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Richelson’s The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review Essay


Richelson offers an authentic account of the development and evolution of directorate of science and technology at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). CIA started its work in reports’ department before becoming an agency of scientific intelligence.

The agency adopted science and technology as part of clandestine surveillance in its events in 1968. Some of the most noteworthy facilities acquired by the agency included the Corona photographic reconnaissance satellite and U-2 airplane (Richelson 54).

These programs faced much criticism at first. However, the intelligence technology through use of satellites finally caught the hearts of officials in 1960 and later in 1980’s, after they realized that the programs did not leave any room for susceptibility.

Some of these officials of CIA were Allen Dulles who was the director and Eisenhower, the President. These two officials turned into firm supporters of the programs after they learnt that no gap for planned bombing prevailed as the U-2 missions revealed.

The deals of the agency went on well until it ruined Bay Pigs in 1961. This annoyed the then U.S. president John Kennedy and what followed was the firing of Bissell who was a leader in the team that directed the attack. Bissel had also played a key role in developing satellite and aerial survey mediums to keep an eye on the Soviet tactical challenge.

Following the Cuban fiasco, Wheelon became the directorate of the intelligence programs. Land and Killian nominated him when they realized that Kennedy wanted to stay far from the CIA.

Their argument was that the programs were too intricate for military managers and that it was necessary to merge science and technology in a fresh CIA directorate. Following appointment, Wheelon aided construction of a first class scientific laboratory, which executed advanced research in intelligence, medicine and military.

The agency’s scientists also came up with systems for measuring the level of activity in Soviet atomic spots as well as a method of identifying breast tumor. Other systems developed by CIA scientists included retrieval machines as well as systems for translating languages.

These scientists also created systems for identifying ghost aircrafts as well as human faces. Production of apparatus that could detect people’s faces was an excellent defense strategy in fighting terrorism.

Later, CIA experts steered the killings of Fidel Castro and Lumumba. CIA technicians made pills with poison as well as strange murder arms, which they used to assassinate the two heroes. The agency handed the pills to mafia who plotted the killing of Fidel.

CIA continued with producing drugs at science and technology directorate until when the media uncovered this deal. Later, an army man who was responsible for drug production at the agency committed suicide.

Richelson gives an account of how the agency made use of science and technology for surveillance through tradecraft. The agency created apparatus that could mask voices and alter their bodily looks.

Another scheme involved wiring a listening device to a cat so that it could record transmitted information from different areas. However, this scheme failed after a vehicle hit it hard in Paris.

As explained by Richelson, successes of science and technology directorate were extraordinary, since their technical group was very efficient. Policy makers used information from surveillance to make regulations about disarmament. The directorate ensured that all arms sold to the Soviet Union underwent scrutiny by the CIA.

The intelligence collected by CIA assisted in winning many fights. For instance, the agency offered satellite intelligence to President Nixon and he succeeded in signing an accord pertaining arms control against the wish of the military.

The agency also led to the signing of ABM treaty after persuading critics that the Soviet-surface-air missile apparatus was different from an anti-ballistic apparatus.

Richelson depicts the CIA as a super agency. However, anyone will wonder why the agency did not foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union. The politicization that occurred during the reign of Casey and Gates addresses this query. The leaders manipulated estimations of CIA on Soviet militia power to rationalize the huge spending in U.S. defense force.

For instance, the amount that Gates claimed to have spent on defense program differed from photography results. Thus, the CA failed to consider the information collected by photography and this shows that the CIA betrayed its role as an agent between policy and intelligence.

Another thing that Richelson fails to consider is the fall of science and technology at the CIA, after the directorates of intelligence failed to realize the value of scientific unearthing. During the reign of Casey and William Colby, critics attacked the directorate leading to its fall. Richelson, however, does not mention or consider this occurrence in his work.

Severe failure followed the decline of the agency’s science and technology directorates. For instance, both Chinese embassy and Sudan experienced bombing in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

The nuclear program in India also lacked supervision. In addition, CIA directorate explains that the agency was not able to endorse the test restriction treaty and this made Clinton‘s government to lose senate endorsement.

Presently, the CIA is unable to stay advanced in the field of communication intelligence due to control by military. Terrorists have advanced systems of communications, which they use to send swift messages and this undermines the intelligence when gathering information.

This shortcoming together with the incompetency of the intelligence communities when it comes to analyzing all collected data led to the failure of CA to predict the attacks staged against America in 2001.

The fact that the senate select committee on intelligence has ignored to weigh reasons that led to the fall of science and technology directorate is quite sad. The senate select committee supervises the CIA and therefore, it should have investigated the reason behind the fall as well as the effect of this fall on the scientific side of the intelligence society.

The cases of Land, Killian and Wheelon should act as reference point to the committee on how to apply science on intelligence. Besides, the committee should scrutinize the behavior of directors who made first research to end paving way for scientific application.

In conclusion, Richelson describes various achievements of the CIA. The agency is the root of most accomplishments of intelligence technology. Some of the most noteworthy facilities acquired by the agency include the Corona photographic reconnaissance satellite and U-2 airplane.

Use of technical systems like satellites and reconnaissance aircraft has assisted in watching over arms control and this has solved many disputes among nuclear powers. CIA has also led to many scientific advances especially in the medical field. Thus, we cannot ignore the contributions of CIA to modern intelligence technology.

Works Cited

Richelson, Jeffrey. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. Boulder, MD: West view Press, 2002. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, April 22). Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/richelsons-the-wizards-of-langley-inside-the-cias-directorate-of-science-and-technology-book-review-essay/

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"Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review." IvyPanda, 22 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/richelsons-the-wizards-of-langley-inside-the-cias-directorate-of-science-and-technology-book-review-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/richelsons-the-wizards-of-langley-inside-the-cias-directorate-of-science-and-technology-book-review-essay/.


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IvyPanda. "Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/richelsons-the-wizards-of-langley-inside-the-cias-directorate-of-science-and-technology-book-review-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/richelsons-the-wizards-of-langley-inside-the-cias-directorate-of-science-and-technology-book-review-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Richelson's The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Book Review'. 22 April.

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