Book Reviews


 

 

The Wizards of Langley

Inside the CIA's Directorate of
Science and Technology

by Jeffrey T. Richelson

Review by Richard Sheppard

 

An interesting if narrow look at the scientific aspects of intelligence collection. There are many ways to collect intelligence, the most desirable being the cultivation and exploitation of human sources who have first-hand knowledge of a targets plans and policies. This book, which contains an awful lot of hum-drum explanation of the bureaucratic structure of the scientific wings of the CIA, focuses chiefly on space-based satellite sensing.

The author offers a summary of how various programs were conceived, who thought they were good/bad ideas, and the crazy-quilt bureaucracy and turf battles which ultimately put the satellites into space. No doubt about it, satellites are wonderful intel collection devices, some would say too wonderful; they can't after all see into your opponent's mind.

The big intelligence debate nowadays is that the CIA is overly reliant on Whiz-bang technology, when the enemy the U.S. faces, Islamofascism, is an ideology which needs intimate human engagement to defeat. Some interesting technical information, but you need to slog through the bureaucracy to get it.