cover image Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA

Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA

Melvin A. Goodman. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, $27.95 (394pp) ISBN 978-0-7425-5110-7

A senior fellow at the Center for International Policy with 24 years of experience as an analyst at the CIA, author Goodman (Bush League Diplomacy) declares that without efforts to improve the country's intelligence community, particularly the CIA, ""we can expect more terrorist attacks without warning."" Goodman distinguishes early on the CIA's ""proper"" function-clandestine intelligence collection-from covert actions like the overthrow of popularly elected leaders that, though tactical successes, have led to false hubris and ruinous foreign policy decisions; in particular, he convincingly attributes the present debacle in Iran to 1953 policies in serious need of revision. Much of the book deals with ""the perils of politicization"" in the CIA, from the Vietnam war to the present, including the ""extreme... kind of pressure placed on the intelligence community"" by administrations like Nixon's and Reagan's, that latter of whom exaggerated the threat of a crumbling Soviet Union in order to keep military expenditures high. Concluding with the community's failure to predict 9/11 and the flawed intelligence on pre-invasion Iraq, he castigates the CIA's ""seeming inability"" to tell the truth to those in power, ""which finds the Agency without a moral compass."" This is an important and eye-opening account for policy makers and concerned citizens alike.