web site hit counter The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

Availability: Ready to download

The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. Amer The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. America has pursued its enemies with killer drones and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, untrustworthy foreign intelligence services, and proxy armies. This new approach to war has been embraced by Washington as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to the messy wars of occupation and has been championed as a clean and surgical way of conflict. But the knife has created enemies just as it has killed them. It has fomented resentments among allies, fueled instability, and created new weapons unbound by the normal rules of accountability during wartime.


Compare

The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. Amer The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. America has pursued its enemies with killer drones and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, untrustworthy foreign intelligence services, and proxy armies. This new approach to war has been embraced by Washington as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to the messy wars of occupation and has been championed as a clean and surgical way of conflict. But the knife has created enemies just as it has killed them. It has fomented resentments among allies, fueled instability, and created new weapons unbound by the normal rules of accountability during wartime.

30 review for The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    Read as research for WIP. I started this book trying to figure out where the operations and jurisdiction of the CIA ended and those of special forces commandos began. Short answer: The days of separate focuses of responsibility are history. Instead of being two complimentary services each with a discrete contribution to national security, the CIA and the pentagon now function as two very similar and competing operations. These days it seems, they run parallel missions after the same targets with Read as research for WIP. I started this book trying to figure out where the operations and jurisdiction of the CIA ended and those of special forces commandos began. Short answer: The days of separate focuses of responsibility are history. Instead of being two complimentary services each with a discrete contribution to national security, the CIA and the pentagon now function as two very similar and competing operations. These days it seems, they run parallel missions after the same targets with largely interchangeable goals and personnel, each often ignorant of the efforts of the other. This book describes how that came to be that way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A great overview of the changing nature of the CIA. Mazzetti chronicles the Agency’s schizophrenic attitude toward its global kill campaign. Mazzetti reveals an interesting shift in the roles of our military and intelligence forces; as the military develops or expands its own capabilities in collecting intelligence on al-Qaeda members, the CIA expands its own capabilities to kill them. For example, the SEALs of DevGru’s Red Squadron were sheep-dipped to the CIA for the bin Laden takedown, since A great overview of the changing nature of the CIA. Mazzetti chronicles the Agency’s schizophrenic attitude toward its global kill campaign. Mazzetti reveals an interesting shift in the roles of our military and intelligence forces; as the military develops or expands its own capabilities in collecting intelligence on al-Qaeda members, the CIA expands its own capabilities to kill them. For example, the SEALs of DevGru’s Red Squadron were sheep-dipped to the CIA for the bin Laden takedown, since Pakistan is, on paper, a US ally and does not permit us to send military forces into Pakistan, or at least, prefer that we go in with drones. Mazzetti also explains that the CIA’s controversial rendition program (see Ghost Plane The True Story of the CIA Torture Program) was quietly phased out in favor of the CIA drone program. Mazzetti describes how the imperative to protect US troops in Afghanistan from Pakistan-based militants led to a slackening of the standards used to mark terror suspects for drone strikes. After 2008, the CIA won approval for a category of drone attacks known as “signature strikes,” in which, even without a specific target, an attack is justified by a pattern of behavior—young men test-firing mortars at a training camp in Waziristan, say, or riding under arms in atruck toward the Afghan border. Under the laws of war, strikes of that kind are typically legal on a formal battlefield like that in Afghanistan—in war, if an enemy camp is discovered, it is not necessary to have precise intel on it. In secret, Obama unilaterally extended such permission to Pakistan’s border areas, where the United States had never declared war. The President put the CIA, not the Pentagon, in charge of these attacks, in order to maintain plausible deniability. The benefits of the way of the knife are obvious: Few Americans are put at risk and the costs are relatively low in a time of budgetary constraints. But as Mazzetti points out this type of knife fighting is not as surgical as some of its proponents think for it creates enemies just as it has obliterated them. It also has lowered the bar for waging war and it is now easier for the United States to carry out killing operations at the ends of the earth than at any other time in its history. Although the complete cast of characters is understandably numerous Mazzetti focuses primarily on 20 warriors at the CIA 10 at the DOD two attached to the White House including John Brennan recently nominated by Obama as the new CIA director 13 in Pakistan six in Somalia and four in Yemen. Using wisely selected narratives within the big picture Mazzetti juggles all those characters skillfully opening the book for example with the capture of an American spy named Raymond Davis within Pakistan after a lethal roadway incident in the city of Lahore. Davis was a private contractor hired by the CIA to infiltrate Pakistan. His arrest by the Pakistanis took an especially ugly turn after American officials including President Obama lied to their allies about Davis' mission. Mazzetti includes plenty of context about the run-up to the new ways of American warfare by recounting the circumstances surrounding 9/11 as well as U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. However since those sagas have been told so often at book length Mazzetti wisely provides little-known coverage of the campaigns in Pakistan Somalia and Yemen. Believing the CIA to be too cautious the Pentagon tried to hide its "military liaison elements" special operations forces detachments from the CIA station chiefs and ambassadors in the countries they were intended for. Memos asked defense attaches to keep these deployments hidden from their bosses. But most ignored them en masse ambassadors protested to the Secretary of State almost immediately. Actually much of Mazzetti s book is about the competition between the CIA and the DOD on several fronts. Originally there was a separation of roles with the CIA charged with gathering and analyzing information and the Pentagon applying military force. But effective war and international policy requires both so there has always been pressures on the DOD to collect intelligence and the CIA to operate paramilitary forces. Naturally parallel even duplicate activities developed as the Pentagon deployed intelligence gathering units and the CIA used paramilitary forces. And various mercenary groups blur the distinction by providing the same services to both DOD and CIA possibly at the same time. Mazzetti also points out that the two agencies operate under different legal authorities giving each advantages and limitations in certain situations. For example US military forces cannot operate in friendly or neutral countries without serious repercussions. The CIA is under no such restriction. On the other hand CIA activity is often deniable which is a huge risk for their operatives. While a captured soldier may expect to be imprisoned until exchanged or paroled a captured spy expects to be tried for espionage or murder best case. Having duplicate programs is convenient then enabling specific operations to be labeled as needed. For example the raid on Bin Laden was executed by Navy SEALs which would constitute a military invasion of Pakistan an act of war . So voila the SEALs were assigned to the CIA making it an espionage operation possibly still an act of war but not a violation of US law. In the case of drones the Pentagon and the CIA have developed similar programs i.e. duplicates which obviously leads to the possibility of chaos and serious questions about who can legally operate drones where and for what purpose. Drones have been called into play in areas outside declared war zones for attacks that support American interests . Again, the agencies have different legal frameworks. The military has pushed the limits of its legal authority asserting the right to conduct intelligence anywhere in the world that might become a battlefield which is pretty much everywhere. The CIA has become focused on man hunts to roll up terrorist groups which would appear to violate its rules against assassinations. Many other DoD projects were carried out by contractors with dubious skills and delusions of grandeur. There are plenty of stories about private firms promising all kinds of intelligence collection much of which ended up being low quality or never even materialized. One of their contractors appears to have tried profiteering from the Somali pirates by acting as a negotiator for their ransom demands and taking a service fee out of the payments. One supposed result of the CIA's emphasis on paramilitary operations has been the deterioration of their intelligence gathering responsibilities. While the Agency worked closely with the intelligence agencies of Arab countries to snatch terrorists they missed the fact that the govts. of those countries were becoming increasingly unpopular with their own people. The "Arab Spring" caught them by surprise and they are playing catch-up from Libya and Tunisia to Egypt and Syria. Unfortunately the book bogs down in parts that recount anecdotes and characters whose significance to the overall story is unclear. Also the narrative is not as comprehensive as it could be but this is in no way Mazzetti s fault. The vast majority of CIA covert actions and the nitty-gritty specifics of the drone program are and most likely will remain classified. And since these the war on terror has no real endgame and will never really stop the de-classification of the pertinent CIA documents and records is highly unlikely. Also Mazzetti focuses almost exclusively on the CIA s operations in Pakistan while focusing only marginally on the parallel efforts in Yemen and Somalia. For somewhat better coverage on these see Jeremy Scahill's book Dirty Wars The World is a Battlefield

