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Al Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail

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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Politics » Freedom & Security » Terrorism

Al Qaeda's Great Escape

The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail

By Phillip G. Smucker

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Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Other Information: maps, 27 b&w photos
Published In: United States, 20 May 2005
Details how Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda fighters slipped out of Afghanistan during the battles of Tora Bora and Operation Anaconda. The author also charges that Western media outlets, eager to satisfy their audience??'s thirst for revenge, lost their grasp on journalistic objectivity while covering bin Laden??'s pursuit. Blinding patriotism and reliance on Pentagon press releases led them to portray events not reflecting reality on the ground. He contends that to satisfy the press and the public??'s need for vengeance, the Bush administration pushed to achieve early, highly visible successes to the detriment of long-term strategy. Impatience at the top forced a rush into a war aimed primarily at ???regime change, ??? which left the U.S. military largely empty-handed.


Christian Science Monitor foreign correspondent Smucker offers an excellent, compact study of the campaign in Afghanistan and expounds a familiar thesis clearly and convincingly: the U.S. military, under not only executive but public pressure for a quick victory in revenge for September 11, adopted a strategy that achieved that victory, but only over the Taliban. Resources were not allocated to the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, many of whom either fled or went underground, to continue to cause trouble in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The bulk of the book details how that was allowed to happen. Smucker is much harsher on U.S. strategists and his fellow journalists than he is on the American fighting men and women in the field, who include not only the glamorous covert operations troops but the humble logisticians "in the air, on land, and sea." Stronger on the military than on the civilian side, Smucker does not adequately deal with the question of whether the pursuit of the Taliban received its priority because of the need for Northern Alliance support, and the Washington-based coverage could have been usefully expanded. Much more literate than most journalistic accounts, this book is not for ideologues at either end of the spectrum, as the struggle for balance and perspective is visible on every page. By the end, the wealth of operational detail will leave readers with a palpable sense of missed opportunity. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Smucker has been an overseas reporter for the last 16 years, covering the war on terror-frequently within shooting range of the events-for publications like the Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report. In this harrowing account, he candidly discusses the action in Afghanistan and the missed opportunity that allowed Osama bin Laden and others to escape. As he rightfully observes, once the Taliban was decimated and the Al Qaeda forces were on the run, it was supposed to be an easy mopping up operation for the U.S. forces and the Afghan allies. Instead, the attack on Tora Bora failed to deliver the decisive blow because of poor planning. The result: the bulk of the Al Qaeda leadership and fighters simply escaped to Pakistan. Asserting that the military failed to show the real situation in its battle reports and that the Western media accepted the reports as fact, Smucker delivers an honest and difficult-to-put-down eyewitness account with wide appeal.-Mark Ellis, Albany State Univ., GA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Makes you feel as if you were there . . . quite a picture of contemporary combat reporting."

EAN: 9781574886290
ISBN: 1574886290
Publisher: Brassey's Inc
Dimensions: 22.71 x 14.73 x 1.52 centimetres (0.34 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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