Fresh Air: Osama expert and the financial meltdown

    You can count on Fresh Air for an original take on stories that affect our lives, and today’s show doesn’t disappoint. It begins with Terry Gross’s interview, conducted this morning with Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, the definitive book about Al Qaeda.

    Among other things, you’ll hear Wright describe the CIA asking him five years ago to imagine scenarios of bin Laden’s demise. He’ll explain why he thinks bin Laden’s death is an important step forward for the Arab world, and why he says the kind of terrorist network he created will be replicated by others.

    I spoke to Wright in 2006 about The Looming Tower. You can hear that interview here.

    The second half of the show help you understand a critical piece of the 2008 financial meltdown. We air an interview I did last week with Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein, the reporters who brought you the story of the hedge fund Magnetar, and how it urged banks to create highly-risky mortgage-backed securities, while placing massive side-bets against them. Bernstein and Eisinger are from the investigative reporting non-profit Pro Publica, and they collaborated with NPR’s Planet Money team last year on a fascinating piece for This American Life.

    Bernstein and Eisinger dug relentlessly into a Wall Street world where the people who know what’s going on don’t talk to reporters, and most of the critical records aren’t public. Their series, The Wall Street Money Machine just won the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for work that didn’t appear in print. Find their stuff online here.

    You can hear Fresh Air today on WHYY at 3 and 7. If you’re listening outside the Philadelphia area, find a station here. And you can always listen to the show and download podcasts at the Fresh Air website.

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