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willemite

willemite

Currently reading

Hieroglyph: Stories and Blueprints for a Better Future
Neal Stephenson
Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated
Natylie Baldwin, Kermit D. Larson
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
Our Souls at Night: A novel
Kent Haruf
Above the Waterfall
Ron Rash
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction
Cathy Whitlock
The Homicide Report: Understanding Murder in America
Jill Leovy
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larson
The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander - Gary Berntsen, Ralph Pezzullo Berntsen was the leader of the CIA piece of the US war in Afghanistan. This is his narrative of the events of that conflict. He is a bonafide Clinton hater, who manages to see errors in black and white, with Clinton, of course, being the black. He reserves his greatest scorn for the “7th floor” the political leadership of the CIA, with particular unhappiness with George Tenet. Although he manages to find fault with Clinton, he cannot find it in him to criticize Bush in the same way for the clear failure of the conflict. He is quite clear on the specific actions that were problematic, and I do not doubt that his analysis is correct. Tommy Franks, in his opinion, made a grave mistake when he did not take American troops from other places in Afghanistan to block Osama’s escape.

Berntsen is an interesting, bright guy, /his style (as interpreted by his ghost, Ralph Pezzullo) is the sort of terse descriptive one might expect from a military guy. Yet he is quite capable of insightful looks at the world around him. He understands that loyalties in that part of the world last only as long as the current bribe. He does not make a value judgment about it, merely an observation I was most impressed by some details in his final summary, p 315, “Terrorism won’t be stopped by intelligence collection and military force alone. Compassion in trying to feed the world’s hungry, heal its sick and support peoples search for freedom and dignity must remain at the core of our international goals.”

P 262 – (quoting Billy Waugh) In this business you have to trust men and then send them forward with the authority to make decisions. Success in life is the same. Nobody can do it all. Trust is what allows men and women to get the really difficult things done.