Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, has written a new book with Mitch Weiss on the mission to get Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda. The book, titled Countdown Bin Laden, the Untold Story of the 247-day Hunt to Bring the Mastermind of 9/11 to Justice, was released on September 7 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It details the 247-day hunt for the head of al-Qaeda after the CIA located the courier that bin Laden was using to communicate with his operatives around the world.
With all of the bad news surrounding the horrific way that the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, Wallace’s book shows the parts of the U.S. machine that worked: the intelligence, planning, and then the mission to get the world’s most wanted terrorist. The reason the United States entered Afghanistan, to begin with, was to rid the world of the terrorist that had been steadily gaining influence and attacking U.S. interests.
A Focus on the Intelligence
Rather than just a history of the raid that killed bin Lad, which has been written several times, Wallace emphasizes the intelligence aspect of the hunt. In writing Countdown Bin Laden, the author received unprecedented support from the intelligence community.
Getting such cooperation from the CIA, which is traditionally close-mouthed, about its operations, obviously took some doing.
Through the book, the reader is transported inside the CIA’s headquarters and can listen in to the conversations and intelligence briefings for director Leon Panetta from when the agency began developing leads on bin Laden’s courier.
No one was sure of who the courier was working for. Was it bin Laden? Another al-Qaeda operative? Or was it just a high-ranking criminal?
The intelligence to track the courier was laborious and slow as to not spook the courier or the mysterious families that lived inside of the compound. It took from August 27, 2010, until May 1, 2011, for all of the pieces to fall into place.
As the CIA got more and more intelligence on the compound, the agency learned of a mysterious man who would walk the covered balcony or the garden. They called him “The Pacer,” and they became increasingly sure he was bin Laden. Wary of any leaks, President Obama, prior to leaving for Hawaii in December, instructed Panetta to “keep this between us.”
That meant just Panetta, few aides at the CIA, and close associates of President Obama John Donilon, John Brennan, knew that bin Laden had been located. Even the Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, the Joint Chiefs, and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weren’t briefed on this until March of 2011.
Wallace also weaves in the stories and personal perspectives of Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Admiral McRaven, and New York police officer Jessica Ferenczy, whose fiancee was a NY City police officer killed during 9/11.
Although we all know how the hunt ended, Wallace expertly builds suspense by recounting the personal stories of the participants.
Countdown Bin Laden is a fantastic read that provides detailed behind-the-scenes information that we hadn’t heard before. It is a great addition to any reader’s library.
You can purchase the book here or at your favorite retailer.
And stay tuned for Chris Wallace’s interview with SOFREP Radio this Friday, September 17.