Intel Wars

As you buy your morning coffee drink, some government employee is spending your tax dollars to prevent a central-Asian terrorist from slipping anthrax into your latte. Since 9/11, billions have been spent on these efforts, and in Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror, author Michael Aid explains how terrorists have eluded our best efforts. The book is filled with extensive anecdotes—such as planned secret U.S. drone strikes on compounds of Haqqanis, tribal militants in Pakistan (and Afghanistan), and then-CIA Deputy Director Stephen Kappes’ confrontation with Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence on why they alerted Haqqanis beforehand. When Aid examines the FBI’s counter-intelligence program alarm bells go off about its domestic spying, and concerns about official truthfulness on who is winning this war appear valid. Not only is the war on terror in doubt, but the effort to put our 16 intelligence agencies under the director of national intelligence’s control appears unsuccessful. On balance, says Aid, mediocrity is rewarded, and despite some successes to crow about, al-Qaeda remains pernicious, even after bin Ladin’s death. (Sigh.) I think I need another cup of coffee.