In its 9/11 report, the Kean Commission criticized U.S. intelligence for having failed to anticipate the terrorist attacks, basing its findings on the premise of absolute security. But, says Athan Theoharis, absolute security is an illusory quest. His compelling analysis traces the troubled history of relations among American intelligence agencies. By expanding the authority of the agencies and indeed calling for administrative reforms to ensure greater cooperation and coordination among them, these unilateral efforts, particularly by the CIA and FBI, have led not to enhanced security but to abuses of power and violations of individual liberties.
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Athan Theoharis, dean of FBI historians, has also written Chasing Spies, The Boss, and From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover. He lives in Milwaukee.
Theoharis's compelling and timely book showcases the history of civil liberties in our society. The Quest for Absolute Security is a thorough, well-supported exploration of how the centralization of our government and increased surveillance power undermines civilian rights. A distinguished historian, Theoharis dispels illusions and examines patterns of intelligence agencies that are immediately relevant in our post 9/11 world. The result is a penetrating, persuasive assessment of the risks to personal freedom involved in the pursuit of security. -- Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor of law at New York Law School Athan Theoharis's The Quest for Absolute Security convincingly demonstrates both the dangers to liberty inherent in the undue centralization of government authority over intelligence activities and the fundamental need for aggressive congressional oversight of such activities if the United States is to strike the necessary and proper balance between protecting our national security and preserving our individual freedoms. -- Geoffrey R. Stone, author of War and Liberty: An American Dilemma When concern turns from the CIA to the FBI, instead of the 'Family Jewels' Americans have Athan Theoharis whose The Quest for Absolute Security shows anew his mastery of the Bureau's history, and raises key questions regarding its aptitude for an conduct of the very kinds of activities at the center of today's security effort. -- John Prados, author of Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA An important, provocative book, sure to be widely discussed. * Kirkus * Any military or American history collection at the college level needs this astute analysis of disasters in the making. * Midwest Book Review * Recommended. * CHOICE * The Quest for Absolute Security is a careful and systemic examination of the relationship between U.S. intelligence agencies, their history of weak communication and their inability to cooperate fully to ensure full security for the nation. * Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel * Provides expert history as an important context for understanding the lead-up to current debates and controversies on how to organize, operate, and protect homeland security in the wake of September 11. * Political Science Quarterly *
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