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Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq

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The untold story of the CIA's secret mission inside Iraq to prepare for the invasion of Iraq--from the secret team leader who led the 2003 mission. The untold story of the CIA's secret mission inside Iraq to prepare for the invasion of Iraq--from the secret team leader who led the 2003 mission.


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The untold story of the CIA's secret mission inside Iraq to prepare for the invasion of Iraq--from the secret team leader who led the 2003 mission. The untold story of the CIA's secret mission inside Iraq to prepare for the invasion of Iraq--from the secret team leader who led the 2003 mission.

30 review for Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    Interesting subject matter, awful delivery. The story sounds like a movie as you get into it. It;s an interesting story to read about how they got into Iraq, how they set up, what they did in country, their complications and all that. It is also interesting to hear through this guy's perspective about went wrong. He cites a couple of cases where Washington had no perspective on reality. They viewed things in Iraq like a staff game they played in the Pentagon war room. One example of this is how t Interesting subject matter, awful delivery. The story sounds like a movie as you get into it. It;s an interesting story to read about how they got into Iraq, how they set up, what they did in country, their complications and all that. It is also interesting to hear through this guy's perspective about went wrong. He cites a couple of cases where Washington had no perspective on reality. They viewed things in Iraq like a staff game they played in the Pentagon war room. One example of this is how they ordered the CIA crew to get ready to receive several airplanes load of weapons in Iraq for the Kurds. They ordered the CIA on site crew to light up a runway, get trucks and forklifts for unloading a plan ready. I found such requests behind lines from headquarters very funny, almost like something from Monty Python. Another example is where they sent in a DoD team to check things out but each team, the DoD team and the CIA team not to talk to each other behind enemy lines. Other books say the same thing about the Washington way of war. Other than that, this wasn't that great. These authors' definition of terms is frankly imbecilic and, given that these are operational definitions, one thinks that these may well be criminals, killers manipulated by the Kurds who are not saints by any stretch of the imagination. Luckily for them a lot of their stuff will be taken as fish stories. The killer gung-ho reads like off-meds! There's tons of macho, chest-thumping, "me-smash-terrorists-with-big-rock" kind of talk, which works until you find it goes ON AND ON for ALL of the introduction. There's also tons of endlessly repetitive whining about how Bush screwed up the war. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but repeating your complaints ad nauseum is no one's idea of analysis. At the Epilogue (titled "On Victory Over al-Qaeda"), Tucker's proposed counterterrorism strategies range from the mundanely obvious to the comically absurd. These suggestions seriously made me doubt Tucker's credibility, and I kept thinking, "This guy doesn't know what he's talking about." Among these suggestions, Tucker proposes that America sign the Kyoto Agreement on global warming and "appoint Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore as global warming czar." Please explain to me how this will counter al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks. Laughably, Tucker also proposes abolishing the CIA and resurrecting the old OSS of WWII fame, and to "appoint Richard Marcinko, former SEAL Team Six commander, guerrilla warfare genius, and brilliant counterterrorist, as commander of the new OSS. Pay him one million dollars a year...increase pay of the US president to two million dollars a year..." Remember, this is supposed to be a "long-range strategy. What if Marcinko dies? Appoint Mike Tucker in his place? Also among Tucker's suggestions: "If necessary, declare war on Pakistan and strike and kill al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their sanctuaries in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier and Baluchistan." Well, given that we already launch drone strikes and cross-border raids into those territories that aggravate our ally Pakistan, you really think a full-scale invasion will produce better results? And maybe Charles Faddis the CIA intelligence officer is unaware of the fact that Pakistan has nukes? Tucker also recommends full recognition of Cuba, of all places, claiming that this would aid US counterterrism efforts in Africa, where the Cubans have extensive HUMINT networks. Maybe so, but how much of a threat do African terrorists pose to Cuba? You really think they'll be eager to help? Oddly, Tucker fails to mention Yemen at all, an area of increasing importance in the war on terror, or Iran, an active state sponsor of terror with nuclear ambitions. Then again, given his previous suggestions on areas of less importance, I doubt Tucker's input on these issues will be very helpful. In all, a good account of the actual CIA operation, everything else is of little to no use or significance whatsoever.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    There are now books about the bad intelligence, the botched occupation and almost any aspect of the Iraq war and its aftermath. Now we have a narrative about the outrageous lack of administrative support for the CIA operatives who entered Iraq prior to the invasion. Was there ANY part of this war that was well managed? The information they sent back was fully ignored. Their alliances were disrespected. Their invasion support operations were both ignored and undermined. This group would have been There are now books about the bad intelligence, the botched occupation and almost any aspect of the Iraq war and its aftermath. Now we have a narrative about the outrageous lack of administrative support for the CIA operatives who entered Iraq prior to the invasion. Was there ANY part of this war that was well managed? The information they sent back was fully ignored. Their alliances were disrespected. Their invasion support operations were both ignored and undermined. This group would have been better off with no support from DC rather than with the dysfunctional support they received. It would all be laughable if so many lives had not been lost. Everything from Washington from President Bush to his appointees was off. The utter folly of relying on Chalabi is an outrage all its own besides so many others (Bremer's de-Baathifation for one). I wonder how many besides the CIA on the ground had warned the tin-eared neo-cons about him. Headquarters tells Sam... was it 8 times?... to be ready for supplies arriving over Turkish air space and gives him orders on striking railroad tracks, again, laughable except that following such nonsense is life-threatening. Lt.Col. Waltemeyer is portrayed as the perfect jerk from central casting who arrives with full confidence of knowledge he doesn't have. He ignores all work that has gone on before him and not only marginalizes the people who know the terrain and the players, he officially isolates them so that no one can benefit from their work. We don't know that Mosul would have been a smooth surrender as Faddis/Sam says, had Waltemeyer followed practical advice. It certainly looks like Waltemeyer's goal was to make Rumsfeld look good at the expense of using the intelligence gathered by this team. Of further of interest about Mosul, why was there no follow up on what might have been discovered? Faddis seems to have found some WMDs... could this be true? The book ends with the author's return from the chaos of Iraq (Bremer has just fired the army) to DC where the support people, the types who "knew" the Turks would grant air space, etc., were in a state of "Mission Accomplished" celebration. Some reviewers object to the prose. Do they really want this genuine voice to be tempered by a ghost writer? Faddis is refreshingly upfront on what he did, what he saw and what he feels. The Epilogue has a lot of common sense policy recommendations. I highly recommend this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    It is a rare thing that a book actually disappoints me. This one has done just that to the point that I couldn't even finish it. The subject of this book is the clandestine action taken by a team of CIA operatives sent into Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion to establish "on the ground" intelligence and resources. Neat right? Historically important, interesting subject matter, the author even had access to at least one of the team members involved with the operation. All the makings of a great read It is a rare thing that a book actually disappoints me. This one has done just that to the point that I couldn't even finish it. The subject of this book is the clandestine action taken by a team of CIA operatives sent into Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion to establish "on the ground" intelligence and resources. Neat right? Historically important, interesting subject matter, the author even had access to at least one of the team members involved with the operation. All the makings of a great read. Unfortunately, the author, Mike Tucker, approached the book as a complete cheese ball and the book feels as though you are listening to a 1920's radio drama. The biggest problem I had with the book is Tucker's overbearing and unrelenting attempts to romanticize the events and people he describes. Guess what? I know the events were dramatic, I know the people were extraordinary, I know the mission was critical. Why couldn't the author just tell the story as it happened? That would have been more than enough. I will keep my eye out for another book covering the same activities/events. While I was reading this I almost constantly asked what a worthwhile journalist like a Mark Bowden would have made of this material. I think one will eventually come along and cover this material, and when they do I will be there. Until then I will just pretend I never picked this book up.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    Operation Hotel California held such promise. The story behind covert operations in Iraq certainly interests me. I'm sure the author is stacked with credentials too. This book just failed to deliver. This book tells its story from the perspective of the author and the author's recollection of conversations with a CIA officer. The CIA officer apparently headed the efforts and resources detailed in the book. This type of hearsay reads more like fiction than fact. That difference left me wanting more Operation Hotel California held such promise. The story behind covert operations in Iraq certainly interests me. I'm sure the author is stacked with credentials too. This book just failed to deliver. This book tells its story from the perspective of the author and the author's recollection of conversations with a CIA officer. The CIA officer apparently headed the efforts and resources detailed in the book. This type of hearsay reads more like fiction than fact. That difference left me wanting more: more first hand experiences, more official documentation, etc. Then again, that might be impossible because it's likely to be classified. Foiled again. This book falls into the category of Gideon's Spies, rather than Ghost Wars or Main Enemy. I prefer the latter two books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Mike Tucker's language is a little aggressive and repetitive, but this is a great look into the CIAs presence in Iraq, and the shortcomings of the top levels of the US Government and CIA from before the war until the present. I would be excited to hear what other CIA operatives and US armed forces special ops that were there on those teams had to say. Mike Tucker's language is a little aggressive and repetitive, but this is a great look into the CIAs presence in Iraq, and the shortcomings of the top levels of the US Government and CIA from before the war until the present. I would be excited to hear what other CIA operatives and US armed forces special ops that were there on those teams had to say.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eyde Notaro

