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AMERICAN GOVERNMENT > INTRODUCTION - LEGACY OF ASHES

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 08, 2011 06:53AM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments ****SPOILER ALERT****

This is the introductory thread for the spotlighted read Legacy of Ashes which will begin on January 3, 2011.

Legacy of Ashes  the History of the CIA by Tim Weiner Tim WeinerTim Weiner


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments This is a readers' choice selection (voted for by The History Book Club membership) as the next book to be discussed as a Spotlighted Book.

AWARDS:

National Book Award for Non-Fiction (2007)

Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History (2007)

"For the last sixty years, the CIA has managed to maintain a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, burying its blunders in top-secret archives. Its mission was to know the world. When it did not succeed, it set out to change the world. Its failures have handed us, in the words of President Eisenhower, “a legacy of ashes.”

Now Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tim Weiner offers the first definitive history of the CIA—and everything is on the record. LEGACY OF ASHES is based on more than 50,000 documents, primarily from the archives of the CIA itself, and hundreds of interviews with CIA veterans, including ten Directors of Central Intelligence. It takes the CIA from its creation after World War II, through its battles in the cold war and the war on terror, to its near-collapse after 9/ll.

Tim Weiner’s past work on the CIA and American intelligence was hailed as “impressively reported” and “immensely entertaining” in The New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal called it “truly extraordinary . . . the best book ever written on a case of espionage.” Here is the hidden history of the CIA: why eleven presidents and three generations of CIA officers have been unable to understand the world; why nearly every CIA director has left the agency in worse shape than he found it; and how these failures have profoundly jeopardized our national security.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Of course, the CIA wasn't too pleased:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-fo...


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 05, 2010 09:57PM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Some Discussion Questions:

Why has the CIA been such an historically problematic -- or worse, counterproductive -- governmental agency?

What are the chances these problems can ever be effectively corrected?

What influence do the following have on the CIA: The President of the United States? The CIA Director? The Director of National Intelligence? The House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence? The Pentagon? Who ultimately "controls" -- and is responsible for -- CIA policies and actions?

How has the CIA's role changed in the face of post-911 restructuring of the intelligence community?

What problems do national security secrets pose in a transparent democratic society?

How do the intelligence gathering and covert action arms of the CIA interact? What tensions exist between the two?

What moral issues surround CIA attempts to overthrow foreign governments or even assassinate foreign leaders?

How do intelligence failures leading to the Iraq war in 2003 mirror previous intelligence failures over the past 60 years?


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Reviews:

Ackerman, Spencer. "The CIA's Failures." The Nation. June 26, 2008.

http://www.thenation.com/article/cias...

Beschloss, Michael. "The CIA's Missteps, From Past to Present." New York Times. July 12, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/boo...

Epstein, Edward Jay. "Opening Up the CIA: Espionage, Covert Action, and the Trouble with 'Dangles.'" The Wall Street Journal. July 14, 2007.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB11843...

Thomas, Evan. "Counter Intelligence." The New York Times Book Review. July 22, 2007.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/boo...

Wise, David. "Covert Action: Has the CIA Ever Been Good at Intelligence Gathering?" The Washington Post Book World. July 22, 2007.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 05, 2010 10:33PM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Audio/Video:

"CIA Looks Back on a Secret Postwar Berlin Tunnel." The Bryant Park Project (from NPR News). June 23, 2008. [audio]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

"A Conversation About the CIA with Journalist Tim Weiner." Charlie Rose Show. July 27, 2007. [video]

http://www.charlierose.com/view/inter...

"Is the CIA Entitled to Complete Secrecy?" Day to Day. December 20, 2007. [audio]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

"Tim Weiner: The Secret History of America's Spooks." Fresh Air from WHYY. June 28, 2007. [audio]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

"The CIA's Worst Mistakes." The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC. July 16, 2007. [audio]

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2007...

"Tim Weiner's 'History of the CIA.'" Minnesota Public Radio. June 26, 2008. [audio]

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/disp...

