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Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

Written by Richard A. Clarke

Narrated by Richard A. Clarke


Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

Written by Richard A. Clarke

Narrated by Richard A. Clarke

ratings:
4/5 (18 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Released:
Mar 22, 2004
ISBN:
9780743539326
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The real war on terror has happened largely behind closed doors, run by the White House, drawing on secret intelligence and operations around the world. There is no man who knows more about it than Richard Clarke, the former Counterterrorism Czar for both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the man who has led our efforts against al Qaeda and all other terrorist enemies for years, serving under seven presidents and in the White House for George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, until he resigned in March 2003. He has had a front-row seat at every major battle in this war, from the first World Trade Center bombing, to 9/11, to Afghanistan, to Iraq.
Clarke knows the secret stories of Bill Clinton's great victories -- shutting down anti-U.S. terrorism sponsored by Iran and Iraq -- and his great frustrations -- failing to kill Usama Bin Laden despite many attempts. When President Bush took office, Clarke was ready to present him with a master plan to roll back and destroy al Qaeda -- yet the president did not grant a briefing for months. His aides had little interest in Usama Bin Laden, preferring to talk about Saddam Hussein at every turn. Clarke knows why we failed to shut down terrorist financing within our borders prior to 2001.
After ignoring existing plans to attack al Qaeda when he first took office, George Bush made disastrous decisions when he finally did pay attention. Thanks to the determined, even conspiratorial views of Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Bush, we went after the wrong enemy.
The charges Clarke levels against the current administration must be taken seriously by every American, Democrat or Republican. Our security depends upon it.
Released:
Mar 22, 2004
ISBN:
9780743539326
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Richard A. Clarke, a veteran of thirty years in national security and over a decade in the White House, is now the CEO of a cyber-security consulting firm. He is the author of seven previous books, including the bestsellers Against All Enemies and Cyber War.

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What people think about Against All Enemies

3.9
18 ratings / 17 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    This is a very interesting and compelling account of Clark's experiences in counter-terrorism in the decade or so leading up to 9-11. Clark's main point is that U.S. leadership was slow to wake up to the threat, especially Republicans. He has some criticism for Clinton but generally gives him good marks for attempting to institute a comprehensive program. Clark savages the Bush (43) Administration, saying that Bush used 9-11 to fulfill long-held agenda items, including invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9-11. Clark puts the blame on a conspiracy theory that linked Hussein to the 1993 WTC bombings and subsequent Al Qaeda attacks, links which had no evidence to support them. He also criticizes Bush for his cheapness, refusing to put substantial resources into the war in Afghanistan because he was saving them for Iraq. He also comments that the newly formed DHS was also done on the cheap, making a flawed project that much harder. In essence, he argues that Bush wasn't serious about defeating terrorism because he didn't take time to understand the problem and didn't want to spend the money to counter it.It is remember that this is a memoir and like most memoirs, it paints the author in a good like while taking shots (in this case with howitzers) at the people he didn't like. So take it with a big grain of salt. But with that said, it is difficult for anyone who reads the book to think highly of George W. Bush or his administration, and even harder to take their national security policy seriously.
  • (3/5)
    Now long outdated, this was a useful guide to the politics and conflicting priorities that plagued our foreign affairs and national security community in dealing with the thread of terrorism.
  • (5/5)
    A horrifying glimpse into the train wreck relationship between the CIA and FBI immediately before 911. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. After reading the briefing at the end that said, ‘something horrible is going to happen soon, somewhere’ - I can see why Bush didn’t immediately shake billions of dollars free to buy gas masks/radiation burn kits for the entire population of New York City.

    Now that Clinton is out of office his brilliance is really beginning to come to light, the story of him here is no different - he was shown to be clever, erudite and very, very effective in wielding his power as president - Bush Jr. was not.

    Clark clearly explains many concepts that have been heavily obfuscated and poorly (slantedly) written about in the media. Like al Qaeda, the Taliban, bin Laden the US invasion of Iraq.

