Review: Constructing Cassandra – Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001

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Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Recommended for Students, August 20, 2014

I found this book, a gift, to be charming and useful. It should certainly be used as a textbook at the national intelligence university and other mainstream schools. I consider this book a hybrid, one that integrates an outsider application of a social constructivist perspective, with an appreciation for selected insider sources who were ostracized at the time but ultimately proven correct when the agency they sought to serve was proven wrong.

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Aug 20

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto at Spirituality Today

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The Open-Source Everything Manifesto by Robert David Steele

The Open-Source Everything Manifesto is a distillation of author, strategist, analyst, and reformer Robert David Steele life’s work: the transition from top-down secret command and control to a world of bottom-up, consensual, collective decision-making as a means to solve the major crises facing our world today.

The book is intended to be a catalyst for citizen dialog and deliberation, and for inspiring the continued evolution of a nation in which all citizens realize our shared aspiration of direct democracy—informed participatory democracy. Open-Source Everything is a cultural and philosophical concept that is essential to creating a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for one hundred percent of humanity.

The future of intelligence is not secret, not federal, and not expensive. It is about transparency, truth, and trust among our local to global collective. Only “open” is scalable.

As we strive to recover from the closed world corruption and secrecy that has enabled massive fraud within governments, banks, corporations, and even non-profits and universities, this timely book is a manifesto for liberation—not just open technology, but open everything.

Our Review

The term Open Source refers to universal access to a product or services core design or primary features. Without Open Source there would be no Internet in the way that we currently enjoy it for it is in digital publishing and information sharing that Open Source has been such a powerful force for change.

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Apr 28

Review: The Future of Intelligence – Challenges in the 21st Century

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Isabelle Duyyesteyn, Ben de Jong, Joop van Reijn (eds)

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for Libraries Not Individuals, March 30, 2014

I know one of the editors, Ben de Jong, and am disappointed in the publisher for failing to properly present the book. Below I provide the table of contents that should have been provided by the publisher.

Foreword and acknowledgements, Michael Kowalski 1.By Way of Introduction: A Systemic Way of Looking at the Future of Intelligence, Bob de Graaff 2. The Future of Intelligence: What Are the Threats, the Challenges and the Opportunities?, Sir David Omand 3. The Future of Intelligence: Changing Threats, Evolving Methods, Gregory F. Treverton 4.Is the US Intelligence Community Anti-Intellectual?, Mark M. Lowenthal 5.The Future of the Intelligence Process: The End of the Intelligence Cycle?, Art Hulnick 6.The Future of Counterintelligence: the Twenty-First Century Challenge, Jennifer Sims 7. Analyzing International Intelligence Cooperation: Institutions or Intelligence Assemblages?, Jelle van Buuren 8. European Intelligence Cooperation, Björn Fägersten 9.Intelligence-Led Policing in Europe: Lingering between Idea and Implementation, Monica den Boer 10. The Next Hundred Years: Reflections on the Future of Intelligence, Wilhelm Agrell 11.Conclusions: It may be September 10, 2001 today George Dimitriu and Isabelle Duyvesteyn

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Mar 30

Review (Guest): Final Judgment – The Missing Link in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy

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Michael Collins Piper

By Herbert L Calhoun on March 10, 2003

As one who has read over 200 books on the JFK Assassination, and engaged in research both as an individual and as part of various teams, I can say without fear of contradiction that Piper’s book is now the definitive work on the JFK Assassination. “Final Judgement” is the most thorough, most honest, most penetrating, most factual, and most analytically complete and systematic of all that I have read so far.

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Mar 24

Review (Guest): The Yankee and Cowboy War

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Carl Oglesby

This is the first of several high-level political analyses motivated by a need to better understand the politics that led to both the JFK assassination and the Nixon Watergate Affair. It deploys as the primary theoretical model, C. Wright Mills “Theory of the Power Elite” and the framework in Carroll Quigleys book “Tragedy and Hope.”

With these tools, Carl Oglesby posits an interesting thesis: that JFKs assassination, instead of being a random act by a lone nut was in fact a carefully planned and professional executed ongoing coup d’ etat a la Americaine, a not so silent coup by the same forces responsible for the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X and possibly the demise and eventual destruction of the billionaire Howard Hughes.

What all of these events had in common was that they were links in a chain designed to replace one set of power elite (members of the old moneyed “peace promoting” Eastern Yankee Establishment) with another (the Nuevo Riche and newly arrived, “progress through war” Western Cowboys). Thus it is argued here that the events connecting Dallas, Memphis, Watergate and the demise of the Hughes empire, are but threads in a common fabric, growing and evolving directly out of the systematic corruption of American politics and out of contemporary political realities.

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Mar 24

Review (Guest): Deep Politics and the Death of JFK

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Peter Dale Scott

Along with Carl Oglesby’s The Yankee [and] Cowboy War and Michael Piper Collins’ Final Judgment, this is the best book ever written on the JFK Assassination. It may also be the best book ever written on the way the American political process ACTUALLY works. It is certainly the most honest one.