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Authored by NY Times journalist, Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security, The Way of the Knife succeeds in making interesting insights about a topic (the War on Terror) that has been extensively covered and about which readers may think they have nothing knew to learn. Mazzetti's main point is that, after 9/11, the CIA and Pentagon have become doppelgangers of each other--with the CIA becoming more of a paramilitary force and the Pentagon becoming more of a spy agency. This was not always th Authored by NY Times journalist, Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security, The Way of the Knife succeeds in making interesting insights about a topic (the War on Terror) that has been extensively covered and about which readers may think they have nothing knew to learn. Mazzetti's main point is that, after 9/11, the CIA and Pentagon have become doppelgangers of each other--with the CIA becoming more of a paramilitary force and the Pentagon becoming more of a spy agency. This was not always the case. Popular imagination casts the CIA as a killing machine and it is true that the CIA has participated in targeted killings since its origins in WWII as the Office of Strategic Services. But Mazzetti claims that the CIA changed in the 1970's. This was in response to the Church Committee Report of 1975 (which publicized the CIA's efforts to kill foreign leaders ranging from Lumumba to Castro) and President Carter's executive order banning intelligence agencies from participating in assassinations. According to Mazzetti, a whole generation of CIA officers grew up after the 1970's who eschewed targeted killings (though I wonder about this point). But after 9/11, this changed. The CIA increasingly used paramilitary troops, often borrowed from the army. With the advent of drones, the CIA abandoned any reserves it had with respect to taking the lead on assassinations. And after 9/11, the Pentagon--which had rarely focused on spying--began to develop its own intelligence sources. This was largely a result of the turf battles between the CIA and Pentagon. Mazzetti raises other interesting points: (1) U.S. policy makes a distinction between the CIA's use of a hit man to kill a terrorist in London, but permits the CIA to use drones to kill a terrorist in the hinterlands of Pakistan. Is there any difference? (2) The CIA is a creature of the White House and its scapegoat. By using the CIA, a president can accomplish his policy objectives without democratic debate. If things fall apart (as with the use of torture to interrogate suspects), it is often the CIA that is left holding the bag, although the trail leads to Pennsylvania Avenue; and (3) Obama has relied heavily upon the CIA, expanding its clandestine operations and supporting the agency over the State Department. But although Mazzetti makes all of these interesting points, I give The Way of the Knife two stars because its a jumble of a book that needed a much better and more aggressive editor. Mazzetti seems to have dumped his reporter's notebook onto the pages, without much thought to organization. Characters appear and disappear without much logic. For example, Mazzetti spends many pages on Michele "Amira" Ballarin, a flamboyant West Virginian heiress who thinks that she can solve Somalia's problems. It's an interesting story but doesn't fit into the themes of the book. Elsewhere, Mazzetti wil describe a meeting after 9/11, then focus on one of the participants in the meeting, then describe that person's career for the last couple of decades, then maybe go back to the post-9/11 meeting...or maybe not. Mazzetti may have been better off publishing a compilation of his reports and essays, instead of trying to string them together in a book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I won't belabor this review. The book is what I suppose I'd call "an honest attempt at a nonfiction account of the development and growth of a segment of the intelligence community in the United States". The book concentrates largely on attitudes and changes in the roles and attitudes at the CIA (mostly) vs. the intelligence apparatus of/at the Pentagon. Attempting to show how the two "agencies" tended to overlap, run counter programs (as in the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing I won't belabor this review. The book is what I suppose I'd call "an honest attempt at a nonfiction account of the development and growth of a segment of the intelligence community in the United States". The book concentrates largely on attitudes and changes in the roles and attitudes at the CIA (mostly) vs. the intelligence apparatus of/at the Pentagon. Attempting to show how the two "agencies" tended to overlap, run counter programs (as in the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing and the 2 groups maybe end up running the same operation while not letting each other know). There is/are a lot of the writer's own opinion(s) buried in the books account. He is firmly convinced that the Pentagon and the CIA have to some extent switched places and even tripped over each other. As for the book itself...well it's not bad so far as readability goes. there is quite a bit of repetition here as in you get an account of something and then later in another account we come across that operation or whatever as ot overlaps something else, and we go over the same ground again... So, readable, interesting but obviously any book on this topic will be very subjective and will contain only the information available in declassified material.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keith Swenson

    Excellently researched, excellently written, this book is a shining example of the in depth journalist genre - Bob Woodward style - that pieces together a story of a top secret world and makes you feel like you have a front row seat. What could be more important than keeping a tab on the working of the CIA? Particularly the development of the drone program? Mazzetti keeps us entertained by tracking how the Pentagon and the armed forces are in competition with the CIA and the secret forces, where Excellently researched, excellently written, this book is a shining example of the in depth journalist genre - Bob Woodward style - that pieces together a story of a top secret world and makes you feel like you have a front row seat. What could be more important than keeping a tab on the working of the CIA? Particularly the development of the drone program? Mazzetti keeps us entertained by tracking how the Pentagon and the armed forces are in competition with the CIA and the secret forces, where this competition started decades ago, and how it unfolded, accelerated by 9/11, and how it played out in Afghanistan, Iraq, and most importantly Pakistan. he followed the careers of specific people in depth giving you a view from multiple viewpoints. The most important reason to read this book is to get some grounding for understanding the problem with armed Predator drones. This is the most disturbing recent development, one that is likely to have the most profound effect on the future of the nation and foreign relations. Drones are evil -- but they are also an efficiency move that cuts costs both in dollars and lives, and ultimately dramatically lowers the cost of assassination. This book presents where they came from, and how they came to be used in the two major wars, as well as in Yemen. I gave the book four stars, which always for me means that it is an excellent book. It is a detailed history of a secret program. I stop short of 5 stars, which the book might easily deserve, because I reserve the top rating for those books that stretch and challenge philosophically with new and ground breaking ideas. The way of the Knife is excellent, thorough history, but it did not open up new areas of thought for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    Mazzetti's book is good and interesting but lacks a few essential ingredients, keeping it from being an excellent book. I'll just get right to the shortcomings: The book isn't as cohesive as I would have liked. It's not disjointed but at times it feels like a patchwork of stories rather than a book that goes from point A to point B. The author raises interesting points about how the CIA and Pentagon agressively encroached on each other's territories of targeted killings and spying but there's no a Mazzetti's book is good and interesting but lacks a few essential ingredients, keeping it from being an excellent book. I'll just get right to the shortcomings: The book isn't as cohesive as I would have liked. It's not disjointed but at times it feels like a patchwork of stories rather than a book that goes from point A to point B. The author raises interesting points about how the CIA and Pentagon agressively encroached on each other's territories of targeted killings and spying but there's no analysis to speak of. The book seemed more focused on reporting events and much less about giving voice to the participants. The author mentions interviewing some of the subjects but their contributions are shallow and add very little to the stories. Setting all of that aside, if you're interested in the subject matter (and that's crucial) it's worth a look. The issue of drones and targeted killings reminded me of "Objective Troy" (Scott Shane). If you're going to read one book or the other I'd recommend Shane's book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donald Luther

