THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11 AND THE FAILURE OF U. S. INTELLIGENCE

29 March 2002

To: R. McHenry, T. Seward, E. Argyle, R. M. Blair et al.

Have received and read all your letters.

In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. by terrorists, a long overdue overhaul of U.S. intelligence capabilities may be warranted. In recent years we have witnessed failures in U.S. intelligence including the 1998 attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the U.S.S. Cole, and so on.

Some have you have argued that a contributing factor to these failures is the lack of resources the U.S. has devoted to HUMINT in the last decade. During the Cold War human-based intelligence capabilities including agent networks, linguist skills, and analysis were of paramount importance but have withered as national technical means continue to receive much funding for eavesdropping technologies such as surveillance satellites and signals intelligence flights.

Two of you have mentioned that the failure to prevent the 9/11 attack was due to the lack of coordination and sharing of information between the FBI and the CIA and other agencies. Indeed, Ed says in his msg that because of the intelligence failures caused by the lack of such coordination the U.S. has been at war against terrorists since the first World Trade Center bombing without knowing that war had been declared against it!

But in truth the reasons for the failure to prevent the 9/11 attack are complex and the intelligence agencies should not be solely blamed. Shoddy airport security is another contributing factor. And another factor is the failure of some of America’s allies to unite against countries that sponsor terrorism because they are interested in striking deals.

-- W. Brahms



William Brahms
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