Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda

By Philip Mudd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
THE 9/11 AFTERMATH

THE EISENHOWER Executive Office Building stands next to the West Wing of the White House, across the avenue inside the White House complex that passes by the permanent TV stands where commentators on the nightly news can report with the White House residence and the West Wing as a backdrop. “Old EOB,” as it is known, is often described as a weddingcake building: an ornate edifice with black-and-white checkerboard marble floors and high-ceilinged offices. The building is lovely but too elaborate, too expensive, too spacious for a world in which scrutiny of government spending would mean that no one would think of designing a modern-day version. It is a relic of another age, when heels echoed down marble halls and decisions were considered behind mahogany desks without the speed of electrons or the 24-hour press of media, Congress, and life in the capital.

For me, it was a wonder to come to Washington as a junior government official—at the CIA—and find myself, fifteen years later, walking to work every day along the executive avenue that runs beside the West Wing. It seemed more of a TV show set, not a daily commuting route. Walking outside you might see some foreign leader you’d only ever heard of in the news getting out of a limousine to walk through the West Wing doors, a nationally recognizable correspondent you’d only ever seen on TV, or a senior government official whose name had only ever been the title page of a document. All this

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