    This book made me angry several times as I made my way through it. I think the chief reason was to learn exactly how little things have changed in the realm of secret wars during the Obama administration. When George W. Bush left office in 2009,I had a great deal of hope that the American Way of War that had begun during that administration would turn around, or at least be seriously reconsidered, during the new presidency. Unfortunately, that was not the case. One major point of this book, the in This book made me angry several times as I made my way through it. I think the chief reason was to learn exactly how little things have changed in the realm of secret wars during the Obama administration. When George W. Bush left office in 2009,I had a great deal of hope that the American Way of War that had begun during that administration would turn around, or at least be seriously reconsidered, during the new presidency. Unfortunately, that was not the case. One major point of this book, the increased roles of the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), both of them conducting covert hunt-and-kill operations, was made clear. Some of the conclusions that Mazzetti draws about the relationship shaped between Obama and these organisations (the ringing 'The CIA always get what it wants' endorsement from the President indicates just how close they have come to the Oval Office) are genuinely disheartening. The competition between CIA and JSOC occupies the last several chapters of the book, and the lack of oversight to their assassinations becomes very clear. Assassinations are a key theme throughout the book, because Mazzetti starts his story with the Church Committee, which declared that the CIA would have nothing to do with overseas political assassinations. By the end of the book, he's explaining that the Justice Department has provided legal cover for both the CIA and JSOC to assassinate American citizens by the use of Predator and Reaper drones. Geographically, the book definitely takes the reader literally to the ends of the earth. The War that began in Afghanistan spreads to Pakistan (climaxing in the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden), Yemen and Somalia. The US was and is not at war with those countries, but we have conducted military operations there. In these cases, the President of Yemen and Pakistan at first placed fairly strict constraints on our activities there. Sometimes, we simply violated those rules. Other times, we took advantage of instability to do our business. In the case of Somalia, there was at first some American reluctance to engage there ('Black Hawk Down'), but eventually that reluctance was overcome. Another major theme was the privatisation of war. He starts his story with Donald Rumsfeld, who is trying to find a way to have the Defense Department take over some of the CIA activities, with the same amount of accountability as the CIA has (in other words, how to fight a secret war). Focusing on the case of Raymond Davis, Mazzetti demonstrates how the role of contractors has increased in both institutions. The is a remarkably good book, though it requires close attention throughout as the vista of the author alternately broadens and narrows. It is an upsetting book. And for that reason the information it contains needs to be publicised. In this way, I would compare it to a book I read back in the days of the Vietnam War: 'Fire in the Lake' by Frances FitzGerald.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riley Carlin

    The Way of the Knife is a book about the way the CIA operates after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The book tells of how the CIA went from a skeleton of what it once was during the cold war to the clandestine operation beast of the post 9/11 world. The book goes into great detail in the way the CIA operates in other countries, and its relationships with other intelligence organizations such as M16 and the ISI. The book exposes the CIA’s relationship with Pakistan’s spy organization, the ISI. The bo The Way of the Knife is a book about the way the CIA operates after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The book tells of how the CIA went from a skeleton of what it once was during the cold war to the clandestine operation beast of the post 9/11 world. The book goes into great detail in the way the CIA operates in other countries, and its relationships with other intelligence organizations such as M16 and the ISI. The book exposes the CIA’s relationship with Pakistan’s spy organization, the ISI. The book also tells stories of some of the operations to kill Taliban and Al Qaeda members. The Way of the Knife does a good job at giving every piece of information in the story. Reading this book never left me with a sense of needing to know more. The book gives in depth descriptions of all the important personnel and their relationships to each other as well as descriptions of operations conducted in the Middle East. I enjoyed learning about the relationships between the CIA and other intelligence organizations. Mazzetti described them in a way that reminded me of frenemies in a high school setting, and that really resonated with me. I also liked that Mazzetti did not glorify the CIA, but rather he just gave the facts as they are. The Way of the Knife was very information heavy. With all the foreign names, and sheer amount of people in these complex stories, it was hard for me to stay focused. I found myself rereading the same passages because I just could not pay attention to all the words on the page, or completely understand what was going on at that point. The vocabulary seemed unnecessarily advanced for what was being conveyed. This is a book about the CIA so the American public can better understand what went on in the post 9/11 fight, but the author makes it harder for Americans to read it by using CIA jargon that we do not necessarily understand. I chose this book because I thought it would be cool to learn about how the CIA operates, but I was disappointed to find that it was just another boring history book. I give The Way of the Knife three out of five stars. I did not enjoy this book. I give it three stars because it was well researched, and well written. Some parts of the book were interesting, but the majority of the book was just a chore to read. If the book captured my interest by being more concise without the advanced vocabulary, I would give it a higher rating. I would recommend this book to hardcore fans of all things CIA and spy operations, and I would recommend this book to anyone doing a project over the CIA as it has lots of good information. I strongly discourage casual learners from reading this book because it just takes too much effort.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    "The Unites States fought three wars after 9/11: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the one in the shadows." So reads the blurb on the back of this book, and it's true, to a degree. In the wake of 9/11, America proved totally unable to pursue Al Qaeda, with a CIA averse to covert operations, and a special forces culture that trained for high-stakes rescue missions. The new war required human intelligence gathering in some of the most hostile corners of the world, and soon developed a system of secret prisons "The Unites States fought three wars after 9/11: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the one in the shadows." So reads the blurb on the back of this book, and it's true, to a degree. In the wake of 9/11, America proved totally unable to pursue Al Qaeda, with a CIA averse to covert operations, and a special forces culture that trained for high-stakes rescue missions. The new war required human intelligence gathering in some of the most hostile corners of the world, and soon developed a system of secret prisons, 'enhanced interrogations', and long-distance drone assassinations. Neither the military nor the CIA was set up to do this, but they soon adapted and evolved. This book isn't so much about America's shadow wars: the renditions, drone strikes, and secret armies, as it is about who would get to wield the knife. Mazzetti goes into the byzantine conflicts between the Pentagon, the CIA, State, the White House, private military contractors, and the whole weird menagerie of Beltway counter-terrorism experts. The dsyfunctional relationship with Pakistan is a second focus of the book, and the failure of the American relationship with the ISI, culminating in Admiral Mike Mullen's public declaration that the ISI supported terrorist attacks against American troops. Mazzetti is too much of the professional reporter to make judgement, but he clearly feels that the duplication of effort between the CIA and JSOC has harmed American interests, and that the entire secret war exists on shaky legal and ethical grounds. The pragmatic question: what form should American engagement with this part of the world take? goes unanswered. I've heard it said that journalism is history's first draft, and this topic definitely deserves further study. But in the the here and now, this is the best book about what actually happened after 9/11.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    Outstanding look at how the CIA got back into the super spy/paramilitary business. Must read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Drones, mercenaries, and targeted murder: the new strategy of the CIA When Chou En-Lai, then #2 to Mao Tse-Tung, was asked for his perspective on the historical meaning of the French Revolution, he is said to have replied, “It’s too early to tell.” As we’re beginning to understand now, George W. Bush engineered a revolution of a different sort in the misguided steps he took to “end terrorism” in the years following 9/11. The country’s military establishment gained trillions of dollars in new spend Drones, mercenaries, and targeted murder: the new strategy of the CIA When Chou En-Lai, then #2 to Mao Tse-Tung, was asked for his perspective on the historical meaning of the French Revolution, he is said to have replied, “It’s too early to tell.” As we’re beginning to understand now, George W. Bush engineered a revolution of a different sort in the misguided steps he took to “end terrorism” in the years following 9/11. The country’s military establishment gained trillions of dollars in new spending within a decade, and our intelligence agencies (16 of them at last count) mushroomed in size. Even more important, the White House profoundly changed the rules under which both the Pentagon and the CIA operated, layering onto an already bloated military-industrial complex additional hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts to private companies, enabling the Pentagon to operate virtually at will, even in countries where the U.S. was not at war, and shifting the CIA’s strategy from gathering intelligence to “enhanced interrogation” to killing suspected terrorists — all without making changes in the Pentagon’s procurement policies to reflect the passing of the Cold War more than two decades ago. In The Way of the Knife, Mark Mazzetti sums up the situation as follows: “Prior to the attacks of September 11, the Pentagon did very little human spying, and the CIA was not officially permitted to kill. In the years since, each has done a great deal of both, and a military-intelligence complex has emerged to carry out the new American way of war.” As Chou En-Lai would clearly agree, the long-term impact of these dramatic policy changes is impossible to see. Unmistakably, though, the values embodied in our Federal government changed under George W. Bush — and Barack Obama has continued on the same course into his second term, even stepping up the use of drones for targeted murder. This doesn’t bode well for a U.S. foreign and military policy supposedly grounded in humanistic assumptions. Mark Mazzetti makes an important contribution to exploring the near-term consequences of one of these phenomena in The Way of the Knife, which dissects the massive shift in CIA priorities from the Clinton era to the Obama Administration. The “secret army” of the book’s subtitle is the CIA’s paramilitary capability that sends Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, or, increasingly, mercenaries on secret missions around the world and uses drones to murder terrorist suspects. Mazzetti focuses much of his attention on the dysfunctional American relationship with Pakistan and to a lesser degree on the secret wars in Yemen and Somalia. However, he makes it clear that the U.S. is now conducting undeclared wars in a great many more countries — and hiding that information from the American public. “The residents of the Oval Office have turned to covert action hundreds of times, and often have come to regret it,” Mazzetti writes. “But memories are short, new presidents arrive at the White House every four or eight years, and a familiar pattern played out over the second half of the twentieth century: presidential approval of aggressive CIA operations . . . “ In touching on the highlights of the CIA’s history from its founding after World War II to the present, Mazzetti reveals the agency’s schizophrenic attitude toward the use of calculated murder in its operations. For many years, especially under the directorship of Allen Dulles in the 1950s, the CIA was little more than a reincarnation of its predecessor (where Dulles got his start), the OSS of “Wild Bill” Donovan. As we now know, the CIA was involved in overthrowing governments (Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, probably among others) and in frequent attempts to assassinate heads of state, including Patrice Lumumba (Congo), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Nho Dinh Diem (South Vietnam), and Salvador Allende (Chile). When all this nefarious activity came to light in the 1970s in the landmark Senate hearings headed by Senator Frank Church, then-President Gerald Ford outlawed assassination and the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which included most of the agency’s bad boys, was shackled by unsympathetic new directors named to clean up the mess. By 2001, the OSS-inspired use of paramilitary operations and targeted killing that had dominated the CIA in its early years was ancient history to the new generation who had already advanced into positions of leadership. The radical course-shift demanded by the Bush White House turned the agency upside down again. And the dramatic expansion of the drone war by CIA director Leon Panetta (“the most influential CIA director since William Casey during the Reagan administration”) completed the transition of the agency into a paramilitary force. The Way of the Knife is thoroughly researched and skillfully written by a Pulitzer-winning reporter for the New York Times. The book’s highlights include the protracted tales of several colorful figures caught up in the unfolding of the secret wars, including former top CIA official Dewey Clarridge, a Virginia horsewoman named Michele Ballarin, and several senior Pakistani intelligence operatives. If you’re interested in the ups and downs of the U.S. intelligence establishment, you’ll find this book just not essential reading but entertaining as well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Raghu

