In less than two months the United States will be facing the tenth anniversary of one of the greatest disasters in our nation’s history. We’re planning a special session at the Graham Center. Among the topics we’ll be discussing, in addition to the attack itself, will be the aftermath and the events leading up to what is now called the Arab Spring. Already, we’ve had two major speakers – Nick Kristof and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — in the past year discussing many of the events of the last tumultuous decade. Over the next three months we’ll be hosting Sen. Bob Graham, who has written extensively on the intelligence failures leading up the attacks, and Peter Bergen, the journalist and author who has written an exhaustive history of the “long war” against al-Qaida.
On Sept. 11, Graham will host a session at the Pugh Hall Ocora discussing the threat of biological attacks and the state of preparedness in Florida. It’s part of a special program featuring the efforts of University of Florida students who have been looking at preparedness issues over the summer months.
Graham, chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, most recently wrote about 9/11 and the mysteries surrounding the role of Saudi Arabia in that attack. The issue has so intrigued him that he’s made the rare step of dealing with them in a new novel. Why? As he’ll tell you, it’s easier to discuss intelligence in fiction and not run afoul of giving away any of the great secrets he was privy to as one of the nation’s foremost policy experts on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Bergen, who will speak at the Graham Center on Oct. 12, has dedicated the last decade to an exhaustive series of books that provide one of the best courses on Osama bin Laden and the terrorism war he started. His most recent book, The Longest War, is a definitive account the war against al-Qaida.
“Though some of the material in The Longest War is familiar, Bergen, through interviews with lesser-known figures, particularly from the world of counter-terrorism, adds much to what is already known,” said a reviewer at London’s Guardian website. “However, it is on the other side that the book is revelatory. The internal workings of bin Laden’s group are still largely obscure, at least to the general public, and Bergen does a fine job of negotiating the maze of personalities and ideologies to explain the various evolutions al-Qaida has undergone.”