Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
very readable, critical 60 year history of secretive CIA
on December 28, 2012
Extremely enjoyable reading from a 20 year veteran New York Times reporter. Based on more than 50,000 documents and hundreds of interviews. Although he uses mostly CIA sources, he comes across as very critical to their history. Mr. Weiner probably could have written 2 or 3 volumes by going into more detail on the disasters that the CIA had created, but I feel that it would get bogged down in the detail. He isn't giving away any national secrets, because what he has uncovered is that the CIA has been mostly incompetent in every mission it has tried. Also, almost every CIA director has left the agency in worse shape than he found it.
President Truman wanted concise information about the world from a source that would report to him directly. Poorly funded and with unclear goals, the various agencies that gradually morphed into the CIA used clandestine funds and their own discrepancies to fight communism worldwide. They lied to all the presidents, from Truman to the Bush's. If they would have been any good at espionage, that would have been acceptable. Their agents have all been compromised, through incompetence or double agents from other countries.
The book shows that hatred and fear of communism along with personal agendas created, or at least failed to mitigate, a lot of worldwide chaos (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Indonesia, and others). Also, that information is the most critical need of a government and keeping secrets (and doing espionage) in an open society is an unsolved problem so far.