Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda

Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda

by Aki Peritz, Eric Rosenbach
     
 

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On 9/11 the U.S. had effectively no counterterrorism doctrine. Fast forward ten years: Osama bin Laden is dead; al Qaeda is organizationally ruined and pinned in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan; there has been no major attack on American soil; and while there has been at least one instance of a massive planned attack, it was crushed by the

Overview


On 9/11 the U.S. had effectively no counterterrorism doctrine. Fast forward ten years: Osama bin Laden is dead; al Qaeda is organizationally ruined and pinned in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan; there has been no major attack on American soil; and while there has been at least one instance of a massive planned attack, it was crushed by the greatest international collaboration of intelligence services seen since the end of the Cold War. It’s been a remarkable transformation.

Aki Peritz and Eric Rosenbach have experienced first-hand the monumental strategy changes in our country’s counterterrorism strategy within the intelligence, defense, and political communities. In this book, they show how America learned to be very good at taking on the terrorists, often one at a time, in ever more lethally incisive operations. They offer new details behind some headlines from the last decade. They are frank about the mistakes that have been made. And they explain how a concept coined by General Grant during the Civil War has been reinvented in the age of satellite technology to manage a globally distributed foe, allowing the U.S. to find, fix, and finish its enemies.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Peritz, senior national security adviser to the Third Way think tank, and Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense, draw on their work with the CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence respectively, for this behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of counterterrorism tactics since 9/11. They begin by noting that America lacked a strategy to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Moreover, a comprehensive strategy—combining counterinsurgency operations (COIN) and “targeted counterterrorism operations…to find, fix, and finish” al-Qaeda leaders—emerged fitfully in “painful, halting steps” over the decade following the attack. Focusing on counterterrorism operations, the authors note that the program initially sought to finish al-Qaeda leaders by taking them alive. But, when that led the U.S. into moral traps—rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques—the Bush, and later Obama, administrations shifted to a strategy of killing them via drone strikes. However, Peritz and Rosenbach are ultimately equivocal about the “targeted killing program,” acknowledging its success in “wearing away al-Qaeda’s effectiveness” while dismissing it as a short-term “whack-a-mole” measure. Despite their status as former insiders, the book is short on revelations and long on ambiguity. Agent: Matthew Carnicelli, Carnicelli Literary Management. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews

“A skillful combination of antiterrorism fireworks with perceptive analysis of our strategies.”

Huntington News
“Outstanding…Regardless of your personal views on the so-called "War on Terror" "Find, Fix, Finish" is a comprehensive source book on the facts of terror attacks and how many such attacks were foiled by law enforcement and security agencies.”

The Spectator (UK)
“If you are a student of counter-terrorism or are interested in the legal limbo of rendition, detention and targeted killings, you should probably read it... [The authors] give a revealing account of the massaging of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq… The authors are no bleeding heart liberals. They acknowledge that too much bureaucracy impedes counter-terrorism and harms national security and they argue for legal but effective measures to assist both."
 
Library Journal
“This title explicates the new U.S. policy of finding terrorists, isolating them in one location, then finishing them off. Peritz (formerly, CIA Counterterrorism Ctr.) and Rosenbach (deputy assistant secretary of defense) describe the extensive evaluations of, and changes in, counterterrorism policy after 9/11 and the many expensive mistakes made along the way…General readers and undergraduates will find this accessible and useful for debate.

Foreign Affairs

“Peritz and Rosenbach provide more context, delving into the now-familiar difficulties experts faced in persuading the U.S. government to take the al Qaeda threat seriously before 9/11 and examining the problems created by the post-9/11 counterterrorism overdrive.”

Library Journal
Before 9/11, the United States had no efficient counterterrorism policy, and its dysfunctional intelligence establishment was still operating along Cold War lines. This title explicates the new U.S. policy of finding terrorists, isolating them in one location, then finishing them off. Peritz (formerly, CIA Counterterrorism Ctr.) and Rosenbach (deputy assistant secretary of defense) describe the extensive evaluations of, and changes in, counterterrorism policy after 9/11 and the many expensive mistakes made along the way. They are critical of the Bush administration's manipulation of incomplete intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the mishandling of the subsequent occupation, which allowed insurgents and terrorists to survive. They dissect several special operations of the past decade to illustrate why certain tactics did or did not work. Despite recent counterterrorism successes, the authors counsel not to count al-Qaeda out just yet. They claim that our counterterrorism bureaucracy must be made more efficient, and the American justice system must provide fair trials for terrorists. The authors are not as firm about their position on enhanced interrogation techniques. VERDICT The topics here are not new but are usually discussed with a harder tone (e.g., against enhanced interrogations techniques). General readers and undergraduates will find this accessible and useful for debate.—Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
Kirkus Reviews
International terrorists rarely make headlines today, write the authors, but senior national security advisor Peritz and Defense Department counterterrorism expert Rosenbach emphasize that this success required much pain, and the end is not in sight. Post–World War II Islamic terrorism worried U.S. leaders but produced no coherent policy. Burned by the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue and 1993 Black Hawk Down massacre, military leaders insisted their forces not be involved. Budget cuts, little capacity for paramilitary action and unimaginative leadership hampered the CIA. Ironically, solving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing persuaded the FBI that its low-priority counterterrorism system was working. The events of 9/11 produced an avalanche of money and action, which have chipped away at terrorist networks, forcing them to concentrate on smaller, less-risky local attacks, locally planned, mostly by disaffected individuals. The authors provide step-by-step accounts of the capture or killing of dozens of terrorists, almost always in cooperation with other nations, principally Pakistan. America's problems with Pakistan arise from its support of the Taliban, a local movement with no interest in international terrorism. The authors temper these successes with some unsettling reminders. We invaded Afghanistan to root out al-Qaeda but ended up fighting the Taliban. A sideshow, the Iraq War consumed enormous resources to no good purpose. Targeted assassination, torture, prisoner rendering, indefinite detention and vastly expanded surveillance within America provide short-term satisfaction but store up strategic, diplomatic and moral quandaries which we are now experiencing. A skillful combination of antiterrorism fireworks with perceptive analysis of our strategies, many of which remain inappropriate, wasteful and positively Orwellian.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610391283
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
03/13/2012
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.84(h) x 1.16(d)

Meet the Author


Aki Peritz is the senior national security advisor to the Third Way think tank. He has authored or coauthored with Eric Rosenbach various publications on a wide range of national security issues at Harvard’s Belfer Center. He worked for several years at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. In 2006–2007, he served in Iraq.

Eric Rosenbach currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. He has taught courses on counterterrorism policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and served as a professional staff member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where he led oversight of U.S. counterterrorism programs.

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