Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, published by Doubleday

2.5 of 5 stars

If you didn't know the United States Government is listening to all you voice communications and reading all your emails and monitoring all the web sites you visit, then shame on you. Do you think the government didn't watch Arron Burr and other long before and after? Governments have always watched their own. Back in the day they use to go to the library and see what you were reading now it is easier to pull that information off the fiber optics the telecommunications industry charges you to use.

The Shadow Factory delineates the external and internal monitoring changes made post 9/11 by the various US alphabet agencies at the behest of the Bush administration. It has often been said by supporters of this type of broad reach surveillance that "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." This is a book review so I won't argue that point but here is a link that will http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/government-might-know-youre-reading.

In the early parts of The Shadow Factory Bamford succeeds in presenting a story line that stands on solid ground and feels like fact. As the book progresses though the factual feel begins to slip away and we're left with what seems to be “water cooler talk.” I wish he had been able to maintain that earlier story strength.

For me the real success Bamford has is in portraying the poor management and often mismanagement of these various spy projects/systems. The incestuous moneyed relationships between government agencies and their contractors that he presents are enough to make Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture blush.

I recommend that you read the early sections of The Shadow Factory.

George W. Parker

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