In 2003 and 2004, at the height of the Global War on Terror, Mr. Jones says CIA’s leaders were “inventing new ways to draw down our overseas presence. For instance, they were requiring officers to change assignments every two years.” For NOCs, who had to weave themselves into the societal fabric of the country in which they worked, a two-year tour virtually guaranteed that they’d be able to produce no useful intel.
“During the spring of 2006, American intelligence activities in Europe shut down. The Agency had been terrified of conducting intel operations in France for some time. Then the Italian station sent a cable to Agency offices worldwide stating that did not intend to approve travel to … Italy because hotel rooms were difficult to reserve from early spring to late fall.” Similar cables were sent worldwide by CIA stations in Switzerland and Germany. “No one,” writes Mr. Jones, “seemed to find it unusual that a major part of the Agency’s operational territory had just been shut down.”
The Central Intelligence Agency is not happy with Mr. Jones. A CIA spokesperson has referred to “The Human Factor” as “fiction.” To be candid, Mr. Jones does divulge information that might be considered sources and methods. He provides readers with several operational details that CIA is loath to talk about. He points out for example that CIA stations are actually sometimes located in U.S. embassies, and that many CIA officers work under State Department cover. He confirms that CIA has multiple stations and bases inside the continental United States, from which the agency targets foreign nationals. And in a couple of cases, he slips up and actually identifies a specific country in which he worked.
None of this is particularly shocking. But Mr. Jones did - as all CIA employees do - sign an agreement not to publish anything without it being vetted. This agreement Mr. Jones has obviously broken.
His goal, however, is noble. Mr. Jones obviously believes that the United States deserves the best intelligence organization in the world. He believes passionately that every American taxpayer is being cheated because we are paying scores of billions of dollars for a bloated, ineffective, risk-averse organization that cannot perform the mission for which it was created. Since the intelligence disaster that was 9/11, precious few heads in the intelligence community have rolled. In fact, George Tenet, the director of central intelligence responsible for the greatest intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor actually received the Medal of Freedom for presiding over the 9/11 debacle.
One wonders what sort of award Mr. Jones will get.
John Weisman’s most recent CIA novels, “Jack in the Box” and “Direct Action,” are available from Avon Books. He can be reached at blackops@john weisman.com.