Reading The 9/11 Commission Report in London

It’s raining.  No, pouring.

Self feeling slightly fatigued.

Took Eurostar from Gare du Nord, Holy Cow, the lines for Immigration were so long.  For the first time in ages, an Immigration Officer asked self many questions about the purpose of her trip, etc.

The other thing about taking the train is:  There is no way to ditch your luggage by checking in.  Self truly felt the weight of every pound.  She had to stow the luggage in a space two cars away, because the train was so full.

On the other hand, it is very nice to look at the passing countryside.  She only realized she had passed through the Chunnel when she heard an announcement about the train’s next stop:  Asheford.  It felt as though the train had gone through the Chunnel in something like 10 minutes.

Though self loved Paris, it is a hard city to negotiate.  Not because of the language, but because of the unhelpful signage.  By the last day of her stay, self had decided that if she saw a sign for a Museum, any Museum, she would head in the opposite direction. For instance, near the corner of Pigalle and Boulevard Rochechouart, she saw a sign saying MUSEE de la VIE ROMANTIQUE.

If she had seen it on her first day in Paris, she would have followed the sign unquestioningly.  But, since she saw it on her 6th day, she was skeptical.  But sorely tempted.

She gave in to temptation and resolved to walk two blocks in the direction of the arrow, no more.

She passed many sex shops.  Hmm, interesting.  After two blocks, the streets seemed to move in unpredictable directions.  Self decided to head back to the bus stop.  Eventually, she caught the # 67 for the Louvre.

Anyhoo, self is finally in London.  She was so happy to be speaking English again.  The hotel is in Belgravia.  It is very nice.

She is reading The 9/11 Commission Final Report.  It is a very, very engrossing book.  Self is on Chapter 8 (“The System Was Blinking Red”).  The subtitles in this Chapter say it all:

  • The Summer of Threat
  • The Drumbeat Begins
  • High Probablity of Near-Term “Spectacular” Attacks

In the beginning of the summer of 2001, here’s where the CIA and the FBI were looking:  “Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, and possibly Rome . . .  ”

p. 257:  ” . . .  the State Department notified all embassies of the terrorist threat and updated its worldwide public warning” and “a terrorist threat advisory in late June indicated a high probability of near-term spectacular terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties.”

p. 260:  “On July 27, (Richard) Clarke informed (Condoleeza) Rice . . .  that the spike in intelligence about a near-term al Qaeda attack had stopped.”

p. 265:  “The head of counterterrorism at the FBI, Dale Watson, said he had many discussions about possible attacks with Cofer Black at the CIA.  They had expected an attack on July 4.  Watson said he felt deeply that something was going to happen.  But he told us the threat information was ‘nebulous.’  He wished he had known more.  He wished he had had ‘500 analysts looking at Usama bin Laden threat information instead of two.’ ”

(A curious thing about this book is that, throughout, Osama bin Laden is referred to as “Usama bin Ladin” and so self has to assume that the popular usage of this name in American newspapers, including The New Yorker and The New York Times, is not the correct one —  ???)

Somewhere in the back of her mind is the awareness that UK hope Andy Murray is in the Wimbledon finals against Grand Slam Mainstay Roger Federer.  Which makes Murray an Extreme Underdog.  Self very much desires to watch this match.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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