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Book Reviews

Book Review: Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA by John Rizzo

Published by Scribner (2013)
Reviewed by Benjamin Wittes
Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 9:14 PM

In our conversation the other day for the Lawfare Podcast, longtime CIA lawyer John Rizzo jokingly—but only sort of jokingly—composed the first paragraph of his own obituary: “John Rizzo, who approved a controversial CIA program post-9/11 to interrogate suspects—a program that many observers [regarded] as torture—died today.” Are you comfortable with having your obituary open . . .
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Book Review: Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy by Rahul Sagar

Published by Princeton University Press (2013)
Reviewed by Steven Aftergood
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 11:24 PM

Leaks of classified information have probably never been as prominent and as influential in public discourse as they are today. So Rahul Sagar’s book Secrets and Leaks is exquisitely timed to help readers to think through the conundrums of government secrecy in a democracy and to consider the role of unauthorized disclosures. This is of . . .
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Book Review: Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare by Juan Zarate

Published by PublicAffairs (2013)
Reviewed by Alan Rozenshtein
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 11:39 PM

This is a boom time in new ways to wage war. Drones and cyber get most of the attention, but if you’re committed to bringing a country to its knees, cut it off from international financial markets. This reality, along with dissatisfaction with traditional sanctions, led U.S. policymakers to develop a new way to bring . . .
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Book Review: “Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence After 9/11″ by Michael Allen

Published by Potomac Books (2013)
Reviewed by S. Yasir Latifi
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Lawmaking is not always a pretty sight. Promises can be illusory, trade-offs are a must, favors are exchanged, and turf battles are waged—all to reach that elusive legislative finish line. The sight may be more unseemly when national security is in question. But in the aftermath of 9/11 and massive intelligence failures, several powerful institutions . . .
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Book Review: The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster by Edward Lucas

Published by Amazon Kindle Single (2014)
Reviewed by Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:38 AM

Over the past few weeks, several members of congressional intelligence committees have intimated that Edward Snowden might have been an active espionage agent. The administration has not publicly supported the theory, though it hasn’t definitively ruled it out. Some of the circumstances are, indeed, suspicious—most importantly that Snowden ended up first in Hong Kong and . . .
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Book Review: Afghanistan: A Distant War by Robert Nickelsberg

Published by Prestel USA (2013)
Reviewed by Jean-Marie Simon
Monday, January 13, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Afghanistan: A Distant War Robert Nickelsberg; Foreword by Jon Lee Anderson; Introduction by Ahmad Nader Nadery Prestel USA (2013) The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence Susie Linfield University of Chicago (2012) By mid-20th century, photography had evolved from its 19th century origins as a rarified domain of professional photographers into a technology of the masses; . . .
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Book Review: Getting Away With Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan by Heraldo Munoz

Published by W.W. Norton (2014)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

This holiday season will mark the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the remarkable women who twice served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister and who had come to symbolize the country’s hope for a better future.  She was killed in the same park where Pakistan’s first Prime Minister was assassinated in 1951.  The Pakistani . . .
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Book Review: The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

Published by Viking (2013)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM

In October 1999 I traveled to Mumbai, India’s financial and movie capital, to advance the visit of President Bill Clinton to the subcontinent.  Mumbai’s two great five star hotels competed with each other to convince me the President should stay in their most deluxe room.  As the President’s Special Assistant for Near East and South . . .
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Book Review: Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill

Published by Nation Books (2013)
Reviewed by Nick Basciano
Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill—the activist-turned journalist previously known for his exposé of the military contractor formerly known as Blackwater—is a bad book. But it’s a bad book with a significantly redeeming feature. Scahill’s project is to depict the “dark side” of what he considers to be America’s unrestrained pursuit of security . . .
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Book Review: A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost R. Hiltermann

Published by Cambridge UP (2007)
Reviewed by Kenneth Anderson
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM

A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost R. Hiltermann (Cambridge UP 2007) Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (Middle East Watch Report) by George Black (Human Rights Watch 1993) I Down in a corner of my basement, among the accumulated suburban junk and detritus of middle age, are . . .
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Book Review: Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin-Laden’s Final Plot Against America by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

