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Gertz, Bill 1952(?)-

GERTZ, Bill 1952(?)-


Born c. 1952. Education: Attended Washington College and George Washington University.


Office—Washington Times, 3600 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002-1947.


Journalist, news analyst, and author. Washington Times, Washington, DC, defense and national security reporter, 1985—. Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, media fellow. Guest lecturer at FBI National Academy, Central Intelligence Agency, National Defense University, and Brookings Institution.


Excellence in achievement award, Washington Times, 1997; Defender of the National Interest Award, U.S. Business and Industrial Council, 1998; award for investigative journalism, Western Journalism Center.


Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, Regnery Publishing (Washington, DC), 1999.

The China Threat: How the People's Republic Targets America, Regnery Publishing (Washington, DC), 2000.

Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Regnery Publishing (Washington, DC), 2002, revised edition published as Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror, Plume (New York, NY), 2003.

Treachery: How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies, Crown Forum (New York, NY), 2004.

Coauthor, with Rowan Scarborough, of weekly column "Inside the Ring," Washington Times. Contributor to publications, including National Review, Weekly Standard, and Air Force Magazine.


Bill Gertz is a prominent American journalist who works as a defense and national security reporter for the Washington Times. He "has long stood out for his sharp, insider's commentary and reporting on national security and intelligence matters," commented Thomas Sanderson in World and I. Gertz's international reputation has left him open to harsh criticism from members of foreign governments stung by events he has reported on and facts he has uncovered. He also has his critics within the U.S. government, including CIA officials who resent his ability to uncover classified information. A biography of Gertz on his Internet home page reported that "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once told him: 'You are drilling holes in the Pentagon and sucking out information.'" Gertz has written reports on intelligence estimates of how many al-Quaeda terrorists are at large in the United States; how China has provided ballistic missile technology to Pakistan; and how the U.S. National Security Agency issued a report on possible terror attacks in Yemen hours after the attack on the USS Cole.

In Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, Gertz argues that former president Bill Clinton and prominent members of his cabinet "compromised the safety of the nation for political gain," according to a reviewer in Human Events. John R. Bolton commented in Insight on the News that "Gertz provides a series of case studies of Clinton administration failures in defense and intelligence … that create a cumulative impact both devastating and depressing." Gertz "builds his case by examining U.S. policies toward Russia, China, North Korea, and Iraq—all of which, not surprisingly, he finds wanting," commented Stephen I. Schwartz in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. John Corry, writing in American Spectator, commented that the Clinton administration "placed economic gains ahead of security needs," and "put its faith in treaties, promises, and the supposed good intentions of others," when such treaties were not honored and promises were not kept. Corey noted that, "rather than penalizing China or Russia, say, for violating international agreements, the administration would amend the agreements." Arms buildups were ignored, and policy was reworked to fit the situation.

"This is not an academic book for defense intellectuals (although they would be remiss if they did not read it) but rather straightforward reporting about six years of a dangerously flawed presidency," remarked Bolton. Foreign Affairs reviewer Eliot A. Cohen called Betrayal "a book sure to reinforce the darkest views of confirmed Clinton-haters—and make even stalwart defenders of the administration uneasy." Other critics, such as Schwartz, felt that Gertz's indictment of the Clinton administration is not effective. "Despite the wealth of classified information at his disposal, Gertz fails to make his case," Schwartz stated. "In his zeal to blame Bill Clinton for security failings both real and imagined, Bill Gertz betrays only himself."

Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11—also published as Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror—is "an indictment against both the ways in which American intelligence institutions have functioned as well as the attitudes of the people in them," explained Gordon L. Anderson in International Journal on World Peace. From an examination of Osama bin Laden's involvement in international terrorist activities, Gertz moves into U.S. governmental responses to terrorism that largely consisted of creating more government centers and organizations and inflating budgets to fund agencies involved with intelligence and counterterrorism. Huge operating budgets did not assure that the human element played a major role in intelligence gathering. "Despite their ballooning, the CIA had no human intelligence in the field close to bin Laden—no real spies," noted Anderson. The lack of HUMINT—human intelligence—deprived the United States of "valuable intelligence gleaned from having recruited assets and CIA eyes and ears on the ground in a target area," wrote Thomas Sanderson in World and I. "Gertz shows how an over-reliance on technology, a de-emphasis on human intelligence, and the incompetence of the Washington bureaucracy created an atmosphere in which fieldwork and analysis were sacrificed in favor of policy," commented Security Management reviewer Mayer Nudell.

"One of the main points the author makes is that the United States government agencies had enough information to uncover and stop the 9/11 attacks if they were functioning properly," Anderson remarked. "However, bureaucratic infighting, jealousy, laziness, arrogance, and other human and institutional frailties prevailed over the noble goals of intelligence institutions." Anderson stated that the intelligence community is fundamentally flawed, and that "Gertz believes that nothing short of a total reorganization of the intelligence community … will address the problem." Gertz suggests that "the CIA should be abolished, broken up into two parts, each to be merged with other parts of U.S. intelligence in a much needed top-to-bottom restructuring," commented Dusko Doder in Nation. Mike Potemra, writing in National Review, called Breakdown an "important and persuasive new book" and "an alarming chronicle."



American Spectator, July, 1999, John Corry, "Lies, Distortion, Betrayal—and Tunnel Vision," p. 74.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January-February, 2000, Stephen I. Schwartz, "Lots of Leaks," p. 67.

Current History, September, 1999, William W. Finan, Jr., review of Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, p. 296.

Foreign Affairs, November-December, 1999, Eliot A. Cohen, review of Betrayal, p. 147.

Human Events, May 25, 1999, "Gertz Chronicles Clinton Security Failures," p. 4; March 5, 2001, James C. Roberts, review of The China Threat: How the People's Republic Targets America, p. 12.

Insight on the News, June 28, 1999, John R. Bolton, "Spin vs. National Security," p. 43; September 23, 2002, J. Michael Waller, Wade-Hahn Chan, and Daniel George, "They're Practicing 'CYA' at the CIA," p. 6.

International Journal on World Peace, June, 2003, Gordon L. Anderson, review of Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror, p. 100.

Nation, November 4, 2002, Dusko Doder, review of Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, p. 25.

National Review, December 4, 2000, John Derbyshire, "China and Her Dupes"; November 11, 2002, Mike Potemra, review of Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, p. 60.

Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2003, John F. Baker, review of Treachery: How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies, p. 12.

Security Management, February, 2003, Mayer Nudell, review of Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, p. 97.

World and I, January, 2003, Thomas Sanderson, "Chaos and Neglect—An Investigative Reporter Exposes Dramatic Pre-and Post-September 11 Intelligence and Oversight Failures while Providing Insight and Warning for the Public and Our Leaders," p. 205.


Bill Gertz Home Page, (August 5, 2004).*

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