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The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture

The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture

4.2 8
by Ishmael Jones

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American Presidents make decisions on war unaware that the human source intelligence provided by the CIA is often false or nonexistent. From Harry Truman during the Korean War to George Bush during the War on Terror, modern Presidents have faced their darkest moments as a result of poor intelligence. The CIA has assured Congress and the President that intelligence


American Presidents make decisions on war unaware that the human source intelligence provided by the CIA is often false or nonexistent. From Harry Truman during the Korean War to George Bush during the War on Terror, modern Presidents have faced their darkest moments as a result of poor intelligence. The CIA has assured Congress and the President that intelligence programs in hostile areas of the world are thriving when they simply do not exist.

The CIA is a broken, Soviet-style bureaucracy with its own agenda: to consume federal funds, to expand within the United States, to feign activity, and to enrich current and former employees. After 9/11, billions of dollars by Congress to increase the number of officers working deep cover on foreign streets have disappeared without the CIA fielding a single additional productive officer overseas.

The Human Factor makes the case for intelligence reform, showing the career of an accomplished deep cover CIA case officer who struggled not with finding human sources of secret information in rogue nations, but with the CIA's bloated, dysfunctional, even cancerous bureaucracy. After initial training in the US, Ishmael Jones spent his career in multiple, consecutive overseas assignments, as a deep cover officer without benefit of diplomatic immunity. In dingy hotel rooms, Jones met alone with weapons scientists, money launderers, and terrorists. He pushed intelligence missions forward while escaping purges within the Agency, active thwarting of operations by bureaucrats, and the ever-present threat of arrest by hostile foreign intelligence services. Jones became convinced that the CIA's failure to fulfill its purpose endangers Americans. Attempting reform form within proved absurd. Jones resigned from the CIA to make a public case for reform through the writhing of this book.

Effective American Organizations feature clear mission, transparency management, transparency, and accountability. The CIA has none of these. While it has always hired good people, it wastes and even perverts employees. The CIA is not doing its job and must be fixed. Until it is, our lives and the liver of our allies are in jeopardy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Excellent...a devastating and alarming picture."
National Review

“Scathing – and unauthorized.”
Congressional Quarterly

"Controversial, eye-opening account"
Foreword Magazine

“This book should be required reading for anyone who serves in our government or is served by it. But beware: Reading The Human Factor will make you very, very angry.”
Max Boot, Senior fellow in national security studies, The Council on Foreign Relations; author of The Savage Wars of Peace and War Made New

“Jones (the cover name the Agency gave him during his first training course), a Marine who joined the Agency’s clandestine service and became a case officer in the late ’80s, paints a devastating and alarming picture of a vast bureaucracy he calls ‘a corrupt, Soviet-style organization’.”
Michael Ledeen, National Review Online

“Mr. Jones obviously believes that the United States deserves the best intelligence organization in the world. He believes passionately that every American taxpayer is being cheated because we are paying scores of billions of dollars for a bloated, ineffective, risk-averse organization that cannot perform the mission for which it was created.”
John Weisman, The Washington Times

“Ishmael Jones represents an altogether uncommon breed of CIA officer, one willing to risk life and career in the pursuit of gathering better intelligence. If the CIA as a whole shared this one officer’s relentless pursuit of WMD sources, terrorists, and the rogue nations that support them, then we might find ourselves in a much safer world today. With his book The Human Factor, Jones relates the details of his extraordinary career with a notable lack of bravado and a tremendous amount of dry wit.”
Lindsay Moran, author of Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy

“The Human Factor is an enormously important book and a surprisingly accessible read. Hopefully, it will propel the reform debate beyond the usual tinkering…. Call him Ishmael, or not, but I call him a patriot.”
David Forsmark, Frontpage Magazine

Publishers Weekly
What's wrong with the CIA? A number of authors have tackled this question lately, and the pseudonymous Jones brings what could be a unique vantage point: a career operative, Jones claims he was "America's number one producer of intelligence reports on terrorism." Unfortunately, the book is more memoir than expose, privileging personal complaints (Jones is frequently underutilized and underappreciated) over actual accounts of the intelligence community's accomplishments and setbacks. Even as he hops the globe, Jones revels in woefully familiar aggravations: the Agency fails to reimburse his expenses in a timely fashion, wastes his time in team-building exercises, etc. He convincingly labels headquarters a haven for burnt-out, risk-averse pension-seekers, but he spends just as much time getting in digs at difficult landlords, surly cab drivers and airplane travel. Though Jones levels many serious charges against those running the CIA, he doesn't follow through and offers just a few pages of suggestions; his self-concern and attention to mundane details make this more suitable for those considering a career at the Agency than those wishing to understand it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
ForeWord Magazine
Ishmael Jones, the false name for a deep cover agent, offers a chilling insider's account that shows repeatedly that the agency is driven by incompetence and greed. Its false intelligence not only led President Bush to declare war in Iraq, but the Agency's blunders were responsible for the Iranian hostage crisis that bedeviled the Carter administration, and the Cuban Missile Crises, which nearly precipitated a world-ending nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Kennedy administration.

