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The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency
     

The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency

4.3 3
by Matthew M. Aid
 

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Peering from space via satellite, tapping phones and networks, monitoring cell phone frequencies around the globe, the NSA watches friends, enemies, and terror suspects alike. Some 60 percent of the president's daily intelligence briefing comes from this one agency. No one knows the NSA better than Matthew M. Aid, who has packed two decades of research in

Overview

Peering from space via satellite, tapping phones and networks, monitoring cell phone frequencies around the globe, the NSA watches friends, enemies, and terror suspects alike. Some 60 percent of the president's daily intelligence briefing comes from this one agency. No one knows the NSA better than Matthew M. Aid, who has packed two decades of research in declassified archives into The Secret Sentry, the most complete account ever written of this elusive organization.
From Eastern Europe to Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan, the NSA has played a key role in America's geopolitical successes, and some of its failures. Aid follows the NSA from its tense beginnings in the Cold War to its controversial role in the War on Terror. The Secret Sentry is nothing less than a shadow history of global affairs in the past half century. This meticulous and engrossing narrative gives an unrivaled look at the most powerful spy agency in the world.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Electronic signals/communications intelligence (SIGINT) is a vital part of the information-gathering efforts of intelligence agencies. The National Security Agency (NSA) is the primary eavesdropping and code-breaking arm of the U.S. government. Aid goes over its operations during the crises of the 1950s and 1960s and the Vietnam War era, much of which was covered by James Bamford's The Puzzle Palace. But what is new and more important here is the evaluation of NSA activities since 2000. Using interviews with those in positions to know, the author discusses NSA's troubled bureaucratic working relations with the CIA and FBI, how its product was used before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the massive domestic spying operation directed by the White House. VERDICT This book provides useful background for the current national security debate, with the author generally siding with the NSA as a misused agency that needs still more resources. With extensive endnotes; index and photos not seen. Suitable for general and advanced readers.—Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
Kirkus Reviews
The full history of an ultra-secretive government agency. The National Security Agency was most recently in the news in 2005 when it was revealed that the agency had been eavesdropping on citizens without warrants, an episode that highlighted the NSA's mysterious role as the linchpin of the American intelligence apparatus. Intelligence historian Aid shows how the NSA's briefings to the president have played a part in every major American conflict since World War II. In 1949, the agency began as the Armed Forces Security Agency and was primarily involved in codebreaking and communication interception. During the Korean War, its analysts were able to break virtually all of the codes of the North Korean military in just 30 days. Not long after the NSA became its own agency in 1952, it suffered some major failures. Eisenhower first heard of the death of Stalin in 1953 not from U.S. intelligence but from news-wire services. "Like the rest of the U.S. intelligence community," writes Aid, "NSA had provided no indication whatsoever that Stalin was ill." Most significantly, the NSA did not receive intelligence about Soviet missiles in Cuba in time to help avert the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The intelligence improved, but Aid emphasizes the important point that intelligence is only as good as the interpretation it receives. He cites as examples Lyndon Johnson's administration, who leaned on sketchy NSA information to push the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, and George W. Bush's administration, which not only instituted wiretapping programs in an attempt to find al-Qaeda operatives, but twisted NSA intelligence to bolster its reasoning to invade Iraq in 2003. NSA analysis now comprises as muchas 60 percent of the president's daily intelligence briefing, and Aid provides a critical history of the agency that has the ear of the leader of the free world. A sprawling but revealing look at a powerful, shadowy agency of the American government. Agent: Rick Broadhead/Rick Broadhead & Associates

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608190966
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.62(h) x 1.21(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Matthew Aid is a leading intelligence historian and expert on the NSA, and a regular commentator on intelligence matters for the New York Times, the Financial Times, the National Journal, the Associated Press, CBS News, National Public Radio (NPR) and many others.

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Secret Sentry 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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