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500 DAYS by Kurt Eichenwald

500 DAYS

Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars

By Kurt Eichenwald

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6938-1
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

A blow-by-blow, episodic reconstruction of the fallout from 9/11 in the highest spheres of terrorist strategy.

Former New York Times reporter Eichenwald (Conspiracy of Fools, 2005, etc.) chronicles the entire post-9/11 year-and-a-half spectacular, demonstrating literally how the anti-terrorist hysteria in the United States, and the hatred of America and general global paranoia, forged the “trauma that haunts the world to this day.” The author begins in medias res, from the frightened exodus of White House workers fleeing the executive mansion once news of the World Trade Center attack erupted that morning. He moves in swift, tidily edited steps—e.g., discussions by White House Counsel officials in choosing Guantanamo Bay for detainees in custody; Vice President Cheney’s urging of immediate aggressive action against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan; the unanimous passage in the Senate of Bush’s sweeping and unprecedented war powers resolution; the seizure and torture of the Kuwaiti Ahmad El-Maati on suspicion of carrying a “sensitive” Canadian map later proved specious; the discovery of the American John Walker Lindh fighting for the Taliban; British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s agreement to help America’s efforts in Iraq as long as it emphasized the dictator's threat of weapons of mass destruction, which Iraq did not have; and on and on. All the dramatis personae from various government departments are here as well as foreign leaders and al-Qaeda operatives, all gunning for war, subterfuge and mayhem. Eichenwald ends with a desultory epilogue depicting the demise and burial at sea of Osama bin Laden.

Likely too long for many readers, but the author effectively allows the depressing events to speak for themselves.