    This book is about the fundamental changes that have occurred in the CIA and the US govt as to how to wage war against non-state enemies in the post 9/11 world. In presenting a composite picture of these changes, the author shows how the roles of the CIA and the Pentagon have overlapped and even switched. He raises moral and ethical questions associated with conducting 'war' on a country without ever declaring 'war', killing 'enemies' in foreign lands by remotely piloted drones and outsourcing e This book is about the fundamental changes that have occurred in the CIA and the US govt as to how to wage war against non-state enemies in the post 9/11 world. In presenting a composite picture of these changes, the author shows how the roles of the CIA and the Pentagon have overlapped and even switched. He raises moral and ethical questions associated with conducting 'war' on a country without ever declaring 'war', killing 'enemies' in foreign lands by remotely piloted drones and outsourcing espionage and killing to private firms and mercenaries. These are thought-provoking questions to ponder about. Mark Mazetti traces the philosophy of the CIA over the past fifty years as follows: In the 1960s, the CIA was allowed to carry out assassinations overseas as part of its job. In the 70s, President Ford reversed all that, forbidding the CIA from being a killing machine and instead making it focus on intelligence gathering and spying as its primary job. However, 9/11 changed all that yet again, with the CIA getting into the business of tracking down Islamic extremists, incarcerating and torturing them overseas. The adverse reaction to this practice and the Congressional indictments that followed, made them choose the silver bullet of killing terrorists abroad again through remote-controlled drones without opting for on-the-ground assassination squads. In doing so, the American government has outsourced the basic functions of spycraft to private contractors, making the American way of war morph from clashes between tank columns - into the shadows, outside the declared war zones. In the process, the constraints on who can be killed, where they can be killed and when they can be killed have been conveniently blurred. The author says that the challenge of Al-Qaeda has led the Pentagon, the CIA and the US Govt into paradoxical and inconsistent positions. The Clinton administration, though opposed to the CIA carrying out the assassination of Osama bin Laden through hit-squads, was okay with killing him through Tomahawk missiles. In the same way, President Obama, though a liberal, finds no contradiction in embracing and expanding the killing program through the drones, which has resulted in the deaths of substantial number of civilians, non-combatants and even allies, apart from suspected terrorists. Mark Mazetti clearly believes that the CIA should not stray away from its primary mission of spying and gathering intelligence. He attributes this 'straying' as the reason for the CIA getting blind-sided by the Arab Spring events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in 2010-12. Though it is tempting to agree with this, I remember reading in Tim Werner's book, 'The Legacy of the Ashes', about the CIA getting blindsided by many world events even before 9/11. For example, the CIA did not foresee India going for an atomic blast in 1998. Nor did they foresee the sudden collapse of Communism in 1990-92 or even the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in 1991. The CIA has the image of an all-powerful God-like entity in the eyes of developing countries. However, in reality, it is probably just a massive bureaucracy struggling to make sure that its left-hand is aware of what the right-hand is doing. I found the chapters on the CIA's role in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia quite absorbing and revelatory. The sections on Pakistan show that the US got quite fed up with the 'double game' of the ISI and the Pak army, resulting in giving full rein to the CIA to violate the country's borders. Years before the assault on Osama bin Laden in 2011, the Navy Seals had landed inside Pakistan and conducted operations in Damadola in the Bajaur agency without the Pak army ever being aware of it. This seems to have given the confidence for the later invasion to kill OBL. The US never informed President Musharraf of special operations that were carried out inside Pakistan. During the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, the CIA slipped in many covert officers into Pak without the ISI's knowledge under the cover of relief efforts. The book paints a dismal picture of Pak-US relations at all levels. There are fascinating accounts of how the CIA pursued al-Shabab in Somalia and killed the American citizen Anwar al-Aulaki in Yemen. After reading the book, I am compelled to think that this spree of 'killing by remote control' could end dangerously, similar to making the atomic bomb and waging cyber-warfare. The atomic bomb was seen as a way to bring fascism to its end in Japan without loss of of American lives. But the nuclear weapon has since proliferated and has come to threaten all of us. Similarly, internet viruses like Stuxnet were deployed towards a 'bloodless' destruction of Iran's nuclear program. But, it also got out of control, resulting in more cyber espionage and state-sponsored viruses threatening the highly-networked infrastructures of the advanced industrial nations. We are likely to see in future many countries following the 'US lead' in waging war (without declaring war) and killing citizens of another country through remote controlled drones, exacerbating tensions among nations and power-blocks. It is possible that the US has let another dangerous genie out of the bottle.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maitrey

