Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA

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The “revealing” (The New Yorker) insider history of the CIA from a lawyer with a “front-row seat on the hidden world of intelligence” (The Washington Post). Former CIA director George J. Tenet called Company Man a “must read.”

Over the course of a thirty-four-year (1976-2009) career, John Rizzo served under eleven CIA directors and seven presidents, ultimately becoming a controversial public figure and a symbol and victim of the toxic winds swirling in post-9/11 Washington. 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. As the agency’s top lawyer in the years after the 9/11 attacks, Rizzo oversaw actions that remain the subject of intense debate, including the rules governing waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Rizzo writes about virtually every significant CIA activity and controversy over a tumultuous, thirty-year period. His experiences illuminate our nation’s spy bureaucracy, offering a unique primer on how to survive, and flourish, in a high-powered job amid decades of shifting political winds. He also provides the most comprehensive account of critical events, like the “torture tape” fiasco surrounding the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubayadah, and the birth, growth, and death of the enhanced interrogation program. Company Man is the most authoritative insider account of the CIA ever written—a groundbreaking, timely, and remarkably candid history of American intelligence. This is “emphatically a book for anyone who cares about the security of this country” (The Wall Street Journal).
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About the author

John Rizzo had a thirty-four-year career as a lawyer at the CIA, culminating with seven years as the Agency’s chief legal officer. In the post-9/11 era, he helped create and implement the full spectrum of aggressive counterterrorist operations against Al Qaeda, including the so-called “enhanced interrogation program” and lethal strikes against the Al Qaeda leadership. He has served as senior counsel at a Washington DC law firm and is a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution. He is a graduate of Brown University and George Washington University Law School.

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Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 7, 2014
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Biography & Autobiography / Lawyers & Judges
History / Military / Iraq War (2003-2011)
History / United States / General
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Eligible for Family Library

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My Men Are My Heroes introduces its readers to a living standard of Marine Corps esprit de corps and military decorum. Sergeant Major Bradley Kasal, the pride of Iowa, is a small town boy who wanted to be a United States Marine even before a poster perfect Marine recruiter marched into his high school gym and offered him a challenge Kasal couldn’t resist. Two decades later Kasal stood stiffly at attention, one leg literally shot in half, while the Navy Cross was pinned to his chest. Kasal is currently the Sergeant Major of the Infantry School at Camp Pendleton, CA until he retires in May, 2012.

After a brief visit to his childhood Kasal’s story quickly gathers steam, introducing the reader to his early Marine career; adventure filled years that earned him the name “Robo-Grunt” from men who don’t offer accolades easily. Kasal uses his experience climbing the ranks to illustrate how Marines grow, and how they are shaped by the uncompromising attitudes of the officers and non-coms charged with turning young Marines into tigers.

Kasal’s adventures culminate in Iraq. By now he is 1st Sergeant Kasal, ramrodding Kilo Company, 3/1, a rifle company in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, the mighty “Thunder Third” that would cover itself with glory in 2004. Two days into Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 Kilo is ordered to hold open a critical road between two bridges that Saddam’s fierce Fedayeen Saddam were just as determined to take away. Kasal makes in his stand on that road, literally standing tall amidst fierce gunfire, demonstrating the kind of leadership Kilo Company needed to get the job done. Kilo’s fight was part of the first big test of Marine Corps combat capabilities in the second Iraqi War and the only major engagement the Marine Corps fought during the heady days of the “Drive Up” to Baghdad. When it was over the so-called “Ninjas” of the Fedayeen Saddam were smashed. A week later Kasal was in Baghdad, welcomed with open arms by the exuberant population.

A year later 3/1 was back to Iraq, in Anbar Province, the epicenter of the brutal war now raging in the former tribal stronghold of Saddam and his henchmen. The smiling faces that had greeted 3/1 the year before were gone. Kasal is the 1st Sergeant of Weapons Company, 3/1, the armored fist of a light infantry battalion. After four months of ambushes, IEDs, and deadly skirmishes 3/1 is ordered into Fallujah, to take the ancient city back from Al Qaeda and the foreign fighters who had turned the ancient “City of Mosques” into a fortress. It is there, in November, 2004 that the “Thundering Third” entered into Marine Corps legend and Kasal into the Pantheon of Heroes for his actions during the most savage battle the Marines fought in the Iraq War.

