“Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
An unvarnished look at the morally dubious actions of the CIA from its inception to now. They sure spent an awful lot of money, to assassinate, and install some terrible people in governments all over the world. This is not the CIA you see in movies. It’s actually really sad how they are spending so much money on the CIA and not being very effective. Now some will argue that we only hear about their failures, and not their successes. I believe there may be some truth to that, but very, little truth.
This history shows us a CIA that doesn’t really know it’s purpose. Ever president seems to struggle how to utilize the CIA, is it a secret ops force used to start military coups? (that seems to have been its main purpose after reading this book!) is it to gather intelligence about terrorists? or about North Korea? It seems like a rudderless organization.
It boggles my mind to think about the billions of dollars that the CIA spends every year. Even though they have a fraction of the money of the military, they still get billions. If only humans invested in schools, libraries, and the environment instead of bombs. This is the second book in a row that made me sad, the first being Witness Palestine. That being another book about a place Americans are pouring millions into supporting a morally reprehensible apartheid state.
It was a good read though. You get a feel for the politics of the CIA, and their relationship (or lack thereof) with the President. It makes me think, how do you run a secret intelligence service well?
President Eisenhower in 1959: ““This agency demands of its members the highest order of dedication, ability, trustworthiness, and selflessness-to say nothing of the finest type of courage, whenever needed. Success cannot be advertised: failure cannot be explained. In the work of intelligence, heroes are undecorated and unsung.””
David Kay, CIA’s chief weapons inspector: ““Wars are not won by intelligence. They’re won by the blood, treasure, courage of the young men and women that we put in the field… What intelligence really does when it is working well is to help avoid wars””
Rating: ★★★★★ Book #65 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #TimWeiner #war #CIA #spy #USA #journalism #NonFiction”,