[PDF / Epub] ☉ Intelligence By Susan Hasler – Motyourdrive.co.uk

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10 thoughts on “Intelligence

  1. says:

    Imagine if James Bond lost his license to kill and had to go work at the company in Office Space Yeah, hi James I m going to need you to pack up all your guns and spy thingamajigs and your martini shakers and move that all down to the basement If you could do that, it d be great Thanks According to the introduction on the audio version of this book, Susan Hasler worked for the CIA for over twenty years, and she was on the team that wrote up the infamous warning paper about Bin Laden being determined to strike in the United States a month before September 11 Per the intro, she left the CIA in 2004 after becoming disgusted with the way that the intelligence was misused to justify the US invasion of Iraq.Here, Hasler gives a fictionalized account of the frustrations of the intelligence analysts with the bureaucracy and political games Maddie James is a stressed out terrorism expert who still feels the failure of stopping 9 11 five years later Maddie is convinced that another major terrorist attack is about to happen, but she constantly has to battle her bosses who care only about doing the bidding of politicians pushing their own agendas rather than actually analyzing the intelligence Maddie has a handful of co workers that believe her and want to help, but they also are dealing with the various stresses that their work and managers cause them Doc is a former Russian analyst and Maddie s ex father in law who can be counted on for reliable and friendly advice Doc is carrying a torch for Fran, another transplant from the Russian section, who has decided to kick up her heels a bit at the tail end of her career Vivian is another friend of Maddie who spends so much time trying to save every innocent creature in the world that she s neglecting her own family Maddie finally manages to get her bosses to assign her some people to work the threat so they end up in a tiny conference room, trying to fend off distracting tasks assigned by know nothing political appointees, deal with annoying co workers and hoping that they re not already too late.Hasler uses several offbeat devices for this story She shifts the first person viewpoint around to several characters, including the terrorist leader and the ghost of one of the legendary leaders of their intelligence agency There s also some weirdness to how Hasler refers to people, events and government organizations in the book She never uses the words CIA, 9 11, FBI, NSA or Congress The CIA is the Mines with a host of mining slang applied to the flow of intelligence Bin Laden is known as The Chieftain Al Queda is The Base The FBI is The Organ and Congress is The Esteemed Legislative Body Maddie and her co workers aren t intelligence analysts, they re intelligence alchemists Instead of the Secretary of Defense it s the Minister of Defense, and it s the Department of Heartland Security, not Homeland Security.At first, I thought that Hasler was just using all the slang as a type of insider s jargon to show off her knowledge, but now I think that this may have been her way of getting around whatever non disclosure agreements she had to sign If pressed, she could claim that this is some kind of alternative history instead of an account of the CIA.After reading The Washington Post s Top Secret America series, watching AMC s Rubicon about a privatized group of intelligence analysts, and now reading this book, I am officially scared shitless Hasler makes the point that the sheer amount of info collected is staggering and there are too few trained personnel to analyze it all Put a group of corrupt political hacks using a national tragedy to push their own agenda in charge of this process, and you ve got a recipe for disaster.While I liked the spotlight that Hasler shined on a lot of the problems within the intelligence community, the book took a few too many detours for my taste Plus, there are events late in the book where it breaks away from actual history to set up a whole new plot I liked the book much better when Hasler was using dark humor to create an odd combination of a Dilbert cartoon mixed with a spy novel to deliver an entertaining but effective warning about what happens when politicians make it impossible for intelligence professionals to do their jobs.


  2. says:

    Maddie James is a CIA intelligence analyst She and her co workers bury themselves in windowless rooms collating, analyzing, and interpreting government gleaned information They spend long hours searching for who is planning the next terrorist attack and where it will happen Terrorism is a serious topic but Hasler manages to include lots of humor through her characters and their interaction They come are alive and ring true as does the craziness of political posturing They aren t merely types, you ll recognize them The plot is fast paced and a timely update from Soviet and World War II spy thrillers a la Follett, Ludlum, Le Carre, et al.


