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Hardcover Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program Book

ISBN: 0553801457

ISBN13: 9780553801453

Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

For decades no law enforcement program has been as cloaked in controversy and mystery as the Federal Witness Protection Program. Now, for the first time, Gerald Shur, the man credited with the creation of WITSEC, teams with acclaimed investigative journalist Pete Earley to tell the inside story of turncoats, crime-fighters, killers, and ordinary human beings caught up in a life-and-death game of deception in the name of justice. WITSEC Inside the...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A long read but worth it

What an education you will recieve from reading this book. The majority of the public will never have any clue what goes on in the life of a "protected witness"or how the "system" works ... that's one of the things that drew me to the book. Is Shur slanting the story, aggrandizing his own reputation? Whatever. *The other thing that drew me to read it ... when I was in college in Southern California many years ago - living off-campus in an apartment with two roomates (attending a small, private Christian 'Liberal Arts' College) ... our neighbor was a single mother who never seemed to go to work (???), and never left the apartment. One day she mentioned to my roomate that she was in the "Witness Protection Program". The very next week, in the middle of the night, there were agents moving out all her stuff very quickly. She left a note under our door saying she was moving to Hawaii. The day after she was out without a trace ... some people showed up to her apartment to force their way in. They ended up crawling through my roomate's bedroom window by mistake, while he was taking a nap (the guy had a tire iron in his hand). *What was scary - was they guy was very soft-spoken, and politely apologized to my roomate for the "intrusion". They eventually forced their way in through the sliding glass door on the balcony of her apartment (the one guy actually climbed the side of the building). Of course the apartment was empty. We had called the police ... and within MINUTES the entire complex was swarming with agents, helicopters, and police dogs. We really had no idea what was going on - or if she was telling the truth about any of her story. The book made it all come to life. My story was just like many of those in the book. The book really summed it up: "You choose WITSEC ... when you have absolutely NO other alternative". What a tough way to live - not to mention the trade-off you make. Highly recommended reading.

Into Obscurity -- Not So Easily Accomplished!

I found WITSEC to be fascinating from cover to cover. Gerald Shur was one of the original founders of the federal Witness Protection Program. For many years, he was the lynchpin in bringing increasing levels of organization and professionalism to a once informal "make it up as you go along" experimental program. Now retired and finally free to give an insider's view of the program and its successes and failures, Gerald Shur offers a sometimes captivatingly honest and direct chronicle of the challenges and growing pains the program went through over the years. He is able to give an honest appraisal of the good decisions and successes the program has had, and even more admirable, he is able to state and own the program's shortcomings and outright failures. I admire the fact that Shur has been able to step aside from this work that he lived and breathed for so many years and offer a fairly objective story of the program. At one point in the book, a relocated witnesses' wife tells her own personal story. It is a touching and sad story of a woman who had to abandon herself without notice and chronicles the 25 years after she was first relocated. I cannot imagine, even after having read this book, how difficult it must be to leave one's entire identity behind in order to "become someone completely new" -- birth history, family, origins, family support systems, and familiar surroundings -- all in order to help save a partner's life or one's own! While some have been extremely critical of the purpose of the witness protection program over the years, this is no glamorous escape for criminals who would be otherwise incarcerated for their entire lives. During my reading, it sometimes struck me that the cost of giving up one's entire "life" in order to be protected is as stiff a price to pay as going to prison. The Witness Protection program has been responsible for assisting in effectively paralyzing "organized crime" as we once knew in the United States. For over the last thirty years, this program, along with enforcement of the RICO statute and aggressive prosecution have very clearly limited the extent to which organized groups can impose their criminal behavior on others. Peter Earley and Gerald Shur do an excellent job of providing an engaging and thoroughly entertaining chronicle of the first three decades of the Witness Protection Program from its start through its later development. In addition to its history, and a number of tales of harsh human drama, this is by no means a ponderous read. At points, as a reader I was simply howling in laughter at some of the characters that the program was expected to "protect". Even some of the agents had some extremely funny "three stooges" moments, as unintentional blunders became narrow escapes from harm's way. Highly recommended James J. Maloney Saint Paul, Minnesota USA

WITSEC and Other Triumphs

A very well done book about a very remarkable man. Gerald Shur is a patriot and a hero, his story is truly " a profile in courage ". Not only did he have to overcome the understandable reluctance of witnesses ( and what a group they were ) to testify but he also had to mollify Congress, deal with internecine bureaucratic struggles and contend with Geraldo--all the while fighting his own battle with M.S.Then to top it off head a dangerous but successful effort for justice in El Salvador and perform wonders in Thailand. In addition to all the strength of character required and displayed , Shur appears to have remained compassionate and self-effacing, a devoted husband and father.While reading the book I kept thinking " What a movie " but now I think it would take at least a mini-series--too much good material here for one movie.Gold medals to Shur and his wife , Miriam , and 5 stars to the book.

Hollywood, take note!

This fast-paced non-fiction book reads like a novel. It's a fascinating look into the development of the Witness Protection Program--a program which is part of everyday lexicon, but whose origins and real-life operations are not widely known. Post-September 11, this book offers a timely look at how the original program has been expanded to bring the terrorists of the 1993 World Trade Center attack to justice, and has been used against the Colombian cartels, serving as a model to other countries. Shur, the self-effacing WITSEC founder, bluntly describes the problems with the program, past and present, and candidly talks about its failures as well as its successes. Interagency feuds and critics of the program, including Geraldo Rivera, are given ample space in this balanced account of the program that is widely credited with breaking the mob's code of silence. A first-person account of a relocated relative of a mob informant gives a chilling glimpse of life in the program. Informative AND entertaining, this book has Hollywood written all over it!

Balanced view of a controversial Government Program

Gerry Shur's unique story telling ability is expertly enhanced by Pete Earley's easy flowing writing style.This book, which reads like a novel, provides the reader with and in depth look into why and how this Program was developed. Facts are laced with the right amount of anecdotal information, affording a balanced, accurate and fair portrayal of a controversial Government Program.At times the reader may wonder if the main character of the book is Shur or Howard Safir but you quickly learn that without the leadership and innovative thinking of Safir, Shur's brainchild may have dwindled on the vine. Pete Earley's inclusion of a mobster's wife's perspective on the Program is brilliant. It comes at just the right time in the sequence of events to allow the reader to more clearly understand the impact that this extremely effective law enforcement tool can have on the lives of those on the peripheral.Once you begin, you won't want to put this one down.
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