See No Evil

Version: Abridged
Author: Robert Baer
Narrator: Robert Baer
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Public Policy
Publisher: Random House Audio Assets
Published In: August 2005
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 5 hours, 15 minutes
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In See No Evil, one of the CIA's top field officers of the past quarter century recounts his career running agents in the back alleys of the Middle East. In the process, Robert Baer paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides compelling evidence about how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA's efforts to root out the world's deadliest terrorists.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the world witnessed the terrible result of that intelligence failure with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the wake of those attacks, Americans were left wondering how such an obviously long-term, globally coordinated plot could have escaped detection by the CIA and taken the nation by surprise. Robert Baer was not surprised. A twenty-one-year veteran of the CIA's Directorate of Operations who had left the agency in 1997, Baer observed firsthand how an increasingly bureaucratic CIA lost its way in the post–cold war world and refused to adequately acknowledge and neutralize the growing threat of Islamic fundamentalist terror in the Middle East and elsewhere.

A throwback to the days when CIA operatives got results by getting their hands dirty and running covert operations, Baer spent his career chasing down leads on suspected terrorists in the world's most volatile hot spots. As he and his agents risked their lives gathering intelligence, he watched as the CIA reduced drastically its operations overseas, failed to put in place people who knew local languages and customs, and rewarded workers who knew how to play the political games of the agency's suburban Washington headquarters but not how to recruit agents on the ground.

See No Evil is not only a candid memoir of the education and disillusionment of an intelligence operative but also an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism. Baer reveals some of the disturbing details he uncovered in his work, including:

* In 1996, Osama bin Laden established a strategic alliance with Iran to coordinate terrorist attacks against the United States.

* In 1995, the National Security Council intentionally aborted a military coup d'etat against Saddam Hussein, forgoing the last opportunity to get rid of him.

* In 1991, the CIA intentionally shut down its operations in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and ignored fundamentalists operating there.

When Baer left the agency in 1997 he received the Career Intelligence Medal, with a citation that says, "He repeatedly put himself in personal danger, working the hardest targets, in service to his country." See No Evil is Baer's frank assessment of an agency that forgot that "service to country" must transcend politics and is a forceful plea for the CIA to return to its original mission—the preservation of our national sovereignty and the American way of life.

From The Preface
This book is a memoir of one foot soldier's career in the other cold war, the one against terrorist networks. It's a story about places most Americans will never travel to, about people many Americans would prefer to think we don't need to do business with.

This memoir, I hope, will show the reader how spying is supposed to work, where the CIA lost its way, and how we can bring it back again. But I hope this book will accomplish one more purpose as well: I hope it will show why I am angry about what happened to the CIA. And I want to show why every American and everyone who cares about the preservation of this country should be angry and alarmed, too.

The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead. Americans were making too much money to bother. Life was good. The White House and the National Security Council became cathedrals of commerce where the interests of big business outweighed the interests of protecting American citizens at home and abroad. Defanged and dispirited, the CIA went along for the ride. And then on September 11, 2001, the reckoning for such vast carelessness was presented for all the world to see.

Reviews (6)

Highly recommend!

Written by Anonymous on March 5th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I rented this audio book after seeing the movie, Syriana, and I'm glad I did. It was very educational to learn of the inner workings of the CIA, where the agency went wrong ignoring terrorism, and more so, of the interconnected roles played by the different factions in the Middle East in terrorist activities.

Inside the CIA

Written by Anonymous from San Francisco, CA on August 7th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This is a fascinating glimpse of what it is like to be a CIA agent operating in some of the world's most dangerous places. It will not give you any confidence in the CIA's ability to protect this country from terrorism. The author was a little monotone, but it made the book much more interesting knowing that the guy I was listening to was the guy in the story. If you're a history buff or just interested in the cast of characters the U.S. is currently working with in Iraq, you will like this book. The author discusses his covert dealings with the Iraqi Kurds when they were going against Saddam without U.S. help. The author also discusses what he was doing and where when other major terrorist activities took place in the Middle East.

Opens the Eyes

Written by Casey Freeland on June 27th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Discover what it's really like working for the CIA and what's really going on in the Middle East all in one book? That is an official no-brainer. And while this book held my interest most of the time, I did get lost a handful of times in Bob's sea of monotonous mumbling. He should not have read his own book. And the revelations were less relevant and more a personal bragging post for the author. Still, even though the window had smudges and cracks and the shade was three-quarters drawn, I'm still glad I took a look.

Clever and Insightful

Written by Mekhala Acharya on December 4th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I think this is one of the best books by far on the state of the CIA and why it lost its foothold. Some of the details were astonishing. Its cleverly written and I would recommend the paperback in addition to the audio CD.

See No Evil

Written by Henry Grebe on August 3rd, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed listening to Robert Baer's narration of his own story so much that I decided I had to buy the book! Sounds like George Clooney is working on a movie version (working title, "Syriana") of this story, so George must like it too.

See No Evil [abr]

Written by John C. on February 24th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I enjoyed this book, though the authors voice was a bit monotone, and had me daydreaming a little. I read the hardcover, but liked this version better because it helped with the pronunciations of the names/places. Its a great look at one mans career in the CIA, and the events leading up to 9/11.

Author Details

Author Details

Baer, Robert

"ROBERT BAER was a case officer in the Directorate of Operations for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1997. He served in places such as Iraq, Dushanbe, Rabat, Beirut, Khartoum, and New Delhi, and received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1997. He now divides his time between Washington, D.C., and France."