The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a life in the CIA’s clandestine serviceby Henry Crumpton

The Crump

The value of this book to a Kryptos fan is in a better understanding of the CIA, particularly recently.  I would say that most Americans should read this or Gary Berntsen’s “Jawbreaker” (2005) or Gary Schroen’s “First In” (2005) or Doug Stanton’s “Horse Soldiers” (2009) to have a better understanding of what has really happened in their “War on Terror”.  It’s not hard however to see why a lot of critics dismiss it as not presenting much that is new.

With that aside, the book reads well despite overdoses of praise and criticism at times.  I thought it interesting that the heaviest criticisms were of policymakers and their actions despite their portrayal as the “customer” of intelligence gathered by an agency that was gathering it for their specific use in making decisions that would be outside of the CIA’s focus or purpose.  I think it would have been refreshing to see some harsher criticisms of the 2000-2008 administration’s actions but you can wish in one hand and shit in the other.

At this point, I’m surprised the CIA wasn’t more offended by the Kryptos instillation.  Coming from one who also didn’t really understand these government agencies when they started being interested in the Kryptos ciphers, I have to say once again that Sanborn made a piece for what he thought the CIA was and not what it actually is.

It also reinforces an opinion that has been gaining strength in my own efforts.  We need to attack the problem less from the point of view of cipher enthusiast technicians and approach it more in an effort to mirror how the CIA would, if they cared.  CORRECTION:  How the CIA as a central intelligence agency that gathers and analyzes intelligence would do it, not how their domestic or covert operations would do it.  We need to continue to document all of the known information and search out new possible avenues of finding out previously undiscovered bits of information that we can integrate into the whole and hope for a lucky break.


p.s.  Preface this reading or follow up with The Real CIA by Lyman Kirkpatrick
p.s.  For a more honest consideration of the War on Terror read Spies Lies and the War on Terror