Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  162 ratings  ·  22 reviews
For decades no law enforcement program has been as cloaked in controversy and mystery as the Federal Witness Protection Program. Now, for the first time, Gerald Shur, the man credited with the creation of WITSEC, teams with acclaimed investigative journalist Pete Earley to tell the inside story of turncoats, crime-fighters, killers, and ordinary human beings caught up in a...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Bantam (first published 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 360)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Converse
One of the co-authors of "Witsec," Gerald Shur, is the federal Department of Justice official largely responsible for creating a formal program for re-locating, providing new identities, housing, temporary financial support, and help finding a job to witnesses who would otherwise likely be killed if they testified at trial. The re-location program is largely the work of U. S. Marshals. In addition, in the 1970s the federal Bureau of Prisons developed separate facilities to house those witnesses...more
Kara
Aug 14, 2007 Kara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: CIA/FBI buffs
I've always been interested in government books, especially those dealing with agencies like the CIA and FBI. When this came out, I was so excited to read it because I've also always had some weird fascination with the Witness Protection program. Something that could so easily make someone disappear into thin air sounded really cool!

I liked this book because it not only gave the history of the department, but it dealt with the trials and tribulations the department's founder, Gerald Shur, dealt...more
Emily Wiersma
How many of us really think of Witsec and what it has done for crime in the U.S.? I never really did until I read this book written by Pete Early and Gerald Shur. It gives excellent detail on the beginnings of the program to where it is at today. Shur, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, was dubbed "The father of Witsec" because it was his brainchild. His program helped encourage witnesses (criminal or non-criminal) to come forward and testify against crime. Witsec would than give them a new identity an...more
Kathy
Lots if interesting information, but not very well written.
Christina
As I said before, I’ve picked up WITSEC because of a novel I’ve recently read and a television I watch every Sunday night. There are very few nonfiction books written about this origination due to the nature of their work, so I was excited to find one co-written by the founder of the Federal Witness Protection Program. I’m also not the only one who’s discovered it as I noticed several story lines transferred from print to television by “In Plain Sight.”

The Federal Witness Protection Program, als...more
Stacy
was curious about the inner workings of this government program. This was co-written by the creator of the program, Gerald Shur, so you get a fly-on-the-wall view of the inception all the way through its current troubled times. During Shur’s tenure WITSEC protected 6,416 witnesses and 14,468 of their family members.

The program began because of the government’s priority of taking down the mob. The book is full of colorful stories about mob witnesses and the Justice Department’s struggle to keep...more
Sara
What a fascinating book! It traces the Witness Protection Program (shortened as "Witsec" for "Witness Security" - hence the title of the book) from its creation to fight organized crime, to its use today. Like everyone else, I've heard of the witness protection program but didn't know much about it other than it established new identities for people. I know so much more now, from all the bureaucratic problems it had in the beginning - and some that it continues to have now - to issues protected...more
David Harris
* A relatively quick read with lots of good information, March 14, 2005 *

For obvious reasons, the witness protection program has always been and probably always will be controversial. I believe the authors make a very good case for its merits, however. Thanks to this program, the law now has much more effective tools to protect ordinary people from the reckless, greed-crazed megalomaniacs who prey on them. It also gives those trapped in this soul-deadening lifestyle an opportunity to change thei...more
Samantha
'Witsec' offers an intriguing, fairly objective look at the history, operation and challenges of the United States' witness protection program. It's written in a fairly straightforward, journalistic manner, with little of the sensationalism some true crime tomes are prone to. Even so, it's got plenty of personal stories and observations that make it easy to relate to co-author and WITSEC founder Gerald Shur and his associates. The many anecdotal stories included within do a good job of highlight...more
Cori Arnold

While I was a little disappointed this book had so much focus on the mob, I can understand (now) why it did. About half way through I wondered if someone besides Mr. Shur had been the focus of the book if it would have been drastically different. Would we be so mired in the politics? Maybe. My favorite sections focused on 'Witness X' and the last section on the modern changes within the program.

