[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]
Tim Shorrock, Host:
Patrick G. Eddington is a rarity in Washington these days: an intelligence officer with a conscience. His book, Long Strange Journey, is a riveting account of how he became a whistle-blower at the CIA and exposed how his own agency and the Department of Defense for years covered up the truth about “Gulf War Syndrome” – the exposure of U.S. troops in Iraq to chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War. It also provided a detailed account of what it means to be an imagery analyst in the US intelligence community and how imagery is (and should be) used on battlefields to assist US soldiers and commanders.
In his introduction, Patrick writes:
Long Strange Journey is a first-person account of the high-tech, space-based side of the intelligence business. Although President Carter first revealed the existence of our imagery spy satellites nearly 30 years ago, no analyst who has used those systems has written a book on the topic and got it past CIA censors until now. My tenure at the CIA spanned the transition from the Cold War to the new era of American interventionism in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. The book draws upon not only my direct experience reporting on these events for senior government policy makers, but also upon thousands of pages of previously classified documents secured through litigation I pursued during the last decade.
Among other things, readers of Long Strange Journey learn:
* That the CIA’s much-publicized failure to accurately characterize Iraq’s chemical warfare capabilities actually goes back decades and spans three wars.
* How Saddam Hussein’s forces trained for the invasion of Kuwait, how that activity was missed or misinterpreted by the American intelligence community in the year before the attack, and how U.S. intelligence sharing with Iraq may have given Saddam the confidence that he could redeploy forces off his border with his arch enemy Iran and send additional Iraqi forces south to occupy Kuwait.
* How, from July 20, 1990 onward, the first Bush administration ignored compelling evidence of Saddam’s intent to invade Kuwait, despite the overwhelming satellite imagery-derived reporting of the Iraqi military build up on the Iraq-Kuwait border.
* That the federal government deliberately attempted to suppress evidence of chemical exposures among Desert Storm veterans.
* How the CIA’s post-Desert Storm tilt towards deepening its support to Pentagon operations compromised the Agency’s independence, and the role the CIA played in supporting Pentagon operations in Haiti and the Balkans.
I’m pleased and proud to be hosting Patrick’s appearance on FDL’s Book Salon today. I’m especially interested in his take on imagery intelligence because it was a major topic of my book SPIES FOR HIRE on the vast privatization that has taken place in the US intelligence community. Plus his story is one of courage and hope – something we badly need in these times. Welcome, Patrick!
To get the conversation rolling, let me start with this: A lot of us have been riveted by the media reports from the Japanese earthquake and the unfolding nuclear power plant crisis at Fukushima. What would our classified imagery be able to tell us about the Japanese quake that we couldn’t learn from commercial satellites and media outlets like CNN?
And either before or after you answer that, please describe for us what an imagery analyst does for US intelligence, based on your experience at the CIA.