grasshoppers know that I am a big fan of David Ignatius both as a columnist
(best analyst of doings in the intelligence community) and novelist. So it is
no shock that I like his new novel.
surprise to me was that in this one, he takes a deep dive into the world of
American intelligence after Snowden and Manning. It makes for a lively read,
especially the first half of the book. He depicts a real generation gap in the
world of U.S. intelligence, as deep I think as occurred in the 1960s. One
character sits and contemplates this question: "If the director of the National
Security Agency had been given warning that he could dismantle the programs
that Edward Snowden later would reveal to the press-take them down, without the
chaotic damage of disclosure-would he have seized the opportunity?" (Tom's
answer: No, which is why some of Snowden's actions are supportable even if his
motivations and connections are questionable.)
has a great scene late in book (Chapter 37) about how insider threats can use
the SOP to attack you.
the state of American intelligence, Ignatius is ambivalent. While he is
sympathetic to CIA managers who now fear Snowdenism at every new hire's
keyboard, he also is critical of the path our intelligence leaders have taken
over the last 13 years: "aside from getting Osama bin Laden, the main
accomplishment has been to create hundreds of millions of new enemies for the
has a secondary theme that I really don't get, which is that the CIA was
created by British intelligence "as the operational arm of this post-imperial
regime." I get this in places like Iran '53 and Guatemala '54. But after that,
I dunno. How do we explain sticking it to the Brits in Suez '56, the reluctance
of the Brits to support the United States in Vietnam, and other divergences
through the years?
major complaint about the book is the generic Washington cyberthriller
cover -- the White House against a background of zeroes and ones. C'mon!