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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Of The Same: CIA Inspector General Report on 9/11 Intelligence Failures

The CIA's IG report on pre-9/11 intelligence failures has been released (in unclassified summary form). It's more of the same thing we've been hearing for the last six years -- no accountability, no individuals are to blame. It's a tired, old tune. When a pizza doesn't get delivered in 30 minutes or less, someone gets fired. Yet, six years on, no one has been fired for any single accountability in the September 11 fiasco. Some excerpts are below, and the full document is here.

The Review Team found that Agency officers from the top down worked hard against the al-Qa'ida and Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) targets. They did not always work effectively and cooperatively, however. The Team found neither a "single point of failure" nor a "silver bullet" that would have enabled the Intelligence Community (IC) to predict or prevent the 9/11 attacks. The Team did find, however, failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data. If IC officers had been able to view and analyze the full range of information available before 11 September 2001, they could have developed a more informed context in which to assess the threat reporting of the spring and summer that year. (...)

The JI concluded that, before 9/11, neither the US Government nor the IC had a comprehensive strategy for combating al-Qa'ida. It charged that the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of IC resources necessary to combat the growing threat to the Vnited States. The OIG Team also found that the Ie did not have a documented, comprehensive approach to al-Qa'ida and that the DCI did not use all of his authorities in leading the IC's strategic effort against UBL. (...)

The Team found that certain units within CTC did not work effectively together to understand the structure and operations of al-Qa'ida. This situation had a particularly negative impact on performance with respect to Khalid Shaykh Muhammad (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The Team,like the Joint Inquiry, found that CTC's assigning principal responsibility for KSM to the Renditions Branch had the consequence that the resources of the Sunni Extremist Group, UBL Station, and CTC analysts were not effectively brought to bear on the problem. CTC considered KSM to be a high-priority target for apprehension and rendition, but did not recognize the significance of reporting from credible sources in 2000 and 2001 that portrayed him as a senior al-Qa'ida lieutenant and thus missed important indicators of terrorist planning. This intelligence reporting was not voluminous and its significance is obviously easier to determine in hindsight, but it was noteworthy even in the pre-9/11 period because it included the allegation that KSM was sending terrorists to the United States to engage in activities on behalf of Bin Ladin. (...)

The Team found:

• No comprehensive strategic assessment of al-Qa'ida by CTC or any other component.
• No comprehensive report focusing on UBL since 1993.
• No examination of the potential for terrorists to use aircraft as weapons, as distinguished from traditional hijackings.
• Limited analytic focus on the United States as a potential target.
• No comprehensive analysis that put into context the threats received in the spring and summer of 2001.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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