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Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad Hardcover – Aug 1 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1 edition (Aug. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594032130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594032134
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 16.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #793,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
293 of 302 people found the following review helpful
an important, timely read April 6 2008
By John E. Drury - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Andrew McCarthy writes with clarity, depth and self-effacement about the lead up to and the successful 1995 prosecution of Omar Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheikh, and his terrorist followers. As lead Assistant United States Attorney, McCathy's knowledge and attention to detail fascinate. The intricacies in mounting the prosecution, avoiding the pitfalls and foibles of the FBI and New York's Joint Terrorism Task Force, keeping a difficult informant from refusing to cooperate, struggling with the rules of admissible evidence, rival the best in any police procedural mystery; this is not Sam Waterston spouting the script of "Law and Order," this is the argot of a real life Federal prosecutor and it is daunting. No Hollywood script can capture the nuance and judgment needed to bring a case like this to its successful conclusion.

McCarthy, a talented writer, draws deep insights from his experience into the shortcomings of prosecuting terrorists as criminals. He ends with a thoughtful exposition of the disconnect between national security and criminal law. He is a voice of clarity, reason and experience in the dialogue now going in America on issues of law and national security.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
It didn't have to end like this. Oct. 15 2008
By Peter Taber - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It didn't have to end the way that it did, with 3000 dead and a smoking hole in lower Manhattan. We were warned. We had gotten our wake-up call. It was our choice to go back to sleep.

What makes Andrew McCarthy's book a must read for everyone is that he is not a journalist telling someone else's story. He is the lead prosecutor in the case against the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and this is his first-hand account of that high-profile prosecution and the events leading to it.

After reading Willful Blindness the inescapable conclusion is that all of the societal structures that are supposed to serve us have broken down. The Intelligence Agencies failed to warn us; Law Enforcement failed to protect us; the Press failed to understand the implications and meaning of the events they reported on; the Courts, obsessed with legal abstractions, mis-judged the very real danger we faced; our political leaders were too timid, self-absorbed, and focussed partisan advantage to fulfill their first and most fundamental obligation: to defend the nation above all else. Only the Military, our last line of defense, has succeeded in raising the shield. Yet, even now their efforts to protect us are underminied by those same elements of society that so singularly failed in their past duties.

It is tempting to shrug and say, "Hindsight is always 20/20." A better cliche to adopt as our slogan is Santayana's famous dictum, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." We closed our eyes and chose to forget what happened in 1993, only to see history repeat itself - with a vengeance - in 2001.

The cast of characters today is familiar to us all. Ramsay Yusef, who planned the first bombing and who was thwarted in his plan to simultaneously blow-up 11 airliners over the ocean - but only just. Kalid Sheik Mohammed - the Mastermind of the second bombing and ultimate destruction of the World Trade Center - who escaped civilian prosecution in 1993 but is presently held prisoner at the military base at Guantanamo Bay - to the consternation and frustration of the ACLU. Lynn Stewart, the radical lawyer convicted and disbarred for abusing the privilege accorded legal counsel to unmonitored access to an accused, who used her lawyer's priviledge to transmit operational orders from the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman to his followers outside the US. Her presence on the streets of this nation today, as a free woman - the result of a Judge's decision not to imprison her for the crime for which she was convicted - is a reminder that the legal system fails us still.

Andrew McCarthy has rendered invaluable service to this country, first as a Justice Department Prosecutor, and now as the voice of warning. Will we listen to him, or will we remain wilfully blind?
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read May 19 2008
By Robert Herring - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an entertaining and informative book about the prosecution of terrorists in the 1990s, and specifically those who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. You get a window into the inner workings of government and this knowledge will help you frame the current argument about where (US or GITMO) and how (courts vs battlefield) to defeat the current threat. Armed with the history of what happened in the 1990s, you will be able to separate logic from fantasy in today's highly-charged political environment. McCarthy even offers food for thought on the damages that could happen if we bring the war to our courts.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
'Willful Blindness' - Smart, Provocative and Timely July 27 2008
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
`Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad' by Andrew McCarthy

