In See No Evil, one of the CIA’s top
field officers of the past quarter century recounts his career running agents
in the back alleys of the Middle East. In the process, Robert Baer paints a
chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides compelling
evidence about how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA’s efforts to root out
the world’s deadliest terrorists.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the world witnessed
the terrible result of that intelligence failure with the attack on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the wake of those attacks, Americans were
left wondering how such an obviously long-term, globally coordinated plot could
have escaped detection by the CIA and taken the nation by surprise. Robert Baer
was not surprised. A twenty-one year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of
Operations who had left the agency in 1997, Baer observed firsthand how an
increasingly bureaucratic CIA lost its way in the post–cold war world and
refused to adequately acknowledge and neutralize the growing threat of Islamic
fundamentalist terror in the Middle East and elsewhere.
A throwback to the days when CIA operatives got results by
getting their hands dirty and running covert operations, Baer spent his career
chasing down leads on suspected terrorists in the world’s most volatile hot
spots. As he and his agents risked their lives gathering intelligence, he
watched as the CIA reduced drastically its operations overseas, failed to put
in place people who knew local languages and customs, and rewarded workers who
knew how to play the political games of the agency’s suburban Washington
headquarters but not how to recruit agents on the ground.
See No Evil is not only a candid
memoir of the education and disillusionment of an intelligence operative but
also an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism. Baer reveals some
of the disturbing details he uncovered in his work, including:
In 1996, Osama bin Laden established a strategic alliance
with Iran to coordinate terrorist attacks against the United States.
In 1995, the National Security Council intentionally aborted
a military coup d’etat against Saddam Hussein, forgoing the last opportunity to
get rid of him.
In 1991, the CIA intentionally shut down its operations in
Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and ignored fundamentalists operating there.
When Baer left the agency in 1997 he received the Career
Intelligence Medal, with a citation that says, “He repeatedly put himself in
personal danger, working the hardest targets, in service to his country.” See
No Evil is Baer’s frank assessment of an agency that forgot that
“service to country” must transcend politics and is a forceful plea for the CIA
to return to its original mission, the preservation of our national sovereignty
and the American way of life.
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