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See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
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In his explosive New York Times bestseller, top CIA operative Robert Baer paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides startling evidence of how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA¡¯s efforts to root out the world¡¯s deadliest terrorists, allowing for the rise of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the continued entrenchment of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

A veteran case officer in the CIA¡¯s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, Baer witnessed the rise of terrorism first hand and the CIA¡¯s inadequate response to it, leading to the attacks of September 11, 2001. This riveting book is both an indictment of an agency that lost its way and an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism, and includes a new afterword in which Baer speaks out about the American war on terrorism and its profound implications throughout the Middle East.

¡°Robert Baer was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field
officer in the Middle East.¡±
¨CSeymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

From The Preface
This book is a memoir of one foot soldier¡¯s career in the other cold war, the one against terrorist networks. It¡¯s a story about places most Americans will never travel to, about people many Americans would prefer to think we don¡¯t need to do business with.

This memoir, I hope, will show the reader how spying is supposed to work, where the CIA lost its way, and how we can bring it back again. But I hope this book will accomplish one more purpose as well: I hope it will show why I am angry about what happened to the CIA. And I want to show why every American and everyone who cares about the preservation of this country should be angry and alarmed, too.

The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead. Americans were making too much money to bother. Life was good. The White House and the National Security Council became cathedrals of commerce where the interests of big business outweighed the interests of protecting American citizens at home and abroad. Defanged and dispirited, the CIA went along for the ride. And then on September 11, 2001, the reckoning for such vast carelessness was presented for all the world to see.

Customer Reviews:

  • See No Evil
    I have not read much of the book yet but, so far I am intrigued.

    Service was excellent and product as advertised....more info
  • See no evil
    Excellent book,poignant and timely tale of what happens when you actually try to do the right thing in government. ...more info
  • An Eye Opener....
    This book is an incredible account of a man's journey and almost an obsession with finding the truth - and how his efforts were sometime thwarted by his own government and bureaucratic bull. Mr. Baer makes an excellent point that the CIA and the United States in general has to get back into the nitty gritty of operations and spying - face to face, person to person contact. Technology can only take us so far and get us basic information. In order to beat this enemy, we need to be patient, determined, and willing to accept the truth. ...more info
  • See No Evil, self serving
    I know the CIA. I spent seven years in Vietnam throughout most of the war. I was able to observe them first hand. The Phoenic Program was a mafia operation on a huge scale. Robert Baer romanticizes these hooigan who are nothing more than hardened hit men. I recognized several of the names. Baer makes these CIA operatives look like good hearted, fair playing all American men. It made me sick. I puked. ...more info
  • A good look at the dark ages of intelligence
    Despite being advertised as the basis for 'Syriana', and with loud praise from Seymour Hersh, this book is an honest attempt to help the United States regain control of its intelligence agencies, and win the war against radical Muslims.

    The censorship of this book is refreshingly slight, and the author is unabashed in disclosing the details of his stories. These details are what makes this book both enjoyable and informative.

    There is quite a bit of interesting info in this book for people interested in the ME. The author eventually discusses the reality of the IJO (not to be confused with Islamic Jihad), for example, and has quite a bit to say about the PFLP and Arafat. Most of this information is not new, but it is interesting to hear how a field operative processed and figured out the networks from afar.

    Many of his criticisms of the Agency's deterioration and misplaced priorities have been borne out in the last few years; whether in the 9-11 intelligence report, for example, or through empirical evidence. They are, therefore, not entirely surprising. They are, however, still astounding. E.g. when the author is in Tajikstan and asks HQ for some Pashtun and Dari speakers, as refugees are flooding out of Afghanistan due to the explosion of the Civil War, and HQ says no, but offers a team of 4 to teach classes on sexual harassment.

    There are a number of similar concerns the author laments as plaguing the Agency. But the most pervasive appears to be the utter lack of selflessness among higher-ups, and their unwillingness to make decisions based on the good of the country, as opposed to either 1) the good of themselves or 2) the good of the Agency.

    The book also portrays an internecine relationship between many of the American security agencies (or at least between then amd the author). Again, these issues have come to light many times over the last few years, but some of the stories are nonetheless amazing. It is difficult, for example, to take State officials seriously, especially given accounts such as when the American ambassador visits, and is more interested in hearing travel stories than reports about security.

    In sum, a well done book. It's exciting, invigorating, depressing, and distressing. Just what a good book about spies should be....more info
  • Fascinating
    One night, sitting up late, I was intrigued when I saw George Clooney on the Charlie Rose show discuss his film Syriana and how Bob Baer's book played a pivotal role in the screen play. Although I hadn't seen the film yet the trailers were very captivating. To follow up on this I bought "See No Evil" by Robert Baer.

