaucrat. The earlier edition made me very angry about how the senior FBI bureaucracy can sacrifice the national interest at the altar of its own selfish agenda of self-preservation and aggrandizement--from Special Agent Rowley to Special Agent Robert Wright, the FBI leadership consistently spends more time censoring and punishing its own people for honesty, than it does chasing terrorists.
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