- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393079422
- ISBN-13: 978-0393079425
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda Hardcover – September 12, 2011
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"one of the most valuable and detailed accounts of its subject to appear in the past decade." -- The Economist
"an absorbing account of America's fightback after 9/11, full of revealing or amusing details ... cheering as well as fascinating, because it reveals the dedication of those who defend us, as well as the weird frailties of those who try to kill us." -- The Sunday Times
“Most Americans first heard of FBI agent Ali H. Soufan in the spring of 2009. That’s when he testified from behind a black curtain in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing room …The testimony was explosive … Now Soufan has fired another salvo … detailed descriptions of what unfolded behind the closed doors of the world’s interrogation rooms …Soufan’s story provides a new and important window on America’s battle with al-Qaeda.” --Washington Post
“To those inside the U.S. government Soufan has long been something of a legend. He conducted the most effective and fruitful interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects during the war on terrorism, and save for some inexplicable failures by the CIA, he and his team might well have prevented 9/11. Soufan has since left the FBI and written a gripping account of his experiences, brimming with details about Al Qaeda and its historical development.” -- Harpers Magazine
"It is packed with facts that rarely, if ever, have appeared in the media; and it is written in an anecdotal style reminiscent of a Tom Clancy espionage thriller that is easy and enjoyable to read." - Middle East Policy Council
From the Back Cover
"Superb. An education. And the best book on al Qaeda out there, bar none." - Robert Baer, former CIA official and author of See No Evil, Sleeping with the Devil, and The Devil We Know.
"Unfortunately, we only have one Ali Soufan. Had American intelligence listened to him, 9/11 might never have happened. No one did more to unravel the story of al-Qaeda than Ali Soufan. Thankfully, he's left another legacy in this book. Anyone who wants to know what really happened should read it. It's an inspiring but wrenching story told from the heart of a great American." - Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
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Top Customer Reviews
For me it was a must read, being a child of a military officer, where when I was older the torture of our own was perpetrated by the Japanese, the North Koreans and in VIetnam. in POW camps where American and Allied Military were held. I was taught that torture was abhorrent, against all of our principles, if practiced could endanger our own personnel and prevent the prosecution of war crimes, but most of all it is counter productive and produces unreliable and no actionable intelligence. My father discussed how men who had been tortured had maintained their sanity under duress, how they confessed to whatever their torturers wanted them to confirm, even though they had no information to provide.
Torture works for show trails when you want confessions to prosecute enemies for acts they didn't commit. A person being tortured figures out quickly what type of answers the perpetrator wants and will eventually give them answers to those questions just to get the torture to stop. As John McCain has testified so often it is absolutely a non productive method of obtaining actionable intelligence.
Yet somehow a group of men, who had never served in our military, generally by evading service, had no concept of either honor or the Geneva Conventions, or the Military Code, decided somewhere from their warped minds to institute torture as a method to get the answers they sought, which was mainly a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda which didn't exist. They for the most part contracted out this work and demanded the participation of the CIA and others, by having people who had never interrogated anyone ever as the lead enforcers of these methods. They hired volunteer psychologists who on the fly developed methods of torture which they imagined would brake people, psychologists who knew nothing about the people they were holding, their only reason for participating was to see if their theories on how to brake the minds and spirits of men played out. Experienced FBI interrogators were blocked, and not given access to detainees, even though they had excellent track records in obtaining actionable intelligence...and by not obtaining actionable intelligence lives were lost.
It is painful to me as a citizen to know what these leaders did in my name, it was also doubly painful because there was scattered information in the press that this is what we had sunk to as a nation and this was being done in my name (our names) and neither our representatives or government did anything to stop it: and I had a son on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq who could have been endangered by their stupidity, and both he and I were aware of the information which was in circulation that indicated what the administration was doing.
This is an extremely important read, as we live in a world where terrorist threats will continue, and our actions as a country will either be able to combat it or be used as a recruitment tool by our enemies. Our actions in the past have only lead to easier recruitment of fighters to our enemy. Our knowledge and understanding of the people who are waging a war against the west is crucial, yet we take actions that undermine our chance of success over and over.
Truth is sometimes a hard thing to face, but we cannot function as a democratic republic without arming ourselves against the constant lies and fabrications of people who have led us in the past and seek to influence those who may lead us in the future. It takes effort to teach our children the difference between truth and ideological propaganda. Torture will be on someone's agenda in the future, because people who never serve and never risk their lives imagine that real life is like the TV show "24" and war is like a Rambo film, they don't understand that they are fictions that appeal to juvenile desires for revenge and horror. To defeat terrorists we actually have to act as reasoning adults that invest the energy and time to know our enemy and what motivates them.
Kudos to the men and women of the FBI who worked to actually obtain actionable intelligence, and dedicated themselves to that end.