    This is a true 21st century spy novel about the inner workings (and not workings) of the CIA. A real eye opener into a glimpse of how the geopolitics of the world really works. Unfortunately, the major network or cable television channels would be much too afraid to touch on any of this stuff.

    If you want to know why the Muslim nations are opposed to us read Tom Friedman (editorials in the New York Times), Michael Schearer (Imperial Hubris published under Anonymous) and William Blum (Rogue State). If you want to know why we were blind sided on 9/11 and why the "weapons of mass destruction" were never found in Iraq read this.

    It also explains how one of the world's best foreign information services has fallen into a state of disrepair. And it started happening well before George Bush, Jr. came on the scene. Frighteningly, as the world is becoming more dangerous, we are unfortunately being left out of the loop of the clandestine global events that matter to us most.

    Interestingly, more detail would have been revealed if not for the fact that the CIA redacted certain passages. Without giving away too much, I had to look up and see the fate of Jalal Talabani since, curiously, the name rang a bell. And for good reason. He is now the President of Iraq.

    This one is definitely a page turner....more info
  • Insightful book on the CIA
    I originally purchased this book because it was cited as the source for the movie Siriana. However, the movie was 100% different than the book and seems unrelated to me. The book details 25 years of work for the CIA and provides good insight to the challenges of gathering intelligence. The changes in the CIA do not seem to be good for America....more info
  • Jason Bourne meets D.C. burearcracy
    Robert Baer delivers a full throttle textual punch with See No Evil. He weaves the story of his 21 years in the CIA, drawing from years of journals and files he has kept. His storytelling is supurb, and the fact that these stories relly happened (unlike the Bourne movies referenced in my review title) make the book all the more gripping. I found his stories very detailed and well written, and I was particularly fascinated with what he had to say about Iraq in the mid-1990s.

    From India and Lebanon during the Cold War to Tajikistan and Iraq in the 1990s, Robert Baer truly was one of the CIA's main operatives in the Middle East. Some here have commented that Baer speaks with a sort of "been there, done that" attitude, especially towards the end of the book. In one respect they are right, but in a way, I think he, and those with the field experience like him, have earned the right to say what should have been done.

    When Baer was reassigned to Washington, D.C. in 1995, he got a quick course in how D.C. politics worked. He found himself under investigation by the FBI for allegedly trying to kill Saddam Hussein, (assassinations being against the rules at the CIA, despite what Hollywood tells us). Once beating that wrap, he quickly became embroiled in a shady campaign fundraising scandal involving a shifty Lebanese businessman, former KGB officials, Caspian Sea oil money, and President Clinton's national security team and re-election campaign. It was all a dizzying experience for him, and he decided to get out before he was implicated in anything that would end in a jail sentence. The irony of the books is that Washington politics proved to be too much for a man who made a living discovering the secrets behind the worlds most evil and powerful terrorist organizations.

    I relate his story to that of General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian General in charge of the UN force in Rwanda in the days leading up to the Rwandan genocide of April 1994. Dallaire knew what was about to go down, and frequently told his superiors at the UN that his troops were under manned and under supplied, but his voice was drowned out through the deafening roar of government bureaucracy and political correctness. The events of April 1994 spoke for themselves, and General Dallaire, now a successful author and public speaker, lived to talk about that incident as well as what he feels should be done in regards to other threats to world security. When I recently saw Dallaire at a speaking engagement, he began, towards the end of his speech, to blast the UN for not acting properly to stop the genocide from ever happening. At first I didn't agree with his accusations. But in retrospect, he was the one left holding down the fort while the rest of the world watched it go up in flames, so if anyone earned the right to speak out, it was Dallaire.

    Baer is much the same way. He witnessed first hand the situations in Iraq and Lebanon go to hell, so although his readers may not entirely agree with his opinions, he, more than anyone else, should be considered an authority on the subject. Should his stories be taken with a grain of salt? Perhaps. You don't need to agree with everything he has to say at the end of the book. It is obvious that he is a great storyteller and a supurb and detailed notetaker. But no one can deny that what he did working for the CIA was heroic, and it has earned him the right to speak with authority about the situations in the Middle East. See No Evil is a must read for anyone interested in the Middle East, the CIA, the Cold War, or anyone who just wants a lesson in how mindless bureaucrats can fumble important situations, often at the most important times....more info
  • As the author voiced his disappointment with the CIA I huddled and shivered...
    I became interested in this book after watching Syriana when at the end of the movie a post-script announced "...based on the book See No Evil by Robert Baer." Naturally I became interested in learning about the truth behind the fiction.

