Intelligence in Public Media

The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism from AL QA’IDA to ISIS

Michael Morell. (Twelve, 2015) 362, photos, index.

Reviewed by Hayden Peake

Following Allen Dulles’s precedent, many former senior CIA officers have written memoirs of their CIA service. While several came to the agency from military and political careers, the majority had served in the clandestine service. Former agency analysts have taken up the pen less frequently. The first was Ray Cline (1981) followed by Russell Smith (1989), both former deputy directors of intelligence (DDI). Robert Gates, who served as DDI and director of central intelligence (DCI), joined them later, in 2006. Although each covered some challenging events in the CIA’s history, none stirred as much critical scrutiny as the most recent contribution, Michael Morell’s The Great War of Our Time.

Typical of CIA memoirists, Morell includes an account of how he found his way to the CIA. He studied economics in college, planning a life in academia. Then came the unexpected suggestion of one of his professors that he consider the CIA. On a lark he applied and was accepted in 1980 as an intelligence analyst. Most of the first 16 years of his career was devoted to dues-paying assignments on East Asian economic issues. In 1996, George Tenet, then deputy director to DCI John Deutch, assigned Morell to lead an interagency study that examined whether sufficient emphasis was being given to “open source” information in economic matters as opposed to collection by clandestine sources. Morell writes that Tenet was pleased with the result, and 18 months later, when Tenet became DCI, he made Morell his executive assistant (EA). From there, his career took off.

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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM