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Paperback State of War : The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration Book

ISBN: 0743270673

ISBN13: 9780743270670

State of War : The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration

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Book Overview

James Risen has broken story after story on the abuses of power of the Bush administration. From warrantless wiretapping to secret financial data mining to the CIA's rogue operations, he has shown again and again that the executive branch has dangerously overreached, repudiated checks and balances on its power, and maintained secrecy even with its allies in Congress. In no small part thanks to Risen and State of War, the "secret history" of the Bush...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Incompetence and misuse of power

This is a clear exposition of the CIA's incompetence, and back-door politics within the Bush administration. James Risen exposes several violations of the US Constitution, in terms of blatant infringements of privacy laws committed against the American people. He also outlines the back-channel decision-making between Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfield, known old hands at Machiavellian politics, clearly going behind the president's back on key issues regarding world terrorism and the war in Iraq. The key theme in Risen's argument is the incompetence, lack of courage and downright obsequiousness of once Director of the CIA, George Tenet, who appears more of a PR man, one of the "good old boys", the tragic "yes man", letting play ground bullies like Donald Rumsfield call all the shots, attempting to pull the entire US intelligence community under his power - and he has almost succeeded. In this convoluted mess of lies, betrayal and incompetence, Risen has managed to write a clear piece on many touchy issues, revealing a government that has knee-jerked us into a war that has become a quagmire, that some believe is far worse than Vietnam. The WMD question has currently become old news. When the National Intelligence Estimate (Independent WMD committee) concluded that the CIA's reports regarding Iraq's so-called nuclear program and biological laboratories, "were all wrong" (P. 22) Risen unpacks the lies, withheld reports and bully tactics that the Bush administration used towards anyone who contradicted their views, is a chilling story of out and out bureaucratic warfare, revealing once again the ineptness of the dwindling CIA. The administration did not want to hear the truth, that is to say, Iraq having folded their nuclear aspirations at the end of the first Gulf War. As the true "yes men" they had become, the CIA gave their bosses the information they required, in order to support their justifications to invade Iraq. The more pressing story and one that continues to be under investigation, appears in chapter two, The Program. The NSA was given Carte blanch to use their highly sophisticated communication and eaves dropping technology to spy on the American people. President Bush, just after 9/11, secretly authorized the NSA to monitor private communications within America's borders. This is domestic espionage, eavesdropping without the authority of due process - a direct violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. The justification, however, was the fact that the "country is at war". Though, in reality, it certainly does not take a lot of time to discover "probable cause", and get a judge to sign the pertinent warrants. This "secret" violation of civil rights, which the founding father's ensured was included in the constitution for the obvious reasons, should be enough to at least begin a major investigation or at best, begin impeachment proceedings. This secret authorization goes against everything the US stands for and is quite

yikes

Risen gives a very detailed look into the Bush White House and the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. What he shows is infighting and a shocking lack of competence within the various departments. The right hand never seems to know or care what the left hand is doing. It seems that at a time when our country needs leadership, we have to settle for the Keystone Kops. Tenet's incompetence, Rumsfeld's ego, Cheney's empire-lust and Condi's weakness all have conspired to undermine the national security. The most frightening conclusion to be made is that Bush is completely irrelevant in all this. He seems to be a fool motivated by his own narrow ideological and emotional impulses, and the perfect pawn for neocons hell bent on world domination. We are in deep trouble.

A perpetual state of war

James Risen's "State of War" may be a thin volume but it's as power-packed an indictment as I've witnessed with regard to the Bush administration thus far. It should be read by everyone in and out of Washington....especially neo-conservatives. This book hits the ground running and doesn't let up for one second. "State of War" is centered around the CIA and its troubling relationship with the Bush White House (although Bill Clinton comes in for a fair share of criticism) as the author gives concise judgments on all of the major players surrounding Bush. There are clear winners and losers in Risen's narrative, as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Tenet (to name just three) represent both sides. While Tenet is presented as a sycophant, Rumsfeld and Cheney are really in charge with Rumsfeld simply ignoring directives he doesn't like. Colin Powell, as we know, played by the rules and lost out in the first-term power struggle while Condi Rice is portrayed as second-rate and ineffectual. As told by Risen, the current president is either detached, uninterested or unaware of foreign policy, much to the continuing chagrin of a plurality of Americans. The author makes a persuasive case to support this stance. What makes "State of War" so fascinating beyond the participants is how the Bush people bungled so many things. Richard Clarke gave us a great initial look at this in his excellent book, "Against All Enemies", but Risen takes it even farther (of course much more has unfolded since Clarke's book). Risen's last three chapters deal with the unbelievable mishandling of the situation in Afghanistan, followed by several pages concerning America's complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia and a final chapter regarding MERLIN....a secret plan to confuse Iran on how to assemble a nuclear bomb....a plan that may have actually helped them. Risen reminds us that Bush ran in 2000 trying to assure Americans that he would surround himself with the best team available. Instead we got the Keystone Kops. While the diversion of Iraq continues, the world becomes less safe, due in large part to over-preening egos and an unwarranted sense of political self-preservation and hubris in the nation's capital. "State of War" is a terrific book and I highly recommend it.

Hard to put down, yet you want to throw it away.

A brilliant current history, written by a careful, talented and accurate journalist. Mr. Risen is a member of that rare, dying breed, a journalist who is neither paid off, nor prostituting himself for a political agenda, AND who works hard to dig out the truths behind the lies. The result is a book that is truly hard to put down, even though the reader is repeatedly tempted, just so he can scream or write a letter to the White House or to his local paper. Risen makes sense out of much of the history which brought us to the quagmire currently known as Iraq. He confirms much of what many thinking Americans suspect, only to inform us that things are actually much worse. NSA data mining and domestic spying? CIA in competition with the FBI and DOD on prisoner torture? Tenet being rolled repeatedly by Rumsfeld? Cheney and Rummie actually setting foreign and war policy, to the exclusion of other branches of government? Condi Rice - an idiot who was way out of her league, and quite probably the worst National Security Adviser ever to mis-serve her president and her country? Wolfowitz being brainwashed by Israeli Intel, then blaming CIA truth-tellers of lying? What a list. What a book! This is a must read book, one that will help the reader make sense of so much and make the reader quite angry at what has happened to our country.
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