FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Wise, Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China

Welcome author David Wise, and Host Steven Clemons (website).

Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China

Host, Steven Clemons:

The United States spies on China as it does on many nations of geostrategic significance – but thus far at least, the Chinese book publishing arena hasn’t yet produced anything as sizzling about its own world of spies and spymasters as David Wise has in his page-turner, Tiger Trap: America’ Secret Spy War with China.

John LeCarre – writing fiction – mastered the art of taking shadows of real world sophisticated spycraft and turning them into some of the best novels of the last generation. What David Wise has done is zero in on and reveal the stories of America’s real George Smiley’s – only problem is that most of them have none of the competence or the layers of complexly organized subterfuge that LeCarre’s principal character had.

Wise tells the story of how creative, well-focused and organized Chinese spies have penetrated deeply into America’s national security establishment – in technology firms, in national weapons laboratories, and into the US national intelligence bureaucracies themselves.

Parlor Maid, Tiger Trap, and other code-named spy damsels cut through America’s intelligence walls with as much effectiveness, if not more, than an army of digital hackers. Wise has extraordinary accounts that read like fiction but which are well researched and documented accounts of the collision between America’s world of secrets and China’s world of wanting to know them. It’s a great book.

My friend Tara McKelvey wrote a review of constrained praise for David Wise’ book on 5 August in the New York Times. She also found the detail of the cases explicated by Wise in Tiger Trap to be riveting – but in the end, she wanted something with a more dispassionate feel that slogged through more detail, more context, perhaps less drama.  [cont’d.] (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Wise, Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China

Welcome author David Wise, and Host Steven Clemons (website).

Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China

Host, Steven Clemons:

The United States spies on China as it does on many nations of geostrategic significance – but thus far at least, the Chinese book publishing arena hasn’t yet produced anything as sizzling about its own world of spies and spymasters as David Wise has in his page-turner, Tiger Trap: America’ Secret Spy War with China.

John LeCarre – writing fiction – mastered the art of taking shadows of real world sophisticated spycraft and turning them into some of the best novels of the last generation. What David Wise has done is zero in on and reveal the stories of America’s real George Smiley’s – only problem is that most of them have none of the competence or the layers of complexly organized subterfuge that LeCarre’s principal character had.

Wise tells the story of how creative, well-focused and organized Chinese spies have penetrated deeply into America’s national security establishment – in technology firms, in national weapons laboratories, and into the US national intelligence bureaucracies themselves. (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

jane-mayer-the-dark-side.jpg

New Yorker Washington correspondent Jane Mayer achieved a great first among serious Bush administration-watchers in putting a major spotlight on the deeds of David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff and former national security advisor.

She wrote her pivotal New Yorker profile piece of Addington called “The Hidden Power” in July 2006 – but even this great expose came years after some of Addington’s most serious and disconcerting achievements including the assertion of a war-time imperial presidency that ignored and had disdain for checks and balances in government. Addington helped construct the legal environment that the White House used to embrace torture as a technique of detainee interrogation. Washington Post national security columnist, David Ignatius, called Addington “Cheney’s Cheney.” David Addington is perhaps the most powerful political operative in Washington today about whom very little is known.

Jane Mayer will be joining FireDogLake’s book salon this afternoon to talk about her new acclaimed and best-selling book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

This book is in many ways the expanded, richly detailed, investigative journalistic account of the Bush administration’s manipulation of the national security bureaucracy to embrace practices of torture and governance that are the antithesis of core American values and democracy itself.

She delves into Dick Cheney’s high-decibel paranoia after 9/11, and the cowardice of Alberto Gonzales in knocking back the politically intimidating Cheney team when key principles were being debated. She reveals detailed Red Cross findings on the application of torture techniques to the CIA’s top fourteen terror suspects.

The book that Jane Mayer has written gives us a snapshot of American government and an American presidency at its ugliest.

And this is an ugliness that we must explore and look at – and understand how it happened. Jane Mayer will be with us this afternoon to chat with FDL readers and readers of other blogs (like The Washington Note) about this important exploration of power, war, presidential abuses, and torture.

FDL Book Salon: They Knew They Were Right — The Rise Of The Neocons

heilbrunnbook.jpg(Please welcome in the comments Jacob Heilbrunn and Steve Clemons. As is our practice, please be polite to our guests and take off topic conversations to the previous thread. – chs)

In today’s Washington Post, Jacob Heilbrunn outlines "5 Myths About Those Nefarious Neocons". It’s a great short piece and makes the point that many really don’t understand — that neoconservative support of Israel is actually destructive of Israel’s own interests.

Former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy has written similarly about this divergence of interests in an excellent article, "So Pro-Israel it Hurts" — and I have also brought up Israel’s diaspora challenge after then Deputy Director General for Public Affairs of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told me that he wished "our Jewish-American friends and family" would settle down a bit.

Heilbrunn is author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons," for which I will be hosting this Book Salon with the author.

But back to the neocon essay, the last myth that Heilbrunn commented on is the most worrisome:

5 The Iraq debacle has discredited the neocons.

This could be the biggest whopper of them all. Now that the "surge" in Iraq has brought levels of violence down somewhat, the neocons are already claiming vindication. As Iraq fades from the front pages, the neocons’ hero, Arizona Sen. John McCain, is poised to become the Republican standard-bearer in 2008. (The neocons also would have happily flocked around Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recruited Norman "World War IV" Podhoretz as a senior adviser.)

The truth is that the neocons have been repeatedly declared dead before — and, to the chagrin of their enemies on the left and the right, bounced back.

At the end of the Cold War, the arch-realist George H.W. Bush relegated them to the sidelines; then the triangulating Bill Clinton seemed to deprive them of their biggest foreign and domestic policy issues. If they came back from that, they can come back from anything. (more…)