The Reason That Lead to 9/11 Attacks

America was devastated after the 9/11 attacks. Questions of “How could it have happened?” and “How could we have known the attack would occur?” with abounding fear. Americans just had no clue that the Muslim world had declared war on them for past transgressions.

The United States suffered its worst inland attack by a group of radical Islamic Muslims whose ideology differed considerably to that of the Western culture. Most Americans wondered how a powerful country with vast resources, wealth, knowledge, and secure federal law enforcement agencies, allow such a cowardly act to occur.

INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY ROOTS

Intelligence Community

We only have to look at the roots of ‘Intelligence Community’ (IC) after World War II. In the beginning, government ‘Intelligence’ agencies argued with each other, did not share intelligence, and were very protective of their gathered data. Even worst, the military intelligence was very suspicious of the civilian intelligence agencies.

William J. Donovan
William J. Donovan

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed William J. Donovan of New York as the Coordinator of Information (COI), to a civilian office attached to the White House under the new name, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), in 1942. This fellow was the precursor of the fictional James Bond spy who invented the discipline of non-departmental strategic intelligence analysis known as ‘Research and Analysis Branch (R&A).’ Not only did Donovan have the difficult job of obtaining foreign intelligence but he had to overcome the American rival agencies obstacles that were set continuously before OSS because they did not like Donovan.

ROCKY BEGINNING FOR THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

With the death of Donavon’s friend, President Roosevelt in 1945, President Harry S. Truman disbanded the OSS since Truman disliked Donovan. After World War II, the military and civilian intelligence organizations seem to have been embattled for the top leadership of intelligence operations.

CIA Chart
CIA Chart

In 1946, President Truman created the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and later renamed it as Central Intelligence Agency in 1947. Under the authority of the National Security Act of 1947, the Military Services integrated it into the Department of Defense, but later it was concluded that the Military Services continued to plague the CIA. Even the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) could not resolve the military and civilian intelligence fail relationship.

The National Security Agency (NSA) was created in 1952 to help unify strategic communications and intelligence functions and also help relieve the inter-service rivalry over the control of targeting intelligence. The United States faced issues on the need to collect more intelligence information about Russia, her satellites, and Communist China.

CONTROL OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

The Defense Reorganization Act of 1958 was passed to continue reform in the central operation. It assigned responsibility to the Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) and Military Departments for the provision of adequate, timely and reliable intelligence. The 1960 Joint Study Group (JSG) suggested creating a new intelligence organization with broad powers over the intelligence programs and activities of defense components.

Robert S. McNamara
A 1968 Cabinet meeting with Dean Rusk, President Johnson and Robert S. McNamara

Once again, the military wanted control of the intelligence leadership. The new Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, established a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 1961 and directed the JCS to submit within 30 days a concept for a DIA that extensively integrated all military intelligence efforts. JCS proposed a Military Intelligence Agency (MIA) to “perform estimating, targeting, and basic intelligence functions.”

THE END RESULT

Major Andrew W. Green (2005) summarized why America was poorly prepared to face the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Green explained that the IC “continued infighting with each other, the unwillingness to cede information at the risk of losing control, and the State Department and the agencies that would eventually fall under the new Department of Defense fought the creation of the Coordinator of Information, the CIG, and the CIA.”

9-11-Memorial-Plaza
9-11-Memorial-Plaza

The initial question in the onset of this report was, “How could we have known the attack would occur? It was answered by Lieutenant General Hayden’s, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 to 2005, on his testimony before the 9/11 Commission on the reason the certain terrorist information was not disseminated. Hayden claimed,

“It was not because the information was sensitive and needed protection, but that the information was deemed unexceptional, and therefore not important enough for dissemination.”

Because IC did not share terrorist information amongst each other, even if it was deemed as an unexceptional bit of information, it was withheld with the assumption that it was irrelevant.

That false assumption

“led to a restricted ideal environment for fostering free, or outside the box thinking,”

within the IC, said Green. Sadly, such type of thinking help place the United States in a very vulnerable position that led to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A view through a new lens at the dichotomy of need-to-know versus need-to-share within the IC upper ranks must take place.

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