review one

Against All Enemies:
Inside America's War on Terror
Author: Richard Clarke
Publisher: The Free Press
March 2004

review two

The Price of Loyalty:
George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
Author: Ron Suskind
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
January 2004

DDC Review:

It is glaringly apparent that former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke laying blame on the Bush administration for being weak against Al Qaeda and failing to prevent the September 11th attack on America -- because of an obsession with Iraq -- is little more than the desperate act of an incompetent, disgruntled employee -- with an inflated view of himself, an axe to grind and a book to sell -- who didn't get the job he wanted as the deputy director of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

When laying blame on those most responsible for being soft on terrorism and failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, Clarke should look in the mirror along with the Clinton administration. Indeed, Clarke accomplished little more than to egregiously ignore terrorism, author and shamelessly promote a vindictive book of lies and deceptions, and to display dishonest emotions when he testified at the 9/11 hearings. Clarke's only statement that could be interpreted as true was that he failed 9/11 victims and their families.

>From Barnes and Noble Editors
A Bush insider discusses the inner workings of the White House. The disturbing truth about the war on terror is revealed by the man who served, until spring 2003, for 11 years as the White House Counterterrorism Czar. Through gripping, thriller-like scenes, he tells the full story for the first time, and explains exactly what the Bush Administration is doing.

>From the Publisher
"The [Bush] administration has squandered the opportunity to eliminate al Qaeda....A new al Qaeda has emerged and is growing stronger, in part because of our own actions and inactions. It is in many ways a tougher opponent than the original threat we faced before September 11, and we are not doing what is necessary to make America safe from that threat."

No one has more authority to make that claim than Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The one person who knows more about Usama bin Laden and al Qaeda than anyone else in this country, he has devoted two decades of his professional life to combating terrorism. Richard Clarke served seven presidents and worked inside the White House for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush until he resigned in March 2003. He knows, better than anyone, the hidden successes and failures of the Clinton years. He knows, better than anyone, why we failed to prevent 9/11. He knows, better than anyone, how President Bush reacted to the attack and what happened behind the scenes in the days that followed. He knows whether or not Iraq presented a terrorist threat to the United States and whether there were hidden costs to the invasion of that country.

Most disturbing of all are Clarke's revelations about the Bush administration's lack of interest in al Qaeda prior to September 11. From the moment the Bush team took office and decided to retain Clarke in his post as the counterterrorism czar, Clarke tried to persuade them to take al Qaeda as seriously as had Bill Clinton. For months, he was denied the opportunity even to make his case to Bush. He encountered key officials who gave the impression that they had never heard of al Qaeda; who focused incessantly on Iraq; who even advocated long-discredited conspiracy theories about Saddam's involvement in previous attacks on the United States.

Clarke was the nation's crisis manager on 9/11, running the Situation Room -- a scene described here for the first time -- and then watched in dismay at what followed. After ignoring existing plans to attack al Qaeda when he first took office, George Bush made disastrous decisions when he finally did pay attention. Coming from a man known as one of the hard-liners against terrorists, Against All Enemies is both a powerful history of our two-decades-long confrontation with terrorism and a searing indictment of the current administration.

Wolfowitz fidgeted and scowled.... "Well, I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden."
"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," I answered....

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 they don't exist." I could hardly believe it, but Wolfowitz was actually spouting the totally discredited Laurie Mylroie 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.

Reader Reviews:

A reviewer, March 24, 2004,
Reads like a Clancy novel
This book is not your average political slam. It is a very easy read and I actually read it in only 2 sittings. Clarke paints a clear picture of a very dangerous Administration. First O'Neill, now Clarke; how many high level Republican cabinet members is it gonna take to spill their guts on their boss before every American sees this Adminstration for what it really is? I mean, even Nixon didn't have this many turncoats bailing on him. This amount of whistleblowing is unheard of, and yet, undoubtedly, there will be a large portion of this country who will continue to put their collective heads in the sand and follow this President like the good, ignorant sheep they are. I swear, if Bush wins this next election with all he's gotten away with, I'm giving up on these people and moving to Europe or something.

