In SpyTalk, veteran intelligence reporter Jeff Stein reviews a diverse slew of recent books in the realm of espionage and national security.
- “Why should anybody care about a half-century old trial? In an era when the Trump administration is threatening to prosecute leftist and Black Lives Matter protesters on sedition charges, I’d argue that the prosecution of the defendants on charges amounting to inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic Party convention is uncannily timely. Produced and directed by Aaron Sorkin, C-7 promises to be a lively, probably nostalgic take on the rebellious Sixties, but no less a healthy reminder of how authoritarian presidents go overboard.”
- The new, unredacted version of former FBI counterterrorism agent Ali Soufan’s memoir, The Black Banners: How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11.
For many years, the managers of the CIA’s so-called Enhanced Interrogation program, chiefly José Rodriguez, head of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, have claimed that the slapping, boxing up with insects, “walling,” sleep depriving, waterboarding and the like of terror suspects not only “worked,” they prevented future attacks and breakthroughs in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. … With Soufan’s book unredacted in a new edition, readers can judge for themselves who’s telling the truth. And there’s no doubt now who it is.
- Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, the poster boy for “deep state” malfeasance against Trump and his allies, describes in his new book a chilling scene at headquarters in early 2017 when top officials gathered to discuss the unnerving web of contacts between Trump, his campaign aides and the Russians. A white board on the wall listed them all, starting with “DJT”: Paul Manafort. George Papadopoulos. Mike Flynn. Carter Page.
- “All had something in common,” Strzok writes in Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump: “we had received credible counterintelligence allegations against each individual.” They thought it was “conceivable, if unlikely” that Russia was somehow controlling Trump after he took office, that he was a “Manchurian candidate” installed as America’s commander in chief.