Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies” as Want to Read:
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  293 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The bestselling author of "Body of Secrets" and "The Puzzle Palace "presents his most hard-hitting book to date--a sweeping, authoritative, and fearless account of the failures of America's intelligence agencies and the Bush administration's calculated efforts to sell a war to the American people.
In "The Puzzle Palace," James Bamford revealed the existence of the NSA, the
Hardcover, 420 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Doubleday Books (first published 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Pretext for War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Pretext for War

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 723)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Will Byrnes
A very interesting book. Spookdom is Bamford’s turf. He has written about the NSA (Body of Secrets, a very good look at that agency) and the world of spying. He presents mucho specificity in support of the fact that the Iraq was had little or nothing to do with the rationales for war presented by the administration. He talks about the establishment of politically oriented entities within the Pentagon, State Department and Ariel Sharon’s government to foster conflict. There is much here on the st ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Bamford makes a convincing case that the United States was ill-served by our intelligence communities before 9-11 in Pretext for War. Part of the problem was the agencies were still fighting the Cold War and agents were enjoying the perks traditional with service in overseas embassies: good food, cars, great shopping, and other fringe benefits.

The beginning of the book provides a nice compliment to the 9/11 Commission report of the hijackings, a step-by-step reenactment, fascinating yet ho
Tim Painter
Feb 21, 2008 Tim Painter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This book makes me very sad because if it really is true what this book is telling us then we have caused the deaths of thousands of service men and thousands of Iraqi civilians because of the personal vendetta of president Bush.

This book details the lies and deceptions that the Bush administration pushed on us pre-Iraq war to convince the country that we should go to war with Iraq. So thorough was the deception that congress bought into it. Since then the whole thing has been shown to be a fabr
Andrew Skretvedt
Jan 25, 2014 Andrew Skretvedt rated it it was ok
I won't call this a formal review. It's more a personal commentary about the book and about the issues the book raises. Review does take place, however.

Some personal background: back in the day, I was a solid supporter of Bush-43, and the case for and decision to make war on Iraq. I remember thinking and feeling that even if the intelligence wasn't solid, even if we didn't end up finding the WMDs we decided to fight to find and destroy, the war would still be worth it to liberate the population
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book tells how the American intelligence agencies failed to prevent 9/11; I was already familiar with the story from other books including Bamford's The Shadow Factory. They deemed infiltrating Al-Qaeda too difficult, which would have come as a surprise to John Walker Lindh and Richard Reid. The second part tells about their role in launching the Iraq War. An anonymous CIA official tells that they were ordered, "If Bush wants to go to war, it's your job to give him a reaso ...more
Mar 04, 2009 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book discusses the abuse of intelligence by recent administrations. Under some the main problem was not providing the funds and leadership. During other administrations (the current one) American intelligence agencies were used to provide cover for what can best be described as ‘private’ intelligence agencies. I find it interesting the recent CIA report comes to conclusions similar to those of the author.
In Chapter 4, and earlier, the author discusses alternate sites for government in case
Christopher Sutch
Nov 06, 2010 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although all this was perfectly clear to me at the time it happened (Bush, Cheney, etc. hold us common people in so much contempt they thought we'd buy anything), this still has some pertinent disgusting details of the dishonesty and treachery (to our country) of those behind the decision (made ON THE DAY of 9/11) to invade Iraq. They're filthy little toadies of men (I count Condi as a man) who deserve the death sentence.
Nov 23, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
Lots of information in this book. Intense amount of history (at least I thought) on various agencies both in US and abroad. Some of it helpful to the context, some not so much. Overall, I found it very informative regarding the Iraq war "sales pitch" and the breakdown of agencies that failed to warn of 9/11 threat. Lots of inside information from unnamed sources within the government.
M Nagle
An interesting account of the Bush administration's gross negligence in committing the grave act of taking the nation into a "war of choice", twisting intelligence information at every step along the way to fabricate the rationale for what to date appears to have been a massive strategic blunder.
Nov 13, 2007 Aram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book is OK, if a little too obsessed with Pentagon gadgetry. But the second half is A MUST READ for anyone who wants to understand where this Iraq quagmire came from. James Bamford doesn't pull any punches. And he has done his homework. Very convincing.
Jul 23, 2011 Spook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is easily the most detailed account of how we got into Iraq from within the depths of the C.I.A. Utterly fascinating, and well worth the read.

Unless you're carrying notepaper with you, don't get the audiobook if you plan on examining it further later.
This book is an interesting look at the problems of our intelligence system, and why it has been such a problem lately. It is also full of conspiracy theories, and lot of unconnected dots that Bamford tries to pull together. Interesting, if nothing else.
Cort Ockfen
Nov 19, 2012 Cort Ockfen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing is a little disjointed but his sources are fantastic and details of issues like the CIA and George Tenet are a must read. This book made me more curious about George Tenet.

The 9/11 chapter is once again sobering.

Feb 03, 2008 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-related
This is the best book on pre-Iraq war Washington. Gives you the personalities and the currents of thought in a fast, exciting format. Sort of the anti-Woodward.
Jan 16, 2010 columbialion rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to columbialion by: Self
Intel expert Bamford (Body of Secrets)connects the evasive dots of the pliable CIA to alter and retrofit intelligence to justify Iraqi invasion under G W Bush
Dec 22, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretext for War gives an overview of what the American military, intelligence, and White house were doing in the space between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.
Sep 03, 2011 Debra rated it it was ok
Regurgitated newspaper and magazine articles. Provide little new insight. If one doesn't read widely it might seem fresher.

Jul 15, 2013 Alvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book. It clealy shows that reasons and evidence for invading Iraq were in place long before the 9-11 attack.
Aug 19, 2009 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading for the inside look at the U.S. Intelligence Community, but sub-par foreign policy analysis...
May 27, 2011 Jose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good audio book...had learned a lot of this already in other books...still interesting.
May 30, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading for all future presidents and their advisors
Jan 05, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
you think you know about the Iraq War, you have no idea.
one of the best i've read this year..., its a keeper.
Martha Johnson
Feb 27, 2013 Martha Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Important for people to read.
Jun 05, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Michael marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2016
ElaineY rated it liked it
Jun 12, 2016
Salt344 rated it liked it
May 24, 2016
Clint Lawrence
Clint Lawrence rated it it was amazing
May 23, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
  • Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them
  • War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
  • Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq
  • The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
  • The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War
  • Triple Cross: How Bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI--And Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him
  • Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws
  • The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Endless Enemies
  • State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, from Genghis Khan's Mongols to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the American Occupation
  • The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority
  • Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping

Share This Book