  3. says:

    If the glossary is enough to have you laughing your ass off, you know you ve got a winner on your hands It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but once I d learned to navigate the slang it uses, I was in for an immensely entertaining ride Hasler, a former CIA analyst, makes no secret of the fact that she has an axe to grind with her former employer and the Bush administration, and she does it with sharp wit and sharp words that, over the course of counterterrorism analyst Maddie James s uphill struggle against bureaucracy and bullshit as she and her eccentric little team desperately attempt to prevent a major attack she s convinced is imminent, will induce everything from hysterical laughter to chilling numbness and horror to sheer delight in the reader at one time or another.


  4. says:

    Author Susan Hasler spent 21 years working for the CIA and knows what it is like to toil in an intelligence agency I was keen to read this book, hoping for a good thriller that also paints a realistic picture of what life is like at the nation s best known spy agency The writing in Intelligence is a bit self consciously cute , but I might have been able to tolerate that in an otherwise enjoyable book However, Ms.Hasler was clearly presenting such an inaccurate picture of CIA employees that she lost all credibility I lost interest and stopped reading I simply cannot believe that a CIA employee would call a co worker at home and reveal the obviously classified intelligence item she has just discovered and wants to discuss with him when he gets to work, as Fran does in Chapter 15 If she had, Doc would have shushed her immediately Later an employee s husband, who does not work at the CIA, knows about what she is doing than she would be allowed to reveal Ms.Hasler knows better, and my feeling is that if she cannot present such obvious details accurately, the rest of her story will be TOO MUCH fiction to be of interest If you are going to tout your credentials as an insider when writing fiction, you owe it to your audience to present the environment you are writing about as accurately as possible I was very disappointed.If you would like to read a plausible thriller about the inside of an intelligence agency written by someone who knows that agency, I d recommend instead Betsy Harrigan s 9800 Savage Road, in which a murder takes place inside the super secret National Security Agency.


  5. says:

    Can the CIA really be as clumsy and ineffectual as Susan Hasler portrays it in Intelligence The dysfunctional agency she dramatizes is a bureaucracy tied up in knots, some of them of its own making, some handed down from a White House bent on pursuing its own aggressive strategy regardless of whether it s justified by the facts Granted, the CIA Hasler paints is that of the George W Bush Administration, five years after 9 11 And we all know what that was like But can we be confident that today s intelligence establishment will be able to operate any independently under Donald Trump s White House Madeline Maddy James is an intelligence analyst who is still wracked with guilt over not having been able to stop the 9 11 attacks Not that she hadn t tried she and a handful of other dedicated officers had attempted for weeks to focus the White House on their belief that an Al Qaeda attack was imminent But the White House, and specifically the Vice President, wanted only to hear about Iraq Clearly, this was a policy failure of the highest order However, as Maddie keeps reminding herself, There are no policy failures, only intelligence failures So, guess who got the blame for 9 11 in the CIA under George W Bush Now, five years later, history seems to be repeating itself Maddy is convinced that another major terrorist attack is imminent from Al Qaeda But everyone in a position of authority over her at the Agency refuses to forward her warning to the White House As Maddie is told, The President doesn t want to hear this And the new office created at the Pentagon to develop alternative intelligence keeps assigning Maddie and the CIA staffers who work with her to tasks designed to prove that Iranian terrorists are about to attack the US If any of this rings bells, that s because it s a fairly accurate summary of the procedures in place in the Administration of George W Bush And specifically with respect to Iran.Intelligence is sometimes funny and always engaging Hasler writes well, her characters are three dimensional if a little overdrawn , and the suspense is palpable.Hasler has created her own terminology about the Agency The CIA is the Mines, with corridors called mineshafts Analysts are alchemists She calls counterterrorism officers bomb dissectors 9 11 was the Strikes And so forth I have no idea whether any of these terms can actually be heard within the CIA It s a little disorienting, but the author helpfully provides a glossary at the end of the book.Susan Hasler is a 21 year veteran of the CIA As her bio reveals, At the Agency, Hasler served variously as a Russian linguist, a Soviet analyst, a speechwriter to three Directors of Central Intelligence, and a counterterrorism analyst where she served as an intelligence analyst So, she would appear to be a reliable source about the Agency Intelligence was the first of the three novels Hasler has written to date.