    The movie is largely based on one of the many cases during the author's long career as a CIA agent (this one was related to his experience with a shady investment figure from the Washington lobbying community and closely connected with Clinton's campaign contributions scandal).

    See No Evil is collection of cases, an autobiographical account of the ex-CIA agent Baer and his utter discontent with his former employer. The book is also a wake-up call, a bitter cup of strong coffee that jolts in the early morning hours of the day. It is a crash course on the history of Militant Islamism and the agent's personal involvement in the recruitment of spies in the fight against enemies of the US. It is also an example of how not to lead a government institution. As in all bureaucratic agencies, the CIA (which it seems to me should be the least bogged in bureaucracy) succumbed a long time ago to careerism, lack of professionalism and carelessness.

    As I read this book, I became worried. No - I became down right scared about the lack of intelligence the US had about this great perils of evil - the terrorism in the modern age. What do you mean the US didn't know for years who committed the suicide bombing of the American embassy in Beirut? What do you mean agents of the CIA were trying to convert Muslim spies to Christianity and could care less about that other thing they're hired to do (their job)? Are we talking about one of the most feared organizations in the world, or are we talking about my grandma's church group? And what do you mean CIA agents were embezzling funds from the US government to set up their own European businesses and were never punished for that?

    As the author voiced his disappointment with the CIA I huddled and shivered. If this is how CIA is being run, I better invest in a bunker underneath my back yard, because only God would be able to help me against those idiots with the bombs underneath their clothes.

    I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn more about the things going on behind the scenes in the war against terrorism.

    -by Simon Cleveland
    ...more info
  • Must read.
    This book is a must read for anyone that wants to know why something like 9-11 happened and why it will happen again. The inner workings of the CIA are laid bare for us to see. You will be proud and horrified all at the same time. Mr. Baer writes a very enjoyable narrative and fills this book with information that makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on the seventh floor. Read this and then go get his other books. They are worth any price....more info
  • cry for justice
    For those that think the goverment (not CIA) is here for you. This book should show you otherwise. For those conspiracy theorists...this should be right up your ally. Where is the justice in this country when such fine individuals can suffer through so much to keep us all safe....all in vain and all only so the richer can get richer. The government doesnt run this country, the "big oil" does. This will never change. Great book, great read. ...more info
  • Inside the CIA
    This is a great inside account of a CIA operative. It explains how he started out as an ambitious eager to fight terrorism, but eventually became disillusioned by the beuracratic control in Washington. The details of his operations are very entertaining, but without prior knowledge of the history and players in middle-easter terrorism, it can be very difficult to keep all the names and places straight. It's also sometimes unclear when stories have been modified or parts are omitted. After all, the stories all feature lying and deceiving to reach a desired outcome, and it's unclear if this is applied to the reader as well. Overall though still a fascinating read, especially if you're looking for an inside account of the CIA ahow how it has recently been influenced by Washington....more info
  • Truth is stranger than fiction
    See No evil is a fascinating account of former CIA operative Robert Baer. Not only is it an in-depth look at how the CIA works, it also reads like a spy novel. Mr. Baer served for twenty-plus years and worked in some of the world's most dangerous locations. Most notably, Baer worked in places like Lebanon and Iraq, chasing terrorists, and supporting Iraqi dissidents, respectively. As a case officer for the operations division, Baer's main job was to recruit foreign spies and extract information from them. He also offered clandestine assistance to foreign dissidents when their native countries happened to be enemies of the United States. His story is crucial in this age of terrorism and governmental deceit.

    Some interesting and revealing highlights include:

    -Political correctness and bureaucratic micro-management increasingly hindered the effectiveness of Baer and his fellow agents. Senior CIA officials were more concerned about their own careers and not upsetting the status quo than they were about catching terrorists.

    -In 1995, the CIA was involved in a plot to overthrow Saddam Hussein. They were preparing to assist in an uprising, when CIA headquarters abandoned the operation at the last minute.

    -Iran, not Saudi Arabia or Iraq, is the chief exporter of terrorism. Iran directly supports terrorist acts against the U.S. and has links with virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the middle east. Baer believes that they even met with Osama Bin Laden. On page 264, Baer writes this whopper: "As I looked at the evidence in front of me, the conclusion was unavoidable: The Islamic Republic of Iran had declared a secret war against the United States, and the United States had chosen to ignore it."

