9/11 Was a Day of Unforgivable Government Failure
Perhaps more than anything else, the rationale given for the necessity of the state—and the necessity of supporting the regime at any given time—is that it “keeps us safe.” This permeates thinking about government institutions at all levels, from “thin blue line” sloganeering at the local level, all the way up to jingoism surrounding the Pentagon.
Presumably, the hundreds of billions of dollars extracted from taxpayers, year after year after year, is all both necessary and laudable because without it, chaos would reign on our streets, and foreign invaders would slaughter Americans.
Yet, this rationale for state power also presumes that the nation’s alleged defenders are actually competent at their jobs.
Whether or not this is case certainly remains debatable as the recent military disasters in Afghanistan have made clear. The Pentagon brass pushed for continued war in Afghanistan for 20 years, and ultimately, lost the entire country to the Taliban, the very people Pentagon generals assured us they would eliminate “soon.”
[Read More: “The Pentagon and the Generals Wanted This Disastrous War” by Ryan McMaken]
Moreover, the so-called “intelligence community” in the United States has repeatedly failed in its mission at crucial times. This can be seen in the fact the CIA was asleep at the switch in the lead ups to both the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 —both of which constituted an immense blow to American “safety” by the American regime’s metrics.
Needless to say, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were made possible by an immense military and intelligence failure on the part of the United States government. Not only did the US government provide the motivation for the attacks—through endless meddling in Middles Eastern regimes—but the US regime failed to protect its own citizens when the blowback arrived.
Yet, as is so common following displays of incompetence by government bureaucrats, virtually no government agents was held accountable for this failure. The head of the CIA on 9/11, George Tenet, continued at his post for years afterward. There certainly was no “house cleaning” at the FBI either.
Yet federal agencies allegedly formed to “keep us safe” were more or less AWOL in the lead up to 9/11, choosing to focus on relatively petty goals, and on augmenting the agencies’ public-relations efforts, rather than on terrorism.
The CIA at the Center
A bevy of books have been published over the last 20 years examining the massive intelligence blundering that preceded 9/11. Many of them are partisan, and many attempt to blame everything on elected officials. But the failures leading up to 9/11 go much deeper than that. Much of this is described in detail by Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn in their book Constructing Cassandra: Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001.
The authors note that the 9/11 failure was a failure of multiple intelligence agencies, as well as numerous US policymakers across many agencies and institutions.
But, as Jones and Silberzahn contend, “the CIA stands at the center of the failure. … [p]rior to 9/11, the CIA was primus inter pares among the agencies of the U.S. intelligence community, chartered specifically to coordinate the community’s activities against threats—especially surprise attacks originating abroad.”1
The story of the CIA’s failure is one of an organization that was repeatedly warned of the al-Qa’ida threat by internal analysists. But both the CIA leadership, and the rank and file, chose to ignore the warnings. Rather, before 9/11, the leadership insisted on focusing on China, Iran, and Iraq. Other priorities included drug trafficking, organized crime, and illicit trade practices and “environmental issues of great gravity.”
Thanks only partly to guidance handed down form the Clinton administration in the late 1990s, “intelligence about al-Qa’ida [was] equal to that [of] …the illegal trade of tropical
Article from Mises Wire