  6. says:

    I heard about this book on NPR, and it sounded interesting Susan Hasler worked as a counter terrorism analyst at the CIA for over two decades, and the NPR interview discussed some interesting topics like intelligence failures So I requested the book from my local library and started it with some modestly high expectations And while certain aspects of the book were illuminating and occasionally entertaining, Intelligence was a disappointment for me.The basic story of Intelligence follows an analyst named Maddie James who suspects there is an impending terrorist attack on U.S soil She and her small team race against the clock and fight against incompetent superiors as they try to identify and prevent the attack Intelligence is most successful at conveying the sheer volume of data and the near impossibility of accurately identifying threats to national security or American interests abroad The frustration of the characters as they sift through endless intelligence reports and intercepts clearly comes from Hasler s own personal experience.But the rest of novel is fairly sub par The writing is sophomoric, but at least it isn t too distracting Hasler develops her own intra organizational series of terms and metaphors, with analysts referring to the organization as the mines Everything has a mining or metallurgic slang term, like alchemists, mine shafts, veins, canaries, drilling down, etc Regardless of whether this jargon is genuine I suspect is not , it was used inconsistently and got on my nerves Also annoying were the various sexual encounters of the characters during the crisis Do intelligence analysts really jump into each other s beds in the midst of terrorist threats For our country s sake, I hope not.Unfortunately, the major flaws of Intelligence weren t limited to the common foibles of a writer s freshman offering of fiction The terrorist attack involves model airplanes at a major league baseball park, and the plan is so elaborate that it strained even my willing suspension of disbelief But this isn t a book about analysts versus terrorists The terrorists are basically gone halfway through the book The real bad guys are the incompetent and one dimensional administrators in the intelligence community and the corrupt and deceitful presidential administration that tries to parlay the threat into an excuse to invade Iran Perhaps in the hands of a skillful author these themes wouldn t be as forced and clumsy, but in Intelligence they come across as heavy handed echoes of Bush hatred that was so common during the time Hasler was writing the novel By the end of the book, the character of Maddie James is so embittered and cynical that she almost loses her credibility to explain to the public what actually happened In my estimation, the novel as a whole essentially shares that same fate.


  7. says:

    Susan Hasler is a very bitter ex CIA employee She lays out her agenda in the foreword of this novel she felt the Bush Administration ignored intelligence, concocted their own story, and turned the CIA into political apparatchiks in the wake of the 9 11 attacks in order to engineer an unnecessary war with Iraq.Whether you agree with her assessment or not, Intelligence is a sharp, sometimes funny book but one in which the author doesn t even try to be subtle about her axe grinding As a veteran CIA agent, she writes about the fictional CIA and intelligence community with enough verisimilitude that those who are not actually familiar with how the military intelligence complex works will be horrified and hope that she s exaggerating things, while those of us who are will groan and nod knowingly Okay, Hasler does exaggerate a few things, but honest, folks, this is pretty much what life as a fed is like.The plot is straightforward terrorists plan and execute another attack, this time at a baseball stadium Their plan is clever and fairly low tech, something any organized, intelligent group could engineer with a little practice and preparation and not a lot of money or special equipment In the wake of a second terrorist attack inflicting mass casualties on American soil, the Administration not named in the book proceeds to pin the blame on Iran and begins dismissing or destroying any evidence that suggests otherwise.The protagonists of the novel are a group of intelligence analysts who almost, but not quite, figured out what the terrorists were planning before they did it, and are now desperately trying to get the truth out before the country goes to war with Iran.Although Hasler s purpose in writing this book was explicitly to exercise her own demons over 9 11, she actually put out a fairly tense political thriller In the days leading up to the attack, we wait to see whether or not it will actually go off, and after it does, we see the main characters battling their bosses, the intelligence agency, and Congress, all of whom are against them.The writing is only average, as is the plot, but the characters were quite human and exactly the sort of people you d meet working career fedgov jobs You want to believe CIA analysts are these super sharp geniuses with supercomputers at their command, like you see on TV, but really they re just normal folks with kids and mortgages and tons of baggage, and going in to work to stop terrorists tends to become just like any other office job except when things go wrong.Regardless of your political views, you ll probably find much of the book disconcerting, and you may want to project your politics onto the author s message in terms of who s to blame, but the fact is, these games play out this way regardless of which party is in power.


