Espionage and Intelligence is a good primer for a novice student of U.S. espionage and intelligence. Although published less than a year ago, the American intelligence panorama is rapidly changing and has made the book slightly dated already. But it’s still an excellent base upon which to build.
The book gives a helpful pro and con layout, giving facts and arguments both for and against the most prevalent of the arguments ongoing as you read this. The questions addressed include 1) Has U.S. espionage and intelligence-gathering been successful? 2) Will post 9/11 reforms of the United States intelligence system be effective? 3) Do intelligence-gathering activities threaten civil or human rights? and 4) What can be done to improve our intelligence-gathering abilities?
All the questions are of a broad focus, with the overarching administrative and operational systems in question. Even if all these areas were to be successfully completed tomorrow, the nuts and bolts necessary to implement the programs and procedures would still have to be implemented, which would take, of course, even longer. All these intelligence agencies are, of course, bureaucracies, and bureaucracies entail rules, regulations, procedures, and processes that have to be written and implemented.
All these subjects are, or should be, at the very top of people’s post 9/11 concerns. It’s obvious to even the most rudimentary reading on the subject that terrorism is very much alive, not only in the United States, but worldwide as well. And it’s simply a matter of time of when and where the next attack in the U.S. will take place. Even the most efficient of intelligence capabilities are simply not perfect. Ergo, it’s only a matter of which attempt will succeed. The best that we can hope to do is to temper the breadth, depth, and/or effectiveness of the attack.
The assorted U.S. intelligence agencies have, of course, greatly improved efficiency and effectiveness of their operations, their surveillance, and their watchfulness of all possible avenues of attack that might be used, but it will never be perfect, as any system of any possible activity be perfect. Even if their total responsibility was to watch only the national borders, think of what a task that would entail. How many people to cover thousands of miles of land and sea borders? Certainly more than are currently employed in that job.