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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.