- Hardcover: 250 pages
- Publisher: Encounter Books; 1 edition (Aug. 1 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594032130
- ISBN-13: 978-1594032134
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 680 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #707,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad Hardcover – Aug 1 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this annotated retrospective, the prosecutor responsible for leading the investigation of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing dissects the miscues between federal agencies that led to that event while laying bare the challenges facing the war on terror today. The pre-1993 comedy of errors begins with the CIA's decision to funnel arms and money to Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war and continues with inexplicable lapses of communication between the State Department and immigration officials (despite having been placed on a State Department terror watchlist, the sheikh travels freely to the United States). The most enduring oversight, however, at least from McCarthy's perspective, is the refusal among academics and political leaders to confront fundamentalist Islamic tenets, the 800-pound gorilla that is somehow always in the middle of the room when terror strikes. The jihadist philosophy that guided the Blind Sheikh is traced through generations of Islamic thinkers to the Prophet Mohammed himself. Though McCarthy's language is at times cumbersome, his firsthand account of jihad's rise and the sheikh's trial of the century is an important contribution (and in some instances, counterpoint) to existing literature on the attack that foreshadowed disaster to come. (Mar.)
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.
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.
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