"Against All Enemies" opens all eyes

Feb. 1, 2005, midnight | By Caitlin O'Brien | 15 years, 11 months ago

Terrorism expert reveals problems with Bush Administration

When the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, the U.S. changed forever. Everyone has heard this statement said in one way or another, and in a sense, it is true. The once unstoppable force of the United States was vulnerable for the first time since the end of Cold War. Americans were shaken to the core. They no longer felt protected. Safety and security were no longer things to be taken for granted. Now, there was a real threat of terrorism.

In the controversial book, "Against All Enemies," Richard Clarke suggests that the government knew about this threat all along. Clarke, a prominent figure in counter terrorism for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the current president, claims that intelligence agencies have known about the threat of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden since the Clinton administration. According to Clarke, during Clinton's presidency the government did all they could to find and catch this terrorist organization, but when Bush took office, it turned its back on the counter-terrorism policy, declaring that Osama bin Laden posed no real threat to the U.S.

This eye-opening information, along with other insights into U.S.-Middle East relations, makes for an exciting and powerful read. Unlike many non-fiction novels, "Against All Enemies" is in no way boring. This is partly due to the fact that Clarke does his best to keep his writing simple. He is explaining many complex affairs but does so in such a way that anyone can understand what he is trying to get across. The factual information does not read like non-fiction at all. In fact, it reads more like a novel with dialogue and interesting characters all the while, it teaches the reader a lot.

But more important than how the book reads is the information you learn in the book. Clarke begins the novel with an intense recap of September 11. This chapter portrays how quickly the government had to make decisions and features names like Condoleeza Rice and Dick Chaney. This time period is particularly interesting because the president is in no way involved. As most people know, he was sitting in an elementary school classroom having a children's book read to him.

While Clarke does not make a point of saying that Bush is an impressionable, uninvolved follower, he does imply that in many ways. This is particularly evident in the beginnings of the War in Iraq. Turns out that Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, was the first to suggest that Iraqis were somehow involved in the tragedy that took place on September 11. After some debate, Bush insisted that Clarke look into Iraq as a possible source of terrorism.

Clarke has an obvious bias in this novel, and although it is not always reliable to get your information from a biased source, Clarke has so much experience in the government that he obviously knows what he is talking about. "Against All Enemies" is an intense eye-opener that will make any person look at the U.S. government in a completely new light.

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