  8. says:

    PROTAGONIST Maddie James, counterterrorism expertSETTING Washington, DC SERIES DebutRATING 4.75Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the American intelligence community has been increasingly vigilant about reviewing information in order to thwart any future attacks before they occur The amount of data that is scrutinized is mind boggling The agents working on this detail review thousands of communications looking for the elusive clue that indicates trouble ahead It s really an impossible task.Maddie James is a terrorism expert and sees strong evidence that another attack is coming Every attempt that she makes to alert the leadership is either ignored or brushed aside It seems that it is important to the administration that the public only hear about the so called victories in the War on Terror no one wants to disturb the president with news that all is not going well Instead of taking strong evidence of an imminent terrorist threat seriously, the politicos are concerned with justifying going to war with Iran Eventually, Maddie s boss allows her to assemble a small team to investigate her findings, to get her out of his hair than to support her theories The book focuses on the work that is done by the team and the dynamics of the relationships between its members They are quite an interesting crew, with many quirks, but each brilliant in their own way Truly, it s an exercise in frustration, as no one outside of the team wants to be the bearer of bad news As a result, there IS a terrorist incident and all the fingers point back at Maddie and her team.INTELLIGENCE is a superb debut effort Hasler has created a great group of characters, each of whom is fully developed Maddie is a brilliant counterterrorism analyst but flawed by her own perfectionistic tendencies and dysfunctional home life As I read the book, I experienced the same sense of frustration that the team members did as they faced the denial of reality and the ridiculous political game playing As Maddie says, If there is one hard lesson I ve learned in this town, it s that ass covering trumps national security every time The author balanced the frustration with wit and dark humor.Hasler was with the CIA for 21 years, and her experience has made this book an outstanding tale of life within US intelligence agencies after 9 11 Everything about INTELLIGENCE feels real the fast paced plot, superb characterization and assured writing style made this a big winner for me.


  9. says:

    As I was reading this debut novel, I kept thinking to myself This author sure can write The descriptions, the prose, and the dialogue were all beautifully written I found myself laughing out loud at the numerous hilarious scenes I read this book quickly and enjoyed it Normally I don t like books that break up the stream of thought into different first person chapters, but it worked in this novel simply because the characters were all so well portrayed They had very distinct personalities and backgrounds I would read another book featuring any one of them with the exception of the strange chapters featuring the dead former boss those were just plain weird So for the most part I would almost have given this a higher rating just for those things but there were a few things that detracted from the book, and kept me from giving it a rating of 4 or even 5.First, things happen much too slowly There just simply isn t a lot of action going on There are a few intense scenes but not much Maybe if I weren t expecting a thriller book and instead expected a fiction novel, this wouldn t have been as big of deal.Another thing that detracted from my enjoyment of this book is all the slang and abbreviations used I know that the author, having worked in the intelligence community, knows what she s talking about But I didn t think allll of those abbreviations and jargon really needed to be thrown in there It was very overwhelming and broke up the nice flow of her sentences when I constantly found myself stopping and trying to remember what a certain abbreviation meant, or trying to guess the meaning of another I actually had no idea that The Base meant Al Qaeda until literally the end of the book when I stumbled across her glossary that I had no idea was back there I knew The Base had to be some kind of terrorist cell but it was never explained that I remember, anyway.Overall, I would recommend this book and I would definitely look forward to another by this great author.


