Every chapter in the book is braided with intelligence nuggets. Aid weaves together original reporting, volumes of unclassified documents and his expertise. The book's chapters on Afghanistan and Pakistan are particularly engrossing, although they don't put the intelligence community in a particularly good light…Aid has written a highly entertaining and interesting book that provides a full-color, detailed snapshot of how the Obama administration is using intelligence to battle terrorism and that hints about how that battle is likely to be waged in the future.
The Washington Post
In this provocative survey, intelligence historian Aid (The Secret Sentry) offers “a snapshot of the U.S. intelligence community” since Barack Obama came into office. Relying on interviews with intelligence insiders, information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and the trove of classified U.S. government documents released by Wikileaks, Aid argues that the sprawling intelligence community—208,000 employees spread across 16 agencies and operating in 170 countries—“remained “fundamentally unreformed” when Obama entered the White House. Moreover, in Afghanistan, the new president inherited a desperate situation from an inept Bush administration. While admitting that Obama has continued many of Bush’s policies, the author is unsparing in his criticism of the latter. Aid concludes that while Obama has enjoyed a couple of “notable intelligence success stories”—including Osama bin Laden’s death—the U.S. intelligence community has been struggling on other fronts. It has “dawdled in responding to the homegrown terrorist threat,” continues to suffer from weak leadership, and is drowning in a sea of data. Aid’s wide-ranging and timely assessment of the current state of U.S. intelligence should appeal to anyone interested in U.S. defense policy. (Jan.)
“Every chapter in the book is braided with intelligence nuggets. Aid weaves together original reporting, volumes of unclassified documents and his expertise. The book's chapters on Afghanistan and Pakistan are particularly engrossing…. Aid has written a highly entertaining and interesting book that provides a full-color, detailed snapshot of how the Obama administration is using intelligence to battle terrorism and that hints about how that battle is likely to be waged in the future.” Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post
“Aid's book is full of … revelatory anecdotes. It's one thing to say that the ISI has helped America's enemies; it's another thing to show precisely how.” Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
“If the devil is in the details, then Matthew M. Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terrorism, has written a devilish book indeed … a highly researched look inside the decade's most important intelligence efforts, and while sobering at best, it's not always bad news. You just have to look harder for the good news.” Suzanne Kelly, CNN.com
“Intel Wars teems with useful statistics and interesting anecdotes.” Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Aid's wide-ranging and timely assessment of the current state of U.S. intelligence should appeal to anyone interested in U.S. defense policy.” Publishers Weekly
“An expert update on American security that turns up more problems than solutions.” Kirkus
“Merits serious consideration by those concerned with our security at home and abroad.” Booklist
Aid (The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency), an expert on the National Security Agency (NSA) who is based in Washington, DC, freely admits his personal obsession with intelligence research. His main purpose here is to cover what the intelligence community has been doing since Barack Obama became President. What makes this book distinct is Aid's focus on the role played by the U.S. intelligence community overseas rather than in Washington, with chapters devoted to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other hot spots. He argues that as terrorism threats escalate, the intelligence community is not effectively adapting, instead using tactics that failed to work even 40 years ago in Vietnam. Aid also seeks to gauge where the U.S. intelligence community stands ten years after 9/11. Even with a budget greater than the departments of transportation and education combined (over $80 billion), the NSA suffers from weak leadership and an exorbitant amount of incoming information. Aid supports his arguments with documents procured through the Freedom of Information Act. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in our national security as well as those who enjoy the process of puzzle-solving through documentation.—Krista Bush, West Haven Public Sch. Lib., CT
Less secret than the title implies, this richly detailed overview of U.S. intelligence since President Obama's election reveals only spotty progress. Intelligence historian Aid (The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, 2009) asserts that the avalanche of money following 9/11 vastly expanded U.S. security agencies while leaving many deficiencies intact. Duplication, turf wars, refusal to share information and bureaucratic inertia contributed to the attacks. In response, Congress created a Department of Homeland Security to oversee American intelligence, but it has failed. Bush administration leaders opposed reform; the FBI and Defense Department demanded exemption. Congress agreed, so the Director of Homeland Security, like the Surgeon General, possesses an impressive title but little authority. Reviewing efforts around the world, Aid concludes that Iraq may escape anarchy when America withdraws, but Afghanistan remains in doubt. A troop surge and unmanned drones are wreaking havoc among the Taliban, but most Afghans detest the central government. After a decade of self-delusion, America understands that Pakistan has always supported the Taliban, but the only result is a paralysis in cooperation between the two nations. In the Middle East, Syria and Iran no longer aggressively encourage terrorism, but matters are deteriorating in Yemen and Somalia. Drug wars in Mexico have also become a major preoccupation. Aid concludes by warning that we cannot prevent future terrorist attacks at home because perpetrators will likely be disaffected individuals acting alone. An expert update on American security that turns up more problems than solutions.