The Way of the Knife

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The American CIA has become everyone’s bête noir.  Even recently I read that one writer proclaimed that the CIA took control over the missing Malaysian Airlines plane and landed in Diego Garcia, abducting 20 computer boffins from the passengers and assassinating the rest!

“The Way of the Knife” (ISBN978-0-14-312501-3, Penguin, 2014) was written by Mark Mazzetti, a Pulitzer prize winning correspondent for the New York Times, who covers the CIA, an espionage service which grew to be a shadowy para-military agency.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the book “I am Malala” the biography of the young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban.  This book, “The Way of the Knife” makes understanding of the young girl’s situation even more understandable, and poignant.  The way of life in tribal Pakistan is quite different from that of the western world.  The culture is quite foreign to the mind of the West.  However, even though the culture of the Pashtuns in Pakistan is such that accommodation must be found for the al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan, the culture stops short of not exploiting the situation to charge inflated rents from the fighters as well.  (One should be wary of more than just Greeks bearing gifts it would seem.)

Interrogation in hidden (foreign country) jails is shown with the development of torture techniques such as water-boarding being used by CIA operatives, away from prying eyes.  It is claimed that there was one of these secret establishments in Bangkok.

Blackwater emerges as an outsourced ‘army’ capable of everything from surveillance to loading bombs on Predator killer drones.  Highly profitable and aware of the need for secrecy, including this prize piece of information sourced from an email from Blackwater to the Drug Enforcement Agency “Deniability is built in and should be a big plus.”

Where did the Somali warlords get their military hardware and 200,000 US dollars for each?  From the CIA operating out of Kenya, that’s where.  Author Mazzetti then delves further and demonstrates just how Islamic radicalism then spread through Yemen, Somalia and to other countries.  From there it was but a small step to involve other countries by backing their military hardware and literally getting these countries to fight the war the CIA wanted, but could now do so at long distance.

The money that the CIA managed to burn was just scandalous, with for example, $80 million to begin a TV station in Iraq, which never managed to eclipse Al Jazeera, and contractors walking off without being paid.

The CIA was able to think outside the box with the arms-length warfare, including video games beamed to Iraqi youth.  Very devious!

At B. 605 in Bookazine, I found this a fascinating and very well researched book, which has the capacity to change your way of thinking regarding the position that America holds as a world authority.  Is the US the world’s policeman?  Does the US have the integrity expected of a world’s policeman?  And where does the CIA see itself in all this?  Read this book first and “I am Malala” afterwards.  You will not regret it.