    The title of this book alludes to the style of warfare adopted by the post 9/11 CIA (and other American military organisations) in handling clandestine war- shoot first, ask questions later. Mark Mazzetti is the Pulitzer prize winning journalist working for the New York Times. He has had many articles published on the CIA and American national security. The Way of the Knife is his first book. Mazzetti mainly focuses on the ongoing turf-battles and other bureaucratic head-butting going on between t The title of this book alludes to the style of warfare adopted by the post 9/11 CIA (and other American military organisations) in handling clandestine war- shoot first, ask questions later. Mark Mazzetti is the Pulitzer prize winning journalist working for the New York Times. He has had many articles published on the CIA and American national security. The Way of the Knife is his first book. Mazzetti mainly focuses on the ongoing turf-battles and other bureaucratic head-butting going on between the CIA and the Pentagon in their clandestine operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. He begins with a quick recap of how the CIA was censored by the Ford administration after their unauthorised operations (including assassination and gun-running) in Latin America. However post 9/11, Mazzetti paints a picture that the CIA was floundering and turned to drone-warfare because they had no other option left. The Pentagon therefore had to end up funding all kinds of people -including people who designed PC games- to collect data in the Islamic World; even a middle aged American woman -with absolutely no experience in clandestine work- to collect usable intelligence under the guise of humanitarian aid in Somalia. Incidents such as the shooting of turned-terrorists who were actually working for the CIA by the army, or MI5 informants shot by the CIA ad ISI men are recounted in a deadpan manner. The strange relationship between the ISI, the intelligence wing of the Pakistani army -believed to have connections with both the Taliban and the al-Qaeda- and the CIA is the focus of quite a few chapters. This is clearly a pre-Edward Snowden book and the NSA makes only one cursory appearance. Mark Mazzetti has collected a tremendous amount of material in various forms: interviews, secret reports, court hearings and a host of others and speaks with tremendous authority. While he adopts a decidedly neutral tone, there is an underlying sense of dread that something in the American defence and political setup has gone horribly wrong. Whether it is the privatization of war through the hiring dubious paramilitaries (the now notorious Blackwater firm) or the uncontrolled killing of vaguely defined "threats to national security". Since the War on Terror is unfinished, the book ends on a disconcerting note: Obama has only increased the drone operations after his re-election and the Pentagon's vague funding operations are only just beginning. Even the killing of bin-Laden has brought no closure. Overall The Way of the Knife offers an excellent view to anybody interested in the secret goings-on in some of the most forgotten and dangerous places in the world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Naeem

    After the riveting article published in the NYT (basically chapter 14 in the book), I was expecting good things. But none of the other pages live up to its best chapter. There is something to be gained in reading this. For those unversed in the history of the CIA, there is some background. What was new for me is the competition between the pentagon and the CIA -- with the former wanting its own intelligence and the latter want it own killing operations. Also available: a sketch of the history of After the riveting article published in the NYT (basically chapter 14 in the book), I was expecting good things. But none of the other pages live up to its best chapter. There is something to be gained in reading this. For those unversed in the history of the CIA, there is some background. What was new for me is the competition between the pentagon and the CIA -- with the former wanting its own intelligence and the latter want it own killing operations. Also available: a sketch of the history of the drone and policies around it. Perhaps most valuable is how war is now outsourced like never before. Public policy and market motives merge as one. But the book is otherwise flat. It doesn't have the on the ground details of say a Dexter Filkins or Anthony Shadid. Neither does it have the global grasp of someone like a Stephen Coll. This is a book meant to win a prize. Meaning: it has no soul; no political bent. Politics is where he is weakest. He thinks he is neutral. But in the way he describes Pakistan and Yemen and in the way he portrays the US characters versus Third World types, you can see and feel his lingering orientalism. He thinks he is being both neutral and critical. But, really, he has no idea that through drones we have re-entered the world of colonialism. Re-entered a world in which a novel and film such as War of the Worlds makes sense. A world in which machines exterminate the brutes while their pilots drive home to their suburbs and unwind with a martini. Sven Lindqvist can do more in a paragraph than Mazzetti in 320 pages. In sum, neither the details nor the framing have gravitas. Nor does the book provide a sense of the actual world. We might call it fly-by writing. I have three more drone books to read this summer. I hope to report on those.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Mazzetti traces the history and authority of the CIA as a contract killer for the American government, the rise of military intelligence, the turf battles between the two agencies and the growing reliance on outside private contractors for intelligence gathering. Why I started this book: I heard about this book as I was watching Jon Stewart and I was interested in learning more. Why I finished it: This book jumps all over the place and it was very difficult to follow on audio. I rewound it severa Mazzetti traces the history and authority of the CIA as a contract killer for the American government, the rise of military intelligence, the turf battles between the two agencies and the growing reliance on outside private contractors for intelligence gathering. Why I started this book: I heard about this book as I was watching Jon Stewart and I was interested in learning more. Why I finished it: This book jumps all over the place and it was very difficult to follow on audio. I rewound it several times, thinking that I have missed a transition only to find that it just jumped. Fascinating to learn more, I appreciated the historical perspective of the CIA, and the mindsets of top officials.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mansoor Azam

    good writing style but thats all i guess. its kinda book by which author seems to be trying to ride on a popular topic thats all. myth of CIA helps as ever, Afghanistan and tribal areas are also tempting. add to it a few gossips of ISI and Blakewater and Pentagon. All in all its an interesting gossip book of behind the scene happenings of all power brokers and adversaries of war on terror. few facts. But for a first book to succeed i guess good enough spice

