Hitz, Frederick P.
1 January 2008
Kirkus Reviews

The CIA’s former inspector general details the extensive use of espionage and intelligence by the U.S. government since World War II.

Hitz (Law and Politics/Univ. of Virginia; The Great Game: The Myths and Reality of Espionage, 2004, etc.) divides the book into four sections concerning every possible aspect of spying: the motivations to do so, the tactics employed by various organizations, the state of spying in the 21st century and the ethical considerations it provokes. He provides a revealing glimpse into a world often romanticized by modern cinema and literature—and yes, readers will find real-life double agents, pricey sex scandals and even “a James Bond-like escape from FBI surveillance.” However, Hitz appears pessimistic when tackling the current state of counterintelligence operations both in the United States and around the world. The new enemy is not a foreign government, he notes, but a worldwide network of terrorist cells that operate at their own behest. While Osama bin Laden may be the figurehead, these cells are independent, which makes them extremely hard to locate and infiltrate. Age-old tactics such as sexual exploitation and torture procedures like those used at Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo Bay are no longer as effective as in the past; the author claims that Islamic prisoners are less susceptible to such techniques due to their fundamentalist beliefs. The very concept of spying is rapidly taking a new identity, he writes, with the Internet now considered the main conduit for information flow between terror cells and their members. The days of shrouded secrecy and privileged information on the day-to-day protection and operation of the United States are coming to an end. Hitz argues that the public and local police services are now required to stand guard should the nation wish to avoid the next 9/11.

An often controversial analysis that still offers plenty of entertainment.