Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA
By John Rizzo
Spanning more than three decades, Company Man by John Rizzo, top gun and highest ranking lawyer in the CIA bureaucracy’s history, the book is the both timely, candid and flawed as a history of American intelligence.
As a young lawyer, looking for something more interesting than tax law, he found a job in the CIA where after thirty some years of dedicated service he had become both an honored and despised public figure. Interpreting Constitutional, legislative law and Presidential orders he was one the scene in one way or another for all of the significant operations of the CIA’s modern history.
The inside stories, events and personalities are all there in Company Man as Rizzo tells of thirteen CIA Directors and seven Presidents. The big and little people and controversies come to the fore from Iran Contra to waterboarding and all the dissembling and controversies in between.
It all seems like a tell all tale but is it really? No. The title is revealing. Rizzo is the archetypical “company man” He loves the agency perfectly. He apparently believes its leaders from Presidents to Directors have no logical or moral deficiencies. It’s all so titillating but do we really care if Dick Cheney smokes cigars? Faulty analysis, slanting the facts, ineptitude and worse don’t get much attention in this book. When problems crop up, shaping public opinion comes to the fore. Rizzo was apparently good at that. Perhaps things like why our intervention in Iraq wasn’t a “slam dunk”, etc. could be missed. Today we need much better analysis of policy decisions based on American values involving the shadowy world of espionage and foreign affairs. Sometimes secrets are necessary but so is oversight by the Congress and most importantly by an informed American public. The rose colored and one sided story by John Rizzo doesn’t help a bit to solve the real issues related to intelligence gathering, freedom, democracy and privacy in an increasingly dangerous world. Rizzo was there for a lot of it all but doesn’t seemed to have learned much of importance from the experience and tells us even less….