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In 2009, documentarians Duffy and Nowosielski arrived at the offices of Richard Clarke, the former counter-terror adviser to Presidents Clinton and Bush. There, for the first time, Clarke boldly accused his friend and one-time Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet of “malfeasance and misfeasance” in the pre-war on terrorism.  Thus began an incredible—never-before-told—investigative journey of intrigue into how the fall-out from a covert decision within America’s intelligence community about two future September 11th hijackers may have come to secretly define the terror wars and launched a “war on whistleblowers.”

The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark details that story, unearthed over a ten-year investigation.  Following the careers of a dozen counterterror employees working in different agencies of the US government from the late 1980s to the present, the book puts the government’s systems of oversight and accountability under a microscope. 

How did current CIA director Gina Haspel manage to climb her agency’s ladder with such speed? The authors examine the merits of decades of serious accusations made against some of her key allies, including  mysterious manager Alfreda Bikowsky, an alleged “monster of human rights” who has managed to remain out of the media spotlight—until now.

These narratives connect back to a central mystery at the heart of the book: What can explain how two key Al Qaeda plotters—operating inside the United States for nearly two years before the 9/11 tragedy—could fall onto the radars of so many US agencies without any of their dedicated counter-terror agents succeeding in stopping the attacks? The authors find unexpected answers, going beyond any easy “conspiracy theories” to instead document many possible culprits and a government system all-too-easily manipulated against the best interests of the American people.

Taking readers on a character-driven account of the origins of the war on terror and how the true lessons of the September 11th attacks were cynically inverted to empower surveillance of citizens, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, torture, government-sanctioned murder, propaganda, and a war on whistleblowers and journalists, an alarm is raised which is more pertinent today than ever before.

Praise For Watchdogs

Watchdogs could be the most important book published so far in the Hot Books series.”

—DAVID TALBOT, Founder of Salon and the Hot Books series

“The authors lay bare… an intelligence failure of historic proportions.”

—JOHN KIRIAKOU, Former CIA Officer and author of The Convenient Terrorist

“Stories of characters in the dark corners of the bureaucracies, where the secrets are kept… Duffy and Nowosielski name names and hold people to account. If only our government had the courage to do the same.”

—ALEX GIBNEY, Co-creator, Hulu’s The Looming Tower

“A devastating portrait of an agency that is almost singularly committed to its own impunity… Has any government agency, anywhere, been as successful as the modern CIA in avoiding accountability for its grotesque failures and abuses, including grave violations of human rights?”

—BEN WIZNER, Legal adviser to Edward Snowden, ACLU

“Compelling, informative, and authoritative.”


“A detailed, comprehensive indictment for prosecution of these unpunished masters of elaborate deception, wielding secrecy as the main weapon.”

—JOHN YOUNG, Co-creator, Cryptome.org


—LARISA ALEXANDROVNA, Investigative Managing Editor, The Raw Story

Snapshot of the much larger blueprint of malfeasance that ran rampant across the US government… Having been personally affected and engaged on these issues for the past seventeen years, even we learned new pieces of disturbing and damning information… A must read.”


About The Authors

Ray Nowsielski

Is a documentary filmmaker and writer who has reported for Salon and Truthout and contributed to investigations by The Daily Beast and Gawker. He has produced documentaries with several Academy Award-winning directors and for Discovery, History Channel, Investigation Discovery, Netflix, and VICE on HBO’s Emmy-nominated season 3. The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald tweeted in 2014 regarding Nowosielski’s reporting about the CIA: “Your work was fantastic and brave on that.”  

John Duffy

Is a writer and activist.  He wrote and produced the critically-acclaimed documentary Press for Truth and the investigative true-crime podcast Who Is Rich Blee? Duffy has worked extensively in the environmental movement to fight tar sand extraction, fracking, and logging on public lands. His anonymous essays critiquing the contradictions of big systems and their fallout on ecology and society appear regularly in a variety of media. He currently lives in a quiet cabin in the Midwest with his family.

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