Tim Weiner begins his history of the CIA with an unambiguous
rebuke: "The most powerful country in the history of civilization has failed to
create a first-rate spy service." He warns that the United States'
three-hundred-year dominance will evaporate "unless it finds the eyes to see
things as they are in the world." For all its covert activities, the CIA's
deepest secret, according to Weiner, is how little it knows about other
countries and how often it acts blindly, with dire consequences. Since its
inception in 1945, the agency has routinely put thousands of agents and their
informants in grave danger for mere scraps of intelligence. Just as routinely,
the CIA has failed to foresee major threats to American security; the deadly
blindsiding on 9/11 has a long and alarming pedigree.
Weiner documents how the agency's failures have been built into its very ...
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