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Crush the Cell

Crush the Cell Cover

Crush the Cell

How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing Ourselves

By Michael A. Sheehan

Crown, Hardcover, 9780307382177, 320pp.

Publication Date: May 6, 2008

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Description

Written by a man who is arguably the country’s most authoritative voice on counterterrorism, Crush the Cell demolishes, with simple logic, the edifice of false “terror punditry” that has been laid, brick by brick, since 9/11. A veteran of special ops, international diplomacy, and bruising clashes with federal law enforcement agencies, Michael Sheehan delivers in this book a two-part message: First, that we’ve wasted–and are continuing to waste–billions of dollars on the wrong protective measures, and second, that knowing the bad guys’ next move is paramount.

Somewhere in America, Sheehan maintains, are a number of terrorist cells, their members’ heads filled with schemes of mayhem and destruction. Motivated not, as some believe, by feelings of disenfranchisement, disdain for freedom, or economic envy but by a compelling ideological hatred, these individuals plot not just terror but paralyzing terror–the kind that can shut down a country.

Unwittingly aiding and abetting them are many (but not all) “terror experts” and members of the media who, for reasons that are partly self- serving, rate the bad guys’ capabilities far higher than they are, playing into terrorists’ hands with their hype. Spurred by the pundits’ inflated assessments, legislation follows that drains billions from taxpayers’ pockets and pours money into a bloated Washington bureaucracy championing needless programs.

Here, Sheehan shows why defensive fortresses don’t work, but offensive operational intelligence does. He also peels back the mystery surrounding terrorist cells, portraying them as, typically, a group of bumblers searching for a charismatic leader who has what it takes to conduct a complex symphony of violence. Sharing time in the narrative spotlight are not just agents of al Qaeda, but also frighteningly destructive lone wolves, cults, and radical movements.

In his career, Sheehan has operated in the mountain jungles of Central America, the back alleys of Mogadishu, and the teeming streets of New York City–but he has also participated at the highest levels of policy making at the White House, the State Department, and the United Nations. It’s his time protecting America’s most populous city as its counterterrorism czar, however, that yields this book’s most fascinating insights. As Sheehan reveals thwarted threats to New York’s bridges, subways, and landmarks, and recounts extraordinary simulations staged to gauge terrorists’ true abilities, we gain perhaps the clearest picture yet of what modern terror-fighting is all about.



Praise For Crush the Cell

“Michael Sheehan has written the most sensible and coherent approach to combating terrorism to date, and at just the right time. He is a man of unique credentials and perspective, someone who has been dealing with the problem in one way or another his entire life, and his assessment of the threat and prescriptions for dealing with it are clear-eyed, grounded in hard experience, and convincing. I hope whoever next occupies the Oval Office first reads this book.”
—Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo and Guests of the Ayatollah

"Filled with startling insights, Crush the Cell is a dispatch from the front lines of our confrontation with Al Qaeda.  Like its author, the book is smart, tough, brave and relentlessly honest.  If you’re looking for truth, not hype, Mike Sheehan is your man."
—Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

“Michael Sheehan has worked every aspect of the counterterrorism story from senior positions at the State Department and New York’s Police Department to the frontline of Special Forces operations. He brings that unique blend of experiences and perspectives to Crush theCell, which is a clearly written and lively overview of the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates that is not only a great read, but will also inform policy makers for years to come.”
—Peter Bergen, New York Times bestselling author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama Bin Laden I Know

“Michael Sheehan has long been one of the most creative, original thinkers on the subject of terrorism. His personal experience, combined with a determined and original mind, make him unique and always insightful. I can't think of anyone else who brings such a fresh perspective to this vital field."
—Lawrence Wright, author of the New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer-Prize winning The Looming Tower

“During the 9/11 Commission investigations, we interviewed more than 1200 current and former federal officials. One of the most impressive —and as the records clearly demonstrated — most effective officials in the counterterrorist effort was Michael Sheehan. He ‘got it.’  If more Clinton or Bush officials had paid attention to him, the tragedy of 9/11 might have been averted. He went on to build the most effective counterterrorist intelligence unit in the U.S. within the New York Police Department. His new book will be read by Presidential candidates and all who wish to understand the threat we face.”
—John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and Member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

"Michael Sheehan has worked on terrorism as a policy maker in the State Department, as a police official on the streets of New York, and as a Green Beret in the US Army. He is the real deal. In Crush theCell he tells us the difference between the continuing real threat from al Qaeda and the over-hyped, politically motivated scare tactics that have spawned a bloated counter-terrorism bureaucracy and industry."
—Richard A. Clarke, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Against All Enemies

“Mike Sheehan is the person I would most want at my side when trying to stop terrorists. . . . [In this book] he shows how much of America’s antiterror efforts are misdirected and how to fix them . . . A primer for the next president.”
—Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

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