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The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack Hardcover – November 13, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A powerful and brave book. Kessler makes it clear that if we win this war, it will be because of the FBI and CIA professionals who have protected America since 9/11. If we lose the war, it will be because of distortions by the mainstream media, those who leak operational secrets to them, and politicians who undermine those who are trying to protect us.”
—R. James Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence

“Ronald Kessler vividly tells the important story of the extraordinary efforts of those Americans who stand on guard protecting our nation in the war against Islamist extremism.”
—Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

“Ron Kessler is unique in his ability and willingness to tell the unvarnished truth about what it will take to protect America from the next major terrorist attack. This is a book which every informed and responsible American should read.”
—Robert Grenier, former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center

“Ron Kessler destroys myths about the war on terror and provides an unprecedented inside look at how the FBI and CIA go about the tough task of defeating terrorism and preserving our freedom.”
—William H. Webster, former director of Central Intelligence and former director of the FBI

About the Author

Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen nonfiction books, including The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI; Inside the CIA; Inside the White House; A Matter of Character; and Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady. A former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Kessler has won sixteen journalism awards, including two George Polk Awards. He is chief Washington correspondent of NewsMax.com. Kessler lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his wife, Pamela. His website is www.RonaldKessler.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; 1 edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382139
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable work on the activity of the US intelligence community. Of special interest to some readers, such as myself, is the chapter on the debriefing of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein while in American custody at Baghdad's International Airport. Kessler writes that a GS 14 FBI agent of Lebanese stock, George Piro, was assigned to debrief Saddam. Instead of doing so directly, Piro decided that he should first observe Saddam to map out his behavior so that he can later tell whether the late dictator was telling the truth or not. Saddam first took Piro as the chief of the guards and Piro did not correct Saddam's impression. Instead, he ordered that most of Saddam's needs be answered. As friendship developed between the two men, Piro was able to win Saddam's trust and ultimately debrief him smoothly. Of the stories Saddam told Piro was how he conceived of himself as the successor of great Iraqi rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar. Saddam also told Piro that Iraq had no chemical weapons after 1991, but gave such an impression to keep its rival Iran on its toes. Saddam was apparently not impressed by his two sons, but said that one does not get to choose his children. The chapter is interesting, however, brief. Perhaps in the future, once Saddam's hundreds of pages of debriefing, as Kessler reported, would be declassified, they would give historians and scholars the chance to rewrite Iraq's modern history in a more accurate manner.
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Format: Hardcover
The book provided an excellent overview of the hard work happening within the US Intelligence Community to defend our country and its allies against a very determined enemy. It also provides a well thought out and articulated counterpoint on issues regarding intelligence collection under the Patriot Act...more of the dialog that the press -and the administration- on why these measures were needed. Bush haters, probably need not apply as the writers bias paints the President's actions against violent Sunni extremists in a very positive light. Similarly, author is damming in his characterization of the haphazard nature that the New York Times and Washington Post disclose the most sensitive portions of our intelligence collection efforts against this target.

I am glad I got the audio version of the book and sense that this was probably easier to listen to than read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A real eye opener. It should be required reading in American History classes. Kessler tells the insider's point of view of what really goes on in our political world for us to remain strong and free as a nation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In many ways this is a great book. Looks deep into the fight against the terrorists and the challenges that the FBI and CIA face from the terrorists and the New York Times and Congress. Although not perfect the book should be required reading for every member of Congress and the press.

Much of the story is written from the post Freeh FBI viewpoint. We are reminded that Director Mueller was confirmed at the new Director of the FBI less than 40 days prior to the 9-11 attack. His confirmation ended the reign of Louie Freeh who through resignation managed to avoid much of the 9-11 spotlight. However, there's no doubt that the FBI suffered from the politics of the time and Freeh's incompetence.

The author paints a picture of far more FBI - CIA cooperation in the fight on terrorism than the public hears from the press. There's a lot of focus on the widespread efforts, many of which ended up with various plots stopped prior to execution.

The author provides more background information on the infamous memo from the Reno DOJ that constructed the wall between the investigative and prosecution sides of the FBI. Perhaps the reason there was no outcry from the FBI was Freeh's belief that the "FBI was one of the most dangerous agencies in the US government. The tragedy of the Freeh FBI was that so many competent agents left the agency and so many men like Potts were promoted. This culture directly led to the Wen Ho Lee debacle including the failure to debrief Lee, the suppression of memos which correctly identified the risk of foreign Muslims taking flight lessons.

One of the major impediments to going after all kinds of bad guys is the restriction on using informants who may have committed human rights abuses.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Kessler does an excellent job in laying out where the situations where terrorism has and will continue to occur. From 9/11, to the possible future attacks on this nation; he demonstrates how America must be vigilant, if not to prevent attacks, e.g., the recent Boston bombings, that America (through its intelligence agencies) must develop the tools and do what is necessary; to hold those who do these heinous acts to account. He makes a valid argument, in the final paragraphs of the final chapter, and he relates some hard truths about how (even though there have been no attacks, on the scale of a 9/11, it would be naive to think they couldn't happen). Further, he rightly is critical of those, and I'm hard pressed to admit it, but I agree; even as a Democrat, that there are those who [in wanting to err on the side of caution, are putting Americans in danger, by their wishful thinking that if America plays by the rules, others will too]. The balance between preventing terrorism, and acting after a terrorist act, is a tough balancing act. As much as America wants to not come off as bad as those it is fighting (Al Qaeda and associated groups; or even home grown "terrorists") there must be a vigilance. He is right to chastise the media, and others, for their criticism of the intelligence services (who protect this country). What Mr. Kessler has to understand is that our nation must not jump in with both feet, without looking (which can happen when government gets too "gung ho" (for lack of a better expression) [think the Irag War] and the false premises that led us into that situation. He rightly states that the "head in the sand" mentality of the media and the Democrats (I'm sad to admit) has also not served this nation well (with the Cole incident and the first "trade center" bombing).Read more ›
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