"'Legacy of Ashes' Describes Founding of CIA." Morning Edition. July 10, 2007. [audio]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

"Tim Weiner." Tavis Smiley Show. September 17, 2007. [audio]

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/a...

"Tim Weiner Discusses the History of the CIA." World Economic Forum of Oregon. June 5, 2008. [video]

http://fora.tv/2008/06/05/Tim_Weiner_...

American Academy Videocast:

http://www.americanacademy.de/uploads...


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 06, 2010 06:57AM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Related Sites/Resources:

Official Web Site for Legacy of Ashes

http://www.randomhouse.com/doubleday/...

"Q&A with Tim Weiner: Pierceing the CIA's Veil." U.S. News & World Report. July 29, 2007.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/art...

"2007 National Book Award Winner, Nonficton." National Book Foundation.

http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2007_n...

"Book World Live Discussion with Tim Weiner." The Washington Post Online. July 24, 2007.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

"Tim Weiner." Contemporary Authors. September 5, 2008.

http://acu.libsyn.com/show_118_legacy...

Talk of the Stacks

http://www.supporthclib.org/events-li...

New York Times Broadcast (The Family Jewels)

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2007/0...


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 28, 2010 08:41AM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments For those who are looking to get ahead on the reading and want a great deal: this book is available on audible for only $4.95 if you are a member already.

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=sr_...


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael | 2 comments Worth noting that was an article published by the CSI, which sports the usual disclaimer that its pieces "do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency" (source).

Bentley wrote: "Of course, the CIA wasn't too pleased:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-fo..."



message 10: by Becky (new)

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments About the Audible book - it's read by Stefan Rudnicki who does an excellent job with it. I'm almost finished because I haven't been able to put it down.


Bentley wrote: "For those who are looking to get ahead on the reading and want a great deal: this book is available on audible for only $4.95 if you are a member already.

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=sr_......"



message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Well good for you Becky; but when joining in on the discussions; try to stay with the chapters discussed which are non spoiler threads (the weekly ones).

All of the others are spoiler threads if they have spoiler alert at the top of them so those supplemental threads like the glossary and the book as a whole (and there are many others) are fair game for any discussion on any aspect of the book or the CIA.


message 12: by Becky (new)

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments Okay - I don't mind spoilers in non-fiction but I know some do. Thanks for the info on which threads are okay.


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Yes, only the weekly threads which are titled no spoilers please are non spoiler.

If the thread has at the top of message one - Spoiler Alert - then that thread is OK for expansive discussions. There are quite a few of those for this discussion but in any book discussion there is always a glossary thread and a Book as a Whole thread which are all spoiler threads so the sky is the limit there.


message 14: by Vheissu (new)

Vheissu | 96 comments Bentley wrote: Why has the CIA been such an historically problematic -- or worse, counterproductive -- governmental agency?

As I noted in a different thread, Americans know much more about their spies than Russians, Israelis, British, and Chinese people will ever know about their spies. Furthermore, we mostly know about CIA's failures because its successes remain mostly classified. Indeed, one criterion of "success" is that the public never learns about it.

As Weiner himself notes, his book is "nothing but the truth," but it is not "the whole truth." Until other countries disclose the actions of their own intelligence agencies, we will not have an historical or organization context within which to judge fairly the efforts of CIA.


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 07, 2011 11:32AM) (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments For sure Vheissu, I agree with the premise in your first paragraph. Yes, I suspect that we are hearing just one side of the story.


message 16: by Becky (new)

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments Not to discount the probability of classified success stories, but I'll bet there are still some classified failures, too, and some illegal or extra-legal activities which have not quite seen the light of day. I suspect there might even have been (be?) some cases which went beyond classified status to that of shredded.

Becky


message 17: by Vheissu (last edited Jan 07, 2011 02:30PM) (new)

Vheissu | 96 comments Becky wrote: "Not to discount the probability of classified success stories, but I'll bet there are still some classified failures, too, and some illegal or extra-legal activities which have not quite seen th..."

Without doubt, Becky.

