Journalists Ambinder and Grady provide a rendering of the U.S. government’s secrecy apparatus in both international and domestic affairs, offering an acronym-laden fest for fans of the NSA, CIA, and Department of Defense while providing few revelations. The authors display unabashed enthusiasm for the machinery of shadows, particularly the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) profiled in Ambinder and Grady’s earlier book The Command, entire chapters of which are reprinted here. A congratulatory account of the coordinated spying activities conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the operations that resulted from them, are labeled as unprecedented successes. Meanwhile, the authors are blithely dismissive of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Admiration of JSOC and others, and a subtle contempt directed at those who would question “official stories,” trickles through, forming two overarching themes. The first is an Orwellian feat of circular logic that states that no secrets really exist, because if they did, we would already know about them. The second defensively posits that neither the government nor American citizens can stomach the truth about what it really takes to keep us safe. Despite some insights in a chapter on the NSA’s controversial wiretapping program, the majority of the book details the players, rationalizes their actions, and, ironically, keeps their secrets. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/28/2013 Release date: 04/01/2013 Genre: Nonfiction
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