Jones was not thrown out of the CIA but was a highly regarded agent who resigned to write this book because he could no longer serve in this organization that had lost its sense of purpose and the capability to protect the United States from terrorist attacks. This controversial, eye-opening account will be popular in public libraries and debated by its readers. Copyright © ForeWord Magazine. All rights reserved.
—Karl Helicher
National Review Online
I don't know any other author who has told this devastating story so calmly and so convincingly. He thinks the Agency should be broken up into its component parts and integrated into other Agencies, from State to Defense.

Jones shows that the CIA is not doing its basic job, penetrating our enemies' organizations and getting their people to work with us. One of/ The Human Factor/'s most surprising revelations is that, despite all the hue and cry about the need for more and better human intelligence, despite the billions of dollars that have been poured into this project, we don't have any more case officers today than we did back when. So where did all the money go? It went to create a domestic empire right here in the United States... Copyright © National Review. All rights reserved.

—Michael Ledeen
FrontPage Magazine
When Tenet -- on whom Bush had bestowed the Medal of Freedom instead of firing for his abject intel failures before the 9/11 terror attacks -- retired from the Agency, he signed a big book deal for a don't-blame-me, blame-Bush memoir, complete with some juicy tidbits that should never have made it past the censor.

On "celebrity spy" Valerie Plame's would-be bestseller, which came nowhere near making back its huge advance, Jones comments, "CIA censors seem to have approved those portions of her book that were critical of the President; but to have blocked those portions that would have revealed she was not an active intelligence officer."

But when Jones brought his book to the CIA censors, as required when a current or former CIA employees write anything, he delivered a book with no operational details and no classified information - but entirely too much truth... Copyright © National Review. All rights reserved.
—David Forsmark

Product Details

Encounter Books
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

ISHMAEL JONES was born in the United States and raised in the Middle East, East Asia, and East Africa. He attended universities in the United States and served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. In the late 1980s he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as a deep-cover officer for eighteen years, focusing on human sources with access to intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

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The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the ultimate adventure story of a deep-cover spy, operating throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, tracking weapons scientists and terrorists. It is full of dry humor, and never slows down. But the real purpose appears to be to draw the reader¿s attention to the weakness in American national security caused by poor or false human intelligence. By not pontificating, the book is exciting and gets its point across. It¿s a book about intelligence reform disguised as a spy story. Deep cover spy Ishmael recounts details about inept CIA training and torture courses, dodging co-workers trying to sabotage his work, falling prey to a dead-baby con scheme in Bombay, and the hilarious saga of his friend, the world¿s worst spy. I read an advance copy that should be the same as the final - and believe some of its revelations are explosive: the inability to place spies in foreign countries, the CIA¿s growth within the USA, disappearing money, work avoidance schemes, and great gaps in intelligence. A few paragraphs on the Plame incident are enlightening. The Twins, a pair of CIA professors, pop up to intrude upon intelligence operations a hunt for CIA pornography users decimates deep-cover spies overseas. CIA employees hire their spouses as managers in a confusion of nepotism. And bloody Iraq, a place of such absurd violence that ordinary CIA risk aversion is temporarily on hold. The CIA¿s just a big couch potato, a failure at providing intelligence but an expert at feeding itself and growing ever larger. The consequences of this nonpartisan book could be far-reaching and CIA reform should be on the top of the Obama, 'Hillary' or McCain agendas. CIA reform may well be the most important thing Americans can do as a nation to protect themselves. The author¿s decision to donate his book profits gives his case even greater strength.
HollowellTheForgottenRoom More than 1 year ago
What exactly is this bloated bureaucracy doing? Ishmael Jones answers this question.  When an insider complains about hordes of excess agents inside the U.S. looking for easy work and swarming targets, our intelligence apparatus is in serious trouble.  These hordes include retiree contractors and highly-paid married couples. Specifically, Jones writes,    I'd made the case look easy.  Once it looked easy, it attracted the attention of hordes of HQs headquarters people vying for a chance to take it.  The first priority was to make as many people as possible look as busy as possible.   This book is a strong case for fixing  an intelligence bureaucracy that is so bloated , corrupt, and convoluted that it can no longer do its duty.  Heed his sage advice in the Appendix.
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