Playing to the Edge

Playing to the Edge

American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"An unprecedented high-level master narrative of America's intelligence wars, from the only person ever to helm both the CIA and the NSA, at a time of heinous new threats and momentous change For General Michael Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. Otherwise, by playing back, you may protect yourself, but you will be less successful in protecting America. "Play to the edge" was Hayden's guiding principle when he ran the National Security Agency, and it remained so when he ran the CIA. In his view, many shortsighted and uninformed people are quick to criticize, and this book will give them much to chew on but little easy comfort. It is an unapologetic insider's look told from the perspective of the people who faced awesome responsibilities head on, in the moment. How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war, and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last five hundred years? What was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath? Why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone records? What else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013? "--
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2016
ISBN: 9781594206566
Branch Call Number: 327.1273 Hayden
Characteristics: xiv, 448 pages ;,25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Quote
Jul 20, 2016

Amazing what people will do when they think they're acting on the will of God.

Jul 20, 2016

To live outside the law, you must be honest.

Jul 20, 2016

Intelligence usually sets the right-and left-hand boundaries of policy discussion; it defines the limits of options.

Jul 20, 2016

... the Balkans produces more history than it can consume.

Jul 20, 2016

Good intelligence is like a tapestry with multiple threads woven into a beautiful whole.

Jul 20, 2016

Secrecy had a short shelf life.


Add a Comment
adcl May 10, 2017

Interesting subject matter for the modern day.

Apr 17, 2017

What with our current political climate we had seen Michael Hayden on a number of political talk shows. I liked the way he came across so I checked his book out. To be fair, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was so dry that we didn't get past the first 40 pages or so. It just wasn't working for us, maybe it will for you.

Feb 22, 2016

General Hayden, a four-star royal screwup and from his Wiki file:
On January 23, 2006, Hayden participated in a news conference.[23] A YouTube video[24] was posted of Michael Hayden telling reporters at a press conference that "probable cause" is not required for all searches or seizures under the Fourth Amendment, claiming instead that the standard is whether the search or seizure is reasonable. "Probable cause" is required for all warrants whether or not the search or seizure is deemed to be "unreasonable."
Hayden referred to people who believed that torture of CIA detainees has never yielded useful intelligence as "interrogation deniers".[

[Update 1/23/2017: An excellent article in the NY Times Review of Books thoroughly debunking that CIA/Trump report, a most disturbing piece, which again makes one wonder why the CIA is still in business???]
[Update - - 3/15/16: A month or so ago, Hayden claimed that the military would probably revolt if Donald Trump were elected president, and the other day a survey of the US military revealed that they overwhelmingly favor Trump for president. Once again, as on 9/11 and before and after, Michael Hayden remains completely clueless and bereft of any information!]

[At a CIA station in Afghanistan, a supposed double agent - - a Sunni extremist whom the CIA stooges thought they could turn {???} gets through the outer security because the CIA agents refuse to follow basic security protocols, and he blows them all to kingdom come! A CIA section decides to send a geriatric, diabetic retired FBI money laundering expert to Iran, where he's immediately captured? Next, they pay his family $2 million to keep quiet, and they immediately go to the news?]
Lordy, lordy, lordy, the dude who was in charge when 9/11 went down, says we shouldn't criticize, then he was in charge when a number of other smaller incidents went down [Underwear bomber, Times Square bomber, et cetera - - think he was gone when that Boston Marathon bombing took place?] and he says we shouldn't criticize - - so just what was he doing all that time with all those billions?
During his tenure, lots of money disappeared - - but where to? ? ?
Never had an audit of the CIA - - NSA - - DIA - - Fed - - about high time, I'm sure a whole bunch of thieves would be uncovered!
I mean, just think about recent events for a moment: a Sunni food safety inspector in San Bernardino, flies to Saudi Arabia for an arranged marriage to a pharmocology graduate and Sunni extremist from Pakistan, and nobody's checking this stuff out? ? ? ? Sunni food safey inspector and Sunni pharmacology grad? And we now know that Alfreda Bukowski Silverstein - - at the CIA, was involved with everything from start to finish - - a true cluster screwup of epic proportions, yet nobody has yet been fired!
[FYI: We know from the after-action congressional reports that the NSA - - under Hayden - - did indeed follow the hijackers, along with the CIA, up to that time they boarded those five airliners that day. Best book on the events of 9/11/01 Touching History, by Lynn Spencer.]


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at my library

To Top