- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1st Edition. edition (March 22, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743260244
- ISBN-13: 978-0743260244
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 477 customer reviews
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- #1352 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Security
- #1370 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > United States > Executive Branch
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Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror Hardcover – March 22, 2004
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Few political memoirs have made such a dramatic entrance as that by Richard A. Clarke. During the week of the initial publication of Against All Enemies, Clarke was featured on 60 Minutes, testified before the 9/11 commission, and touched off a raging controversy over how the presidential administration handled the threat of terrorism and the post-9/11 geopolitical landscape. Clarke, a veteran Washington insider who had advised presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, dissects each man's approach to terrorism but levels the harshest criticism at the latter Bush and his advisors who, Clarke asserts, failed to take terrorism and Al-Qaeda seriously. Clarke details how, in light of mounting intelligence of the danger Al-Qaeda presented, his urgent requests to move terrorism up the list of priorities in the early days of the administration were met with apathy and procrastination and how, after the attacks took place, Bush and key figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney turned their attention almost immediately to Iraq, a nation not involved in the attacks. Against All Enemies takes the reader inside the Beltway beginning with the Reagan administration, who failed to retaliate against the 1982 Beirut bombings, fueling the perception around the world that the United States was vulnerable to such attacks. Terrorism becomes a growing but largely ignored threat under the first President Bush, whom Clarke cites for his failure to eliminate Saddam Hussein, thereby necessitating a continued American presence in Saudi Arabia that further inflamed anti-American sentiment. Clinton, according to Clarke, understood the gravity of the situation and became increasingly obsessed with stopping Al-Qaeda. He had developed workable plans but was hamstrung by political infighting and the sex scandal that led to his impeachment. But Bush and his advisers, Clarke says, didn't get it before 9/11 and they didn't get it after, taking a unilateral approach that seemed destined to lead to more attacks on Americans and American interests around the world. Clarke's inside accounts of what happens in the corridors of power are fascinating and the book, written in a compelling, highly readable style, at times almost seems like a fiction thriller. But the threat of terrorism and the consequences of Bush's approach to it feel very sobering and very real. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
From the first thrilling chapter, which takes readers into the White House center of operations on September 11, through his final negative assessment of George W. Bushs post-9/11 war on terror, Clarke, the U.S.s former terrorism czar, offers a complex and illuminating look into the successes and failures of the nations security apparatus. He offers charged (and, one must note, for himself triumphant) insider scenes, such as when he scared the devil out of Clintons Cabinet to motivate them to fight terrorism. The media has understandably focused on Clarkes charge that Bush neglected terrorism before the attacks on New York and Washington; but Clarke also offers a longer perspective on the issue, going back to the first Gulf War (when he was an assistant secretary of state) and makes some stunning revelations. One of the latter is that the U.S. came close to war with Iran over that countrys role in the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. An important aspect of Clarkes book is that it is only one mans accountand an account moreover that casts its author as hero and others (FBI, CIA, the military) as screw-ups; as has been seen in recent congressional hearings, administration officials (notably, Condoleezza Rice) have challenged its veracity. But those inclined to believe Clarke will find that he makes a devastating case about the Bush administrations failure from the beginning (when Clarkes position was downgraded and he was taken off the top-level Principals Committee) to make terrorism as high a priority as Clintons did. In the face of the Bush teams claim that they didnt know about a threat to the homeland, readers will be haunted by two small words: after mobilizing to confront the Millennium terror threat, Clarke reached what seemed to him the obvious conclusion regarding al-Qaeda: "Theyre here."
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So, it behooves all of us to read what this man wrote if we want to have any hope of understanding America's conflict with al-Qaeda. And here's some of what I learned from reading his book:
1. Bill Clinton was an excellent ally in the fight against terrorism. Here's a quote from page 97 of Richard Clarke's book:
"It was the first of several terrorism funding reviews that I led between 1995 and 2000. At a time of a decreasing federal budget, we took the federal counterterrorism budget from $5.7 billion in 1995 to $11.1 billion in 2000. The counterterrorism budget of the FBI was increased over 280 percent over that period. We also sought additional authorities for the FBI, including extending organized crime wiretap rules to terrorists, making funding of terrorist groups a felony, easing access to terrorist's travel records and accelerating deportation of those associated with terrorist front groups. While most of the funds I sought in 1995 were approved by the White House and its Office of Management and Budget, some were not passed by the Congress."
