The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11

The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11

by John Farmer
     
 

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From the senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, a mesmerizing real-time portrayal of that day, why we weren't told the truth, and why our nation is still at risk.

As one of the primary authors of the 9/11 Commission Report, John Farmer is proud of his and his colleagues? work. Yet he came away from the experience convinced that there was a further story

Overview

From the senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, a mesmerizing real-time portrayal of that day, why we weren't told the truth, and why our nation is still at risk.

As one of the primary authors of the 9/11 Commission Report, John Farmer is proud of his and his colleagues? work. Yet he came away from the experience convinced that there was a further story to be told, one he was uniquely qualified to write.

Now that story can be told. Tape recordings, transcripts, and contemporaneous records that had been classified have since been declassified, and the inspector general's investigations of government conduct have been completed. Drawing on his knowledge of those sources, as well as his years as an attorney in public and private practice, Farmer reconstructs the truth of what happened on that fateful day and the disastrous circumstances that allowed it: the institutionalized disconnect between what those on the ground knew and what those in power did. He details ?terrifyingly and illuminatingly?the key moments in the years, months, weeks, and days that preceded the attacks, then descends almost in real time through the attacks themselves, portraying them as they have never before been seen.

Ultimately, Farmer builds the inescapably convincing case that the official version not only is almost entirely untrue but serves to create a false impression of order and security. The ground truth that Farmer captures suggests a very different scenario?one that is doomed to be repeated unless the systemic failures he reveals are confronted and remedied.

Editorial Reviews

Jacob Heilbrunn
Now that numerous transcripts and tapes have been declassified…Farmer draws on them to assail the government's official depiction of 9/11 as so much public relations flimflam. Perhaps nothing perturbs Farmer more than the contention that high-ranking officials responded quickly and effectively to the revelation that Qaeda attacks were taking place. Nothing, Farmer indicates, could be further from the truth…Farmer's accomplishment is to throw 9/11 into fresh relief. A precise and reliable accounting of what happened has been absent until now. This is it.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Farmer, senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, updates the commission's report in this thorough and bipartisan analysis. Drawing on newly declassified records and recent investigative reports from the departments of defense and transportation, the author concludes that the failure to detect and prevent the attack “lay in the [bureaucratic] nature of modern government.” Most significantly, “rules proscribing information-sharing” within and among agencies meant that no one had complete access to all available intelligence or information—typical “bureaucratic inertia” that presaged the government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. Farmer faults the disconnect between decision-makers and operational employees, concluding that “leadership was irrelevant on 9/11” and the official version of events “was almost entirely, and inexplicably, untrue.” Farmer's conclusion that bureaucratic government “does not adapt fast enough to changing missions to be effective” is not original, but in his careful exegesis of the events of 9/11, he transcends easy generalizations to expose the fault lines in contemporary governance and point the way to fundamental reform. (Sept.)
Douglas Brinkley
"All Americans should read John Farmer's The Ground Truth. With keen analytical insight, Farmer rips the lid off of many mysteries pertaining to both the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina. A highly recommended historical curative for our times."--(Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge)
Library Journal
What we think we know about 9/11 and what really happened are two different things, according to this new book by the former senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission. As someone who helped write the best-selling 9/11 Commission Report, Farmer now asserts that not only was the official version put forth by the government inaccurate but also that it conveyed a false sense of security. Using recently declassified and released sources, Farmer blends legal and political expertise to paint a startling revised picture of 9/11. Telling the story in successively decreasing units of time, he builds suspense and creates a compelling albeit disturbing narrative. The "ground truth" about what really happened should help us realize a second, more far-reaching truth: unless we correct serious systemic failures in our governmental organizations and operations, we will be doomed to repeat errors in future human-made (or natural) disasters. VERDICT This book sheds new light on the events surrounding 9/11 and the role of government in handling crises and also serves as a rallying cry for change. Essential. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]—Leslie Lewis, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh
Kirkus Reviews
Senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission Farmer presents a dismaying catalogue of incompetence and dissembling before and after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The author makes excellent use of declassified primary-source documents from 9/11-including transcriptions of frantic last-minute phone calls of air-traffic controllers-to demonstrate how a massively funded national-security system, a relic of the Cold War, failed to counter a small band of terrorists. Bipartisan in assigning blame, Farmer believes that failure resulted from a bureaucracy-laden government. Information sharing was not only undercut by the constitutional separation of powers, but by boundaries between the CIA and FBI, even by limiting intra-agency recipients only to those on a "need-to-know" basis. He shows that the Clinton administration never sufficiently applied its pledge to warring national-security and law-enforcement players to "reinvent government," and that the Bush administration ridiculously claimed that by the end of the morning of Sept. 11, military and aviation officials were effectively coordinating responses. Communication on 9/11 was atrocious, the author notes, making all the more ironic the contentions of people like Richard Clarke "that their actions in those critical moments made a difference." The Department of Homeland Security merely widened the gulf between policy-makers and those on the ground struggling with crises-a fatal flaw underscored by the egregiously poor response to Hurricane Katrina. An important systematic brief on how an elaborately constructed national-defense system was penetrated, and why lessons of that day for disaster response remain dimly understood.
From the Publisher
"A startling revised picture of 9/11.... [Farmer] builds suspense and creates a compelling albeit disturbing narrative." —Library Journal Starred Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101152331
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/08/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
1,126,001
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

