Date: 28/09/2020
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Understanding Intelligence

It is obvious that cyber security will continue to play an important part in national security.  But as a Washington outsider, it is difficult to see inside government policies and organizations that are responsible for this security.  Michael Hayden has taken a significant step in providing this insight through his recent book, Playing to the Edge (2016).  Mr. Hayden served as both the Director of the NSA and the CIA and is a retired four star Air Force general.  A great aspect of the book is that Mr. Hayden wrote it himself, apparently without a ghost writer.  So readers get the best insight into government intelligence that can pass a classification review.

The years covered comprised turbulent times, including:  the 9/11 attack; the build-up of NSA monitoring; the Snowden leaks; and the CIA alleged torture incidents.  No shortage of controversy here!    Three points stood out for me.  First, the real brilliance and leadership of Mr. Hayden in the many roles he assumed.  Second the great challenges of running intelligence operations in a political environment like ours.  Finally, the challenges of managing the needs of a free press while needing to protect classified information. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone working in cybersecurity.  Your work will impact national security sooner or later and it will be important to understand some of the inner workings of the responsible government agencies.