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jake Butler

    The Way of the Knife The Way of the Knife is about CIA operatives, their special forces counterparts, top generals, elite government officials, and their decisions on operations past the September 11th attacks. The book tells of past events of CIA operations all over the globe ranging from the war on terrorism in the Middle East and of battles against drug cartels and government corruption in South America. There is a variety of topics and history that Mark Mazzetti discusses including legal batt The Way of the Knife The Way of the Knife is about CIA operatives, their special forces counterparts, top generals, elite government officials, and their decisions on operations past the September 11th attacks. The book tells of past events of CIA operations all over the globe ranging from the war on terrorism in the Middle East and of battles against drug cartels and government corruption in South America. There is a variety of topics and history that Mark Mazzetti discusses including legal battles that are fought amongst congress and the president, disputes between top military and CIA officials over who has the authority to carry out operations on any given jurisdiction, and what is considered the most moral way to kill a terrorist. Mazzetti also discusses the insane legal actions that spy agencies have to go through in order to carry out with an operation. One particular topic climaxes to the events that lead up to killing Osoma bin Laden, the legal actions carried out to get authorized permission to carry out prior missions, and what intelligence was obtained in order to get to to that point in history. This is a highly detailed book that discusses the CIA’s history and its past operations, therefore people who are history buffs will most certainly enjoy this book. The Way of the Knife gives detailed descriptions over past operations and goes into great detail about who ran them. The book also gives a solid amount of information regarding the agencies history, in which I found very fascinating, and its high and low points. This book kept whispering my name when it sat on my desk, as I am was really intrigued about the highly classified missions CIA agents and military personnel carried out all over the globe. Another quality characteristic about The Way of the Knife is all the information it reveals about what officers were able to dig up on the al Qaeda after 9/11. However there are a few cons to match the pros of the book. First, this book is not for novice readers, one must have a brief knowledge to what has happened revolving America's past involvement in the middle east and other 3rd world countries and an advanced vocabulary to understand this novel. Second, the characters are most certainly real, they just didn’t feel like they were. Mark Mazzetti goes through numerous people he describes in the book but only gives a brief description of who the are and what they did, I couldn’t keep track of who was who. Another thing worth mentioning is that the book was sporaticc when it came to discussing missions and the history of the agency. It would switch from the Middle East to South America and back again. The books topics also seemed random, switching from dates and chapters that had no correlation to the last. Overall I give The Way of the Knife a 4 star just because I could not keep track of the characters. They felt blank and empty, there were to big of gaps between chapters when a character was used so they became vague. On the other hand, I give it a four star because I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the missions and the telling of the CIA’s history. My opinion is also biased because I enjoy these things and more challenging books. I would recommend this book to readers who like me, are history buffs and love a good spy novel. I would not recommend this book to inexperience readers that also have no knowledge of past events the US has had a hand in.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erdan

    **SPOILER ALERT** The Way of The Knife In the book “The Way of The Knife” Mark Mazzetti, a reporter that won the Pulitizer Prize, tells the story of the United States’ military secrets. Mazzetti talks about how the different secret organizations in the United States came about. Some of these organizations include the CIA, FBI, CTC and more. Mazzetti explains that the time they all started growing and taking bigger roles in the United States was after September 11, 2002. It is cool to see all th **SPOILER ALERT** The Way of The Knife In the book “The Way of The Knife” Mark Mazzetti, a reporter that won the Pulitizer Prize, tells the story of the United States’ military secrets. Mazzetti talks about how the different secret organizations in the United States came about. Some of these organizations include the CIA, FBI, CTC and more. Mazzetti explains that the time they all started growing and taking bigger roles in the United States was after September 11, 2002. It is cool to see all the struggles the U.S almost faced but were handled by the secret services before something happened. Throughout the rest of the book Mazzetti gives his opinion on the important events happening in the world and how the U.S was connected to it. What I really enjoyed about this book was the way Mazzetti took his time describing each organization and how they came about. I also liked that he puts his opinion after every significant event that he describes. Another aspect of the book is that Mark Mazzetti retells the events from a normal civilian’s point of view and his point of view towards war is the same as any normal person in the country. There was some really good parts throughout the book that really kept me entertained because it contains a lot information one may not know about. All in all, this book had a lot of things I like in a book. I just stated what I liked about the book in the previous paragraph, now I will say a few things I disliked about this book. One of the things I did not like about this book is that at some parts it could be really boring and made me doubt weather I wanted to keep reading it or not. Another thing I did not like about this book is that some things cannot be understood unless one does a little research on this subject. I also do not like that it was told by a reporter and not a former member of the CIA or something like that. There is not much i did not like about this book but these are the things I did not enjoy. I give this book a 4 star rating because I overall really liked this book. Even though there was some things I did not like about this book, there was way more I liked. Mazzetti tells these events im a way that makes one think they can become a secret agent and work for the U.S. This book is really informative but at the same time it can have some entertaining parts so it is a good valance. Overall I give this book this rating because it accomplishes its goal of informing the people of the country’s secret wars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott Whitmore

    Few today remember it, but as the sun rose over the eastern seaboard on September 11, 2001, it was understood that the Central Intelligence Agency spied on our nation’s enemies and the Department of Defense waged war on them. Flash forward a dozen years to today, and those roles have to a large extent switched. The CIA’s main brief has become counter-terrorism, with great emphasis placed on capturing or killing those believed responsible for acts against the United States or who may be contempla Few today remember it, but as the sun rose over the eastern seaboard on September 11, 2001, it was understood that the Central Intelligence Agency spied on our nation’s enemies and the Department of Defense waged war on them. Flash forward a dozen years to today, and those roles have to a large extent switched. The CIA’s main brief has become counter-terrorism, with great emphasis placed on capturing or killing those believed responsible for acts against the United States or who may be contemplating such acts. Spying and analyzing information created by such, the agency’s traditional roles, have taken a decided backseat. This evolution is studied in The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti (@MarkMazzettiNYT), the Pulitzer Prize-winning national security correspondent for The New York Times. It is an excellent book, filled with fascinating details that in turns may anger, amaze or amuse the reader. Mazzetti provides a brief but illuminating history of the Central Intelligence Agency, which rose from the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS was action oriented, with agents taking the fight to the enemy through sabotage as well as arming resistance groups. That wartime focus on action was intended to be just a part of the newly-created CIA, a means of providing presidents with a way of quickly and quietly taking action, while the primary focus was on intelligence-gathering. Having a dedicated group available to do whatever needed doing anywhere in the world proved irresistible for even the most moderate presidents, however, and that created a dangerous cycle: The residents of the Oval Office have turned to covert action hundreds of times, and often have come to regret it. But memories are short, new presidents arrive at the White House every four or eight years, and a familiar pattern played out over the second half of the twentieth century: presidential approval of aggressive CIA operations, messy congressional investigations when the details of those operations were exposed, retrenchment and soul-searching at Langley, criticisms that the CIA had become risk-averse, then another period of aggressive covert action. -- Mazzetti, Mark (2013-04-09). The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Kindle Locations 684-688). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition. During the 1960s and 70s the agency was involved in clumsy assassination attempts as well as sponsoring coups and inciting rebellion, but it was the Iran-Contra affair that defined the mindset of many who were working at CIA on 9/11. To those who survived the internal purges and federal prosecution resulting from that embarrassing chapter (look it up, kids), the idea that the agency would create a huge paramilitary wing dedicated to hunting and killing — mostly by drone missile strike — would be pure fantasy. The book isn’t just a look at the CIA. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, DoD was already facing a lingering identity crisis before 9/11 as the proponents of “traditional” (i.e., heavy armor formations) land warfare faced a world without a credible opponent. After the terrorist attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield yearned to have what the CIA had: a nimble force free to take action anywhere in the world. He already had specially-trained troops at Special Operations Command and through careful manipulation of existing and post-9/11 laws Rumsfield was able to expand the scope of his department to unheard-of levels. But the one thing Rumsfield did not have available was information — intelligence — about the far-off places where he wanted to send his special operators. First off the CIA was doing less and less spying, and secondly both agencies were in competition for the same thing: the billions of dollars coming from Congress for the Global War on Terror. Ever willing to break free of conventional thinking, whether wise or not, Rumsfield set up his own intelligence-gathering operation within DoD. There are some true “shake my head” moments detailed in the book, such as the Virginia socialite who decides to become a player in the anarchy of Somalia and the astounding development of outsourcing key intelligence and security activities to private contractors like Blackwater, as well as an examination of the drone program. The hot-and-cold relationship between Pakistan’s spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the CIA is also a major piece of the book. Throughout, Mazzetti’s prose is clear and his command of the subject total, making the book very readable as well as informative. I was pleased to see he maintains a journalist’s impartial stance, reporting information from all sides of the issues without bias or opinion. Frankly, the author doesn’t need to opine, as the people he interviewed are more than happy to lay out not only pros and cons but also their personal views. Although still digesting the information, I believe this cautionary tale is well worth reading and I highly recommend it. The pendulum has swung so far from “risk-adverse” that I’m not sure what manner of event it would take to rein in the current CIA, or if we should. Still, the agency is like a weightlifter who only works one arm: the hunters and killers in the Counterterrorism shop are buff and muscular, while the analysts on the “intel” side are atrophied and weak. I’m not sure that’s wise.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    This is a very good summary of the transition of CIA under GWB and Obama from an intelligence gathering organization, largely constrained by the Church committee rulings of the 1970s to avoid extensive paramilitary activities, into an essentially paramilitary organization which incidentally collected intelligence. The Title 50 authority was used to wage secret war in countries outside Iraq and Afghanistan, and there were substantial areas of overlap between DOD JSOC and CIA. Ironically, DOD ende This is a very good summary of the transition of CIA under GWB and Obama from an intelligence gathering organization, largely constrained by the Church committee rulings of the 1970s to avoid extensive paramilitary activities, into an essentially paramilitary organization which incidentally collected intelligence. The Title 50 authority was used to wage secret war in countries outside Iraq and Afghanistan, and there were substantial areas of overlap between DOD JSOC and CIA. Ironically, DOD ended up having to expand their own intelligence gathering activities.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joe Oaster