Published by Touchstone (2013)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

It was  a catastrophe narrowly averted.  In September 2009 al Qaeda planned an attack on the New York City subway system, the nation’s largest, used by over five million riders every day.  The attacks on the metro systems in Madrid, Spain in 2003 and London, England in 2005 were to be outdone by three suicide . . .
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Book Review: We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (Film Reviews) by Alex Gibney (Director)

Published by Independent (2013)
Reviewed by Clara Spera
Friday, August 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM

The year 2013 is shaping up to be a banner one for documentary film about information disclosures—both the government’s and yours. Bradley Manning’s conviction and sentencing the other day offers a good moment to take note of two new films, one of them largely about him and the events he unleashed. “Terms and Conditions May . . .
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Book Review: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt

Published by Free Press (2012)
Reviewed by Stephen C. Neff
Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Of all the images that George Washington conjures up in the minds of Americans, surely that of war criminal must be the least likely. Yet this remarkable book begins with an account of charges levelled against Washington as a result of conduct in the French and Indian Wars in 1754. Specifically, the allegation was complicity . . .
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Book Review: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt

Published by Free Press (2012)
Reviewed by Amy J. Sennett
at 10:01 AM

In the weeks following the September 2012 publication of Yale Law School Professor John Fabian Witt’s Lincoln’s Code, reviewers praised the book for providing rich, yet readable historical context to the debate over the role of the laws of war in American foreign policy.  Witt’s detailed narrative offers a middle ground between the idea that . . .
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Book Review: The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti

Published by Penguin Press (2013)
Reviewed by Jack Goldsmith
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I have a long review in the New Republic of Mark Mazzetti’s excellent new book, The Way of the Knife.  The first half of the review simply summarizes the book, the main point of which is to demonstrate how since 9/11 the CIA and DOD have changed to become like one another.  In short, the CIA has become (in . . .
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Book Review: National Security Investigations & Prosecutions, 2nd ed. (Vols. 1 & 2) by David S. Kris and J. Douglas Wilson

Published by Thomson West (2012)
Reviewed by Sara Aronchick Solow
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

David S. Kris and J. Douglas Wilson’s second edition of National Security Investigations & Prosecutions is a necessary read, or at least necessary to have in your library, for just about anyone who practices, teaches, or writes about national security law.  Kris and Wilson offer what appears to be the country’s sole comprehensive treatise on . . .
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Book Review: The Human Face of Big Data by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt, eds.

Published by Against All Odds Productions (2012)
Reviewed by Susan Hennessey
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Big Data finally has its own coffee table book. From Day in the Life series creators Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt, The Human Face of Big Data is bursting with stories of Big Data modern miracles, promising even those will soon seem quaint. It’s a visually stunning effort on behalf of Big Data public relations. . . .
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Book Review: The Gatekeepers (Film Review) by Dror Moreh (Director)

Published by Sony Pictures Classics-US Release (Israel 2012)
Reviewed by Alan Rozenshtein, Ritika Singh, and Netta Barak-Corren
Friday, March 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

When people outside Israel imagine its intelligence and counterterrorism system, they immediately think of the Mossad, the foreign-intelligence agency. But the Israeli Security Agency, commonly known as the Shin Bet or, in Israel, the Shabak, is equally if not more important. The Shin Bet is responsible for internal security and functions something like the FBI, . . .
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Book Review: The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia by Gregory D. Johnsen

Published by WW Norton (2012)
Reviewed by Daniel Byman
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Whether you support or oppose the broader U.S. war on terrorism, you are likely to use Yemen to prove your point.  Those who are optimistic about the struggle contend that the Al Qaeda core has taken repeated body blows in Pakistan and decry the seemingly endless expansion of the battlefield to obscure fields of jihad . . .
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Book Review: The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law by Jenny Martinez

Published by Oxford USA (2012)
Reviewed by John Harrison
Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:08 AM

The verdict of history depends on who writes it, and the lessons of history depend on who reads it. Contemporary readers will look for the lessons of a 19th century international human rights initiative that involved treaties, international courts, and criminal prosecutions for crimes against humanity, all driven by the human-rights policy and the vast . . .
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