Deep Politics should be required reading for undergraduates in all American college and university Political Science courses. If for no reason other than that, in the course of getting at the bottom of the assassination of JFK, Professor Scott did not hesitate to expand the context of American political life to those unacceptable areas that lay just beneath the American consciousness and at the bottom of the American political undercurrents.

Once one is guided through his process of expanding the context of understanding (or actually “over-understanding”) the machinations of the American Political process (its corruption, deceptions, cover-ups, and other pretexts for explaining away its immorality), then the details of the assassination itself, are almost a foregone conclusions – little more than a logical afterthought.

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Mar 24

Worth a Look: Real-Life Fiction, Spying Outside the Wire and Beyond CIA’s Capabilities

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Who is fighting the war in Afghanistan? Did you know that 52% of people fighting in Afghanistan are contracted to do so? Contractors operate far beyond the borders of Afghanistan, they operate globally. Real people. Real missions. Real wars.  After the United States was attacked and the President vowed to search and destroy the enemy, the government formed a secret unit comprised of civilians. Paid civilians. Contracted civilians. Many of these people left their jobs, families, and friends to voluntarily serve alongside their military brethren. They did it out of love, passion, and deep patriotism. Declan Collins is one of those men. Just another patriot you have never heard of working to keep America safe. A former member of the US Armed Forces trying to make it in the civilian world as a newlywed, Declan quickly found himself working for one of America’s most secretive organizations. He fit the role of what they needed perfectly. This novel is about what happened after Declan received a mysterious phone call, was paid and given two weeks to get into Afghanistan all the while placing his life on hold to preserve and protect America. Find out about the fighting force rarely ever spoken of, those who were Contracted–America’s Secret Warriors. Inspired by true events.

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Contracted: America’s Terror Trackers takes readers into the very real world of covert and clandestine operations. These operations aren’t always conducted abroad; oftentimes they occur deep inside the United States. Those who conduct these missions are not always government employees. In fact, most of America’s government fails to recognize these patriotic warriors willing to sacrifice everything for this nation. They are contractors. Like Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors, the first of the Contracted trilogy, this novel was inspired by true events, real people, and real operations. It takes readers on a journey with contractor, Declan Collins, who recently returned from operating as an unconventional human intelligence collector in Afghanistan. A severely injured Collins, who refuses to allow his injuries to stop him from protecting America, accepts a challenge to hunt the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization–Hezbollah. With Hezbollah’s global footprint, Declan Collins travels throughout the United States and several locations abroad ranging from Jordan, Jamaica, Mexico, and of course Lebanon as he collects intelligence with hopes to take down the world’s number one evil. What he uncovers through his journey is overly alarming and makes him begin to dig deeper into his own faith as a modern day Christian Crusader.

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Feb 26

Review (Guest): The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

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Luke Harding

4.0 out of 5 stars Ed Snowden and the American tribal fear meme, February 19, 2014

 

This is a story about what one American saw atop the tip of an iceberg called the “American national security state.” In the end, Ed Snowden, a 29-year old, $200,00/year High School dropout turned Computer Systems Administrator for Dell, and then Booz Allen Hamilton, both of which were under contract with the NSA, is little more than a proxy for the rest of us: the “paying customer” zombies and drones for the American “national security state.”

As he tried to “ride out” his tenure astride this violently bucking institutional Orwellian Frankenstein, Snowden quickly realized that he was losing ground to this secret self-fashioned protector of America’s deepest values. In our life time, the NSA had joined a long string of other self-justifying, self-certifying, security institutions, like the CIA, the FBI, Swat Teams, the DEA, even local police intelligence units, especially in America’s inner cities. In our lifetime, these institutions have acquired immense and unwarranted powers, often even unauthorized, unconstitutional and unearned and even criminal influence over our democratic institutions. Today, as this evolving behemoth huffs and puffs and bucks wildly out-of-control, Snowden decided he had no choice but to “jump ship,” taking with him a treasure trove of all that lay below the national security waterline.

What exactly is it that Ed Snowden saw that frightened him out of his wits and out of his $200k job and into the hands of a most curious savior of last resort: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the ex-Communist ex-superpower that, since it was forced to commit suicide as an empire, has now become a capitalist Wild West frontier, a land full of out-of-control oligarchs, which is exactly where Ed Snowden’s favorite political hero, Ron Paul would like to take America — if he is ever elected president, that is.

As he now sits ensconced somewhere in Russia, one thought above all else must have occurred to Mr. Snowden: Is this some kind of sick joke? That me, a freedom-loving American, who willingly exercised my civic duty as a free-thinking defender of American values and the U.S. Constitution, conveying crimes being committed against that very Constitution, is now forced to run, hide and seek refuge in a failed ex-Communist state?