    excellent book on this development and history of direct action by the CIA. Good overview of this "black" world. excellent book on this development and history of direct action by the CIA. Good overview of this "black" world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Knox

    "The Way of the Knife" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the breathtaking transformation that has occurred in the US military and intelligence agencies since 9/11/2001. To steal the title of one of the book's chapters, there has been a "convergence" between military and intelligence activities, with the CIA becoming engrossed in areas traditionally under the purview of the military and the Pentagon at the same time building its own in-house intelligence capabilities. In additi "The Way of the Knife" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the breathtaking transformation that has occurred in the US military and intelligence agencies since 9/11/2001. To steal the title of one of the book's chapters, there has been a "convergence" between military and intelligence activities, with the CIA becoming engrossed in areas traditionally under the purview of the military and the Pentagon at the same time building its own in-house intelligence capabilities. In addition to documenting this convergence, another major theme of Mazzetti's book in the increasing role of contractors in both military and intelligence-gathering activities. While the former may be more familiar to the public due to the Blackwater scandals of the Iraq War, the extent of the latter came as a surprise to me. The stories of former CIA officials (including Dewey Clarridge), special ops soldiers, and even a Virginian socialite-cum-Somali "princess" that have become involved in espionage activities would be comic were they not true. Mazzetti also spends a considerable amount of the book exploring the always tense, usually dysfunctional, relationship between the US and the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. While the fraught relationship between the two countries is no secret, "The Way of the Knife" explores the many reasons for the distrust between the two agencies. This book makes clear the enormous risks inherent in the convergence of military and intelligence activities. For the past 13 years the main organs of US national security have been obsessed with Islamic terrorism. Beyond the moral questions raised by the use of drones and reliance on special operators, there are massive direct and indirect costs to the US. The direct costs are easy to calculate, namely the hundreds of billions of dollars that have poured into the CIA, the Pentagon, and an entire cottage industry of contractors that have sprung up inside the Beltway. The indirect costs are harder to calculate, but in the long-term may be even higher. By focusing so much on the terrorist threat, we have not been able to focus our energies and resources on larger long-terms threats to national security, such as the rise of China, the destabilization of eastern Europe by Russia, and cyberwarfare in general. As Mazzetti also explains, the CIA operatives who have come of age since 2001 are steeped in killing - but what toll has that had on undertaking slow, painstaking intelligence gathering? While we as a country fret about the next terrorist attack, many actors outside of the Middle East must be delighted by our being distracted by an increasingly costly, financially unsustainable and morally ambiguous war at the ends of the earth.

  23. 4 out of 5

    William Harp

    The Way of the Knife tells the details behind a “shadow war” taking place in both ally and enemy territory. Mark Mazzetti describes the changes during this “shadow war” the CIA goes through after the September 11th terrorist attacks. One of the biggest changes is how the CIA receives authority to start killing terrorists. The author writes about a new way our government has begun to hunt terrorist, the predator drone. Mazzetti tells how the predator drone has had both negative and positive effec The Way of the Knife tells the details behind a “shadow war” taking place in both ally and enemy territory. Mark Mazzetti describes the changes during this “shadow war” the CIA goes through after the September 11th terrorist attacks. One of the biggest changes is how the CIA receives authority to start killing terrorists. The author writes about a new way our government has begun to hunt terrorist, the predator drone. Mazzetti tells how the predator drone has had both negative and positive effects on are military counter terrorism operations. I liked learning about how our government turned a spying drone into a predator drone. The predator drone keeps it’s pilot safe while flying being controlled from thousands of miles away. My favorite part of the book was when the private military company Blackwater was introduced. The Blackwater and Pentagon’s senior advisors got to know eachother, and I thought the activities they did were very amusing. The Vice President of Blackwater is also my favorite character. Joseph Black shows no mercy during the CIA and CTC meetings, which it makes fun to read what he has to say. The only things I did not enjoy was there was always a new person being introduced every couple of pages, so I found it hard to remember everyone, other than by referring to the references at the beginning of the book. It was also difficult to find a real plot line to keep up with, because all the chapters were divided in to events from different time periods. These issues still barley kept me from not turning the next page, I always wanted to know what the CIA or Pentagon would do next. I gave this book four stars because at the end of the book I did not question my morals or myself in anyway, which is a critical quality of a five star book. They way of the Knife is still a delightful book that I would recommend to anyone I know of that likes war and government secrets!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    This is a well-informed, meticulously researched and analytically sharp investigation of a shift in how the United States collects and uses intelligence and how it uses the intelligence to target and kill those considered enemies of the regime. It describes bureaucratic infighting at its most loathsome with frequent battles within the United States government over the conduct of secret and not so secret wars. Facing off are the CIA on one side and the Pentagon on the other with daily turf battle This is a well-informed, meticulously researched and analytically sharp investigation of a shift in how the United States collects and uses intelligence and how it uses the intelligence to target and kill those considered enemies of the regime. It describes bureaucratic infighting at its most loathsome with frequent battles within the United States government over the conduct of secret and not so secret wars. Facing off are the CIA on one side and the Pentagon on the other with daily turf battles over which of the huge national security fiefdoms controls gathering intelligence and which is in charge of acting upon it. Formerly a major concern was “mission creep”, the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes, with the Somalia Civil War given a the most egregious example. Now policy makers have to look out for “organizational bleed”--the CIA and the Department of Defense becoming tangled in a duplicative and often counterproductive rivalry, as intelligence gathering and paramilitary activities “bleed” into one another. The most glaring current example is the deployment of armed drones. The CIA’s unmanned aircraft are only used to track the militants, while the Pentagon’s drones do the killing. This argument, of course, begs the question regarding the actual usefulness of these weapons while avoiding any discussion of the morality of their use. Since these discussions are taking place at the very highest level of the American military and national security establishment—the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, the Intelligence and Armed Forces committees of both houses of Congress, the agendas of meetings, the content of briefing papers and the assumptions they are vital for an informed citizenry. Mark Mazzetti’s book goes a long way in making this discussion possible