In `Willful Blindness', Andrew McCarthy weaves the narrative of, not only his experience investigating and subsequently prosecuting Islamic jihad in the US, but a solid, albeit brief, history of the resurgence of jihad (as a means of terror rather than ideals) in Islam, itself. His rude introduction to the jihad came courtesy of the `The Blind Sheikh' - Omar Abdel Rahman:

Bungled bureaucracy, pathetically weak coordination of government agencies and enormously frustrating and embarrassing law enforcement failures allowed The Blind Sheikh to enter and flourish in America. This well known Egyptian rabble-rouser (well known I say to Egyptian, but also U.S. authorities), member of the U.S. `Terror Watch List', and brilliant Islamic scholar was nevertheless allowed to set up shop in NYC and New Jersey. From his new base, the Blind Sheikh preached hatred, incited violence and ultimately terrorism, culminating in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Fortunately, for the United States we had a team led by Andrew McCarthy who assembled and successfully prosecuted The Blind Sheikh and his terrorist cabal. The story of the daring, and often hair-splitting, Egyptian informant embedded inside the Sheikh's inner ring is worth the price of this book alone! By educating themselves on the roots of Islamic terror and piecing together the connections of the Blind Sheikh's organization, McCarthy and his team were able to wrap up this terror outfit just before another, more ghastly strike, occurred in NYC. The reader is taken behind the scenes to the offices of Janet Reno, the US Attorney General, FBI & CIA headquarters and most important, inside the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern (Sovereign) District of New York where the plots were investigated, debated, thwarted, and this stunning, fair and honorable prosecution was crafted.

`Willful Blindness' tells a gripping tale, while simultaneously making a strong case for why national security matters should be prosecuted outside the realm of the criminal justice system. McCarthy explains why we expose ourselves to terror groups worldwide in continuing to pursue jihadists and other terror fronts in the criminal court and presents the ideas behind a `national security court' or some mix of military tribunal and criminal proceeding. America has the best system of justice in the world, however, this fact has not been overlooked by those trying to destroy us from within. This is a gripping narrative which is thought provoking, smart and timely. I encourage anyone interested in the important matters of our time to invest in this book and read with great interest.

- Johnny
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
War, Not Law Enforcement Nov. 21 2008
By Kurt J. Acker - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who better than the lead federal prosecutor of the Blind Sheikh (mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing) to explain to Americans that the criminal law will never defeat terrorism?

Mr. McCarthy's book delivers the goods on two levels: First, this is a gripping and highly entertaining story of sinister plots, dogged (though often ham-handed) police work, heroic informants and complex legal maneuvers, ending - the reader is happy to discover - in guilty verdicts and life sentences. Among other things, one gets to meet the quirky, the remarkable Emad Salem, a former Egyptian army officer and terrorist-hating Muslim (yes, there are such people) who puts his life on the line to infiltrate and destroy the Blind Sheikh's murderous operation. His story alone is worth the price of the book.

On a deeper level, McCarthy confronts the oft-expressed fallacy that America can deal with terrorists by prosecuting them in courts of law, giving them every presumption of innocence, every right of evidentiary discovery, every objection and every appeal. McCarthy is very clear about this: It won't work. As he says, "Terrorism prosecutions create the conditions for failure and thus for more terrorism....International terrorism is not the type of national challenge the criminal justice system is designed to address." The largest specific problem created by terror prosecutions is that they hand valuable intelligence to our enemies on a silver platter. As McCarthy puts it, "The criminal justice system arms international terrorist organizations with a trove of intelligence, including information that identifies intelligence methods and sources, thus further improving their capacity to harm Americans." This information includes the identities of deep-cover informants like the marvelous and irreplaceable Mr. Salem.

Mr. McCarthy's lucid explanations will enable the intelligent layman to see through the bogus arguments made by extreme civil libertarians. It is a must-read for people who want a more thorough understanding of the War On Terror.