Senator Bob Graham talks about new suspense novel, Keys to the Kingdom

VERO BEACH — Retired Senator Bob Graham told a supportive audience at the Vero Beach Book Center that he had taken for himself the advice he gave to students during commencement speeches.

“I told them, if you want to maintain your vitality and intellectual capacities, you should try something challenging; something different and hard,” explained Graham.

His suspenseful new political thriller, Keys to the Kingdom was both an answer to that challenge for himself and a catharsis of the anger he felt after delving into unanswered questions surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

vA former two-term Florida Governor, Graham served in the Senate for 18 years, and wrote the book using knowledge gleamed from both ten years of service on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and after delving deeply into the attacks for the one-year 9/11 Congressional Joint Inquiry he co-chaired with a House counterpart.

Senator Graham said that while questions today focus on how Osama Bin Laden could live in a large compound in Pakistan without anyone noticing, the primary 9/11 questions centered on how 19 terrorists could live in the United States without anyone knowing, and what role Saudi Arabia had in the attacks.

When the 800-page report surfaced to the public, many sections were heavily censured, but the section on Saudi involvement had been completely redacted.

“It made me feel there were secrets,” said Graham. “Why had the Saudis done this? How did these individuals live in anonymity? Why did the U.S. provide this kind of support to the Saudis?”

Senator Graham described the book’s characters and said that while it is a work of fiction, 40% is based on fact.

“Another 20% is based on fact with a fictional twist,” said Graham. “The second part is more fiction than fact.”

Answering a number of questions posed from the audience, Graham said he felt the Saudi’s principal motivating factor in their role was survival; suspecting that Bin Laden might have threated to overturn their monarchy.

Responding to a question on Pakistan Graham noted, “It’s like you’re in a bad marriage, but you can’t get out.”

He explained that Pakistan is dependent on our military and financial support, but that they are also potentially lethal to the United States because of their nuclear capabilities.

Relating that there had been no repercussions from governmental agencies regarding his book, Graham said that as a member of the CIA External Advisory Board, he was obligated to submit anything written about the agency for pre-publication review.

“I feel quite confident that my wife will not have to live with me spending the rest of my life in Leavenworth.”

As the audience lined up to have their book copies signed, Terry Adams had a particularly poignant message inscribed. Graham signed the book in memory of her sister Marion Serva, who was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11.

“She worked in the Department of the Army as a liaison between the Army and members on the hill,” explained Adams.

“It was definitely intriguing, very suspenseful and a little scary,” said Mary Graves of the book. “It feels very real; we know it could happen again. I don’t think we’re ever going to feel safe again.” {igallery 402}

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