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrieg

    I learned a tremendous amount about US activity in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia since 9/11 by reading this, so it accomplished for me what I hoped it would. By the end of the book, I think I understood the big picture of what the author was saying: 1) that the CIA and Defense Department have blurred their roles since 9/11 and moved into legally and ethically grey areas, 2) that Bush and Obama both understood and supported the transition, with both of them believing that they were (are, in the ca I learned a tremendous amount about US activity in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia since 9/11 by reading this, so it accomplished for me what I hoped it would. By the end of the book, I think I understood the big picture of what the author was saying: 1) that the CIA and Defense Department have blurred their roles since 9/11 and moved into legally and ethically grey areas, 2) that Bush and Obama both understood and supported the transition, with both of them believing that they were (are, in the case of Obama) making the right decisions to ensure the safety of the U.S., 3) that once we start down a path like this, we have trouble knowing when to stop, 4) that we have ruined our relationship (however tenuous it was) with Pakistan (however lousy an ally they were), and 5) that with both the Defense Dept and the CIA waging war, we have given short-shrift to intelligence gathering in other countries, and therefore have outsourced much of it. The author clearly views all of this with a great deal of concern but doesn't outright condemn our program of "surgically" taking out terrorists because for all the problems with this campaign, we have thus far avoided a second Al Qaeda sponsored 9/11. Mazzetti tells many interesting stories with a colorful cast of characters along the way, but I often had to re-read to remember how each story fit into the big picture. He made up for that at the end with a nice closing chapter and epilogue. I thought this was a very worthwhile read, but for me - lover of mystery novels and fiction in general - a bit of a difficult read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gspesh

    Definitely an interesting read shedding light on the Obama's admninistration's embrace of covert operations. In some ways the Obama administration has stepped up these operations to a degree never known in history (at least not since "Wild" Bill Donovan's OSS). In addition, the short section on Benghazi (leading up to and aftermath) was interesting because of its direct relationship to the admninistration having CIA do war operations instead of intelligence. This was a colossal failure of intell Definitely an interesting read shedding light on the Obama's admninistration's embrace of covert operations. In some ways the Obama administration has stepped up these operations to a degree never known in history (at least not since "Wild" Bill Donovan's OSS). In addition, the short section on Benghazi (leading up to and aftermath) was interesting because of its direct relationship to the admninistration having CIA do war operations instead of intelligence. This was a colossal failure of intelligence gathering. Also, very interesting how when Obama became president, the "f--- you" attitude toward Pakistan prevailed and it shows. We have probably lost all constructive contact with ISI as a result - what a mess! While Mr. Mazetti is a good writer, this book was poorly edited which was frustrating at times. For example, when describing the Pentagon stepping up spying operations from Iraq inside of Iran Mazetti mentions running agents who were "Coptic Christians". I think he is very confused - Coptics are not Persian (or Iraqi for that matter) - they are from Egypt and Ethiopia. Other than that - decent read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    It read like Too Big to Fail, which is about as much praise as I can give to a non-fiction book. I'm not really sure if there was a time when Americans kept track of our wars. It seems like the popular memory suggests so; I recall watching old TV shows where they play war footage as a movie preview, or you assume people would follow the latest battlefield happenings in the newspaper. Does anyone do this now? I like to think of myself as a well-informed citizen, someone who reads foreign affairs m It read like Too Big to Fail, which is about as much praise as I can give to a non-fiction book. I'm not really sure if there was a time when Americans kept track of our wars. It seems like the popular memory suggests so; I recall watching old TV shows where they play war footage as a movie preview, or you assume people would follow the latest battlefield happenings in the newspaper. Does anyone do this now? I like to think of myself as a well-informed citizen, someone who reads foreign affairs magazines and whatnot, and I apparently did not have a real clear idea of how America's warfare strategy had changed -- and just how many wars we've been fighting -- until I read The Way of the Knife. I wouldn't blame Americans for not following their war news. There's just so much of it, and it's all so complicated. But I bet we'll regret it. The Way of the Knife is a worthwhile read for anyone who'd like to be more informed about the changes in the CIA and our military over the past generation. Understanding this will give a clearer picture of how foreign nationals view America, and maybe of how we should view ourselves.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shania Jackson

    The Way of the Knife is a dramatic spy novel. It tells the story of how the CIA got back into the killing business. It is also an account about the war referred to as the "Shadows". This war was conducted by the CIA and other allying countries. This book gives you an inside look on the twist and turns of this aggressive, yet secretive, war. I enjoyed this book because I never knew what was coming next! There was always something exciting happening around the corner. It is a definite page turner The Way of the Knife is a dramatic spy novel. It tells the story of how the CIA got back into the killing business. It is also an account about the war referred to as the "Shadows". This war was conducted by the CIA and other allying countries. This book gives you an inside look on the twist and turns of this aggressive, yet secretive, war. I enjoyed this book because I never knew what was coming next! There was always something exciting happening around the corner. It is a definite page turner and very addicting. I also liked how it gives you an incite on what goes on behind closed doors. It makes you look at some things with a different perspective. There wasn't really anything I disliked. It was very detailed so I was never left hanging. The ending was a little suspenseful and cliff hanging but it doesn't change the greatness of the book at all what so ever. I gave this book a 5 star rating because it was just an over all good book. There was never a dull moment you always wanted to know what was next. I would definitely recommend this book! It was beyond interesting and very enjoyable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nat

    The most worrying thing about the behavior of the CIA described in this book is how amateurish so much of it is. It's like you turned over a sprawling spy agency to a philosophy department. Two illustrations from early in the book: Ross Newland is being interviewed as a potential CIA case officer in the late 70s. "Newland was sitting in a bare room at CIA headquarters waiting for his psychological evaluation evaluation. A man walked in, sat down, and asked Newland only two questions. 'So, you grew The most worrying thing about the behavior of the CIA described in this book is how amateurish so much of it is. It's like you turned over a sprawling spy agency to a philosophy department. Two illustrations from early in the book: Ross Newland is being interviewed as a potential CIA case officer in the late 70s. "Newland was sitting in a bare room at CIA headquarters waiting for his psychological evaluation evaluation. A man walked in, sat down, and asked Newland only two questions. 'So, you grew up in Mexico?' 'Yes'. 'What's the difference between an enchilada and a tostada?' Though puzzled by the question, Newland nevertheless explained the difference...Newland politely told his interviewer that they better start the psychological evaluation because he needed to get to his next interview. 'And he said, "No, we're done"', Newland remembers. Ross Newland was in the CIA.' (pp.47--48). A couple pages later, we're introduced to Duane R. Clarridge, who joined the CIA in 1955, who served undercover in a many countries, "using pseudonyms like...Dax Preston LeBaron" (p.50).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Simmons

    This would rate as a must read at any time but especially now, in the wake of the U.S. Senate's report on CIA and DOD-orchestrated imprisonment and torture of suspected terrorists. This book suggests that the alternative to imprisonment is often execution, delivered courtesy of the missile-armed drones whirring about in the skies far above. The main outlines of the U.S. government's increasing reliance on drones for targeted attacks and assassinations are not new, but Mazzetti provides lots of c This would rate as a must read at any time but especially now, in the wake of the U.S. Senate's report on CIA and DOD-orchestrated imprisonment and torture of suspected terrorists. This book suggests that the alternative to imprisonment is often execution, delivered courtesy of the missile-armed drones whirring about in the skies far above. The main outlines of the U.S. government's increasing reliance on drones for targeted attacks and assassinations are not new, but Mazzetti provides lots of chilling details about the CIA's post-9/11 transformation from an intelligence agency to a shadowy killing machine. All of this said, I wish the book were better organized and structured, as it was easy to get lost in the blizzard of acronyms and characters. Mazzetti's outrage is also sometimes overly palpable; a more dispassionate approach would let the facts, brutal as they are, speak more effectively for themselves.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.