Steve Coll

Ghost Wars

The CIA had learned years before that Ronald Reagan was not much of a reader. Dense, detailed briefings about global affairs rarely reached his desk. But Reagan loved movies. Casey encouraged his colleagues to distill important intelligence so the president could watch it on a movie screen. Before Reagan met visiting heads of state, he would sometimes screen a short CIA-produced classified bio movie about his visitor. 151

Daily negotiations with his Turkmen counterparts did little to cool him down. Across the table there "was a lot of shouting, threats, intimidation, a very different approach to what we were used to," Miller recalled. "But at the end of the day you go and you drink some vodka and have some toasts--all this stuff, you know--and all's forgiven. Then the next day you put on the pads and away you go again." 304

"I like to be around her," Bush explained, because "she's fun to work with. I like lighthearted people, not people who take themselves so seriously that they are hard to be around." […] At one point [during the campaign] she described Iran as "the state hub for technology and money and lots of other goodies to radical fundamentalist groups, some will say as far-reaching as the Taliban." But Iran's Shiite regime and the radical Sunni mullahs were blood enemies, and Iran actually sent arms and money to Ahmed Shah Massoud, to aid his war against the Taliban. 539

Faisal dispatched Prince Turki at age fourteen to Lawrenceville School, a preparatory and boarding school for wealthy boys in New Jersey. To call the young Turki's transition to prep school would hardly do it justice. "I was alone," Turki recalled years later. "I was extremely nervous…As I entered the dormitory, I felt somebody's hand slapping me on my backside." A young man called out to him, "Hi. My name is Steve Callahan. Who are you?" Turki stared in stunned silence "because in Saudi Arabia, you never hit anybody on the backside." Finally he offered his name. Callahan replied, "Oh. Like a Thanksgiving turkey?" 77

"I know you don't like this," an Afghan commander explained to a CIA officer as the Jalalabad battle began, "but it's better than using people."                          
"Yes, but just don't take any pictures," the officer advised. Nobody back in Washington "wants to see pictures of little donkeys blown up." 193 (on the use of donkeys to clear a mine field)

President Bush paid hardly any attention to Afghanistan. CIA officers who met the president reported that he seemed barely aware that the war there was continuing. 217

"We have a common task--Afghanistan, the USA, and the civilized world--to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism," Najibullah told reporters in his palace office as the mujahedin closed to within rocketing distance. "If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism 234