William Langewiesche
"Revelatory-Farmer makes shattering new sense of the day's events and exposes the true disarray and arrogance in the military and government responses."--(William Langewiesche, author of American Ground and The Atomic Bazaar)
Haynes Johnson
"In revisiting the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks that still haunt America, John Farmer provides a devastating account of how what government and military officials told Congress, the 9/11 Commission on which he served, the media, and the public 'was almost entirely, and inexplicably, untrue.' The result is a major, carefully documented and deeply disturbing book, one that deserves the most serious attention of every American concerned about our future."--(Haynes Johnson, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author)
Jim Dwyer
"Physics teaches us that waves of the same frequency amplify each other. That's what brought down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The Ground Truth reveals 9/11 as a manifestation of that same phenomenon, with waves of history cresting together. It does so with perfect clarity, thanks to the brilliance of finding, in the examples of two "minor" national security agencies, the dysfunctionality that plagued the mightiest-seeming arms of the government. I made the mistake of not writing down the first two or three times I felt goosebumps. The Ground Truth is superbly conceived and carried out. What a great book."--(Jim Dwyer, author of 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers)
Bob Kerrey
"No one is more qualified to write the definitive book about the tragedy of 9/11 than John Farmer. Fortunately, he has done so. Even more fortunately the language is clear, alive and instructive for anyone who wants to make certain this never happens again."--(Bob Kerrey, Former US Senator and Member of the 9/11 Commission)
From the Publisher
“Farmer’s accomplishment is to throw 9/11 into fresh relief. A precise and reliable accounting of what happened has been absent until now. This is it.” –Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review

“All Americans should read John Farmer’s The Ground Truth.” –Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge

“Inescapably convincing.” –Salem-news.com

“An important reexamination… almost thrillerlike in its narrative… As you read it, you may not know whether to laugh or cry.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Startling… compelling… disturbing. Essential.” –Library Journal

“A major, carefully documented, and deeply disturbing book, one that deserves the most serious attention of every American concerned about our future.” –Haynes Johnson, Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author

“Farmer deftly hones in on the nation’s bureaucratic morass leading up to September 11 and the government’s failure to respond on the day of the attacks, distinguishing his book from other accounts.” –The American Prospect

“No one is more qualified to write the definitive book about the tragedy of 9/11 than John Farmer. Fortunately, he has done so. Even more fortunately the language is clear, alive, and instructive for anyone who wants to make certain this never happens again.” –Bob Kerrey, former U.S. Senator and member of the 9/11 Commission

Meet the Author

John Farmer served as Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission from 2003 to 2004 and assisted in writing The 9/11 Commission Report. Cleared to Top Secret/SC1 level, his areas of responsibility included assessing the national response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, evaluating the current state of national preparedness, and assessing the current state of private sector preparedness for terrorist attacks.

As Attorney General for the State of New Jersey from 1999 to 2002, he supervised nearly 10,000 employees (including more than 700 lawyers and nearly 3,000 state troopers) in ten divisions in the Department of Law and Public Safety, including the Divisions of Law, Criminal Justice, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Gaming Enforcement, Highway Traffic Safety, Juvenile Justice, State Police, Elections, and Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Farmer also supervised the state’s Office of Emergency Management and oversaw New Jersey’s response to Hurricane Floyd in 1999; worked to anticipate the Y2K and potential emergency impact of the millennium; and coordinated the State’s response to both the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks later that same year.

Farmer has also served as chief counsel to New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, as a federal prosecutor, and as a security expert to the special envoy for Middle East regional security.

Over the past six years, Farmer has lectured and written extensively on post-9/11 safety and security issues, and published safety and security-related pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Newark Star Ledger, the New Jersey Lawyer, and other publications. He has also spoken on panels at Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California, Willamette Law School, and Johns Hopkins University’s Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

FEMA-certified in all-hazards disaster planning and mitigation, Farmer has consulted with a wide range of institutions and officials on everything from port security issues to private sector preparedness. In July 2009, he left the New Jersey law firm in which he was a founding partner in order to accept an appointment as Dean of Rutgers School of Law in Newark, where he had previously taught national security law.

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