The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (Discovering America)

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9780292737624: The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (Discovering America)

In December 1974, a front-page story in the New York Times revealed the explosive details of illegal domestic spying by the Central Intelligence Agency. This included political surveillance, eavesdropping, detention, and interrogation. The revelation of illegal activities over many years shocked the American public and led to investigations of the CIA by a presidential commission and committees in both houses of Congress, which found evidence of more abuse, even CIA plans for assassinations. Investigators and the public soon discovered that the CIA abuses were described in a top-secret document agency insiders dubbed the “Family Jewels.” That document became ground zero for a political firestorm that lasted more than a year. The “Family Jewels” debacle ultimately brought about greater congressional oversight of the CIA, but excesses such as those uncovered in the 1970s continue to come to light. The Family Jewels probes the deepest secrets of the CIA and its attempts to avoid scrutiny. John Prados recounts the secret operations that constituted “Jewels” and investigators’ pursuit of the truth, plus the strenuous efforts—by the agency, the executive branch, and even presidents—to evade accountability. Prados reveals how Vice President Richard Cheney played a leading role in intelligence abuses and demonstrates that every type of “Jewel” has been replicated since, especially during the post-9/11 war on terror. The Family Jewels masterfully illuminates why these abuses are endemic to spying, shows that proper relationships are vital to control of intelligence, and advocates a system for handling “Family Jewels” crises in a democratic society.

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About the Author:

John Prados is a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, where he helps bring newly declassified government records to public attention. He is the award-winning author of twenty-one books, including Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. He also lectures widely on security, freedom of information, and other issues; analyzes combat processes; serves as a historical adviser to filmmakers; and designs strategy board games, including the well-known Third Reich and other award-winning titles.

Review:

"A scholarly book about the dirty operations of the American government that feels like it has been ripped from the headlines...The book is part of the publisher's Discovering America series, which is based on the premise that much of the American experience remains to be told by historians and cultural critics with fresh takes on events and individuals seemingly well-known but often masked...Prados takes readers inside not only the CIA in an attempt to plumb the thinking behind the questionable secretive operations, but also the White House, the halls of Congress and newsrooms. As a result, he casts light on shadowy cultures that often undermine democracy. An impressive research effort showing how, when it comes to current political affairs, the past is almost always prologue." (Kirkus Reviews 2013-07-15)

"Prados writes with obvious passion, and his topic couldn't be more important or timely." (Library Journal)

"The Family Jewelsis a nice complement to any general academic or law school library’s national security collection, and can serve as inspiration for larger research projects" (Law Library Journal 2014-06-14)

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