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Still Broken: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon Hardcover – February 12, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Graduating from college with a degree in Middle East studies, Rossmiller joined the Defense Department's Intelligence Agency in 2004 and soon volunteered to join a DIA unit in Iraq. He vividly recounts his six-month tour—the physical misery of the environment and the frustrations of feeling his work rarely made a difference. Good intelligence, he explains, begins with people on the spot (in this case usually Iraqis), who take risks but supply information that is often fragmented, out-of-date and even self-serving or false. Analysts, such as the author, tease out useful data and deliver it quickly to fighting men. Hobbled by clueless superiors and their turf wars, as well as ignorance of Iraqi culture, DIA units, including Rossmiller's, witnessed American forces repeatedly acting on poor or outdated intelligence. They killed and arrested plenty of genuine insurgents but also killed, arrested and infuriated many innocent Iraqis, which crippled their efforts. Back in Washington, Rossmiller discovered the agency under pressure to provide good news for the Bush administration. Superiors regularly rejected his analyses of Iraqi politics as too pessimistic. If repeated rewrites lacked an upbeat conclusion, superiors inserted one. That his predictions turned out to be correct made no difference. This intense, partisan arm-twisting devastated morale, resulting in an exodus of agency experts, including the author. Rossmiller gives a lively insider's view of the petty and not-so-petty politics that affect the intelligence our leaders receive in their efforts to pacify Iraq; it is not a pretty picture. (Feb. 12)
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Review

Advance praise for Still Broken

“A. J. Rossmiller has given us a crucial piece of the Iraq debacle–a bottom-up, insider’s account of how the U.S. intelligence community has been twisted by politics and paralyzed by bureaucracy. Still Broken is also a powerful personal story of how a smart, well-educated, and patriotic young American tried to serve his country, in Iraq and in the Pentagon, and became disillusioned by the rank incompetence at the heart of the so-called ‘Global War on Terror.’ And while Rossmiller demonstrates, repeatedly, that his taste in music really needs an upgrade, he also proves to be an engaging, skillful, and funny writer.”
–Joe Klein, Time political columnist

“A gripping ground-level view of the exasperating journey of a brave intelligence analyst trying to serve his country at a time of cherry-picked, slanted, and downright deceitful intelligence. As he debriefs detainees, plans for raids in Baghdad, and offers apolitical Iraq analysis in Washington, his conscience never fails him, even as the leaders of his country do. It is one thing to decry ‘politicized intelligence,’ and another, deeper thing to live, as Rossmiller did, with the devastating consequences of ideology and ego run amok.”
–Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Problem from Hell

“A. J. Rossmiller is a truth-teller, a rarity today, and the title of his book–Still Broken–is the succinct truth about the U.S. intelligence apparatus. That apparatus is not only failing, but it is failing catastrophically. To understand part of the reason why, read Mr. Rossmiller’s book.”
–Lawrence Wilkerson, Pamela Harriman Visiting Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary, and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell

“A. J. Rossmiller has emerged as one of the most insightful and sophisticated foreign-policy commentators in our country. He combines a passionate patriotism and irreplaceable real-life experience with the U.S. military in documenting the profound corruption and ineptitude driving our Iraq policy. Rossmiller served his country nobly during the war, and does so again with this important and moving new book.”
–Glenn Greenwald, author of How Would a Patriot Act?
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1 edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891419144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891419143
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,496,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a personal memoir of a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence analyst of his experiences at DIA. As such it provides a snapshot of the professional life of a working analyst both here and in Iraq. Based on his experiences, Rossmiller has concluded that DIA is a dysfunctional organization suffering from incompetent management, inconsistent leadership, and a lack of a coherent mission plan, hence the title of his book. Rossmiller joined DIA straight from college, served only two years, and was familiar only with a small part of the Iraq effort mounted by DIA in support of Operation Iraqi freedom and its aftermath. So how accurate is his account and his conclusions?

Well to anyone familiar with DIA, his conclusions appear remarkably on the mark. Since its creation by Robert McNamara, DIA has been an agency in search of a mission. Although designed to be the military equivalent of CIA, DIA has never been able to acquire the cache' of CIA although it has also managed to miss most of the notoriety as well. The personal of DIA are an uneasy mix of military and civilian intelligence professionals under the often erratic management of military line officers and a few civilians of often dubious qualifications. DIA management is at best a mixture of competent and incompetent officers and civilians at all levels. This in large part is due to the Byzantine selection and promotion processes common to the IC as a whole, but exacerbated at DIA by the need to have a large number of military officers at field grade or higher in most senior positions whether or not they are qualified. Further, like the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), DIA makes the fallacious assumption that all analysts of a given grade are identical so fails to recognize good analysts from bad.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
DNI Mike McConnell is a good man trapped in a very bad pyramidal system that is inherently duplicitous. He is presiding over what retiring Defense Senior Intelligence Leader Rick MacKenzie calls, in this book, "the underlying insanity of our intelligence agencies."

As the author of the original strike, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, honored with a foreword by Senator David Boren, former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and several other books moving the ball forward in the public (since our government is broken, not just the intelligence community) I must confess that the author of this book pursues a path that is inherently attractive to me. I have a bias for the truth, and a bias against the $60 billion a year in insane waste that Mike McConnell is presiding over.

Out of the ten books that arrived today, this is the one I could not put down. Below are my summative highlights, and then other books that support this author.

For a first time author and a young man at that, my first flyleaf note reads, underlined with exclamation marks: ABLY WRITTEN! By a MATURE Person!

There is no index nor bibliography in this book. I absorbed it at face value, as a first-person narrative of a patriot who joined the intelligence community for the right reasons, and left the sinking ship after honorably pointing out the flaws to his bosses, who remain typical not invested here lifers (this is generally the case across the IC).

+ Analysts segregated, no inter-regional, issue, or agency integration and interaction.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book you will not want to put down, and once you're done you won't be able to look at our "intelligence" community in the same way. Independent of your political views, you will find this book to be a very revealing look inside the most controversial war of this generation. You will get both a "ground level" view of the war in Iraq and an insightful look into the intelligence process from the pentagon itself.

Bottom line: if you have even a passing interest in the subject, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book - you will not regret it.
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Format: Hardcover
An inside look on how management and bureaucracy in an intelligence agency can greatly hamper the delivery of accurate intelligence to the administration. AJ shows how in his world at the Pentagon, bad news travels slowly (if at all), good news travels fast, and sometimes good news is, well, made up. It is evident after reading AJ's book that there are more people to blame than the administration--the defense complex is full of career-path-minded individuals who are so risk averse, the management stratigraphy collectively edits intelligence reports until they are "on message", which is a euphemism for optimistic. This behavior is rewarded, and often managers who play this game rise through the ranks, despite their reports lacking accuracy and candor. Hopefully AJ's book awakens US leaders to restructure the management machinery at the DIA and pentagon so they can craft sounder and more mindful policies, and so that the American warfighters overseas are better supported.
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