- Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780743260244
- ISBN-13: 978-0743260244
- ASIN: 0743260244
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.8 x 24 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 339 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #793,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror. Hardcover – 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
A few bars of heavy, ominous-sounding orchestral music set the tone for this incendiary account of the events that occurred inside the White House on 9/11 and the months and years prior to it. Former counterterrorism director Clarke starts out by describing how he took charge in the situation room on the day of the attacks and facilitated communication among the White House, the FBI and the FAA. The level of detail Clarke includes is impressive. Not only does he paint a vivid portrait of the White House in crisis mode, but he even recalls a number of conversations (including one in which Bush, after learning of al Qaeda's involvement, purportedly tells Clarke, "See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way"). Whether one chooses to believe Clarke's version of events or not, this first chapter is riveting, and Clarke delivers it like a pro. With his deep tenor and weighty pauses, Clarke never lets listeners forget the gravity of the situation, but he isn't above making an attempt at the various accents and inflections of the major players. His frustration over how the current administration has responded to 9/11 and how he believes the FBI and CIA failed to act leaks through at times, but by the end of this compelling audiobook, many listeners may share it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The New York Times Book Review Against All Enemies is too good to be ignored...It is a rarity among Washington-insider memoirs -- it's a thumping good read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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I highly recommend this book. You will find it of most value if you also read Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack, that details the background leading up into the Iraq war. If you are skeptical about the Iraq war, you should also read Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country and see Fahrenheit 9/11.
Mr. Clarke outlines a series of continuing errors in our efforts to combat terrorism.
1. Ronald Reagan did not retaliate for the killing of 278 Marines in Lebanon, and his people traded arms for hostages in Iran-Contra.
2. George H.W. Bush did not retaliate for the Libyan murder of 259 passengers on Pan Am 103, had no official counter-terrorism effort, left Saddam Hussein in power after the Gulf War, and built up huge forces in Saudi Arabia that are still there.
3. Bill Clinton failed to get the CIA, the Pentagon and FBI to take terrorist threats seriously.
4. George W. Bush ignored al Qaeda despite warnings before 9/11, launched an attack on Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist movement, and has not pursued al Qaeda with much vigor or talent. Instead, Mr. Bush takes credit for launching a war on terror that is actually counter-productive.
The stories of incompetence, neglect, and self-serving actions in this book will make any patriotic American sick to his or her stomach. What's worse is that we have a less good position in pursuing terrorism now than we have been in many years, despite having spent enormous sums and lives to address the situation in ineffective ways. For example, local terrorism responders are fewer in number than they were before 9/11, and needed resources and training have been denied to them to pay for tax cuts and the war in Iraq.
The part of the book that is most frightening is the description of the Bush White House after its election. They seemed to have been people who thought they were still in 1988 when the first George Bush became president. The ABM treaty was a much higher priority than terrorism, and everyone was spoiling to go to war with Iraq. 9/11 was a God-send to the hidden agenda of attacking Saddam Hussein. After the War on Terror was begun, the most talented and experienced people were driven from the effort and replaced with people who were loyalists to the current president. Resources were spent to pursue the Bush agenda rather than dealing with terrorism. For example, resources needed to fight al Qaeda and find Osama bin Laden were diverted to Iraq which has had no connection to terror aimed at the United States in decades. As a result, al Qaeda is stronger today than ever before.
The book outlines what must be done. I came away with the impression that we will get four years of increased strengthening of al Qaeda if George W. Bush is re-elected this fall. Is that what should be the legacy of 9/11? I don't think so.
Read this book before you decide who you want to vote for this fall.
One criticism that should be dispensed with immediately is that the book is partisan. That's an attack made by partisan supporters of George W. Bush to discredit a damning account of him by a key player in Bush's signature issue. It also comes partially from one section in the preface (page x) where Clarke praises Clinton and criticizes the other presidents, all Republicans, whom he worked for. Those who take the time to read past the preface will find that it's atypical. Clarke is mostly positive, while not uncritical, about all three presidents he served prior to Dubya.
But since we already know about the big guys, the most interesting parts of the story are Clarke's adventures with the bureaucracy, working to get key agencies focussed on the terrorist threat. Clarke is brutal on former FBI Director Freeh, while praising others in the FBI. He also discusses why the CIA was unable to be really effective against Al Qaeda in spite of DCI Tenet's support for agressive action.
The Pentagon and JCS come in for plenty of criticism. In one memorable anecdote (p 144 - 145) Clarke talks about Clinton's frustration when the CIA admits it is unable to take out a key Al Qaeda figure in a known Khartoum location and the DoD submits plans that amount to a near-invasion of Sudan to go after one man. Later, he learns that Delta Force commandoes had prepared a workable plan to pick up the target with a small team, a fast, simple operation - exactly what Clinton had wanted. The Pentagon refused to submit the plan - while telling the Special Forces that Clinton had seen the plan and turned it down.
Stories like this help to explain the definite pro-Clinton slant in the book. Clarke was probably the single most powerful career bureaucrat in the Clinton administration, routinely chairing meetings with key cabinet officers, which certainly didn't make him less positive about Clinton. (Clinton seems to be the only president Clarke met with outside of crisis situations.) But that isn't the whole story. Clarke clearly was impressed by how seriously Clinton took the terrorism problem, offended, and angry, when Clinton's enemies showed more interest in attacking Clinton than in defending the nation. He was outraged after the famous incident in 1998 when an unsuccessful attempt to kill Bin Laden was falsely and widely portrayed as a 'Wag the Dog' distraction from the Lewinsky case. Thus also the harsh treatment of Freeh.
Dubya failed to take terrorism seriously before 9/11, in spite of warnings that an attack was coming. The method of attack wasn't known, but Clarke's detailed discussion of the preparations that were made, in 1996, to protect against a plane being flown into the Atlanta Olympics is an unsubtle rebuke to Rice's assertions that nobody could have conceived of the possibility. His deepest objection is that Iraq is the wrong war, a disastrous misstep that weakens the real war against Islamic extremists, as Clarke describes in detail in the final chapter. Clarke's essential objection against Bush is that, even after 9/11, he still wasn't truly serious about terrorism, and that is what Clarke sees as unforgivable.
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