I read this book for research for my next novel, so in that it was invaluable.
Kirsti
Aug 05, 2009 Kirsti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jan McGill
"The one time I was really concerned was when a witness [an ex-mafioso who was given a new identity after testifying against other Mob members:] asked me to protect his mistress but not his wife. I protected his wife anyway."
--Gerald Shur, founder of WITSEC

"I used to feel that there was a deputy following me with a broom sweeping up any evidence I was here. I hated that. Memories matter because, in the end, memories are all any of us have." --"Witness X," who was relocated with her Mob-connecte...more
Christian
Aug 21, 2008 Christian rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in law enforcement, those who read all things mafia-related
I wish I could give this book 3 1/2 stars. The book was full of fascinating information, and I particularly was intrigued by the section told from the witnesses point of view. I wish there would have been more first person accounts of people within the program.

An interesting note: I've been watching USA's In Plain Sight and recognized several story lines that were taken from this book. There are very few non-fiction books about WITSEC, so obviously the writers used this resource.

Overall a good...more
Dave
An interesting look into the Witness Security program, from its inception to the present. Although long winded - I think the story could easily be told in half the pages - there are some great stories of the good and bad, the use and abuse of the program and the people involved. I loved the little story about how the Bush boys had a mass-murderer released from prison to appease the hispanic population to garner some votes.
David
Ghost-written in cooperation with the "father" of the Federal witness protection program, this was an interesting look at the genesis and innards of a much-misunderstood operation.

The first two-thirds of this book were dast-paced and informative; the last third seemed to bog down under countless new names, dates, and incidents (I would have given the first part five stars).
Jordan
Jun 06, 2008 Jordan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: criminal justice lovers
Shelves: criminal-justice
An amazing look into how WITSEC got started and those who were involved with it's start. Interesting to see the battle within each man involved with the program because they're protecting criminals and unleashing them among non-the-wiser neighborhoods but if they don't protect them, they'll never ge thte testimony they need to send the even worse criminals to jail.
Mandy Brazee
This was a very interesting account of how the Witness Protection Program was started. It also chronicled changes in the U.S. Marshall's service and how organized crime was brought down. I didn't realize that the Witness Protection Program was basically created to combat organized crime.
Es
It was pretty good,but not all parts of the book were equal,and I did some skimming over certain parts. It's still worth a read for those interested in the history. Those were the strongest parts of the book,in fact.
Vikki
This is written by my old college friend, Pete Earley. He wrote it with Gerald Slur, the founder of the Witness Protection Agency. Excellent book.
Donita
Last half of the book was worth getting through to read the last half of the book. It's really an interesting read, written by the father of WITSEC.
Krista
Intersting history of the beginning of the witness protection program and the many issues confronting it then and today.
Nick
A fascinating look at how the wittness relocation program was created, as well as it it successes and failures.
Poppy
Very interesting read.
Brenda Haley miller
very interesting read.
Rachael  Murray
Rachael Murray marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
Nicholas Mccallum
Nicholas Mccallum marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
Zach
Zach is currently reading it
Jul 21, 2014
Jessica
Jessica marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2014
None
None marked it as to-read
Jul 12, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cold Zero: Inside the FBI  Hostage Rescue Team
  • Special Agent: My Life On the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI
  • Courtroom 302: A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse
  • Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief
  • Final Truth: The Autobiography of Mass Murderer/Serial Killer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins
  • Criminal Minds: Sociopaths, Serial Killers, and Other Deviants
  • Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk
  • Abandoned Prayers: The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets
  • For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life
  • No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children
  • Whatever Mother Says...: A True Story of a Mother, Madness and Murder
  • My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal
  • I: The Creation of a Serial Killer
  • The Butcher: Anatomy of a Mafia Psychopath
  • The Blooding
  • Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires
  • Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder
  • Writing the Other (Conversation Pieces Vol. 8)
18225
Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned 13 books including the New York Times bestseller The Hot House and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.
After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Pete became a full-time author with a commitment to expose the stories that entertain and surprise.
His honest...more
More about Pete Earley...
Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers Comrade J Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas

Share This Book