The Essential 9/11 Bibliography


September 9, 2011

Our staff has been reminiscing on some of the best pieces of reporting and investigative journalism that came out in the aftermath of 9/11. What were your favorites? Leave us a link in the comments below.

Why Do They Hate Us? (Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, Oct. 14, 2001)
“To the question ‘Why do the terrorists hate us?’ Americans could be pardoned for answering, ‘Why should we care?’ The immediate reaction to the murder of 5,000 innocents is anger, not analysis. Yet anger will not be enough to get us through what is sure to be a long struggle. For that we will need answers. The ones we have heard so far have been comforting but familiar. We stand for freedom and they hate it. We are rich and they envy us. We are strong and they resent this. All of which is true. But there are billions of poor and weak and oppressed people around the world. They don’t turn planes into bombs. They don’t blow themselves up to kill thousands of civilians. If envy were the cause of terrorism, Beverly Hills, Fifth Avenue and Mayfair would have become morgues long ago. There is something stronger at work here than deprivation and jealousy. Something that can move men to kill but also to die.”

The Counter-Terrorist (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, Jan. 14, 2002)
“The legend of John P. O’Neill, who lost his life at the World Trade Center on September 11th, begins with a story by Richard A. Clarke, the national coordinator for counter-terrorism in the White House from the first Bush Administration until last year. On a Sunday morning in February, 1995, Clarke went to his office to review intelligence cables that had come in over the weekend. One of the cables reported that Ramzi Yousef, the suspected mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing, two years earlier, had been spotted in Pakistan. Clarke immediately called the F.B.I. A man whose voice was unfamiliar to him answered the phone. ‘O’Neill,’ he growled. ‘Who are you?’ Clarke said. ‘I’m John O’Neill,’ the man replied. ‘Who the hell are you?'”

The Man Behind Bin Laden (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, Sept. 16, 2002)
“How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror.”

Selective Intelligence (Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, May 12, 2003)
“Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?”

Now They Tell Us (Michael Massing, The New York Review of Books, Jan. 29, 2004)
“In recent months, US news organizations have rushed to expose the Bush administration’s pre-war failings on Iraq. ‘Iraq’s Arsenal Was Only on Paper,’ declared a recent headline in The Washington Post. “Pressure Rises for Probe of Prewar-Intelligence,” said The Wall Street Journal. ‘So, What Went Wrong?’ asked Time. In The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh described how the Pentagon set up its own intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans, to sift for data to support the administration’s claims about Iraq. And on ‘Truth, War and Consequences,’ a Frontline documentary that aired last October, a procession of intelligence analysts testified to the administration’s use of what one of them called ‘faith-based intelligence.’

Watching and reading all this, one is tempted to ask, where were you all before the war? Why didn’t we learn more about these deceptions and concealments in the months when the administration was pressing its case for regime change — when, in short, it might have made a difference? Some maintain that the many analysts who’ve spoken out since the end of the war were mute before it. But that’s not true. Beginning in the summer of 2002, the ‘intelligence community’ was rent by bitter disputes over how Bush officials were using the data on Iraq. Many journalists knew about this, yet few chose to write about it.”

Behind Diplomatic Moves, Military Plan Was Launched (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, April 18, 2004)
“Shortly after New Year’s Day 2003, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had a private moment with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. Bush felt the effort to get United Nations weapons inspections inside Iraq on an aggressive track to make Saddam Hussein crack was not working. ‘This pressure isn’t holding together,’ Bush told her.”

Torture at Abu Ghraib (Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, May 10, 2004)
“In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women — no accurate count is possible — were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.”

The 9/11 Commission Report (July 22, 2004)
“We present the narrative of this report and the recommendations that flow from it to the President of the United States, the United States Congress, and the American people for their consideration. Ten Commissioners-five Republicans and five Democrats chosen by elected leaders from our nation’s capital at a time of great partisan division-have come together to present this report without dissent. We have come together with a unity of purpose because our nation demands it. September 11, 2001, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States. The nation was unprepared.”

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons (Dana Priest, The Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005)
“The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.”

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (James Rise and Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, Dec. 16, 2005)
“Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

NSA Has Massive Database of Americans’ Phone Calls (Leslie Cauley, USA Today, May 11, 2006)
“The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.”

