On the Brink: An Insider's Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence

Tyler Drumheller, Author, Elaine Monaghan, With
Tyler Drumheller, Author, Elaine Monaghan, With Carroll & Graf Publishers $26.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1915-0
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-06-087500-8
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-06-087499-5
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-7867-2107-8
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-1-84275-207-4
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The highest ranking CIA official yet to write a book about the current war in Iraq, retired officer Drumheller looks back on his 25 years in intelligence to lay bare the Bush administration's push toward invasion and its long-term impact on U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. Central to Drumheller's argument is the familiar story of the White House's reliance on the testimony of an Iraqi defector (who came to be known as ""Curveball"") in making its case for war; to that effect, there's much here that simply reiterates the critical chorus that ""policy was shaping the intelligence and not the other way around,"" as do numerous recent Iraq war exposes. More interesting are the glimpses of well-known milestones in the run-up to the war, including a late-night call from CIA Director George Tenet the night before Colin Powell's infamous UN address, at which he presented Curveball's testimony on an Iraqi bioweapons program. With this story and others, Drumheller illustrates how the Bush administration left the CIA scrambling to clean up the ensuing mess when they should have been pursuing new threats: ""The biggest difference between the current transition period and those in the past is that we are facing the added challenge of fighting off abuse and being made scapegoats by our political masters."" Drumheller's book is a lucid account of the Bush administration's intelligence breakdown, hobbled only by its late arrival to the shelf.
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