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The Human Factor

Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture


Ishmael Jones (View Bio)
Hardcover: Encounter Books, 2008.

The Human Factor

Written by a veteran CIA officer who struggled not with finding human sources of secret information, but with the CIA's own crippling bureaucracy, THE HUMAN FACTOR is the story of Ishmael Jones's initial training in the US and his career as a deep cover operative without benefit of diplomatic immunity in multiple, consecutive overseas assignments. Jones met alone with weapons scientists, money launderers, and terrorists. He pushed intelligence missions forward while escaping purges within the Agency, active thwarting of operations by bureaucrats, and the ever-present threats of hostile foreign intelligence services. Jones became convinced that the CIA's failure to fulfill its purpose endangers Americans. Attempting reform from within proved absurd. Jones resigned from the CIA to make a public case for reform through the writing of this book.

"A 25-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine service has written a scathing—and unauthorized—account of the spy agency's management, setting up an unprecedented legal test of former employees' rights to pen tell-all books. Writing under the pseudonym 'Ishmael Jones,' the author says he wrote THE HUMAN FACTOR in order to 'improve the system and help it defend ourselves and our allies.'... Jones, who did a stint as a Marine Corps officer after college, presents a withering portrait of the CIA as suffering from a timid, self-serving bureaucracy that has stifled initiative and failed to recruit meaningful spies. The CIA has also misled Congress on its spending, he maintains, diverting billions of dollars that were supposed to bolster its spying operations overseas into a dramatic expansion of offices inside the United States.... Jones is merciless in his depiction of the spy agency's work in Iraq.... But Jones saves his hottest anger for what he describes as self-dealing CIA managers who, he says, have avoided or mismanaged clandestine operations around the globe." — Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly

"This book should be required reading for anyone who serves in our government or is served by it. But beware: Reading THE HUMAN FACTOR will make you very, very angry. For Ishmael Jones, better than any previous spook, peels back layer upon layer of deception to show how dysfunctional the CIA is. Even in the wake of 9/11, when the CIA was inundated with fresh funding, it has failed to cure its cultural ills or to dispatch large numbers of clandestine operatives abroad without State Department cover. Ishmael Jones has served his nation honorably and bravely as a member of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, but he has provided no greater service than to risk his former employer’s wrath to alert us to the CIA’s continuing, crippling woes." — Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

"Ishmael Jones represents an altogether uncommon breed of CIA officer, one willing to risk life and career in the pursuit of gathering better intelligence. If the CIA as a whole shared this one officer’s relentless pursuit of WMD sources, terrorists, and the rogue nations that support them, then we might find ourselves in a much safer world today. With his book THE HUMAN FACTOR, Jones relates the details of his extraordinary career with a notable lack of bravado and a tremendous amount of dry wit. I laughed out loud at descriptions of CIA characters and culture that were all too familiar. Jones represents the kind of CIA officer that I—and many other neophyte spies—had always hoped to encounter as a supervisor. Wisely, however, Jones sidestepped managerial positions in order to remain exactly where he should have been: active in the field." — Lindsay Moran, Author of BLOWING MY COVER: My Life as a CIA Spy

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