Eyes, Ears & Daggers: Special Operations Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency in America's Evolving Struggle against Terrorism

By Wolfberg, Adrian | Parameters, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

Eyes, Ears & Daggers: Special Operations Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency in America's Evolving Struggle against Terrorism


Wolfberg, Adrian, Parameters


Eyes, Ears & Daggers: Special Operations Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency in America's Evolving Struggle against Terrorism

By Thomas H. Henriksen

Reviewed by Dr. Adrian Wolfberg, Chair of Defense Intelligence, School of Strategic Landpower, US Army War College

Thomas Henriksen has written a relatively short, easy-to-read, quasi-historical account of the evolutionary relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Special Operations Forces (SOF). This book is targeted exclusively to the general public. To that audience, this book will seem tantalizing and sexy, providing a glimpse into a dark and mysterious topic.

The meaning of the title, Eyes, Ears & Daggers, is partially alluded to in the book. The "eyes and ears" refers, in general, to the intelligence community, while "eyes" seem to have been synonymous with the CIA. The metaphor of eyes for CIA is not meant to be a literal analogy to imagery intelligence, even though part of the CIA's roots included ownership and control of such. The term "ears" is not explicitly referred to in the book although the plethora of mentions about the National Security Agency (NSA) and its signals intelligence capability are the obvious metaphor. As Henriksen points out, however, the CIA has a signal intelligence capability, but one dwarfed by NSA. Daggers refers to the military instrument of power, in this case, the author usually means the SOF.

Henriksen's premise, which he reuses throughout the book, is that the individuals who are soldiers sometimes become spies, and vice versa. Using the analogy of the eighteenth-century American Revolutionary War army officer Nathan Hale who became a spy--and was caught by the British and executed--Henriksen attempts to trace the dynamic interplay between those who do soldiering activities and those who do spying activities. The CIA has done both, as has SOF, according to Henriksen.

I have some serious concerns about the scholarly value of this book. First, the book is a selected summary from secondary sources that are not scholarly. The secondary sources include: books or articles authored by individuals who were formerly employed by the various national security organizations who revealed unauthorized disclosures, information from leaked documents, and information supplied by anonymous sources; and newspaper articles by syndicated authors. If primary research was done, it was not clearly demonstrated.

Second, structured as a historical account from World War II through 2015, the narrative within each historical era goes back and forth in time, moving between different contexts, making it difficult to follow Henriksen's argumentation. From a scholarly perspective, the negative effect of this style of writing is the difficulty in identifying and validating arguments of causality within this complex topic.

Third, the book has many factual errors, which leads one to wonder how many additional errors exist beyond what I could glean. For example, the claim is made the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was created in 1961 to support tactical military operations, when any reading of its creation directive, Department of Defense Directive 5105. …

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