    Clark’s plea for preparedness is a bit hypocritical I think. It reminds me of all those bomb shelters that were built in the cold war. Of course Clark would see everything from his perspective of being the terrorism prevention/rediness Czar - but isn’t it a bit hypocritical to ask for the country to go further into debt for a ‘maybe/someday’ threat? Kind of like invading a country for a ‘maybe/someday’ capability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

    A fascinating well written read.
  • (3/5)
    Wow, this is enough to scare the shit out of you. Not so much at the strength of Al Qaeda, as the rampant incompetence that has afflicted almost every effort of our government to fight them. Clarke is biased, but mainly in terms of having tunnel-vision for just his issue, IE counter-terrorism and Al Qaeda. However, he turned out to be totally right about said issue, so it gets hard to discount his criticisms of all involved. I don't agree with him totally on methods, but I do agree that this was a very necessary clearcut through the enormous of morass of bullshit that has sprung up around the terrorism issue.
  • (5/5)
    This was such an insightful book. I learned so much about the history of modern terrorism and al Qaeda, and it reads like a thriller! Highly recommended!
  • (3/5)
    From the inside, from someone who was there, we can see the failures of President Bush and to a lesser extent, his predecessors contributed to the tragedy of 09/11. Mr. Clarke may be asking for his own exoneration from that event, but he presents a compelling case against the Bush adminstration, that before and after the Twin Towers fell, he and his cohorts took their eyes off the ball and embroiled this country in a war is didn't have to fight. Conservatives will not be swayed by this book. For liberals, it will confirm their worst fears. To anyone who reads it, please keep an open mind.
  • (3/5)
    Clarke was one of the first to rush into print on leaving the Bush White House. He was one of the first to have a book to alert the public of Bush's fixation on Iraq at the expense of Bin Laden. Others leaving the White House such as O'Neill, soon followed. How, with this evidence the country is still fighting these old enemies wihout finding Bin Laden is remarkable.While some will say the book is already dated, no longer relevant, I believe that it is very relevant, explaining as it does how badly a tranistion from president to president can be.
  • (4/5)
    I can't give this book 5 stars--horror really isn't my genre, and I'm not a fan of depressing endings.Richard A. Clarke was a counterterrorism expert who served under 4 administrations--from Reagan through G. W. Bush. Against All Enemies tells about the war on terror, focusing primarily on what led up to 9/11 and the response to it.Otto von Bismarck said "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." (or something like that--I've seen it quoted several ways) and that's certainly true in this case. An even better quote might be the daffynition of Politics, n: Poly "many" + tics "blood-sucking parasites".It's ugly. Very ugly. Politicians pursuing their own agendas, refusing to listen to advice that doesn't fit, being distracted from or prevented from taking action because of politics, etc., etc.One last quote: "It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen." ~George E. MacDonald. True, but does it have to be so far in the other direction?If I had it to do over again, I'd read this in small doses instead of straight through. It was way too infuriating and depressing to read all at once.
  • (5/5)
    Richard Clarke has worked in the area of national security for the past 30 years. He was head of counterterrorism affairs for Presidents Clinton and Bush II. In this book, he severely criticizes the current Bush Administration for its lack of interest in terrorism and al Qaeda before 9/11, and its disastrous decisions afterwards.He first explores the Reagan and Bush I reactions to events like Lockerbie, TWA 800, and the Beirut bombing that killed over 200 American soldiers. The word "terrorism" had not yet entered the American lexicon. Whatever else is said about the Clinton Administration, at least President Clinton took the threat from al Qaeda very seriously, and tried to do something about it.There were several opportunities to get Osama bin Laden during the Clinton years. Unfortunately, the reports that he was in a certain building at a certain time were never rock solid. Even if they were totally reliable, it takes time to get the report from Afghanistan to Washington, and for the appropriate orders to be sent to the ships or planes in the area. No senior al Qaeda figure, especially bin Laden, was going to stay in one place for any length of time. If the US had bombed innocent people, it would have been a public relations disaster.The second Bush Administration came into office much more concerned about Iraqi terrorism than about al Qaeda (according to Clarke, for no good reason). When he tried to impress upon senior White House officials the seriousness of the threat from al Qaeda, he was met with bureaucratic delay after delay. Bush's decision to invade Iraq (again, according to Clarke, for no