Monday, July 09, 2007

The Looming Tower

I recently finished the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. Oddly enough, despite the accolades received by this book, it has not received the attention in the truth community as David Ray Griffin's New Pearl Harbor or even Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad, so I figured I would review it here.

The book essentially covers the history of Islamic terrorism in the 20th century in general, from the post WWII era leading up to 9/11, and Al Qaeda in specific. One of the themes of the book is the reluctance of government agencies to share intelligence between each other. The CIA refused to share intel with the FBI because they were afraid it would interfere with their intelligence operations, and the FBI would be afraid to share intel with the CIA because it might interfere with their criminal cases. The most famous example of this is where the CIA knew that two Al Qaeda members, who would turn out to be hijackers, were in the country, but they failed to tell the FBI or INS about it. The problem was so bad that investigators would literally play Pink Floyd's "The Wall" during telephone calls in mocking tribute to this barrier.
Another interesting point is where Wright points out the decentralized nature of Al Qaeda. Bin Laden certainly founded Al Qaeda, provided much of its ideology and focus, as well as funding some of its operations, and training, but he was not involved in most of its operations. In fact there is very little tying bin Laden directly to any terrorist attack, although there is much evidence regarding Al Qaeda as a whole. He did apparently sign off on the 9/11 attacks, and was aware of when it would occur, but was not directly involved otherwise.
As I mentioned previously regarding Terry McDermott's Perfect Soldiers, the most striking thing about books of this quality and depth, is the amount of work that goes into them. In the appendix Wright lists 6+ pages just of people he interviewed.

David Ray Griffin has written 5 books on the subject of 9/11, two of which I have read completely, and I can't think of a single person (other than other conspiracy theorists) that he has interviewed. One can't even imagine a conspiracy theorists going to this extensive length, talking to hundreds of witnesses in dozens of countries, to investigate a story. Heck, when Kevin Barrett unsuccessfully tried to interview a single person in Morocco it drew widespread attention in the truther community, because it was the first time any of them had attempted even that meager effort.

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