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Why Spy?: Espionage in an Age of Uncertainty Hardcover – April 15, 2008

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Hitz, a former CIA inspector general, writes an entertaining primer on espionage: why it worked against the U.S.S.R. but flopped against terrorists, and what America can do about it. He starts with a delicious account of the seven reasons people spy. Ideology and money lead the list, although experts maintain that no one ever turned traitor for purely ideological reasons. Simple revenge for being fired or denied promotion play a role, and Robert Hanssen (portrayed in the recent movie Breach) so desperately wanted to prove he could amount to something, he turned double agent. Despite plenty of fiascoes, Hitz argues that spying produced much valuable information during the Cold War but little afterwards, due to the difficulties of obtaining human intelligence from terrorist cells and secretive groups like al-Qaeda. The U.S. now depends on the intelligence services of countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, whose goals often contradict ours, and Hitz claims the Bush administration clearly prefers intelligence that supports its policies. His solutions include government support for studying languages, greater professionalism, relieving the political pressure on analysts, and streamlining the lugubrious bureaucracy. Although Hitz warns that reform will take a while, he delivers this news in a short, engaging book that gives readers plenty to think about.
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“A useful primer on the new (and greater) challenges to intelligence collection and analysis so different from those of the Cold War. Hitz outlines why the classic motives for recruitment of spies have weakened---even as we become more dependent on good intelligence in coping with the threat of terrorism. As a onetime inspector general at the CIA, he presents his own view regarding the restraints he feels should be imposed on intelligence operations.”
--James R. Schlesinger, former Director of Central Intelligence and Secretary of Defense and of Energy

“Nice Americans do not like human espionage. In this book Frederick P. Hitz has done a great job of rationally explaining the not nice, morally ambiguous, ‘dirty’ business of espionage. This is a service to the country at a time when there has never been a greater need for secret, human-source intelligence--which can only be obtained with the full understanding and support of the American people.”
--Paul J. Redmond, former head of CIA Counterintelligence


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312356048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312356040
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,497,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides a remarkably informed discussion of intelligence operations at CIA. Its author Fredrick P. Hitz was Inspector General (IG) at CIA from 1990-1998, a position that would certainly give him a different view of the agency. Some years prior to that he was a legal counsel at CIA. In short, this book represents a lawyer's eye view of CIA and its role in the U.S. intelligence system.

First Hitz makes an important distinction between "intelligence", which he sees as the end product of CIA and "espionage" which he defines as gathering information from human sources (agents) by what he refers to as agent runners or handlers or, as CIA prefers, intelligence officers. He correctly sees intelligence products as the result of analysis and collation of pieces of information acquired through espionage, technical means, or open sources. Indeed unique among most writers on intelligence issues, Hitz offers that open source information contributes a whooping 95 per cent of most intelligence questions and that secret sources contribute only about 5 per cent. This is a startling claim, but most objective evidence appears to bear it out. (See particularly the books of Robert D. Steele). Yet Hitz also makes clear that secret intelligence is often the vital ingredient that makes an intelligent product truly useful to policy makers and warfighters.

Hitz covers a broad set of subjects in this book from his perceptions of why people will become spies (i.e. espionage agents) to questions of analytic tradecraft and CIA management. Rather interestingly, during his tenure as CIA IG he notes the precipitous decline CIA's ability to engage in espionage that was commented on by such former intelligence officers Robert Baer and the pseudonymous Ishmael Jones.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading this book I was reminded of the scene in A Bridge To Far where the Polish commander was staring at Boy Browning. When asked why he was staring, he replied, "I'm trying to figure out whether you're on our side or theirs" (or something to that effect.) That's my take on author Frederick Hitz.

Supposedly he spent six years as an "operations officer" (note he doesn't say "case officer", a position he calls "spy runner") from 1967 to 1973 and may have spent the entire time in Langley. The rest of his CIA time was definitely spent at Langley, from 1978 to 1982, first as legislative counsel (lawyer) to the DCI, and then as deputy chief of the Europe division in the directorate of operations, and from 1990 to 1998 as the Inspector General of the CIA. In between he spent time in the Departments of State, Defense and Energy, and obviously was an accomplished Washington bureaucrat.

Hitz's understanding of the motivations of spies was only partially correct, but at any rate the discourse over his "seven motivations for espionage" takes up 73 pages of his small (5x7") 196 page book and is only somewhat relevant to the remainder of the book. His other book, "The Great Game" was equally small, suggesting that the author has little to say while maximizing profit. Evidently he used a research assistant to pull together the information of the espionage cases he cites, a somewhat startling admission for someone who is a supposed "expert in espionage" and should have been able to discuss the cases from his active knowledge.

Author Hitz discusses the decline and fall of the CIA's competence which he believes started in the 1980s in Part Two.
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Format: Paperback
This has much more than the cutesy title would indicate. It starts with the seven reasons for espionage, although ideology and money are primary.
In a discussion of the politics of intelligence, it covers 30 years before 9/11. It examines the Church Commission 1976, House and Senate Select Committees and Silberman-Robb Commission. There is discussion of legislation like the Patriot Act, FISA warrants and much more. The book relates the recent succession of DCIs and the aims of each, along with proposed and actual reforms in intelligence operations. The Clinton administration purportedly desired to give the nation a peace dividend. There is a good introduction to he organization of US Intell and functions and overlaps of separate agencies.
There is short coverage of the espionage cases of Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, Jonathon Pollard and Valery Plame, with assessment of damage, as well of counter espionage agents like Peter Popov and Oleg Penkowski. Hitz cites the need to train new recruits. In a legal study, he points out that the CIA was founded by lawyers.
The book relates how intelligence surveillance helped President Kennedy resolve the Cuban missile crisis. In examining the US failure to ascertain the existence of WMD's in Iraq, Hitz asks the very astute question: If Saddam didn't trust his own generals how could information have been available for US intelligence operatives to discover? Of course he doesn't use that to justify the invasion, only the intelligence failure.
This is a very short introduction to the complexity of the intelligence function in the USA. I would gladly read a longer book by this author.
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