2. The Republicans in Congress obstructed Richard Clarke's attempts to combat terrorism. Here's a quote from pages 98-99:
"Incredibly, the legal authorities we sought were not approved by the Congress in 1995. I had thought these issues were bipartisan, but the distrust and animosity between the Democratic White House and the Republicans in the Congress was strong and boiled over into counterterrorism policy. The World Trade Center attack had happened, the New York landmarks and Pacific 747 attacks had almost happened, sarin had been sprayed in the Tokyo subway, buses were blown up on Israeli streets, a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City had been smashed to bits, but many in the Congress opposed the counter-terrorism bill. Republicans in the Senate, such as Orrin Hatch, opposed expanding organized crime wiretap provisions to terrorists. Tom DeLay and other Republicans in the House agreed with the National Rifle Association that the proposed restrictions on bomb making infringed on the right to bear arms."
3. Dick Cheney put profits ahead of combating terrorism. Here's a quote from page 103, when Bill Clinton was working to place U.S. sanctions against Iran after the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aries in 1992 which U.S. intelligence indicated was planned and executed by Hezbollah and Iran:
"In 1995 Senator Alfonse D'Amato introduced legislation to ban all trade with Iran (except on humanitarian items) and prohibit U.S. subsidiaries in third countries from trading in Iranian oil. In response, the Clinton administration instituted its own similar ban, using Executive Order authority. That action ended a billion-dollar deal that Conoco had in the works with Iran. As head of Halliburton, Dick Cheney opposed the U.S. sanctions."
4. When George W. Bush and his team got into the White House they didn't take Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda seriously as a threat. From pages 231-232:
"Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy at Defense, fidgeted and scowled. Hadley asked him if he was all right. `Well, I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this on man bin Laden,' Wolfowitz responded.
I answered as clearly and forcefully as I could: `We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.'
`Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example,' Wolfowitz replied, looking not at me but at Hadley.
`I am unaware of any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism directed at the United States, Paul, since 1993, and I think FBI and CIA concur in that judgment, right John?' I pointed at CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, who was obviously not eager to get in the middle of a debate between the White House and the Pentagon but nonetheless replied, `Yes, that is right, Dick. We have no evidence of any active Iraqi terrorist threat against the U.S.'
Finally Wolfowitz turned to me. `You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean that they don't exist.' I could hardly believe it but Wolfowitz was actually spouting the totally discredited Laurie Mylorie theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Center, a theory that had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue."
5. President George W. Bush was/is intellectually lazy. From Page 243:
"Bush was informed by talking with a small set of senior advisors. Early on we were told that `the President is not a big reader' and goes to bed by 10:00. Clinton by contrast, would be plowing through an in-box filled with staff memos while watching cable television news well after midnight. He would exhaust the White House staff's and departmental staff's expertise and then reach out to university and other sources."
There are many other insights from this man who ran the Counter-Terrorism Security Group and helped craft America's response to the threat of al Qaeda, but rather than tell you about EVERYTHING he has to say, I'll let you purchase the book and see for yourself.
As an individual in the security space, I've previously read Clarke's book on Cybersecurity. Clarke has an outdated and old school, Cold War mentality that doesn't easily translate into the cyber arena. I also disagree with Clarke on a philosophical/political front, however, I do have to say in terms of a more traditional national security sense I think Clarke if very admireable and I look up to the man with the highest regard.
The book did a fantastic job of highlighting weaknesses in the national security space following 9/11, and exemplified a stellar crisis management case study. However, in my humble opinion I feel as though Clarke gloats way too much and single handedly takes credit for such a vast effort. He obviously knows his stuff in this space, but I feel takes more credit than is probably due. Also there is obvious political motives in the book as well, and those while I may disagree, are entitled by the author to be expressed, but I feel the constant political undertone sometimes takes away from the effectiveness of expressing national security matters.
Overall a decent and interesting look if you can look past some of the shortcomings.
Clarke then - from his perspective - begins a deeply interesting analysis of America's interaction with radical Islam, which he indentifies began with Reagan's cuddling up to Israel in the 1980s which helps to provoke dislike of America's increasing invovlement in Middle-East political issues.
He discusses systemic issues within the US government: infighting between departments, competition between the CIA and FBI, a lack of resources, egoism and other problems which hampered, at times, the US's ability to react to the growth in international terrorism and in particular, the threat of al Qaeda.
His most scathing criticism is spared for the last Bush administration which he argues failed to fully grasp the significance of the al Qaeda threat. Instead the focus was on mismanaged intelligence and the disastrous invasion of Iraq which left al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden free and weakened the US's international position.
A great read if you want to learn more about the function of US government and the lead up to al Qaeda's infamous attack on America. A gripping and interesting read even today.