- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1/31/96 edition (March 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060921781
- ISBN-13: 978-0060921781
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush 1/31/96 Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In this impressive survey, British historian Andrew (Her Majesty's Secret Service) assesses the extent to which U.S. secret intelligence has been influenced by the personalities and policies of our presidents. Although George Washington and Woodrow Wilson made good use of secret intelligence, the author shows there was no official American intelligence community until WWII, when Franklin D. Roosevelt relied more attentively on intelligence collection and analysis than any previous president. But, Andrew notes, only Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and George Bush showed a flair for using intelligence. Eisehower's wartime command experience exploiting covert resources served him well when he became chief executive; JFK presided over the most spectacular intelligence success of the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis (the author, however, faults Kennedy for poor judgment in the Bay of Pigs invasion). As for George Bush, the first former CIA director elected to the White House, Andrew demonstrates that he had a better grasp of intelligence capabilities than any of his predecessors. Andrew's interpretations are often striking: "The most powerful government ever to fall as a result of covert action was the administration of Richard Nixon." Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Much of the value returned on America's multibillion-dollar spending on intelligence depends on what the ultimate consumer, the president, does with it. Too often the sum is wasted if he ignores it or wants fortune-telling clairvoyance from it. But a few presidents have justified the expense with their realistic use of confidential information. Writing about each chief executive, Andrew blends the organizational growth of U.S. spy agencies (mostly ad hoc entities until the cold war spawned the CIA and NSA) with presidential predilections of the moment. FDR preferred espionage gathering on people (he was indifferent, unlike Churchill, to the signals intelligence that was possibly decisive in World War II); aerial surveillance tripped up Ike in the U-2 affair; and Nixon's undoing was his penchant for snooping on domestic political opponents. When not telling a revealing anecdote, such as Wilson's naive use of a simple cipher the British had no trouble cracking, Andrew aims his fluid analysis at the intelligence successes and failures in the foreign policy realm--in all, a fascinating synthesis from a premier author of a half-dozen previous espionage histories. An excellent companion acquisition is G. J. O'Toole's Honorable Treachery (1991), a history of U.S. intelligence operations. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As this book makes clear, not all presidents understood the value and uses of the secret intelligence provided through CIA. Also the role of CIA as a purveyor of intelligence was muddied by its ability to conduct covert operations. More than one president was far more interested in the ability of CIA to engage in secret operations to achieve presidential national security objectives than the intelligence that it provided. According to Andrew, excluding John Kennedy, only two modern Presidents really understood the value,use, and limitations of intelligence. President Dwight Eisenhower, thanks to his WWII role as Supreme Allied Commander, came to the presidency with a clear understanding and appreciation of intelligence and established a good working relationship with CIA and the IC. President George W. Bush (Senior) actually served a year as CIA Director under Gerald Ford. This experience gave him an unprecedented understanding (for a U.S. President) of intelligence processes and capabilities as well as a clear understanding of the uses and abuses of covert action. Bush was a very well liked CIA and more importantly trusted. As a result, even if Bush disliked the then CIA Director William Webster, he had a fine sense of the importance of the intelligence that CIA produced. He even added Robert Gates, a career CIA officer, to his National Security Council (NSC). Almost unique among U.S. Presidents, Bush understood the vital differences between predictive and warning intelligence and never expected CIA to produce prophetic warnings on specific events.
In sum this is a well written and well researched book that shows yet again that any intelligence is only as good as the system or, in this case, individual it serves.