The Way to 9/11 - 10 Tragic Years of Organizational Failure

Topics: Central Intelligence Agency, Director of National Intelligence, September 11 attacks Pages: 11 (4011 words) Published: September 1, 2013
Johannes Berndt HUID: 80892993

The way to 9/11 – 10 tragic years of organizational failures Introduction
After 3025 persons died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the whole world was asking: What went wrong? What prevented the famous American security agencies as CIA or FBI from seeing Al Qaeda arising? The “mastermind” behind the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon was Usama Bin Ladin. In the first part of the following paper I will examine why the American security agencies as a whole were unable to identify the threat imposed by Al Qaeda. With the second part, I want to introduce the person who was clearly aware about the arising threat – John O’Neill – who was at that time chief of the FBI’s counterterrorism section. The question of why the FBI still did not change even when they was someone warning them from inside and pushing for a change of the structure.

The Intelligence Community
Catalyzed by the appearance of the Soviet Union and the imminent fear caused by the Cold War, new agencies developed to oppose this threat (Zegart, 1999, p. 5). The summary of all these agencies was then referred to as Intelligence Community (IC). During the 1990s, the IC consisted of 14 agencies (Zegart, "CNN with Secrets:" 9/11, the CIA, and the Organizational Roots of Failure, 2007, p. 20) which were separated in any thinkable way except for their overall goal: To ensure the security of the American people. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had a special role within the IC as it was originally “supposed to integrate efforts across the thirteen other agencies” (Zegart, 2007, p. 20). But 14 agencies – and they still failed to recognize the upcoming terrorism and the further need to restructure themselves to be prepared for this new opponent?


Johannes Berndt HUID: 80892993 What went wrong? Why did the agencies not think ahead or worked together? Why did they never ask other agencies to check what they knew? There were three major weaknesses in this system which prevented an efficient working: 1. A outdated structure; 2. An anti-progressive culture; 3. Misleading incentives. Structure In terms of the structural inefficiencies, the answer consists of two parts: First the way the CIA was implemented in the IC and secondly the internal structure of the both CIA and the FBI. The origins of the CIA’s internal problems can be dated back to its creation after World War II in 1947 by President Truman through the National Security Act. Truman was concerned with consolidating the existing system while the different agencies were vying for their own places in the postwar intelligence arena. They then came to a compromise in which the existing agencies received exclusive control about their particular fields and a new small organization which coordinates, evaluates and disseminates intelligence but not collects it. To be clear: The CIA should never be engaged in spying – it was supposed to be weak (Zegart, 1999, pp. 163165). However, with the beginning of the Cold War the CIA started an important evolution. Directly in 1947, the CIA was given the authority to perform covert action throughout Eastern Europe. In the following year, its temporary covert unit became permanent and official through a directive by the National Security Council (NSC) (Zegart, 1999, p. 190). While the policy makers eroded the initial concept of not giving a central intelligence agency the ability to collect information on its own, they failed to implement ways which would enable this agency to coordinate between the existing agencies and to analyze their information (Zegart, 1999, p.


Johannes Berndt HUID: 80892993 190). The intended goals which were thorough, objective analysis for policy makers and an elimination of duplication among the agencies were therefore missed. The compromise of the initial concept led to an agency which was competing with the older agencies in producing intelligence. According to Amy Zegart...

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Johannes Berndt HUID: 80892993 Sisson, M. W. (2013, May 7). The Washington Post. Retrieved from The Washington Post: Veteran Clandestine Officer. (2004, December). (A. B. Zegart, Interviewer) White, M. J. (2002). U.S. Attorney. (Frontline, Interviewer) Retrieved May 9, 2013, from Woolsey, J. (2002). (Frontline, Interviewer) Retrieved May 9, 2013, from Wright, L. (2006). The Looming Tower. New York: Vintage Books. Zegart, A. B. (1999). Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS and the NSC. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Zegart, A. B. (2007). "CNN with Secrets:" 9/11, the CIA, and the Organizational Roots of Failure. International Journay of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 20. Retrieved from Zegart, A. B. (2007). Spying Blind. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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