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

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  205 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...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Doubleday (first published 2004)
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Eric_W
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...more
Andrew Skretvedt
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...more
Ilya
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
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
Bruce
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...more
Tim Painter
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...more
Christopher Sutch
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.
Lisa
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.
Aram
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.
Spook
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.
Jordan
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
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.

Alice
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.
columbialion
Jan 16, 2010 columbialion rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Scott
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.
Debra S
Regurgitated newspaper and magazine articles. Provide little new insight. If one doesn't read widely it might seem fresher.

Boring.
Alvin
An important book. It clealy shows that reasons and evidence for invading Iraq were in place long before the 9-11 attack.
Stephen
Worth reading for the inside look at the U.S. Intelligence Community, but sub-par foreign policy analysis...
Jose
good audio book...had learned a lot of this already in other books...still interesting.
Susan
Should be required reading for all future presidents and their advisors
Mike
you think you know about the Iraq War, you have no idea.
Saul
one of the best i've read this year..., its a keeper.
Martha Johnson
Important for people to read.
Sean Rosenthal
Sean Rosenthal marked it as to-read
Apr 15, 2014
Jeanette Klima-buchko
Jeanette Klima-buchko marked it as to-read
Apr 07, 2014
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