Treverton gained his first insights into the inner workings of the intelligence community while working, in the mid-1970s, for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which lifted the lid on some of the CIA's less savory practices. Of course, these things never stay covert, and the recent revelations about the interrogation techniques and renditions undertaken in the name of the "war on terror" mean that there is now once again pressure on the CIA to clean up its act. The constant struggle to find ways of maintaining the United States' ideals in the face of its security dilemmas and the extraordinary bureaucratic dysfunctions in the intelligence community give the book what Treverton describes as a "wistful tone." This tone, along with a conversational style and anecdotes drawn from years of experience with intelligence issues, raises this account above the many other earnest tracts on these matters. As Treverton discusses how to promote strong leadership that can transcend factional fights, deal with the compartmentalized nature of intelligence collection and analysis, and make sure that relevant information gets to those who need it most, his conviction that something really should be done to sort out the intelligence community competes with a wearisome sense that it probably will not happen.
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