Morning Spy, Evening Spy [Paperback] Review

Morning Spy, Evening Spy [Paperback]Colin MacKinnon's "Morning Spy, Evening Spy" is a chilling look at the clandestine world of American intelligence before 9/11, written by a Middle East expert who lived and worked in Iran for years.The first person narrator is CIA Officer Paul Patterson, who tells his story both in the present tense and in flashback.The book opens with the shooting of an American named Ed Powers in a frontier province in Pakistan.Was Ed killed by al-Qaeda because of his government connections or because of his shady business dealings involving drugs and armaments?Another possible scenario is that Powers may have been the victim of a random act of terror.No one knows for sure, but American officials are anxious to find out who murdered Powers and why.An Afghan named Kareem may have some answers but he has suddenly vanished.

Patterson is a former Marine and a twenty-five year veteran of the CIA, who has lived in a number of overseas capitals during his long career.Patterson's obsession with his work has come at a price; Nan, his wife of twenty-four years, has filed for divorce.Paul is in a new relationship with Karen, a Washington-based journalist, who seems to be a bit more tolerant of his work-related responsibilities.

Paul's current title is special assistant for counterterrorism, and his colleague, Bill Cleppinger, heads the Antiterrorism Action Committee.Because the CIA has been under fire of late, Clep and Paul have been summoned by Jim McClennan, chief of staff of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, to answer some tough questions.Although the two pretend to be forthcoming, they carefully censor the truth and deliberately withhold key facts from the committee.

The plot of "Morning Spy, Evening Spy" is incredibly complex, and the book's large cast is, at times, a bit unwieldy.However, the strength of the story lies in the MacKinnon's insightful exploration of several key themes:Why did America's intelligence community fail to thwart the 9/11 hijackers?Does the CIA's penchant for secrecy go so far that its policies actually harm the people whom they are sworn to protect?How does a CIA officer, who is forced to lie frequently and keep secrets from his colleagues and family, survive emotionally?

There is a telling passage in which Paul chats with his friend, a Pakistani journalist named Amjad Afridi.Afridi tells Paul what is wrong with the CIA:"I sometimes think that you cannot see the living, breathing reality in front of your faces or the dangers that lurk just off to the side..." Afridi believes that the American intelligence community is in a state of denial.Furthermore, Afridi insists, the failure of America's leaders to come to terms with the truth about Islam, terrorism, and their own mistakes and shortcomings will hurt them badly someday.These words prove to be eerily prescient.Colin Mackinnon's "Morning Spy, Evening Spy" is a powerful and stunning indictment of a bureaucracy that has outlived its usefulness and has not kept pace with a geopolitical climate that is irrevocably different from the one that prevailed during the cold war years.

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