More than a high-stakes espionage thriller, Fallout painstakingly examines the huge costs of the CIA’s errors and the lost opportunities to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology long before it was made available to some of the most dangerous and reckless adversaries of the United States and its allies.
For more than a quarter of a century, while the Central Intelligence Agency turned a dismissive eye, a globe-straddling network run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan sold the equipment and expertise to make nuclear weapons to a rogues’ gallery of nations. Among its known customers were Iran, Libya, and North Korea. When the United States finally took action to stop the network in late 2003, President George W. Bush declared the end of the global enterprise to be a major intelligence victory that had made the world safer.
But, as investigative journalists Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz document masterfully, the claim that Khan’s operation had been dismantled was a classic case of too little, too late. Khan’s ring had, by then, sold Iran the technology to bring Tehran to the brink of building a nuclear weapon. It had also set loose on the world the most dangerous nuclear secrets imaginable—sophisticated weapons designs, blueprints for uranium enrichment plants, plans for warheads—all for sale to the highest bidder.
Relying on explosive new information gathered in exclusive interviews with key participants and previously undisclosed, highly confidential documents, the authors expose the truth behind the elaborate efforts by the CIA to conceal the full extent of the damage done by Khan’s network and to cover up how the profound failure to stop the atomic bazaar much earlier jeopardizes our national security today.
Investigative journalists Collins and Frantz, who documented how rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan created a nuclear black market in 2007 s The Nuclear Jihadist, return to the subject in this sobering, true-life part spy story, part cautionary tale. The authors focus this time on the CIA s participation in a massive cover-up to prevent public disclosure of its passive role in Khan s proliferation activities. For years the CIA had Khan under constant surveillance, but instead of moving to shut down his nuclear bazaar, the CIA and policymakers watched and discussed how and when to act. Collins and Frantz conclude that the CIA was addicted to information, not action. When the agency finally moved to roll up Khan s global proliferation ring, it sought to conceal the bad judgments and operational errors that allowed the ring to flourish for years. Nuclear proliferation is one of our era s critical issues, and Collins and Frantz s expos makes a timely contribution to how institutional errors and bad calls in Washington have left America more vulnerable to global terrorism.
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it's using the same text from the fallout game