• 39. Toby Harnden - A deep dive into ‘First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11‘

  • Nov 28 2021
  • Length: 1 hr and 31 mins
  • Podcast

39. Toby Harnden - A deep dive into ‘First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11‘  By  cover art

39. Toby Harnden - A deep dive into ‘First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11‘

  • Summary

  • My guest today is Toby Harnden, who is an author, journalist, and winner of the Orwell Prize, UK’s most prestigious prize for political writing. His most recent book, First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11, is the story of the first US team into Afghanistan post the attacks of September 11, 2001. A former Royal Navy officer before becoming a journalist for the likes ofThe Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph who has subsequently reported from 33 countries, was imprisoned in Zimbabwe, and faced prosecution in Britain for protecting confidential sources, Toby is uniquely qualified to tell this story. Some of the topics we covered are: Toby’s journey into journalism, building credibility with the CIA, the story of Team Alpha, the battle of Qala-i Jangi, human terrain of Afghanistan as well as the scars of Team Alpha in the years to come.

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    Full show notes:

    My guest today is Toby Harnden, who is an author, journalist, and winner of the Orwell Prize, UK’s most prestigious prize for political writing. His most recent book is First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 and will be the main focus of our discussion today. A former foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times of London and The Daily Telegraph who has reported from 33 countries, he specializes in terrorism and war. Born in England, Toby was imprisoned in Zimbabwe, faced prosecution in Britain for protecting confidential sources, and was vindicated by a $23 million public inquiry in Ireland. A dual British and American citizen, he spent a decade as a Royal Navy officer before becoming a journalist. He holds a First Class degree in Modern History from Corpus Christi College, Oxford and is the author of Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh (1999) as well as Dead Men Risen: An Epic Story of War and Heroism in Afghanistan (2009), for which he received the Orwell Prize. Previously based in London, Belfast, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Washington D.C., he now lives in Virginia.

    Some of the topics we covered are:

    • Toby’s journey into war journalism
    • Building of credibility and trust with the CIA
    • How the CIA came to lead the first mission in Afghanistan post 9/11
    • The battle of Qala-i Jangi
    • Complexity of the human terrain of Afghanistan and our ultimate failure to recognise it
    • Lessons to be drawn from Afghanistan
    • Limited warfare and likelihood of its future use
    • Team Alpha scars of Afghanistan
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