John Nixon goes to Iraq: We can't evaluate the content. But this morning's New York Times featured a fascinating book review by James Risen.
We'll call it "Nixon goes to Iraq." Risen reviews a new book by John Nixon, "the first C.I.A. officer to interrogate [Saddam] Hussein after his capture in December 2003."
This is a tale of Saddam Hussein the heavily disengaged novelist. It's also a tale of a CIA which is compared, in the end, to—
Well, we think we'll let you read it yourself. According to Risen, Nixon flays the basic competence of the modern CIA. From the journalistic perspective, it's interesting to see that these have become fighting words:
RISEN (12/19/16): Mr. Nixon thoughtfully argues that the C.I.A.’s overeagerness to please the White House has led to a serious degradation in the quality of its intelligence. Virtually the entire analytical arm of the C.I.A. is focused on quickly pumping out short memos on the issues of the day that are immediately read at the White House. But the agency has largely abandoned its tradition of freeing up analysts to engage in deeper, long-term research. As a result, Mr. Nixon writes, few analysts at the agency now know very much about anything. “Expertise is not valued, indeed not trusted.”Few analysts know much of anything. According to Risen, it's almost like the CIA has become cable news!
The C.I.A.’s brief memos have become like “crack cocaine for consumers of classified information,” Mr. Nixon says. It’s as if the C.I.A.’s analytical branch has been transformed from a college faculty into a cable news network.
In 2003, Nixon went to Iraq. Thirteen years later, Risen read his account of what occurred, then delivered a brutal attack.