Less secret than the title implies, this richly detailed overview of U.S. intelligence since President Obama’s election reveals only spotty progress.
Intelligence historian Aid (The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, 2009) asserts that the avalanche of money following 9/11 vastly expanded U.S. security agencies while leaving many deficiencies intact. Duplication, turf wars, refusal to share information and bureaucratic inertia contributed to the attacks. In response, Congress created a Department of Homeland Security to oversee American intelligence, but it has failed. Bush administration leaders opposed reform; the FBI and Defense Department demanded exemption. Congress agreed, so the Director of Homeland Security, like the Surgeon General, possesses an impressive title but little authority. Reviewing efforts around the world, Aid concludes that Iraq may escape anarchy when America withdraws, but Afghanistan remains in doubt. A troop surge and unmanned drones are wreaking havoc among the Taliban, but most Afghans detest the central government. After a decade of self-delusion, America understands that Pakistan has always supported the Taliban, but the only result is a paralysis in cooperation between the two nations. In the Middle East, Syria and Iran no longer aggressively encourage terrorism, but matters are deteriorating in Yemen and Somalia. Drug wars in Mexico have also become a major preoccupation. Aid concludes by warning that we cannot prevent future terrorist attacks at home because perpetrators will likely be disaffected individuals acting alone.
An expert update on American security that turns up more problems than solutions.