The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda : A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander

Book - 2005
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In Jawbreaker Gary Berntsen, until recently one of the CIA's most decorated officers, comes out from under cover for the first time to describe his no-holds-barred pursuit of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.With his unique mix of clandestine knowledge and paramilitary training, Berntsen represents the new face of counterterrorism. Recognized within the agency for his aggressiveness, Berntsen, when dispatched to Afghanistan, made annihilating the enemy his job description.As the CIA's key commander coordinating the fight against the Taliban forces around Kabul, and the drive toward Tora Bora, Berntsen not only led dozens of CIA and Special Operations Forces, he also raised 2,000 Afghan fighters to aid in the hunt for bin Laden.In this first-person account of that incredible pursuit, which actually began years earlier in an East Africa bombing investigation, Berntsen describes being ferried by rickety helicopter over the towering peaks of Afghanistan, sitting by General Tommy Franks's side as heated negotiations were conducted with Northern Alliance generals, bargaining relentlessly with treacherous Afghan warlords and Taliban traitors, plotting to save hostages about to be used as pawns, calling in B-52 strikes on dug-in enemy units, and deploying a dizzying array of Special Forces teams in the pursuit of the world's most wanted terrorist. Most crucially, Berntsen tells of cornering bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains'and what happened when Berntsen begged Washington to block the al-Qaeda leader's last avenue of escape.As disturbingly eye-opening as it is adrenaline-charged, Jawbreaker races from CIA war rooms to diplomatic offices to mountaintop redoubts to paint a vivid portrait of a new kind of warfare, showing what can and should be done to deal a death blow to freedom's enemies.CIA Commander Gary Berntsen on...His eyebrow-raising style:"Most CIA Case Officers advanced their careers by recruiting sources and producing intelligence, I took a more grab-them-by-the-neck approach...I operated on the principle that it was easier to seek forgiveness than ask for approval. Take risks, but make sure you're successful. Success, not good intentions, would determine my fate."Doing whatever it took:"I didn't just want to survive: I wanted to annihilate the enemy. And I didn't want to end up like one of my favorite historical characters-Alexander Burns...He was one of the first of more than 14,000 British soldiers to be wiped out by the Afghans in the First Afghan War. Like Burns before me, I was also an intelligence officer and spoke Persian. This was my second trip into Afghanistan, too. The difference, I told myself, was that Burns had been a gentleman and I would do whatever it took to win."Dealing with a Taliban official who controlled American hostages:"Tell him that if he betrays me or loses the hostages I'll spend every waking moment of my life hunting him down to kill him. Tell him I'm not like any American he has ever met."The capabilities of his Tora Bora spotter team:"Working nonstop, the four men directed strike after strike by B-1s, B-2s, and F-14s onto the al-Qaeda encampment with incredible precision. Somehow through the massive bureaucracy, thousands of miles of distance [and] reams of red tape...the U.S. had managed to place four of the most skilled men in the world above the motherlode of al-Qaeda, with a laser designator and communications system linked to the most potent air power in history...As I listened over our encrypted radio network, one word kept pounding in my head: revenge."
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307237408
Characteristics: xxi, 328 p., [8] p. of plates : col. ill., maps ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Pezzullo, Ralph


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Mar 12, 2013

Very similar to Gary Schroen's book, "First in" and this CIA commander and his small team of Special Forces relieved the first CIA unit. This small group of hand picked specialists really gave the Taliban and Al Queda more than they could handle with the incrediblle use of air power either flown off carriers, from Kuwait, Diego Garcia and even B-1 bombers flown from the States. The Taliban were not ready for the awesome fire power and accuracy deployed with the use of lazer range finders and other technology employed by the Speial Forces to get their ordanance on target. A great book!

Oct 23, 2010

Compelling read written by a CIA insider with first hand knowledge of how 911 could have been prevented. I would love to know what the CIA blacked out and prevented this high level CIA director from telling U.S. citizens, because of "national security issues."


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