How livid? Well, mad enough to do something that I've never heard of the CIA doing before: publishing a book review on their government website. The offending title is Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA, a Pulitzer Prize winning account of the 60+ year history of the Agency. From the Central Intelligence Agency website:
Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes is not the definitive history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that it purports to be. Nor is it the well researched work that many reviewers say it is. It is odd, in fact, that much of the hype surrounding the book concerns its alleged mastery of available sources.
Weiner and his favorable reviewers-most, like Weiner, journalists-have cited the plethora of his sources as if the fact of their variety and number by themselves make the narrative impervious to criticism.
But the thing about scholarship is that one must use sources honestly, and one doesn't get a pass on this even if he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times. Starting with a title that is based on a gross distortion of events, the book is a 600-page op-ed piece masquerading as serious history; it is the advocacy of a particularly dark point of view under the guise of scholarship. Weiner has allowed his agenda to drive his research and writing, which is, of course, exactly backwards....
The irony is that a new history of CIA is needed to fill the gap left by the now dated works of John Ranelagh (The Agency, 1986) and Christopher Andrew (For the President's Eyes Only, 1995). Having read the book, I have to conclude that this is not it; anyone who wants a balanced perspective of CIA and its history should steer well clear of Legacy of Ashes.
Ouch. I've read the book myself and there's no denying that Weiner placed a heavy emphasis on the CIA's failures, although I suspect that--in his eagerness to defend the Agency--Nicholas Dujmovic (a CIA historian and career analyst) may have overstated his case a bit.
From my own readings, I found it intensely frustrating to have to fight through hundreds of pages of the CIA getting their butts kicked by the KGB and associated Warsaw Pact alphabet soup security agencies. Surely there were Agency successes beyond placing the Shah in power and rigging Central American elections?
Dujmovic's critiques are far more specific than what was illustrated in the quote--read the whole thing.