    Robert Baer admits that he is no boy scout. He has done some ugly things in his service to his country. With that said, I believe that he is a genuine patriot who has sacrificed many years of his life-putting his life at risk the entire time- doing what he thinks is right. Unfortunately, it seems that those who sign his paycheck do not share his integrity. ...more info
  • as usual, Goverment promates those who don't dare to make waves.
    I work for the Federal government and I can feel Robert Baer's frustration with management. Management does not listen to the little guy who is out in the feld actually doing the leg work and who has an actual feel for what is really going on. Most managers sit in their Ivory tower and relish in thier "Superior Self",I know everything and can kiss off. ...more info
  • Eye Opening
    Baer tell's his personal stories very well and keeps them interesting...while at the same time using those stories as the back drop for the CIA's failure to pick up on the coming terrorist attacks of 9/11. His stories set a relative timeline of the agency's attitude toward increasing dependence on electronic information gathering and less on having people on the ground getting inside the bad guy's heads. ...more info
  • We have to start listening to people again
    Excellent story that provides an inside view of life on the ground for CIA operatives.

    Much of the book revolves around the Middle East and Mr. Baer's search for those responsible for bombings in Lebanon. One name that comes up frequently was a terrorist by the name of Imad Moughniyah. This person was involved in the Beirut embassy and Marine barracks bombings, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, kidnapping of Terry Anderson, hijacking of TWA flight 847, etc...By coincidence, Moughniyah was assassinated in Syria on the day that I finished reading this book. I must assume that was good news to Mr. Baer.

    Some of the stories he tells of bureaucratic ineptness do not engender a great deal of confidence in the CIA..."As the civil war in Afghanistan started to boil, I repeatedly asked for a speaker of Dari or debrief the flood of refugees coming across the border...I was told there were no Dari or Pashtun speakers anywhere...Headquarters instead offered to send out a four-person sexual harassment briefing team."

    Near the end of his career, he seemed to descend into a self-destructive pattern of behavior that only got worse after he returned from the Middle East. In my opinion, he had spent so much time looking at the trees (and individual leaves) that he got lost in the forest.

    His closing comments, however, are right on the mark..."It all comes down to the point that we have to start listening to people again, no matter how unpleasant the message is."

    Overall a good book about very brave men who were willing to take significant risks for their country.
    ...more info
  • Interesting, informative; poorly written, poorly edited
    A rambling CIA agent's tale of working in the Middle East pre Bush Administration. Baer recently appeared on television after the 2008 car bomb death of Imad Mugniyah in Syria and clearly knows about which he speaks because, in this 2002 book, he describes his investigation of the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut and the death of William Buckley, the CIA agent. He fingers the killer. Beyond the scattered nature of his writing, the crazy dangerous life of this CIA agent is detailed including the bureaucratic handcuffs and leg irons placed on the operational side agents from home base at Langley. Baer, no friend of Anthony Lake, describes how the operations division of the Agency was hamstrung during the Clinton years. The Crown Book publishers editing is very poor; e.g., Aldrich Ames is Rick, Robert Hanssen is spelled Robert Hannsen. Sentences, often conversational in format, run on and off the page. The CIA editors were more exacting than the Crown editors who appear out to lunch at the time of final editing. ...more info
  • Must read.
    This book is a must read for anyone that wants to know why something like 9-11 happened and why it will happen again. The inner workings of the CIA are laid bare for us to see. You will be proud and horrified all at the same time. Mr. Baer writes a very enjoyable narrative and fills this book with information that makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on the seventh floor. Read this and then go get his other books. They are worth any price....more info
    This was a great novel, go buy Detained Differences by J. Robert Rowe. It is about Detainee Operations inside Afghanistan. ...more info
  • The truth can be ugly
    This is probably the best memoir I have come across by a former CIA case officer. Baer is spot on when it comes to how government operates. Who could ever imagine that those in the field are often times prevented from achieving superior results by risk averse management, or that those in Washington are too concerned about politics and/or "drinking and whoring" to comprehend what's truly unfolding beyond our borders? The truth can be ugly....more info
  • An Eye Opener....
    This book is an incredible account of a man's journey and almost an obsession with finding the truth - and how his efforts were sometime thwarted by his own government and bureaucratic bull. Mr. Baer makes an excellent point that the CIA and the United States in general has to get back into the nitty gritty of operations and spying - face to face, person to person contact. Technology can only take us so far and get us basic information. In order to beat this enemy, we need to be patient, determined, and willing to accept the truth. ...more info
  • Powerful Read - A must if you care about America
    Saw this guy on TV and thought I'd give his biography a whirl. Former CIA agent who spent more than two decades chasing around the underworld of terror long before it was popular. He exposes some things everyone in this country should be aware of ... some sad things about our government but not surprising things. He'll take you through Chinese and Russian money ending up in Presidential campaigns and how he was drummed out when he tried to blow the whistle. He tells of Senators he tried to go to who buried him as well. Important read....more info