Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forMay 25th, 2004 | back to home

25 May 2004

I just finished Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror.

After a quick overview of the day of 9/11 itself he went back to 1979 and started to work forward. It seems he (along with many others) finds the Saudi government to be duplicitous and often unhelpful to Western interests. More interestingly he seems convinced that Iran from 1979 to 1996 was responsible for a large number of attempted terrorist attacks on western interests and he doesn’t seem at all mollified by the election of Khatami. He suggests (p. 129) that they are still supporting terrorism in Israel and helping al Qaeda. I have the (admittedly ill-informed) impression that Iran is stumbling slowly towards a freer society and I thought they were no longer supporting terrorism despite their often bloodthirsty rhetoric. I guess if he’s right it helps to explain why Iran is one of the countries of Bush’s “Axis of Evil”.

It’s also interesting to have all the al Quaeda terrorist attacks against the US pre-9/11 collected together in one place. I always had the impression that there really hadn’t been much activity but it certainly becomes alarming if you add it all up as Clarke does – especially when you start finding out about the plots that were foiled – not all of which became public. I didn’t know that Ramzi Yousef in 1994 plotted to kill the Pope and Clinton in the Phillipines and in 1995 he had a reasonably well-advanced plot to blow up US airliners in the Pacific for example.

One thing I do wonder about though – he talks a lot about the relative unpreparedness of both the CIA and the FBI (and we all know now about their intelligence failures with 9/11 and WMD in Iraq). And he insists (for example) that the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan really was making chemical weapons. So why should we believe what he says about any US intelligence?