sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review - The Way of the Knife

"The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth," by Mark Mazzetti tracks the transformation of the CIA and U.S. special operations forces into man-hunting and killing machines in the world’s dark spaces: the new American way of war. 

The post-911 CIA took on a different flavor than pre-9/11 CIA and Mazzetti discusses that difference, using his opening chapter to illustrate how the CIA stopped being a traditional espionage agency. Raymond Davis, hired by CIA to manhunt Pakistanis, got into trouble in Pakistan and the CIA paid the blood price (Islamic practice) to the relatives of the deceased in order to secure his release from custody.

During Panetta's CIA tenure, he authorized 216 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, killing at least 1,196. In this age of electronic marvels, a guy can sit in an office in Virginia and kill people marked for death -- remotely through drone aircraft. Thus the character of the Agency is changing. Not all of it, to be sure. But's changing the way America fights its never-ending-war. The war began with a generally middle of the road Republican presidency and it's continuing with a far left Democratic presidency. That indicates a general political acceptance that it's now who we are and what we will be doing for quite some time into the future.
The Phantom Ray, a militarized version of the X-45 stealth drone

Mazzetti discusses a number of important changes in the world that you may not be aware of. There has been an exponential increase in the number of Private Military Corporations and Private Intelligence Activities that are undertaken by non-state people on behalf the US Government. They don't have the same level of accountability as official government agencies - though technically they do. A lot of this activity is deniable.

The book is well-written, but I didn't find anything new here. That, of course, is a heavily loaded statement because some people will be shocked at the disclosures that Mazzetti makes.
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The Old Whore: A Novel of Cartel Wars

In the parlance of the Central Intelligence Agency, old whores are clandestine operators who would do anything to get the job done.
(excerpt)
"Sanctioned assassination, extraordinary rendition? You weren't sitting in the big chair that you're in today, but the Outfit handed it off to the Special Activities Division for resolution two years ago." He leaned forward in his chair. "Why not do it again? They're very good at that sort of thing." 
"Not possible under the present guidelines. We ran it past the Director of National Intelligence and he ran it past the President's godfather, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He said that we should forget about it." 
"So we forget about it?" 
"Uh, no, Frank, definitely not. We simply can't do anything directly, but we can use a cat's paw."

6 comments:

  1. Good points on the 'private' armies, and thanks for the reminder, I need to order your book!

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    Replies
    1. Everyone forgets about the private armies.

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  2. 1. Model airplanes have come a long way.
    2. The Old Whore is a splendid book.

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    Replies
    1. 1. The old radio control airplanes of my youth have taken on a distinctly different flavor.

      2. Why, YES it is.

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  3. Replies
    1. I'm waiting for my Pulitzer Prize. I figure if Barry can get a Nobel Prize for doing nothing, I should be able to get a Pulitzer for doing something.

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