At a non-descript house in a walled neighborhood in Fallujah Kasal, at the time accompanying a squad of Kilo’s riflemen into a contested house, becomes involved in a close-quarter duel with fanatical Chechen fighters. The fight rages throughout the house, at times Marines and the foreign fighters were exchanging rifle fire and grenades at ranges of less than 10 feet. For almost two hours the squad is trapped inside the house. During the brawl Kasal is shot seven times, almost loses his leg when it is nearly severed from his body, and sustains 47shrapnel wounds when he used his body to shield a wounded Marine laying next to him from an enemy grenade. In the skirmish, forever known as the “Hell House” fight, Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for heroism.
The riveting history of the American Eighth Air Force in World War Two, the story of the young men who flew the bombers that helped bring Nazi Germany to its knees, brilliantly told by historian Donald Miller and soon to be a major HBO series.

Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes you on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured US air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America—white America, anyway. The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Masters of the Air is a story of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world’s first and only bomber war.
Avenir à reconsidérer pour le système éducatif en Wallonie et à Bruxelles ?

Depuis plusieurs années, les classements internationaux placent l’enseignement en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles en piètre posture malgré l’argent investi et une somme de bonnes volontés. La faute à qui ? Aux politiques ? Aux profs ? À l’administration ? Aux parents ? Aux élèves ? À la crise ?

Après avoir consacré de nombreuses années de sa vie à l’enseignement de l’informatique, John Rizzo a décidé de dédier l’essentiel de son temps à l’étude des arcanes du système scolaire belge. Au fil de ses recherches, il a rencontré les acteurs clés de notre système éducatif, formé des demandeurs d’emploi et a fini au cœur des classes, comme instituteur au service d’une panoplie d’écoles wallonnes et bruxelloises en tous genres. En se demandant comment redonner aux futurs adultes un avenir réjouissant, ses lectures, ses rencontres et son expérience lui ont permis de dégager quelques pistes de compréhension.

Ce livre raconte son parcours à la recherche de réponses. Le déclin de l’école est-il inéluctable ? Doit-elle être réformée ? Faut-il repartir de zéro et bâtir un système adapté aux besoins modernes et aux nouveaux modes de communication ? En somme, faut-il sauver l’école ?

John Rizzo, à l'aide d'interrogations raisonnées et de preuves à l'appui, propose ici de reconsidérer l'avenir de l'école en Wallonie et en région bruxelloise.


1978-2010 Mixité naturelle

J’ai 6 ans. Malgré les paiements pour le moins erratiques de pension alimentaire par mon père, nous nous en sortons bien. Nous avons même une voiture en état de marche. Cela dit, c’est à pied que je me rends tous les jours à l’école n° 3 de Forest. Un midi, je sors avec mon copain Youcef, en direction de l’appartement familial. Et nous disparaissons. On nous retrouve soudain à 13 h 30...
— John, où étais-tu passé ?! Ta maman te cherche partout !
La gardienne de l’école vient de nous remettre la main dessus. À cette époque, on ne craint pas vraiment les enlèvements d’enfants, mais tout de même. De l’école à chez moi, il n’y a que cinq minutes de marche. En chemin, Youcef et moi avions été attirés par les poubelles remplies de billes d’une entreprise. Nous avions découvert un gisement de billes en aluminium. À force de fouiller les sacs, nous n’avions pas vu passer le temps.


- « John Rizzo a exercé en intérim le métier d’instituteur dans des écoles wallonnes et bruxelloises. Il va y constater que les méthodes pédagogiques et le système même ont de grosses failles, voire sont carrément inefficaces. Il témoigne de ses expériences et présente ses pistes de solutions dans son livre Sauver l’école ?. » (La Libre)

- « Ancien chef d’entreprise, John Rizzo ne pensait pas devenir un jour instituteur. Sa société revendue à un groupe américain, il devient formateur auprès de demandeurs d’emploi. Une reconversion qui l’a conduit à s’interroger en profondeur sur l’efficacité de notre système scolaire et sur les diverses pistes pour le rendre plus performant. Paru aux éditions Ker, son livre Sauver l’école ? est le fruit de cette réflexion. » (Le Soir)


John Rizzo a fondé, puis dirigé pendant une douzaine d’années une start-up revendue en 2011 à une grande entreprise américaine. Depuis lors, il se consacre à plein-temps à l’étude des dynamiques qui sous-tendent l’enseignement en Belgique.

Pour en découvrir plus sur son projet, rendez-vous ici :
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