good reason) gave al Qaeda a propaganda coup of immense proportions.After 9/11, the Bush Administration should have worked to improve relations with the frontline states, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, that are most vulnerable to al Qaeda. It should also have worked to improve relations with Islam, in general. These things were not done. Officially, there was no federal money available to fix the gaping holes in America's domestic vulnerability to terrorist attack, but there was plenty of money to invade Iraq.Could 9/11 have been prevented, even if all parts of the intelligence community were running like a well-oiled machine (another area of criticism from Clarke)? Perhaps not. If a major attack didn't happen on that particular day, it would have happened some other day. This book is a huge wake-up call, and it is very highly recommended for all Americans. If I could, I would give this book three thumbs up.
  • (4/5)
    Clarke exposes the failures of the Bush Administration to follow up on warnings given by the Clinton Administration. It is an important expose' of how the Bush White House did anything to distance themselves from anything Clinton. Even though it was preaching to the choir, it was a great background to how the war on terror is being fought.
  • (4/5)
    Richard A. Clarke's account of his years as anti-terrorism czar has stood the test of time surprisingly well. Clarke has been a US career official working for all presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. Under Clinton, he became the chief counter-terrorism adviser. This is his story about the fight against terrorism and al Qaeda in particular. It is a story of a failure of intelligence, of a fight against uncooperative bureaucracies, of leadership (Clinton) and lack thereof (Bush), and of the perils of inconsistent foreign policy, in which your nominal allies are the biggest supporters of your enemy.The book starts with a vivid account of September 11, 2001, as witnessed by Clarke in the White House. Crisis management is not an American strength due to its organizational preference for relying on an army of poorly-paid, under-equipped, process-driven agents (in CYA mode) led by managers selected by personal or political connections. The high demand for communication during a crisis eats up all managerial capacity. Subordinates mostly continue with their (now counter-productive) routine actions. Clarke recalls how he and his people, already in the White House, are repeatedly searched and refused access to the Inner Circle. Despite Clarke's later glowing stories about intensive planning exercises, the attacks of 9/11 caught an administration unprepared on all levels - from the non-working WTC walkie-talkies to the non-existent army radar over Washington DC. I doubt whether homeland security has improved US crisis management capabilities. Clarke offers the example of federal anti-terror dollars wasted by local government's "investment" priorities.A second theme of Clarke's book is the difficulty of bureaucracies with mission change and preparing for the "unknown unknowns". The US military-industrial complex was built to contain communism with its huge armies and large weapon systems. The nimble, overlapping networks of terrorists speaking strange languages and hiding at the fringe of civilization was not to the taste of CIA, FBI or the military. It was not only a case of dealing with a new, amorphous threat but also an incredible amount of staggering incompetence such as allowing persons into the US who were on a terrorist watch list and lacked a visa or of not consulting the phone book. Potemkin security!A third theme is the inconsistent and often self-defeating US foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan. In a quest to control oil, US forces protect the reactionary Saudi regime, a major promoter of religious intolerance and financier of terrorists.While Clarke merits an A for effort, the results of his work did not prevent or lessen the impact of the terrorist attacks. Too little, too late - Clarke was part of the problem. A problem that got even worse with the creation of a bureaucratic monster called Homeland Security.
  • (2/5)
    The Clinton protection shields were on, but inadvertantly breached a couple of times in this book.
  • (4/5)
    Perhaps one of the best books on what went wrong in the runup, and immediately following, 9/11, from the man who was in charge of counterterrorism under Clinton, and briefly under Bush.
  • (2/5)
    An insider's look at the mechanizations of the American government and military conglomerate on its war on terrorism and how inept they have been in their decision making and analysis. Some motivations are uncovered and some light is shed on the actual opinions of those making the decisions and how deluded some of those decisions were.
  • (5/5)
    Great read. Bought this book.
  • (4/5)
    Clarke's brutal indictment of the Bush Administration's post-9/11 actions; not great prose, of course, but an important contribution to the debate.
  • (5/5)
    Clarke sheds a light on the inept responses by the Bush administration to warnings prior to 9/11 and to the Clinton administrations efforts to thwart terrorism.