The Black Banners (Book Review)

book coverI have been reading (actually listening to audio recordings while I commute to/from work) a number of books that have some relationship to my new employment, Personnel Recovery.  This has given me a chance to explore topics I’ve had little contact with in the past.  I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve encountered, which have some valuable information to our world today.

One book I just finished is The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, by Ali Soufan.  This 600 page book details the author’s life as a leading FBI Special Agent responsible for finding and interrogating terrorists, with an emphasis on al-Qaeda.  Soufan offers a huge amount of evidence and facts that detail the FBI efforts, successes and failures at locating and stopping terrorist activities.  In fact, the details are extensive enough to make the reading a bit dry and harder to engage.  That said, the information contained in this book sheds a lot of light on how the U.S. Government searched for terrorists, interrogated them, prosecuted them in court, and in some cases, prevented their plots.  Examples include the bombings of the Cole, Nairobi, and the Twin Towers.  In addition, the author’s clearly upset with the lack of cooperation, and even active interference and false statements, with the FBI by the CIA.  An informative discussion of Soufan’s testimony before Congress on the U.S. Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT, e.g. water boarding) and how detrimental and ineffective that program was, has made Soufan a persona-non-grata with CIA.  It is interesting to hear how terrorists were handled in negative ways at the direction of high government officials with more concern for politics than for effective results.  This is very informative about how the U.S. Government works, both in good ways and in bad ways.  It’s worth a read with an eye to making you a better informed voter.

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Mark Bobb

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