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Books Review: A Pretext For War

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies (Paperback)

A Pretext For War

Investigative journalist James Bamford builds his case against America's intelligence agencies from the ground up, which makes for devastating reading not only for his subjects, but for anyone concerned with the nation's security or simply smart use of taxpayer dollars. Indeed, one can't help but cringe as the veteran journalist records the alarming post-Cold War floundering of the C.I.A., N.S.A., Defense Department, and succeeding administrations in the face of burgeoning terrorist threats that culminate with the attack on 9-11. Seemingly caught flatfooted by the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. intelligence community stumbles through the 1990s as it becomes institutionally hidebound and sluggish. During relatively peaceful times, its shortcomings, while not unnoticed, remain largely unaddressed. As Bamford sees it, with the arrival of George W. Bush, the situation goes from bad to worse. With the neocons in power, intelligence gathering is corrupted and politicized to create the grounds for going to war with Iraq. While much of what appears here has appeared earlier in works by Joseph Wilson, Richard Clarke, and others, Bamford pulls the loose ends together and adds new reporting to create a wide-ranging yet taut and absorbing expose of an American security apparatus that combines vast power with stunning ineptitude.

Is this a "Bush-bashing" book? No. The author presents the facts, and the President just doesn't come off looking very good. Sorry about that, but the truth hurts sometimes. The President may not have been the one that made a conscious decision to mislead the American public, but it happened on his watch, and he bears the ultimate responsibility for it. He is not the only one responsible, of course. Many in the upper level of the intelligence community simply rolled over and let this happen. And then of course there's the case of Ahmed Chalabi and friends, who knowingly fed false information to US intelligence in order to manipulate US foreign policy. This war was a result of poor leadership, bad intentions and sloppy intelligence work.

This is the ideal book for any citizen who wants a professional "once over" tour of the various intelligence and policy pieces that broke down and allowed 9-11 to happen, and then allowed the entire "balance of powers" construct from our Founding Fathers to fly out the window.

The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End (Paperback)
Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince (Hardcover) by Riz Khan
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Hardcover) by Lawrence Wright
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Hardcover) by Thomas E. Ricks
In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (Hardcover) by Pervez Musharraf
State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (Paperback)
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