Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda
Publication Year: 2013
On September 11, 2001, as Central Intelligence Agency analyst Philip Mudd rushed out of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, he could not anticipate how far the terror unleashed that day would change the world of intelligence and his life as a CIA officer. For the previous fifteen years, his role had been to interpret raw intelligence and report his findings to national security decision makers. But within weeks of the 9/11 attacks, he would be on a military aircraft, over the Hindu Kush mountains, en route to Afghanistan as part of the U.S. government effort to support the fledging government there after U.S. forces toppled the Taliban. Later, Mudd would be appointed second-in-charge of the CIA's rapidly expanding Counterterrorist Center and then Senior Intelligence Adviser at the FBI. A first-person account of Mudd's role in two organizations that changed dramatically after 9/11, Takedown sheds light on the inner workings of the intelligence community during the global counterterror campaign.
Here Mudd tells how the Al Qaeda threat looked to CIA and FBI professionals as the focus shifted from a core Al Qaeda leadership to the rise of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and homegrown violent extremism from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. As a participant and a witness to key strategic initiatives—including the hunt for bin Laden and efforts to displace the Taliban—Mudd offers an insider's perspective on the relationships between the White House, the State Department, and national security agencies before and after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Through telling vignettes, Mudd reveals how intelligence analysts understood and evaluated potential dangers and communicated them to political leaders.
Takedown is a gripping narrative of tracking terrorism during what may be the most exhilarating but trying times American intelligence has ever seen.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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The Orange Bowl, Miami’s iconic, rickety football stadium, was the venue for the glory years of Miami football—from the hometown Dolphins’ perfect year of 1972, and their Super Bowl runs of the 1970s, to the rise of the University of Miami hurricanes and their first collegiate national championship in 1982. when my parents moved the family, five kids, to Miami from Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s, they bought season tickets to the ...
1 The 9/11 Aftermath
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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 ...
2 A Return to Langley
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I had no job when I returned to Washington after Christmas, and the flurry of activity the previous months had kept me largely insulated from the changes the Agency had recently undergone. Aside from working on transportation for the Dobbins team and speaking to a few of the people managing the CIA fight in Afghanistan, I hadn’t stayed in any sort of contact...
3 The Spreading Threat: Moving Beyond the Core of Al Qaeda
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Sitting on the inside, these were difficult years, trying to grapple with where this onslaught of violence would end. Years later, looking back, it is easy to see that this adversary could not win. The senseless violence, the nihilistic ideology, the murder of local innocents would almost inevitably turn the tide of Muslim public opinion. These all conspired against Al Qaeda, ...
4 The Second War: The Intelligence Problem of Iraq
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As time passed, the Al Qaeda battle was coupled with questions about this other, unexpected battlefield that would soon emerge as one of the biggest challenges we faced: Iraq. Consumed as we were with the immediacy of Al Qaeda threats and how we were faring in that campaign, the Iraq problem came to us out of our peripheral vision, off the horizon and then ...
5 A New View at CIA: Deputy Director of the Counterterrorist Center
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The Iraq-Al Qaeda story crept into our work occasionally after secretary of state Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in February 2003, but never with the same intensity. As war loomed and then the initial Shock and Awe strikes hit Baghdad in March, media coverage and public interest shifted quickly to the invasion, to the emerging shock at the ...
6 The Years of Threat
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There was so much threat reporting, often from credible sources, and so many spikes in activity, over the course of years, that the threats run together. Those years are a jumble, running from one threat to another while we tried to understand the progress in the war more broadly and stand up an office that had the bureaucratic support to provide careers and...
7 Watching Threats at Home: The FBI Calls
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The years after 9/11 passed quickly; the pace of change, the variety of problems we faced, and the magnitude of the challenge all combined to telescope time. Despite the complexity of the positions we occupied, though, I thought that turnover was good. CIA specializes in recruiting talent—we had plenty of it in the Counterterrorist Center—and keeping managers in...
8 One More Transfer: Intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security
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When the staff of President Obama arrived at the White House in 2009, they were looking for career professionals to take senior positions. Not long after the inauguration, I received a call about taking one of those positions, head of intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security. This was a rare opportunity for an analyst who started in an...
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Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013