Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Still Broken: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Still Broken: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon

Article excerpt

Still Broken: ARecruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon. ByAJ. Rossmiller. New York: Presidio Press, 2008. 236 pp. $24.95.

Rossmiller joined the Defense Intelligence Agency a month out of college and, almost immediately, volunteered for Iraq where he served for six months in an analytical unit that tracked and targeted insurgents. Still Broken, a narrative of Rossmiller's time in Iraq and back at the Pentagon, conveys well the dysfunction that characterizes the intelligence community.

Rossmiller dedicates the first half of Still Broken to his Iraq experience. Analysts worked 14hour days, processing data and maintaining a database of questionable accuracy. Rossmiller describes catching obvious errors - Sunni insurgents with names like Ali more often used by Shi'a, for example - but having his concerns brushed off because of a lack of seniority. He adds color to the broader narrative of Iraq with descriptions of insurgent in-processing and debriefings and arbitrary and ineffective interrogation and detention. A tendency to recount cartoonish dialogue among U.S. soldiers distracts and raises questions about where and how Rossmiller took notes in the course of processing insurgents and about whether the many conversations Rossmiller recounts are simply fiction with unnamed soldier archetypes from his own imagination.

The second half of Still Broken changes settings to the Pentagon, but the narrative is much the same. …

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