Blinking Red.

Author:Handley, John M.
Position:Featured Review - Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence after 9/11 - Book review

October 2016

Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence after 9/11 (2013) by Michael Allen; University of Nebraska Press: Potomac Books, ISBN 978-1-61234-823-0, 179 pages of text plus 41 pages of content endnotes, a nine-page bibliography, and an index; paperback, $19.95.

Michael Allen, the former staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, previously served over seven years in the White House in various national security roles including NSC senior director for counter-proliferation strategy, NSC senior director for legislative affairs, and legislative affairs lead for the Homeland Security Council. With access to extensive documentary evidence and interviews with over 30 of the major players, his book, Blinking Red, addresses what at first glance seems a straightforward enough research question: What happened to the American Intelligence Community (IC) after the surprise attack on America on 9 September 2001 by al Qa'ida supporters? Stated differently, how did the IC America has today evolve from the pre-9/11 IC?

The answer to Allen's research question required an investigation into the creation and eventual 2004 passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (ITRTP). Determining the machinations involved in passing this act involved wadding through the murky waters of governmental process and bureaucratic decision-making. Every Washington-based agency and organization, intelligence related or not, had an agenda, and few agendas supported one another. Allen explains the vying macro agendas of the George Bush White House, the Senate and the House, plus the micro agendas (turf protection or negotiation points) of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), the Secretary of the Defense Department, and several intelligence-related House committees and sub-committees. Additionally, the 9/11 Commission, which later morphed into the 9/11 Public Defense Project, and the families of 9/11 victims all impact on the macro and micro agendas, of which the latter are used as a political tool against the reelection of a Republican president who actually supported and wanted to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Amazing what political spin can create. What Allen describes in engrossing detail can best be termed as political sausage making. The word "compromise" in the subtitle is there for a reason. As no agenda is sacrosanct, the question for each proponent included how much...

To continue reading