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Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror Hardcover – January 3, 2012
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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In reaction to the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. engaged in a massive expansion of intelligence-gathering organs. Supposedly, we also increased the sharing of information between the various agencies to avoid the failing to connect the dots. But has this huge increase in manpower and money resulted in any improvement in the collection and use of raw intelligence information? Not significantly, according to Aid, a regular commentator on intelligence for various newspapers, radio, and television. He begins with a brief but riveting account of the operation to take out Osama Bin Laden, in which he reveals the vital role played by Pakistani operatives working for the CIA. But from this apparent triumph, he moves to a dreary and familiar picture of bureaucratic rivalry and bungling. He places particular blame on the Bush administration and its inability to sift through the deluge of data provided to develop a coherent policy to fight jihadist terrorists on various fronts but especially in Afghanistan. This work may be unduly negative, but it certainly merits serious consideration by those concerned with our security at home and abroad. --Jay Freeman
“Every chapter in the book is braided with intelligence nuggets. Aid weaves together original reporting, volumes of unclassified documents and his expertise. The book's chapters on Afghanistan and Pakistan are particularly engrossing…. Aid has written a highly entertaining and interesting book that provides a full-color, detailed snapshot of how the Obama administration is using intelligence to battle terrorism and that hints about how that battle is likely to be waged in the future.” ―Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post
“Aid's book is full of … revelatory anecdotes. It's one thing to say that the ISI has helped America's enemies; it's another thing to show precisely how.” ―Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
“If the devil is in the details, then Matthew M. Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terrorism, has written a devilish book indeed … a highly researched look inside the decade's most important intelligence efforts, and while sobering at best, it's not always bad news. You just have to look harder for the good news.” ―Suzanne Kelly, CNN.com
“Intel Wars teems with useful statistics and interesting anecdotes.” ―Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Aid's wide-ranging and timely assessment of the current state of U.S. intelligence should appeal to anyone interested in U.S. defense policy.” ―Publishers Weekly
“An expert update on American security that turns up more problems than solutions.” ―Kirkus
“Merits serious consideration by those concerned with our security at home and abroad.” ―Booklist
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Analogous to the corporate world, the tendency in intelligence is to collect reams of data that will never be properly processed for actionable intelligence. Also large organizations tend to reward the unimaginative when mavericks and eccentrics are needed to see what is different and what can be or is (think O.S.S.). It is about creating a culture where people can be both creative and pragmatic. The U.S. intelligence community communicates at the same time an overwhelming capability and a hapless bureaucracy. Sadly, the intelligence "grunts" will never get the respect and recognition for the pressures and strains of their jobs as they toil in organizations that frustrate them for their lack of decisiveness and action.
A few things should be pointed out though. The books copyright is in 2012 but it went to press mid-late 2011 so recent very important events, especially in North Korea and Syria are notably absent. Additionally in July 2012 the Taliban publicly admits ""At least 70% of the Taliban are angry at al Qaeda. Our people consider al Qaeda to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens.......To tell the truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama bin Laden. Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he really believed in jihad, he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, rather than wrecking our country."" and they also state that they can't win the war in Afghanistan.
Secondly, despite much criticism in the book being directed toward the Bush administration and Rumsfeld, Aid takes a last second jab at Obama on page 225 in the acknowledgements section, "....the Obama administration, despite promising the American public a new era of transparency in government, has authorized the Justice Department to file criminal indictments against a number of current or former government officials alleged to have leaked classified information to the press.......in this oppressive atmosphere, it seems prudent not to identify the sources who provided information for this book..." I'm not an Obama supporter but I hardly consider it oppressive for a President to want to reign in classified information when peoples lives are at stake. To be honest this book and many others like it should NOT be published at all, and are probably getting people killed in addition to hurting Americas chances of effectively fighting an Intel War. Publishing Intel is not free speech. TMI TMI TMI.
Thirdly, and probably most frightening for average citizens, is the section on domestic terrorism and how the intelligence community is still floating about on the issue. The fact that Al Qaeda will soon be a footnote in many an unread political science textbooks ten years from now is a testament to the successful efforts on the part of both the Bush and Obama administrations in staying the course and bringing the fight to their doorstep. Now as Al Qaeda dissolves and their ideology takes root within different organizations and in lone individuals it's up to the intelligence community to adjust, not panic by arresting kids with model rockets or dry ice bombs or diddling around frisking babies diapers at airports or Irish grandmothers in wheel chairs or soldiers returning home from defending their country. The primary target was and still is muslim men between the ages of 17-35. Their needs to be a direct effort and winning their hearts and minds by countering radical ideology at all levels through arab newspapers, radio, websites, DVDs, film, TV, and even flyers dropped from planes in remote areas combined with increasing economic opportunities in their homelands. Moderate muslim ideology must also be put in the spotlight and given a dominant voice. Otherwise the president will have to make radical choices like immediately deputizing all law enforcement officials to legally conceal and carry and use whatever means necessary to stop lone muslim gunman or using supercomputers to do "Minority Report" type preemptive arrests of citizens based on data analysis.
Lastly, the term "Data Crush" is used by the intel community to explain the frustration at the overload of information that is pouring in that nobody has time to sift through. Has anybody heard of the word 'Algorithm' before? It's not new science and it's how human beings process information everyday. Otherwise we would all be experiencing 'Data Crush'. The human eye is a good example, the periphery is blurred but the brain alerts to movement leaving more processing power for whats in focus. The intel community is trying to focus on everything all at once, they need to create an "eye" that is governed according specific rules, something like a search engine. Throw all the intel into one big pile like a huge encyclopedia set under very broad categories and then create search tools to query, harvest and analyse it. It would be money and manpower well spent.
Dealing with Washington, it was just as described in this book . The reports from the field MUST FIT the policy. The truth is not acceptable if contrary to what Washington wants it to be.
This book describes in detail that nothing has changed . It is sad because some good people die.
The book will be an eye opener if you were not aware.