Also recommended: Da Vinci Code, The Power of Intention, Odd Thomas, and The Right Questions

A reviewer, March 24, 2004,
Great, but not the whole story
This is a terrific book which discusses the arrogance and mind-set of Bush and his advisors as regards terrorism and the response to 9/11. There is one blank spot in the discussion however: Clarke states that 'If we could achieve a Middle East peace much of the popular support for al Qaeda and much of the hatred for America would evaporate overnight.' After that statement, there is nothing further of substance mentioned about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I find this to be incredibly strange in a book which purports to analyze the causes and our response to terrorism, and yet refuses to discuss the factor it cites as the main cause of terrorism. He discusses how we should approach other countries in the area, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but not Israel. Why not discuss Israel and how America could force a resolution if it really wanted to, and thus reduce terrorism? I get the feeling he is afraid to give recommendations on this issue, perhaps because he was afraid the book wouldn't be published if he did.

A reviewer, I am a loyal American, March 24, 2004,
Bush's, the First Traitorous President
Richard Clarkes description of the Bush White House during our darkest days truly shows that George W Bush is the most arrogant yet imcompetent president ever to inhabit the White House. It brings to the light of day the agenda Bush had from the moment his election was assured. Bush's agenda was never to make America a better place, but to take down Saddam Hussein at ANY cost. His arrogance has cost the lives of almost 600 soldiers so far, and that number will only rise as long as George Bush remains in power. God bless Richard Clarke for having the courage to come forward and reveal the corruption that has taken over our country in the last 3 1/2 years. I can only hope he has a 'safe place' to go after this, because he will be the most hated man in this country and the Bush cabal will not let him get away unscathed.

Barron Laycock, an avid student of history, March 22, 2004, Provocative Insider's View Of Bush's War On Terror! As the sitting White House National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism on the President's National Security Council for more than eight years during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, former intelligence analyst Richard Clarke sat in the literal catbird's seat to observe as well as participate in the national security apparatus in action. As a consequence, his new book detailing the specifics of the government's progress on the war on terror since the advent of 911 is provocative reading indeed. The portrait he paints so convincingly is that of a Bush administration populated by political ideologues and characterized by shooting from the hip at targets of opportunity. Thus, no one wanted to believe in the frightening evidence of a mounting Al Qaeda threat in the weeks and months before September 11, 2001, despite the persistent warnings of advisors like himself. Moreover, the morning after 911 Donald Rumsfeld suggested attacking Iraq in the total absence of any evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to the attack on New York City or Washington, since Iraq represents a target-rich environment, as opposed to Afghanistan, which has so few. In Mr. Clarke's estimation, the Bush administration was intent from that time on to use 911 as an excuse to attack Iraq. Indeed, Clarke's impression of the modus operandi of the so-called "Vulcans" such as Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld is one of a previously set ideological agenda, of having a predetermined objective to attack and conquer Iraq, and then attempting to use the events of 911 as justification to proceed toward that objective. Indeed, the available public record suggests as much, with not only Mr. Bush, but also Mr. Cheney and Ms. Rice, as well as Mr. Rumsfeld trotting out a garden variety of ostensible rationales for invading Iraq in the post-911 time frame, all the way from the original "Axis Of Evil" comment in the 2002 State of The Union speech to the spurious linking of Saddam with Al Qaeda to the use of nerve gas against the populace some dozen years before to failure to comply with United nations resolutions since the 1991 attack by the international coalition that deliberately stopped short of regime change due to fear of destabilizing the region. Mr. Clarke has more than enough criticism to go around, and both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush find themselves seriously criticized and called to task for their lack of appropriate action, given what Mr. Clarke feels was the clear and present danger the evidence he offered indicated. So this book is no simple attack against the Bush administration, as it casts aspersions on both sides of the political fence in terms of ascribing blame for our present set of circumstances regarding lapses in national security. Yet he reserves special scorn for the current administration, given its self-serving and somewhat cynical use of the 911 events to turn the political landscape upside down. What Clark describes as being tantamount to treason is the fashion in which President Bush has politicized the situation for short-term political benefit without taking serious and meaningful action to actually meaningfully combat the set of threats themselves. Most surprising to Clark is the way in which the Bush administration has done so little to accomplish relatively inexpensive and yet quite effective action against the terrorist threat, such as strengthening the infrastructure or beefing up border security, while hugely increasing the administrative manpower and salaries of personnel within agencies such as Homeland Security, which do little to actually counteract terror threats. Like many observers, Clarke believes the war in Iraq is at best a distraction from the real threat, robbing the country of valuable resources with which we could much more effectively protect ourselves and extend the reach of American power to combat terrorism. Meanwhile, he views the growth of terrorism and the extension of its world-wide capabilities with alarm, suggesting that our ineffective military actions as well as our inattentiveness to key details which would bolster internal security have led to increased danger and higher threat levels rather than the reverse, and wonders aloud how long it will take for this nightmare scenario to play out with potentially devastating consequences. This is an absolutely riveting read, albeit in less than stirring prose or striking narrative. It serves as forewarning that we are on a wrongheaded and very dangerous path, and that it is high time for a course correction. I highly recommend this book! Enjoy!

