Mark Mazzetti

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many movies about evil CIA agents assassinating supposed enemies of the US. Those who saw the latest Captain America movie will have witnessed the plan by Hydra (a fascist faction within a secret agency presumably within the CIA) build floating gunships that can identify and eliminate those who pose a threat to national security. We are not there yet, but Mark Mazzetti‘s book The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Penguin, 2013)  should give us some anxiety about the current technology used for “extra-judicial killings”. Mazzetti gives us the history of the drone wars – a term hated by the Air Force who note that the drones are piloted aircraft  albeit from a remote location – and their ability to be used for the elimination of… well, enemies of the US and its allies. Having said that, this is not a diatribe of opposition but a balanced and careful examination of history and political process. At the core of the book is a discussion of how the CIA and the US military are running parallel drone operations with different criteria and standards of care and success. Mazzetti’s book presents us with, what I found to be, a frightening insight into operations that are so common that they rarely rate a mention in the media. I highly recommend the book and suggest that anyone running a course on military ethics include it in their reading list. There is more than enough ethical controversy raised in the book to fill a semester of discussion.

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Jonathan Allen and Amie ParnesHRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

April 7, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are the co-authors of authors of HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton (Crown Publishers 2014). Allen is White House bureau chief at Bloomberg; Parnes is White House correspondent for The Hill. This is a big, buzzy book that has gotten a lot of media attention. [...]

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Eric Schmitt and Thom ShankerCounterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

October 25, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many books about the war against Al Qaeda. Most of these focus on counter-terrorism or counter insurgency military tactics or espionage operations. These books have become more frequent with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, [...]

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Guido SteinbergGerman Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism

September 10, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] I have read quite a few books on terrorism but always from an English language perspective. This has meant that I was missing the alternative stories from other nations. Guido Steinberg has done me a favour by publishing his German study in English. German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist [...]

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John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander VassilievSpies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

July 10, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] For decades, the American Right and Left argued about the degree to which the KGB infiltrated the U.S. political and scientific establishment. The Right said “A lot”; the Left said “Much less than you think.” Both sides did a lot of finger-pointing and, sadly, slandering. Things got very ugly. At the crux [...]

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Martin A. MillerThe Foundations of Modern Terrorism: State, Society, and the Dynamics of Political Violence

May 31, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Terrorism seems like the kind of thing that has existed since the beginning of states some 5,000 years ago. Understood in one, narrow way–as what we call “insurgency”–it probably has. But modern terrorism is, well, modern as Martin A. Miller explains in The Foundations of Modern Terrorism: State, Society, and the Dynamics of [...]

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Jeffrey D. SimonLone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat

April 26, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] It was timely to record this interview just after the Boston Bombing. Lone Wolf terrorists are individuals operating outside organized groups. If the allegations about the bombers in Boston are correct, then the brothers have acted in the same manner as Lone Wolves.  In Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding [...]

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Kathleen M. VogelPhantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats

April 17, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] Kathleen M. Vogel’s new book is enlightening and inspiring. Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) uses an approach grounded in deep ethnographic analysis of exemplary case studies to explore the recent and contemporary practices performed by US governmental and [...]

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Elizabeth Cobbs HoffmanAmerican Umpire

March 12, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Big Ideas] Is there an “American Empire?” A lot of people on the Left say “yes.” Actually, a lot of people on the Right say “yes” too. But Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman says “no.” In her stimulating new treatment of the history of American foreign policy American Umpire (Harvard UP, 2013), Hoffman lays out the case that [...]

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Paul Rexton KanCartels at War: Mexico’s Drug-Fueled Violence and the Threat to US National Security

March 7, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] The violence in Mexico is receiving a lot of media attention internationally. Paul Rexton Kan has produced a book that provides us with a comprehensive and comprehendible introduction to the background to the conflict and its effects. Cartels at War: Mexico’s Drug-Fueled Violence and the Threat to US National Security (Potomac [...]

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