Intelligence agencies like CIA are not necessarily bound by many laws, as is the FBI, for instance. The latter is a law enforcement agency whose investigations must pass muster before a court of law. CIA is not a law enforcement agency, so it isn't bound by things like search warrants, probable cause, due process of law, cruel and unusual punishment, etc.

Covert officers and agents are subject to the laws of the countries in which they operate, of course, and there are several international conventions that limit things like torture.

In general, intelligence agencies operate outside the reach of ordinary law, supposedly because national security and self-defense trump all other state interests,including the rule of law.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Yes for sure Becky. I think the rub with the CIA or any organization like it is that it rubs Americans and their sense of fair play and ethics the wrong way. We know intellectually that such a group is necessary; but we are adverse to regime change and covert operations that are particularly immoral. And that is it isn't it; the CIA and organizations like the CIA may have to do immoral things which would upset the average American and their belief in what is right from wrong.


message 19: by Vheissu (last edited Jan 08, 2011 06:53AM) (new)

Vheissu | 96 comments In that regard, the warnings of the 1954 Doolittle Committee to the president are relevant:

"It is now clear that we [i.e., the United States] are facing an implacable enemy [i.e., the Soviet Union] whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the U.S. is to survive, longstanding American concepts of 'fair play' must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy." Emphasis added.

See excerpts from the Doolittle Committee here.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Yes, Vheissu, the above sort of proves my point. Repugnant it is.


message 21: by Vince (new)

Vince (vpbrancato) | 758 comments Bentley wrote: "****SPOILER ALERT****

This is the introductory thread for the spotlighted read Legacy of Ashes which will begin on January 3, 2011.

Legacy of Ashes  the History of the CIA by Tim Weiner[auth..."



Bentley

I cannot find a syllabus for this book with dates and chapters etc.

Have I missed it?

Thanks

Happy New Year

Vince


message 22: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments Vince wrote: "I cannot find a syllabus for this book with dates and chapters etc"

It is in the thread with syllabi http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...


message 23: by Vince (new)

Vince (vpbrancato) | 758 comments Liz wrote: "Vince wrote: "I cannot find a syllabus for this book with dates and chapters etc"

It is in the thread with syllabi http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4..."


Thanks Liz

I saw that - the first two chapters - I was looking for the whole book and if you know where that is I will appreciate it - or else I will wait

Vince


message 24: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (MsTaz) | 5322 comments Vince, here is the thread for discussing the book as a whole. http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4.... For a group read like this there are weekly discussions as well, which I think you found.


message 25: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments For those in the DC area, you might want to check out the International Spy Museum, http://goo.gl/tcOoN. Visiting the museum gave me a different perspective on the complexity of the spy trade.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Yes Liz that is a fun museum for all ages. Really liked it myself.


message 27: by Tom (last edited Jan 15, 2011 04:19PM) (new)

Tom I saw this related book at the library, it might be of interest to some..


Black Ops by Tony Geraghty by Tony Geraghty
Geraghty, an expert in the evolution of war tactics, explores the building blocks that propelled the creation of special forces wings within the American, English, and Israeli military. Geraghty begins with an examination of tactics used in two conflicts: Vietnam and Afghanistan. Initially viewed as primitive by the Americans, the Vietnamese soldiers had success because of their knowledge of the jungle terrain and their experience with militaristic infiltration of towns and villages. Geraghty then turns his attention to military veterans like Green Beret captain Charlie Beckwith, whose idea to create "a force of doers" came to him after he took part in a British SAS operation in 1962 (exhaustively detailed in Beckwith's own book, Delta Force, as well as many others). In Geraghty's comprehensive view, the evolution of secretive military might was a movement from fringe to standard operating procedure. He touches on everything from the Bay of Pigs to the Afghan drug trade, and details operations both successful and failed (some famously), but ultimately covers familiar ground. Photos. (July) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 26380 comments Thank you Tom for the add.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (other topics)
Black Ops: The Rise of Special Forces in the CIA, the SAS, and Mossad (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Tim Weiner (other topics)
Tony Geraghty (other topics)