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review two

The Price of Loyalty:
George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
Author: Ron Suskind
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
January 2004

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American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush Kevin Phillips Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America Molly Ivins, Lou Dubose Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back James Carville, Jeff Nussbaum The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century Paul Krugman Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them...A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right Al Franken

>From Our Editors
The Barnes & Noble Review
Penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ron Suskind and based on the revelations of former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, this controver sial exposť is an eye-opening look at the first two years of President George W. Bush's uniquely eventful administration.

Suskind recounts how Alcoa CEO O'Neill -- a plainspoken businessman with unimpeachable ethics and a reputation for getting things done -- was recruited for the prestigious cabinet post; how, despite misgivings, he signed on to join a team he truly believed was committed to a centrist ideal; and how, 23 months later, he was summarily fired for his tell-it-like-it-is brand of pragmatic leadership.

Chronicling the ups and downs of his tenure in the Bush White House, O'Neill describes some genuinely surreal scenes -- from the National Security Council meeting in February 2001, where regime change in Iraq mysteriously soars to the top of the foreign policy agenda, to mystifying presidential flip-flops on tax cuts, global warming, and corporate accountability that leave even top-tier officials scratching their heads.

Tarred as a contrarian in an administration that valued ideology over analysis, O'Neill soon found himself blindsided by an inner circle of advisers that included his longtime friend Dick Cheney.

Inarguably, the most fascinating portrait (in a gallery that includes Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, and Alan Greenspan) is of POTUS himself. George W. Bush emerges as an inscrutable enigma, bereft of curiosity, intolerant of dissent, and curiously content to be scripted, rehearsed, and handled. It's evident that Paul O'Neill, with his passionate commitment to transparency and candor, and the opaque, super-secretive Bushites were a bad match from the get-go. Anne Markowski

From the Publisher
This narrative is like no other book that has been written about the Bush presidency - or any that is likely to be written soon. At its core are the assessments of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, for two years the administration's top economic official, a principal of the National Security Council, and a tutor to the new President. He is the only member of Bush's innermost circle to leave and then to agree to speak frankly about what has really been happening inside the White House.

O'Neill's account is supported by Suskind's interviews with many participants in the administration, by transcripts of meetings, and by documents that cover most areas of domestic and foreign policy. The result is a disclosure of breadth and depth unparalleled for an ongoing presidency. As readers are taken to the very epicenter of government, this volume offers a view of the characters and conduct of Bush and his closest advisers as they manage crucial domestic policies and global strategies at a time of life-and-death crises.