Richard Clarke

"Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror"

(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie SEP 16, 2004)

There is a veritable plethora of political books on the market these days. Richard A. Clarke's Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, stands out amongst them all as an absolutely riveting, intelligently written discussion of the most harrowing issue of the new century - terrorism.

Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush is an authority on the subject. He began his federal service in 1973, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, served under seven presidents and has been involved with national security until he resigned his position in 2003. After devoting two decades of his professional life to fighting terrorism, Mr. Clarke probably knows more about al Qaeda, Osama bin Ladin and why our government failed to prevent September 11 than anyone else in this country.

Clarke's account of the action in the White House on 9/11, as Crisis Manager in the Situation Room, reads like a novel. I have read many firsthand accounts of that day - as a Manhattanite I was deeply and personally affected - but this insider's description of how government leaders operate in crisis mode is the most fascinating.

There is much that is disturbing in this book about the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their administrations' approach to terrorism: misplaced priorities; credible warnings ignored; a lack of vertical communication; lack of intelligence and analysis; little cooperation and information sharing between the CIA and FBI; a Cold War mindset; inability to see the "big picture;" and an obsessive focus on Iraq when there was no proof of a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11. There is more than enough blame to go around. I don't think this is a book about blame, however. Whatever your politics, no one wants the United States, or any country in the world, to be vulnerable to terrorist acts. I believe that Clarke treats both Bush administrations and the Clinton presidency fairly. This political memoir also chronicles the rise of al Qaeda.

Clarke's writing style is crystal clear and concise. His knowledgeable account of the goings-on in the Beltway's corridors of power is compelling and highly readable. This is an extraordinary history of The War on Terror that began two decades ago. Highly recommended - for people from all over the political spectrum.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 459


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About the Author:

Richard A. Clarke (1951) was appointed by President Clinton as the first National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism in May 1998, and continued in that position under George W. Bush. Until March 2003 he was a career member of the Senior Executive Service, having begun his federal service in 1973 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as an analyst on nuclear weapons and European security issues.

In the Reagan Administration, Mr. Clarke was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. In the first Bush Administration, he was the Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs and then a member of his NSC Staff. He served for eight years as a Special Assistant to President Clinton and served as National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism for both President Clinton and President George W. Bush. From 2001 to 2003, he was the Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security and Chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

He resigned in January of 2003 to work on his book, Against All Enemies, which came out in early 2004. He testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States on March 24, 2004.

Clarke is now an on-air consultant with ABC News, director of the Hart-Rudman Task Force on emergency responders and chair of the Good Harbor Consulting, an information technology consultancy.

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