Book Review: Ghost by Fred Burton
Over the weekend, I got a chance to read Fred Burton’s Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent. Burton was a counterterrorism agent for the Diplomatic Security Service and was involved in investigating some of the worst acts of terrorism in U.S. history from 1986 to 1995.
In Ghost, he recounts four specific investigations: the Lebanon hostage crisis (later revealed as part of the Iran-Contra scandal), the bombing of PAK-1 which lead to the death of Pakistani President Zia, the Lockerbie bombing, and the hunt for Ramzi Yousef - mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other acts of terror.
As Burton’s memoir reveals, terrorism is against U.S. targets is not new, but our reactions to terrorism has evolved as the U.S. has attempted to play catch-up in response to these attacks, including the development of improved counter-surveillance techniques. However, even as we become more developed in our response, more problems arise. Burton notes the turf wars between the FBI, CIA, DSS, etc. have only grown over the years.
One thing has not changed: “The axiom that we do not negotiate with terrorists is a huge myth. Every nation has made its own deals with these devils. All too often, terror is a blunt but effective political weapon. As long as it works, terrorism will never be stamped out” (p. 129).