The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture by Ishmael Jones

American Presidents make decisions on war unaware that the human source intelligence provided by the CIA is often false or nonexistent. From Harry Truman during the Korean War to George Bush during the War on Terror, modern Presidents have faced their darkest moments as a result of poor intelligence. The CIA has assured Congress and the President that intelligence programs in hostile areas of the world are thriving, when they simply do not exist.

The CIA is a broken, Soviet-style bureaucracy with its own agenda: to consume federal funds, to expand within the United States, to feign activity, and to enrich current and former employees. After 9/11, billions of dollars directed by Congress to increase the number of officers working under deep cover on foreign streets have disappeared without the CIA fielding a single additional, productive officer overseas.

The Human Factor makes the case for intelligence reform, showing the career of an accomplished deep cover CIA case officer who struggled not with finding human sources of secret information in rogue nations, but with the CIA's bloated, dysfunctional, even cancerous bureaucracy. After initial training in the US, Ishmael Jones spent his career in multiple, consecutive overseas assignments, as a deep cover officer without benefit of diplomatic immunity. In dingy hotel rooms, 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 threat of arrest by 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.

Effective American organizations feature clear missions, streamlined management, transparency, and accountability. The CIA has none of these. While it has always hired good people, it wastes and even perverts employees. The CIA is not doing its job and must be fixed. Until it is, our lives and the lives of our allies are in jeopardy.

After spending decades as an agent to the CIA, Ishmael Jones unravels the blunders and grave mistakes the US has made over the years. Jones conveys a true feel for the facts of real clandestine work. He tells his story straight, with dry wit, and takes personal blame where blame is due. Recently leaving the CIA to write this memoir, and with additional edits to conceal identities, the CIA has approved its publication.

Ishmael Jones, a pseudonym, was born in the United States and raised in the Middle East, East Asia, and East Africa. He attended universities in the US and served as an officer in the US Marine Corps. In the late 1980’s he joined the Central Intelligence Agency where he served as a deep cover officer focusing on human sources with access to intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. His assignments included more than 15 years of continuous overseas service in numerous exotic countries and several rogue nations. He resigned from the CIA in good standing.

Spies For Hire, The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, by Tim Shorrock

Even James Bond is temping these days. According to investigative journalist Shorrock, the CIA and other intelligence agencies now have more contractors working for them than they do spies of their own. Often former staff hired back at double or triple their former government salaries, these private contractors do everything from fighting in Afghanistan to interrogating prisoners, aiming spy satellites and supervising secret agents. Shorrock gives a comprehensive—at times eye-glazing—rundown of the players in the industry, and his book is valuable for its detailed panorama of 21st-century intelligence work. He uncovers serious abuses—contractor CACI International figured prominently in the Abu Ghraib outrages—and nagging concerns about corrupt ties between intelligence officials and private corporations, industry lobbying for a national surveillance state, the withering of the intelligence agencies' in-house capacities and the displacement of an ethos of public service by a profit motive. However, the bulk of the outsourcing Shorrock unearths is rather pedestrian, involving the management of mundane IT systems and various administrative services, and this exposé insinuates more skullduggery than it demonstrates.

Managing the Private Spies: Use of Commercial Augmentation for Intelligence Operations by Glenn J. Voelz

Delfly Micro Air Vehicle (MAV)

The DelFly is a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), an extremely small, remote-controlled aircraft with an on-board camera that transmits images through a transmitter to a ground station. The DelFly Micro only weighs 3 grams and has a size of 10 cm from wing tip to wing tip. The camera transmits TV quality image signals to a ground station and therefore allows the DelFly to be operated remotely by an operator from a computer. It can be maneuvered using a joystick as if the operator was actually in the cockpit of the aircraft. Such ultra-small, remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft could be eventually used for observation flights in difficult-to-reach or dangerous areas.

2008 Failed States Index

Source: Foreign Policy / Fund for Peace

Whether it is an unexpected food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world’s weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes. In the fourth annual Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

Further details on the methodology of the Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace Failed States Index, as well as the results of earlier Failed States Indexes, can be found at and on the Web site of the Fund for Peace,

In Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart attempt to map out practical solutions to problems such as aid waste and lack of accountability in the world’s most vulnerable states. William Easterly offers a scathing indictment of aid efforts in weak states in The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). The foundation of African entrepreneur and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim recently released the inaugural Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which rates the quality of governance on the continent and aims to hold leaders to account.

Use and Perception of Violence: A Girardian Approach to Asymmetric Warfare by Raphael Baeriswyl

This essay is based on a paper presented at a conference on "The moral dimension of asymmetrical warfare" organised by the Faculty of Military Sciences and the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands. It combines René Girard’s theses on societal violence with the latest analyses of those modern conflicts which strategists call "asymmetric." The Western military may find in Girardian anthropology an explanation for the accrued difficulty that they meet in their missions on modern battlefields. The application of René Girard’s theses to modern warfare provides anthropologists with further evidence of the validity of these theses. More broadly, this essay challenges the relativism that has developed in Western society over the last three centuries.