Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Book Review: From The Company of Shadows

March 8, 2013 6:19 am 2 comments

Members of CAIR at an annual dinner in Houston.

From The Company of Shadows by author Kevin Shipp offers a fascinating insider’s view of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from the perspective of someone who lived in the agency’s top echelons from the end of the Cold War to the War on Terror.

The book reads like a James Bond novel, only the characters and situations are real. It delves into the CIA’s internal politics and abuses of power that he contends has made America less free and less safe.

Shipp should know, having served in roles ranging from working as a security officer assigned to the protection detail of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) to being a counter-terrorism instructor for the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. He was a decorated CIA officer whose view of the agency shifted from one of idealism to one of sobriety about its real nature as his career progressed.

Shipp joined the CIA in 1985 and had a front-row seat as the Iran-Contra scandal emerged two years later. The author attributes the momentum behind the scandal to late CIA Director William Casey’s personal devotion to William Buckley, the CIA’s station chief in Beirut, Lebanon who had been kidnapped by the Islamic Jihad terrorist group and was tortured daily before being murdered in 1985.

Casey felt responsible for Buckley’s predicament and wanted to ensure that Buckley and the other hostages being held by terrorists in Lebanon were rescued, but the plan backfired.

Shipp describes the late CIA director as “one of the last real servants of democracy” who was willing to take personal risks. But Casey’s death marked a turning point for the agency, which soon found itself looking for its mission after the Cold War.

The arms-for-hostages episode served as a warning to Shipp that there was no negotiating with religious fundamentalists.

There is no one better than Shipp to bring the agency’s internal secret wars of the past 30 years into public, and the book gives the reader a first-hand view. He provides a glimpse into the cloak-and-dagger life of a CIA operator with an eye on the agency’s internal politics.

His view of the agency started to change after the start of the Clinton administration when the focus shifted from serving national security to serving political correctness. A move in this direction already had begun back in the Carter administration when CIA Director Stansfield Turner slashed the number of spies on the ground in favor of satellite and electronic surveillance.

Turner’s decision to eviscerate the CIA’s human intelligence capabilities touched off series of disastrous decisions that led the agency to heavily rely on unreliable defectors who fed it bad intelligence.

President Bill Clinton gave the agency’s decline an additional push, Shipp writes.

In addition to recruiting substandard new hires, it issued an order prohibiting CIA officers from having contact with foreign nationals engaged in human-rights abuses.

This contributed to intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war and even the 9/11 attacks, Shipp writes.

By the time the 9/11 attacks took place, the CIA was “deaf, dumb and blind” about Islamist extremist groups and agents scrambled to gather intelligence from open-source materials, Shipp writes. CNN frequently had better sources about what was happening overseas than the CIA.

The same holds true about other Islamist terrorist groups.

Many of these groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood have established a strong foothold in the United States working through front groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and Muslim Public Affairs Council, Shipp writes.

These groups have succeeded in getting the Obama administration to declare there is “no War on Terror” and adhere to the view that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.

Shipp’s book takes a strongly critical view of the Patriot Act, which he claims violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on illegal searches and seizures.

He warns that the act has transformed the agency into a global police force that has asserted the right to spy on American citizens without constraints. Shipp writes that he saw criminal activity and serious security lapses while working for the agency, but was ordered not to report them.

The book concludes like something out of a Hollywood movie, with Shipp discussing the constant surveillance and a “litany of break-ins” into his home after he blew the whistle on CIA practices that agency officials blacked out of his manuscript.

“The CIA has made many honorable and courageous contributions to our nation’s protections, some of which I was part of while I was there,” Shipp writes. “But as a system, it has become out of control and overstepped the constitutional balance designed to keep it in check and accountable to our democratic system of government.”

The book was published in 2012 by Ascent Publishing and can be purchased on Amazon.

2 Comments

  • Jacqueline

    Isaac Asimov “Brave New World”. We are living it. Double speak. Islam religion of peace as they plot to do stealth jihad and end the western freedoms that we know. Get your burka out

  • jasper johns

    All of this intrigue (true and false) surrounding the CIA reminds me of this funny novel I just read, THE BANANA MASSACRE by Yoakum, about an ad executive who is sent to a banana republic and who is mistaken to be working for the CIA. Point being, the CIA is and always has provoked a fog no matter who is the chief.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →