Title: The Looming Tower: Al-Queda and the Road to 9/11
Author: Lawrence Wright
In the months between starting this book and finishing it my dad and Jeannine’s mom died. The pages have been difficult to turn mostly because people are still dying over the ideas captured in black and white. On the page the words seem oddly innocuous.
But there was no American response. The country was in the middle off a presidential election, and Clinton was trying to burnish his legacy by securing a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. The Cole bombing had occurred just as the talks were falling apart. Clinton maintains that, despite the awkward political timing, his administration come close to launching another missile attack against bin Laden that October, but at the last minute the CIA recommended calling it off because his presence at the site was not completely certain.
Bin Laden was angry and disappointed. He hoped to lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan. His strategy was to continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; the the mujahideen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America. The declaration of ware, the strike on the American embassies and now the bombing of the Cole had been inadequate, however, to provoke a massive retaliation. He would have to create and irresistible outrage.
And he was partially successful. We spent 3 trillion dollars fighting an idea. That money could have shored up our aging infrastructure. That money could have been used to give those out of work new skills. We gave up our civil liberties with the Patriot Act and the expansion of the executive branch’s power. We gave up our morality and engaged in torture.
But I think the culmination of his success only just happened. We’ve just elected a president with profoundly anti-democratic ideas. We’ve elected a president who will unleash an assault on the pluralistic ideal of our country. We’ve elected someone who might put an end to all the things Bin Laden hated in us.