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Shining much-needed light on areas the 9/11 Commission preferred to keep dark, Intelligence Matters chronicles the efforts of a historic joint House-Senate inquiry to get to the bottom of our intelligence failures on that infamous day in 2001. Originally published in 2004 amid the media circus surrounding The 9/11 Commission Report, it told more than a riveting tale—it also provided an unflinching expos of failure, incompetence, and deceit at the highest levels of our ...
Shining much-needed light on areas the 9/11 Commission preferred to keep dark, Intelligence Matters chronicles the efforts of a historic joint House-Senate inquiry to get to the bottom of our intelligence failures on that infamous day in 2001. Originally published in 2004 amid the media circus surrounding The 9/11 Commission Report, it told more than a riveting tale—it also provided an unflinching expos of failure, incompetence, and deceit at the highest levels of our government.
The Joint Inquiry, co-chaired by Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida), was the first and arguably most effective government body to investigate the horrendous 2001 attacks. Indeed, it helped compel a reluctant George W. Bush to establish the 9/11 Commission. But while both investigations sharply criticized the failures of our nation's intelligence establishment, only Graham's dared to challenge the Bush administration on a number of troubling points-especially the apparent complicity of Saudi officials in the events of 9/11, the subsequent protection provided by President Bush for a large number of Saudis (including members of the bin Laden family), and the run-up to the Iraq War, which Graham voted against.
The original work combined a compelling narrative of 9/11 with an insightful eyewitness chronicle of the Joint Inquiry's investigation, conclusions, and recommendations. Sharply critiquing the failures at the CIA, FBI, and the White House and detailing at least twelve occasions when the 9/11 plot could have been stopped, it concluded with a clear plan for overhauling our intelligence and national security establishment. For this paperback edition, Graham has added a substantial new preface and postscript that lucidly examine how effectively the nation has responded—or failed to respond—to the Joint Inquiry's recommendations.
This edition restores Intelligence Matters to its rightful place as one of the key texts on the subject of 9/11 and provides a grim reminder of the challenges that remain for us in the war on terror.
A Meeting in Malaysia The First Failures
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia January 5, 2000
Cameras clicked from a distance as nearly a dozen men gathered at the suburban condominium overlooking a Jack Nicklaus--designed golf course on the southern outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Anyone who had happened upon the group would probably have found them eminently forgettable, a group of clean-cut Arab men in a diverse international city of one and a half million.
The meeting could have been a reunion of vacationing friends, or a gathering of graduate students. It wasn't. It was a summit of terrorists.
Two of the Saudi participants arriving at the placidly named Hazel Evergreen resort community were Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al- Mihdhar, who had already been identified by United States intelligence as terrorist operatives. They had been involved in planning and providing logistical support for the near-simultaneous bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that had killed 224 people and left more than 5,000 injured. Both would later hijack American Airlines flight number 77, and were restraining passengers as the Boeing 757 rammed into the Pentagon.
For American intelligence, the trail to the meeting in Malaysia began on the morning of August 7, 1998, in the rubble and confusion outside our embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
That morning, the ordinary bustle of Nairobi's Haile Selassie Avenue was shattered as a Toyota cargo truck exploded next to the five-story U.S. embassy. Within seconds, black smoke filled the sky and the road's tar paving ignited, setting fire to parked cars and passing buses. The blast shattered every window within a quarter-mile radius, blew the bombproof doors off the embassy, sucked out ceilings and furniture and people, and collapsed the four-story office building next door.
Less than five minutes earlier and nearly 450 miles away in Tanzania, a vehicle had driven onto the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam and exploded, wrecking the entrance, blowing off parts of the building's right side, and setting cars ablaze.
One of those involved in the Nairobi bombing was a Yemeni named Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali. His job was a minor one. As the truck packed with explosives headed for the embassy, al-Owhali was to throw four flash grenades at the front door--bringing curious people toward the windows in order to make the truck's explosion all the more deadly.
Al-Owhali had expected to die in the blast. The truck bomb was supposed to detonate seconds after his task was finished, making him a martyr and assuring him a place in paradise. Instead, two things happened that kept al-Owhali alive. First, the truck's driver decided, before detonating the bomb, to fire a number of bullets at the embassy. Second, after throwing his flash grenades, al-Owhali ran. The seconds the driver spent picking up his gun allowed al-Owhali to get around the corner of the building, which, in standing up to the blast, also saved his life. When the bomb was detonated, al-Owhali was thrown from his feet; his arm and forehead were cut. A stranger put him into a car and took him to the hospital, where he was stitched up. He hid his gun in the bathroom of the hospital, then got into a cab and headed for an apartment where he expected to wait until he could arrange to be smuggled out of the country. When authorities began asking about an injured Arab, the taxi driver remembered both the passenger and the address.
Within two days of the bombing, al-Owhali was in custody, and--stunned and remorseful over the carnage he had helped bring about--willing to talk about the attack that was...
Preface to the Paperback Edition
Introduction: The Realities of Today
Part I: Before
1. A Meeting in Malaysia
2. Arrival in America
3. Settled in San Diego
4. Beginning Training
A Gathering Storm
6. Hanjour Joins al-Hazmi
7. Teaming Up
8. Terrorists on the Move
9. Final Preparations
10. Zero Hour
Part II: After
11. The Aftermath
12. A Meeting at MacDill
13. The Inquiry Begins
14. Into the Middle East
15. Discoveries in San Diego
16. A "Slam Dunk"?
17. "Blood on Your Hands"
19. Final Battles
Conclusion: The Realities of Today
Appendix: Lessons Learned
Recommendations of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
About the Authors
Posted April 7, 2009
Sometimes, in a book that you read it is so authentic to be passionate. That is Senator Bob Graham with his cause on the War on Terror as we are fighting such a deadly enemy. As a man of logic and honesty, Graham lays out the treacherous role of Saudi Arabia as a financier of terrorism and a coddler of bin Laden, who was an intelligent agent of Saudi intelligence spreading their vicious anti-Semitic, anti-American Salafism. It's an honest book.
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