new book, Counterstrike: The Untold Story
of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, is in many ways a summary of
the past decade of our reporting on the military, intelligence community, and
domestic law enforcement as it entered a new era of Darwinian evolution to
counter violent extremism.
It also is our deep dive into a decade of American counterterrorism efforts -- from the work of commando trigger-pullers and spies on the ground up to senior political leaders who wanted to defend the nation (and get re-elected). Our efforts to report and write this book allowed us to uncover many new missions never discussed before -- and gave us an understanding of how the "war on terror" had changed over the last decade.
Our book assesses the 10 years since 9/11 as the military divides the fight: into tactical missions on the battlefields of modern terrorism; then the operational advancements that provided the means to success while not securing final victory; and at the top, the strategic level of policy debates about how the nation should combat this threat to its security.
Here are seven vignettes from Counterstrike that offer glimpses into the thinking of policymakers and commanders in early days after the Sept. 11 attacks and how that thinking evolved over the following decade into a more whole-of-government approach to combating terrorists:
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