    The book was pretty interesting - it told of one man's experience of his time in Iraq. It was more of an editorial than a book - very anti-Bush. But, it was interesting none the less, and worth the read. The book was pretty interesting - it told of one man's experience of his time in Iraq. It was more of an editorial than a book - very anti-Bush. But, it was interesting none the less, and worth the read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    I was REALLY disappointed. I don't know why they wasted such a fascinating topic and a brilliant subject (Charles Faddis) on such a crappy author (Mike Tucker). His writing was repetitive, melodramatic, and boring. I tried really hard for several days to get into it and I just couldn't. Sad. I was REALLY disappointed. I don't know why they wasted such a fascinating topic and a brilliant subject (Charles Faddis) on such a crappy author (Mike Tucker). His writing was repetitive, melodramatic, and boring. I tried really hard for several days to get into it and I just couldn't. Sad.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This book was really good in exposing how the Bush administration dropped the ball for a quick surrender of Iraqi troops in the north of Iraq. It exposes a lot of the inter office politics that hold back the CIA and the US military from achieving their objectives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Buer

    one of the more poorly written and edited books you'll ever read...or not read if you listen to my review. one of the more poorly written and edited books you'll ever read...or not read if you listen to my review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Sorensen

    The content is riveting, the narrative style fairly terrible. Takes a day to read, so it's worth the time. The epilogue by Mike Tucker reads like a bad joke. The content is riveting, the narrative style fairly terrible. Takes a day to read, so it's worth the time. The epilogue by Mike Tucker reads like a bad joke.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As heard on "The Diane Rehm Show" on WYPR on 7 Oct 2008. I'm impressed this passed pre-pub review. As heard on "The Diane Rehm Show" on WYPR on 7 Oct 2008. I'm impressed this passed pre-pub review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert E

  13. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

  14. 4 out of 5

    Damien

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Craig

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  17. 5 out of 5

    Arthur D Streiler

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Tucker

  20. 5 out of 5

    colleen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charles Faddis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tamaki

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wff

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chuckdee

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick Wetjen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Phipps

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Timmerman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miles

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom Adelstein

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pete Mitchell

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