That Snowden’s reality is true in a nation that is still living on moral credit, and that takes much more credit for being democratic than it deserves or its historical record can substantiate, is almost as embarrassing an irony and contradiction as seeing the U.S. being “in hock up to the hilt” to Reagan’s other Axis-of-evil: the last standing Communist Police State, “Red China.” And lest we conveniently forget, said “Red China,” is the same state that less than three decades ago, we were referring to mockingly and derisively as being backwards? Now, that they are in bed with our capitalist oligarchs (the Red Chinese “Job Creators,” par excellence) rather incongruously, China has now become the world’s leading capitalist country, holding 60% of our debt, while the U.S. slides noisily, defiantly, but nevertheless persistently and decidedly, backwards. There is an embedded poetic logic to this irony that Snowden’s Ron Paul-Ayn Rand Libertarian sensibilities seems to have missed?

This book rather inarticulately unravels the story of exactly what it is that Ed Snowden saw; why he was so alarmed; and why he had no choice but to expose what he saw to the American public and then had to run. It tells how in the ultimate act of patriotic suicide, Snowden had to respectfully sue for the mercy of the “Obama Courts.” However, since he knew that with the “Obama Justice Department,” a fair trial was already off the table, he had no choice but to “punt early” by “going on the lam,” and seeking protection and a haven elsewhere.

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Feb 19

Review (Guest): The Burglary – The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI

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Betty Medsger

5.0 out of 5 stars Hoover’s FBI and its threat to the Preservation of our Democratic Values and Institutions, February 8, 2014

Herbert L. Calhoun

Seen properly in its widest context, this book tells us an important story about ourselves. It is a story about a familiar political game that our leaders continue to play on us. First they tell us what to be afraid of, and then they ask us to trust them to know how to protect us? For us to ask questions, to seek open debate, or to make enquiries about any of this is considered disloyal and unpatriotic?

The story in this book is about how one much-revered individual acquired, and then grossly misused the power and trust “we the people” vested in him; and how he was subtly given permission to serve as a proxy for the nation’s darkest inner fears. Thus, it is only in this sense that Betty Medsger’s book, “The Burglary,” is a story about the FBI — as it is seen indirectly from the vantage point of being the failed institutional reflection of its creator and “leader for life,” J. Edgar Hoover (JEH).

This book thus tells the story of what happens when one of our most revered heroes is allowed to lock himself behind a wall of secrecy, where he and the institution he leads is accountable to no one. And where the willfully created but bogus legends about him are allowed to grow to mythical proportions — until, that is, the truth begins to unravel them. This narrative shows us what happens when that process, and the game of fear upon which it depends, gets played out as trust in our hero begins to wan, and as his image becomes darker and more tarnished as he flails, misfires, turns against us; and finally explodes and disintegrates like a Roman candle on the Fourth of July.

The national hero in question of course is none other than the afore mentioned John Edgar Hoover, who’s legend, up until the burglary at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, was as pristine as Caesar’s wife’s bedroom linen. JEH’s FBI shield, literally was the nation’s collective shield against all of America’s worst fears: the Communists spies, the terrorists, the anti-Vietnam war peace activists, religious pacifists, left-leaning liberals generally, but most of all it was a collective shield against the one symbol that condensed all of these fears into one: America’s black population. Mr. Hoover’s hatred for blacks was visceral and so virulent that by the time of the burglary, it is not an exaggeration to say that it had “gone critical.”

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Feb 8

Berto Jongman: Gray Work – Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Can be ordered now, releases on 27 May 2014.

Jamie Smith.  Gray Work: Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy (William Morrow, 2014)

Book Description:

An unprecedented, raw, first-hand look into the life of America’s private paramilitary warriors and their highly secretive work around the world. Jamie Smith, a contractor with more than two decades under his belt, has planned and executed hundreds of missions on behalf of government agencies and private industry in some of the world’s most dangerous hot spots.

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They are elite warriors who run highly dangerous missions deep inside foreign countries on the brink of war. Jamie Smith knows these men well. Not only is he one of them, but he cofounded one of the most successful private contracting multinational firms in the world. For the first time, he breaks his silence, detailing the ultimate danger and risk of paramilitary operations—both officially government-sanctioned and not. Pulling back the curtain of secrecy, he reveals in very intimate terms exactly what private soldiers do when the government cannot act or take public responsibility.

Combining the thrilling narrative of a riveting international spy thriller with boots-on-the-ground realism, Gray Work follows Smith through his CIA training and career as an operative, his co-founding of and eventual exit from Blackwater, and his creation and direction of his own company. Espionage and assassinations, rescues and renditions, the turbulence of the Arab Spring, the fall of Qadhaffi, the grit and gristle are all here in covert black ops from Syria to Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and beyond.

As the founder and director of Blackwater, Smith’s initial vision has undeniably shaped and transformed a decade of war. He argues that this gray area—and the warriors who occupy the controversial space between public and private—has become an integral element of modern warfare.

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Jan 30