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The CIA, "Torture," and Obama's Drone Strikes

The number of such agencies is now in the double digits; the perceived inability of the CIA to do it alone appears to have motivated their rise. Still, Faddis insists that finding the right personnel to recruit spies and run complex secret intelligence-gathering missions requires careful recruiting and rigorous training — and only the CIA has the institutional capacity to do this type of work, buried somewhere beneath its bureaucratic layers.

Beyond Repair

But each reform to date has only added more bureaucracy. It would also replace the other organizations that have become involved in foreign intelligence collection. Granted, multiple agencies operating in the same space can create confusion, and efforts to cooperate and coordinate can make for turf wars or bureaucratic delays.

That is a mere quibble, however. Beyond Repair provides a succinct study of how an innovative and daring government agency devolved into a Washington bureaucracy. It remains to be seen if the agency can actually overcome established interests and start gathering intelligence all over again. Will it threaten us with them once it has developed missiles capable of reaching the United States? Will it decide in retaliation for some perceived slight by the United States to make available an atomic weapon to a terrorist organization?

I would submit that it is critical for the United States to have answers to these questions. Accepting that we do not know should not be an option.


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We should do whatever it takes and employ whatever methodology we need to employ to get this information. The Craft of Intelligence: His call for a smaller, more elite service that is less bureaucratic and totally results-oriented is spot-on, as is his call for foreign language mastery. His plea to abandon official cover as a way of life and to adopt whatever cover furthers the objective is long overdue.

I also support his idea that there are way too many levels of staff bureaucracy in the broader IC, and the ODNI has only added another layer of ass-pain and bureaucratic inertia to the mix. Overall, this book will be of interest to members of the IC, and those who care about its mission which in my opinion should be every thinking American citizen. I am very glad he wrote it.

While I disagreed with the few items mentioned above, I mainly found myself nodding along in agreement throughout. Sister services especially the large DoD agencies should ask themselves if this shoe fits as well. Oct 12, Paul rated it it was amazing. As shown in the title, the author, a CIA veteran, doesn't believe that the Agency needs fixing or "tweaking. During World War II, in the days of the OSS, a person or group was given a mission, which usually involved being dropped behind enemy lines, and was told to make it happen.

Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA

They treated intelligence work as some sort of holy calling. Today, the CIA is filled with bureaucrats and buck-passers who consider it as merely As shown in the title, the author, a CIA veteran, doesn't believe that the Agency needs fixing or "tweaking. Today, the CIA is filled with bureaucrats and buck-passers who consider it as merely another federal job. It is thought of as a cardinal sin to make waves, even if it will save American lives. If a person doesn't measure up to Army standards, they are asked to leave the program.

The CIA has no such training program. A person could be a wonderful case officer, but be totally incompetent in a position of leadership. Despite the CIA's rigid bureaucracy, they still know how to put together a covert operation in days, or even hours, when an intelligence opportunity presents itself. Other agencies, like the military and FBI, need months and months of briefings, re-briefings, evaluations and approval from several different people before there can be a final approval. That is why the author strongly feels that the CIA should be the only foreign intelligence agency, and that other agencies should stop their foreign intelligence operations.

In a US embassy overseas, the ambassador is the boss.

No covert operation happens without his or her approval. The ambassador works for the State Department, whose top rule seems to be "Don't upset the host country", even if that covert operation will save lives. Occasionally, there will be visits from Washington bureaucrats, who would not know a covert operation if they tripped over it. They usually have this wonderful intelligence idea, which sounds great in a Langley conference room, but on the ground, is an amazingly stupid idea. Physical training for covert agents used to be very rigorous, because an agent had to be able to deal with almost anything.

Over the years, standards have been reduced to almost zero. What was "very rigorous" training is now something like mildly stressful. The CIA is in strong need of people on the ground, so physical standards have been reduced to the point where people from other divisions have been let in to the program. It doesn't matter if they have asthma, diabetes or some other major ailment. If they complete the course there are no repercussions if they don't , they suddenly think they are qualified to go overseas and work on real covert operations, right next to someone with 20 years experience.

This is a very scathing book, but it is much needed. Regardless of your opinions about recent CIA actions, America needs some sort of foreign intelligence agency.

The Decline and Fall of the CIA

This book is an excellent place to start putting together such an agency the right way. Feb 19, Danny rated it really liked it. Not great for gack, but really wonderful stories about the glory days of the OSS. Some nice examples of VO's that encapsulate the mentality and life-style of an intelligence agent. It really helps you understand the frame of mind of a case officer that has to struggle with threats to their life as well as the insurmountable inertia of a constantly growing bureaucracy. I really enjoyed it, but it's important to note that this book is less "what it's like to be part of the intelligence community" Not great for gack, but really wonderful stories about the glory days of the OSS.

I really enjoyed it, but it's important to note that this book is less "what it's like to be part of the intelligence community" and more "what's wrong with the intelligence community. Aug 06, Afua rated it it was ok Shelves: Although I appreciated the conclusions and recommendations Charles Faddis provided in Beyond Repair, I could barely get past the somewhat whining and complaining tone of the book.

Is the CIA Beyond Repair? | Book Reviews, Foreign Policy, Politics | Zócalo Public Square

Surely there are other ways to communicate the failures of the CIA without constantly reminding the reader that you are perfect and the CIA was perfect back in the good old days. I'll keep looking for a book that examines the CIA with a bit less bias. Jan 12, David rated it really liked it. First hand account of former station chief about why the CIA used to work and the current-day obstacles that impede its effectiveness.

Jul 31, Jeff rated it it was ok Shelves: Disgruntled officer with a chip on his shoulder Marc rated it really liked it Dec 11, Tom rated it liked it Jul 07, Coleman rated it really liked it Jun 08, Hugh Hawley rated it it was amazing Oct 09, Trevor rated it it was ok Mar 10, Shawn rated it it was amazing May 21, Charles Faddis rated it it was amazing Jan 10, Marc Perrington rated it liked it Apr 16,