The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America Hardcover – Oct 14 2008
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Praise for Body of Secrets:
“Extraordinary....A galvanizing narrative brimming with heretofore undisclosed details.” —The New York Times Book Review
“With a flair and clarity that rivals those of the best spy novelists, Bamford has created a masterpiece of investigative reporting.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
JAMES BAMFORD is the author of Body of Secrets, The Puzzle Palace, and A Pretext for War, and has written on national security for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. His 2005 Rolling Stone article “The Man Who Sold the War” won a National Magazine Award for reporting. Formerly the Washington investigative producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and a distinguished visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Bamford lives in Washington, D.C.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I had already known exactly what was contained inside these pages before reading it, because it is only logical. Our technological society is being monitored whole-cloth by a titan surveillance apparatus with a global scope. Many of those whom I discuss these topics with, insist quite earnestly that 'the Shadow Factory' is not concerned with a democratic, law abiding citizen such as myself. They assemble justification that it is for our protection that the NSA exists and functions in a capacity, in which we may extract safety for ourselves and others: a desirable outcome.
This aside, we all should know that within the light, there is a strong possibility of emerging darkness. With every sunrise there is a promise of a sunset. Even in the ambiguous account of 'the Bible' -feel as you may about it- we observe Lucifer, an angel, falling from grace to become Satan. I have no doubt at all that this is the potential for our protectorate, the National Security Agency, regardless of its current image or function. James Bamford is in himself a fairly shadowy figure, kept on the periphery of mainstream discussion: I only bought this book because I watch 'Democracy Now' (an online independent news source). It stands to logic that Bamford is not referenced frequently these days, or turned to popular account as an authority, solely because he speaks in the interest of us, the people.
I did not particularly enjoy the beginning chapters of "The Shadow Factory". The substance of the start of this book, is focused narrowly in its displaying the security failures preventing the attacks on September 11 2001.Read more ›
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First it should be noted that much of the secrecy that envelopes NSA is absolutely justified. The intelligence cliché' of `protecting sources and methods' has real meaning within the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) of the agency. The ability to collect and process electronic signals carrying important information is actually quite fragile and can be easily lost through inadvertent or ill-considered disclosure. Such losses have occurred far too often and do adversely affect U.S. National Security.
That being said it is also true that the blanket of secrecy can also be used to conceal incompetence, ill-legal activities, and enormous waste. This is why congressional and executive branch oversight are so important in keeping the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) honest. Unfortunately, NSA is a `technical' collection agency which means that the eyes of its nominal monitors tend to glaze over when its programs are discussed in any detail. This situation was exacerbated by NSA's former director General Hayden who was able to walk that thin line between telling congress what it wanted to hear and avoiding any real involvement in NSA operations.
This is why Bamford's books in general and this latest one in particular are so important. He is not accurate in every thing he reports about NSA nor do his informants understand all of the technical issues. Yet overall this book is a service to the cause of good government and raises a host of red flags that ought to be looked into by congress.
In this book he discusses three inter-related issues: first, there is the failure of NSA, CIA and the FBI to share vital information prior to 9/11 and their collective failures to effectively analyze available data; second, there is NSA's reluctant but undoubted subversion of Constitutional rights of privacy accorded to all in the U.S. both citizens and visitors; and finally there is the festering problem of the use of contractors for core missions by all of the agencies of the IC and the general haze of corruption hanging over all government contracting processes. NSA appears to have some particularly serious issues in this regard.
When any government or part of government operates behind a curtain secrecy with ineffective oversight it is an invitation to corruption and abuse of power. Bamford has done his best to shine a light on this aspect of NSA.
Bamford's book could well be used in preparing prosecution cases against NSA officials including former Director Michael Hayden, who pushed into warrantless wiretapping post-911. What Hayden et al did, prodded by Bush and Cheney, was to basically set up the facilities to mass suck virtually everything that went over telcom or internet. While this has been exposed, the current status of these operations is unclear. But it seems a pretty safe bet to assume that from somewhere, Big Ears are listening.
Bamford is the great historian of NSA. His "Puzzle Palace" was the first extensive revelation of the agency. "Shadow Factory" is the best current telling of the NSA story. He underscores that the technology exists for total surveillance. The agency's greatest current difficulty, actually interpreting the information flow, is being addressed with super-fast computers and advanced software coming on line in the next few years. So if the ability of the big ears to actually track all conversations and messages for keywords is not quite here, it will be soon. And by the way, it appears that voiceprint programs will be able to pick out anyone's unique signature out of millions of calls. Yeah, it's "Enemy of the State," and it's real.
My conclusion - Americans must make a choice between maintaining a global empire or restoring their personal privacy. It's that stark.
Of all sorts of stuff, James Bamford makes clear:
* NSA incompetence;
* NSA politicization
* Telecoms' long history, well before 9/11, of willingness to illegally become NSA lackeys;
* NSA data overload;
* NSA privatization of ever-more functions;
* A largely bipartisan sign-off on all this;
* And, though not directly addressed by Bamford, the flip side of unifying all intelligence services under a DNI.
Following uyp on his previous investigations of the National Security Agency, Bamford has two themes here -- the post-9/11 and Islamic-world threat NSA's growth and strategy, or lack thereof; and, the post-Internet rise attempts to not only gather communications, but process, crunch and analyze them.
Beyond looking at the NSA's snooping, especialy when taking a look ahead to the future, Bamford asks what this means in possible further attacks on civil liberties; new NSA programs; NSA future demands for computing and electric power; and more.
A must read.
PRISM started in 2007 and it seems that Bamford is talking about that program. In a book of this length some information will pop-out and often the narrative will drag on. When an author wants to connect the dots as Bamford does, the story takes time. This is essential reading, I highly recommend this book.
For those who have kindles, the real page numbers are not available.
Anyone that believes telephone conversations, email, internet activity etc... are private today would also make a deal for the Brooklyn bridge. Face it - we live in an era of government surveillance and have since, well, the Cold War began. However, technology has removed all previous limitations. Government is out of control and Big Brother has been around for over 28 years now. The only truly private conversation that one can have would be in person and with a trusted friend.
It's only escalated since this book was published and Bamford is still the reigning authority. This author wrote a lengthy article entitled, "The NSA is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)," for Wired Threat Level back in March (2012) that is a must read after this book. The article updates the book in a sense.
Yes, it is all really happening and has been. Time to wake-up and smell the coffee people. We really never imagined it as it has turned out to be. Many of you chose to sacrifice freedom for security and now none of us have either one.
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