  10. says:

    I try to be a voracious reader but it s a rare day that I really fly through a book Most often I can pull it off with the likes of something from Jim Butcher or the guilty pleasure of reading Simon R Green, two urban fantasy writers, give or take Butcher s dalliances with steampunk or high fantasy The last time I sank my teeth into a political story which is to say a story revolving around government, the military, intelligence, whatever was Ghost Fleet, from P.W Singer and August Cole It was good, but I didn t fly as I read it the tech ideas were awesome but the politics were arguable, the writing was dry, the characters were cardboard I don t think it s aged well, even though it was only released a scant three years ago.By comparison, reading Susan Hasler s Intelligence A Novel of the CIA took me a combined eight hours Maybe less It s three hundred pages I strapped into a mental rocket and blasted through this thing in a way I haven t for any book since Skin Game and if I m being brutally honest, I probably went through it faster than that Intelligence is the flipped side of the Ghost Fleet coin the story that people like Tom Clancy probably want to tell but inevitably fail at because they get lost in minutiae over humanity Its technical details are solid and Hasler s commitment to worldbuilding is so absolute and so masterfully done that a recurring typo actually lends credibility to everything else and it s something you re only gonna catch if you re Southern, I d wager I m not even sure if it s a typo The people are real I ve no doubt that they re based on Hasler and some of her former colleagues but even if they weren t, they d still jump off the page and whisper in your brain like old friends I found myself rooting for them, laughing at them and with them, and feeling sick and mournful alongside them they are visceral, beautiful, utterly messed up human beings and I believed every single word they said, to me as a reader and to each other as people Even their little lunacies felt authentic Intelligence is a book that came out in 2010 but it still feels so relevant that it physically hurts at times there s an administration willfully cooking the books on intelligence assessments for war with one of those Countries We Don t Like, shamelessly exploiting tragedy to its own ends, and a handful of people being unfairly scapegoated and stomped into the dirt for refusing to go along with it The only things dating it are a few outdated tech references, and they re not that dated if you ve ever worked with or in government It s worth mentioning that Hasler is a former CIA analyst, a member of the Sisterhood that hunted Osama bin Laden in the 90s, and this book feels like one soul cleanse In some ways, despite being labeled as fiction, it has emotional heft and authenticity than your average memoir This feels like therapy and we re all lucky enough to be able to read it Inasmuch as Intelligence can be called fiction, that s only because it has a happy ending I won t spoil it, but I don t think the government s worked like that in twenty years or , which saddens the hell out of me I was okay with it though The real world s so bleak right now that a little escapism goes a long, long way.I also have to take a moment to point out Hasler s craftsmanship with her jargon One of my old writing professors, Joe Oestreich, talks often of the need to train your readers Within the first ten pages, Hasler does that masterfully For all that this is a story about the United States government and, in particular, one tiny group of CIA analysts, I m pretty sure real world agencies are only ever named ten times or less Hasler introduces the reader to an intricate language of jargon analysts are bomb dissectors, or BDs CIA headquarters is the Mines Congress is the Esteemed Legislative Body, or ELB so effectively that by page twenty you have an intuitive understanding of who is who and what is what The only one I ever puzzled over was the National Audio Collection Agency, which I assume is the NSA but with how many cutouts the intelligence community has up to and including agencies that don t actually exist as far as the public knows , could be a completely different real world agency.In training the reader with jargon, Hasler also sets the reader up to be trained for other things By the time of the book s climax, about two hundred pages in, you ve got just enough information and enough insight to put the pieces together maybe a few paragraphs before the canary crew does and when they figure it out, it still feels earned and surprising probably even so if you don t piece stuff together That s one of the holy grails of writing a story, and a hell of a trick to pull off.Also, Hasler s early demolition of Chekov s gun is probably one of my favorite things in print this year Sometimes, y all, it ain t the gun on the mantelpiece.Beyond all that, I have no idea if the author has ever read or even heard of James Tiptree Jr., but as both an analyst and writer of fiction, Hasler is the closest I ve seen to her direct spiritual inheritor I d love to see her take a crack at true speculative fiction.I wish I could rate this damn book a 6 5, but GoodReads doesn t go that high Go buy it and or demand your library order it.


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