The Watchers by Shane Harris
Shane Harris’ The Watchers: The Rise Of America’s Surveillance State is all about our government’s attempt at keeping us safe and how that effort all began. I warn those who are interested in this kind of thing, Harris’ book may challenge quite a few of your suppositions and make you rethink your politics (if only for a bit) as you see the whys and wherefores of the intelligence community’s methods and how, because of too much hand-holding, we might be in ever deepening peril.
The book takes 9-11 as its jumping-off point, and from there relates the stories of the men and women who have tried to keep us safe, often times at the mocking of their own superiors, for the past twenty five years. Harris goes deep here to introduce us to people we never hear about and to uncover the true jobs of people we do.
One of those people we do know, Admiral John Poindexter, the ex-Regan security advisor is profiled heavily. Poindexter attempts to build an intelligence gathering information system after a 1983 Marine Beirut barracks bombing and after his celebrated government ousting we learn how he worked privately to convince the government to apply his programs, very good programs later thwarted by near-sighted army personal.
What I liked most about The Watchers: The Rise Of America’s Surveillance State is that Harris takes on both liberal and conservative prejudices, by not taking them on, simply presenting the facts about programs in government we never really understand.