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

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In A Pretext for War, acclaimed author James Bamford–whose classic book The Puzzle Palace first revealed the existence of the National Security Agency–draws on his unparalleled access to top intelligence sources to produce a devastating expos? of the intelligence community and the Bush administration. A Pretext for War reveals the systematic weaknesses behind the failure t...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Anchor (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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 539)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
Sep 05, 2012 Saul added it
one of the best i've read this year..., its a keeper.
Martha Johnson
Important for people to read.
Ron
Ron marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2014
Imme
Imme marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
Georgia
Georgia marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
Amanda Burdick
Amanda Burdick marked it as to-read
Sep 13, 2014
Greg
Greg is currently reading it
Sep 08, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Unseen Hand: An Introduction to the Conspiratoral View of History
  • The Teachings of Don B.
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
  • The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups: The 100 Most Terrifying Conspiracies of All Time
  • The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification, Part Two: January to August 1788 (Library of America #63)
  • The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy (and How to End It)
  • UFOs, JFK & Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe
  • The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
  • Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping
  • Gods of Eden
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory
  • Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine
  • State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency from the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization Mastering Alliance Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide to Design, Management, and Organization A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

Share This Book