My threshold for books about the Trump era has risen in the last year, perhaps because I’m taking anti-depressants. My threshold for books about the Bush era and 9/11 remains low (nineteen years ago tomorrow). The effects of it are still felt today and call back to that awful day and the awfulness my country put itself through in the ensuing years.
That could’ve been why I didn’t really glom to Bob Graham’s book, although I find its existence fascinating. A sitting Senator wrote about serving on a bicameral congressional investigative committee into the intelligence failures of 9/11. The book is well-detailed and thorough, even if it was written in a dry manner.
I think it’s both the conclusions Graham comes to and the structure itself that bother me. The first part of it is devoted to documenting how the hijackers got into the country and functioned within. The detail is meticulous and Graham uses this opportunity to talk about the shortcomings of US intelligence. The problem is, most of his solutions came to pass, minus the efficiency he proposed. The lives of brown-skinned Muslims became heavily scrutinized in this country. Effectiveness at targeting only suspected terrorists would have maybe helped but I’m not sure Graham’s plan is much better than what the Bush administration proposed (though it could hardly be worse).
The second part is devoted to life on the committee itself and here, we learn the juicy tidbits of how the Bush administration obstructed the investigation, ostensibly to shield its connections to Saudi Arabia and force a ridiculous war with neutral Iraq. My stomach churned at the turn of events, seeing the familiar parade of bad actors in their roles. Even Robert Mueller, lantern jawed honest man of the Trump investigation, doesn’t come off great here.
Graham builds a solid, if clunky case at how the Bush administration not only obstructed justice but lied us into a war. It’s one you’ve heard countless times but again, I found it compelling to hear from someone who had a front row seat to the carnage.
At any rate, this probably won’t tell you much of what you already knew but given the source, it’s still worth a read, even if it’s not especially readable.