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In Company Man, Rizzo charts the CIA's evolution from shadowy entity to an organization exposed to new laws, rules, and a seemingly never-ending string of public controversies. Rizzo offers a direct window into the CIA in the years after the 9/11 attacks, when he served as the agency's top lawyer, with oversight of actions that remain the subject of intense debate today. In Company Man, Rizzo is the first CIA official to ever describe what "black sites" look like from the inside and he provides the most comprehensive account ever written of the "torture tape" fiasco surrounding the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah and the birth, growth, and death of the enhanced interrogation program.
Spanning more than three decades, Company Man is the most authoritative insider account of the CIA ever written - a groundbreaking, timely, and remarkably candid history of American intelligence.
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By M. R. Leavitt on 09-10-15
The real CIA, from the inside, no punches pulled
Company Man should be read at two levels, and is successful at both. First, it's a memoir of the CIA's chief lawyer (General Counsel) and his 30-plus years worth of stories, impressions, and characterizations of people he met (Presidents, Secretaries, CIA Directors and many more). As a lawyer, he was often at the center of CIA's most public successes and failures, and everything in between. Note the emphasis on the word "public." All Agency retirees (and indeed, anyone leaving CIA's employ for any reason) is legally obligated (by contract) to submit any written material to a review board to check for classified material, which is usually not permitted. So this is not a journalistic tell-all. But it provides an accurate, honest, and surprisingly well-written view into the organization from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. If you're a fan of such memoirs, this is for you.
The second level is as a defense of Rizzo's (and the Agency's as a whole) actions during the "torture controversy." If you believe that the "Extended Interrogation Techniques" as described in the press, and in the book as well, are torture and should never have been countenanced, you will find much to disagree with. If you're on Rizzo's side, that the techniques, while most unsettling and problematic, were not torture and were legal (i.e., approved by the government process that was used by all executive agencies to determine legality), then you'll be cheering him on. Perhaps you're one of the three people in the world who has not judged the actions and events; if so, I believe you'll find a rich cache of information to help you decide.
The narration was flawless, such that I truly believed it was Rizzo talking to me.
John Rizzo falls into the category of an accidental patriot. He was a good man in the right place at the right time who played an important part of quite a few historically important events. Fortunately, he is also an excellent writer who chose to tell us about them.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Fiston on 05-10-18
I got as far as the first few pages of chapter eight and I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Chapter eight title “Dealing with devils” covers the years 1993 through 1998, and shortly after it opens he characterizes the Clinton Administration as “there had been a hostile takeover of the US government”. He says what he means is that the the executive branch of our government had passed from one political party to another. It did not sound or feel that way to me and after reading a few more pages I stopped. I knew from the preceding chapters that the author was politically bent but that was too much for me. It’s not surprising our country feels like it is heading to a political impasse when even top CIA bureaucrats feel that way about the people they serve. I hope he is happy with the executive we have now.