Power Grab (Elizabeth Drew, The New York Review of Books, May 24, 2006)
“For five years, Bush has been issuing a series of signing statements which amount to a systematic attempt to take power from the legislative branch. Though Ronald Reagan started issuing signing statements to set forth his own position on a piece of legislation, he did it essentially to guide possible court rulings, and he only occasionally objected to a particular provision of a bill. Though subsequent presidents also issued such statements, they came nowhere near to making the extraordinary claims that Bush has; nor did they make such statements nearly so often.”

The Hidden Power (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, July 3, 2006)
“The legal mind behind the White House’s war on terror.”

The Agent (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, July 10, 2006)
“Did the CIA stop an FBI detective from preventing 9/11?”

Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, June 25, 2007)
“Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This special report examines Cheney’s largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies on national security, the economy and the environment.”

In the Land of the Taliban (Elizabeth Rubin, The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 22, 2006)
“As I traveled through Pakistan and particularly the Pashtun lands bordering Afghanistan, I felt as if I were moving through a Taliban spa for rehabilitation and inspiration. Since 2002, the American and Pakistani militaries have focused on North Waziristan and South Waziristan, two of the seven districts making up Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal areas, which are between the North-West Frontier Province and, to the south, Baluchistan Province; in the days since the 9/11 attacks, some tribes there had sheltered members of Al Qaeda and spawned their own Taliban movement. Meanwhile, in the deserts of Baluchistan, whose capital, Quetta, is just a few hours’ drive from the Afghan city of Kandahar, the Afghan Taliban were openly reassembling themselves under Mullah Omar and his leadership council. Quetta had become a kind of free zone where strategies could be formed, funds picked up, interviews given and victories relished.”

The Battle for Guantanamo (Tim Golden, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 17, 2006)
“Col. Mike Bumgarner took over as the warden of Guantánamo Bay in April 2005. He had been hoping to be sent to Iraq; among senior officers of the Army’s military police corps, the job of commanding guards at the American detention camp in Cuba was considered not particularly challenging and somewhat risky to a career. He figured it would mean spending at least a year away from his family, managing the petty insurgencies of hundreds of angry, accused terrorists.”

Exposure (Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, The New Yorker, March 24, 2008)
“The woman behind the camera at Abu Ghraib.”

Right at the Edge (Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 5, 2008)
“Pakistan’s wild, largely ungoverned tribal areas have become an untouchable base for Islamic militants to attack Americans and Afghans across the border. Inside the tribal areas, Taliban warlords have taken near-total control, pushing aside the Pakistani government and imposing their draconian form of Islam. And for more than a year now, they have been sending suicide bombers against government and military targets in Pakistan, killing hundreds of people. American and Pakistani investigators say they believe it was Baitullah Mehsud, the strongest of FATA’s Taliban leaders, who dispatched assassins last December to kill Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister. With much of the North-West Frontier Province, which borders the tribal areas, also now under their control, the Taliban are increasingly in a position to threaten the integrity of the Pakistani state.”

The Falling Man (Tom Junod, Esquire, Sept. 8, 2009)
“Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.”

The Wrong Man (David Freed, The Atlantic, May 2010)
“In the fall of 2001, a nation reeling from the horror of 9/11 was rocked by a series of deadly anthrax attacks. As the pressure to find a culprit mounted, the FBI, abetted by the media, found one. The wrong one. This is the story of how federal authorities blew the biggest anti-terror investigation of the past decade — and nearly destroyed an innocent man. Here, for the first time, the falsely accused, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, speaks out about his ordeal.”

An Army of One (Chris Heath, GQ, September 2010)
“You might have heard about the recent spectacular misadventure of one Gary Faulkner. Equipped with little more than a sword he’d bought on a home-shopping network, a pair of night-vision goggles, and the blessing of a vengeful Christian God, the 50-year-old ex-con (and his failing kidneys) traveled to the most volatile region of Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden. What’s surprising is that it wasn’t his first attempt. It was his eleventh. What’s alarming is that it won’t be his last.”

Top Secret America (Dana Priest and William Arkin, The Washington Post, July 19, 2010)
“The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.”

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus