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“Legacy Of Ashes: The History of the CIA”

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Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

Tim Weiner’s impressive and compelling new history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, has stirred up a lot of resentment among intelligence community veterans.

“Tim’s an old friend of mine, but I don’t think the book is a terrific history of the CIA,” said Dr. Mark Lowenthal, a former senior official of the CIA, on my show yesterday. He continued:

Basically, they never do anything right [in the book].And even when something goes right, Tim has a way of denigrating it. There’s also an awful lot of factual errors in the book that I find disturbing. Not major things, but enough to begin to make you wonder. I just don’t find it a terribly reliable take on how the CIA’s done over the years. 


(The transcript is here.) Other efforts at push-back are showing up as well, as in this David Ignatius column extolling two Agency forecasts of trouble ahead in Iraq from early 2003.

By contrast, David Wise’s Washington Post review concluded that “Weiner’s study is based on a prodigious amount of research into thousands of documents that have been declassified or otherwise uncovered, as well as oral histories and interviews,”  and concludes that it “succeeds as both journalism and history, and it is must reading for anyone interested in the CIA or American intelligence since World War II.”

I interview Weiner for two hours today, and after you listen to him, and especially after you read the book, you’ll understand why Agency people have the long knives out for Weiner’s work.

Read the Transcript of the Weiner interview here.


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