Attack on World Trade Center and Pentagon and U.S. War on Terrorism

Reportage 25 September - 11 October 2001


Materials presented chronologically.

Ringle, Ken. "The Nature and Nurture of a Fanatical Believer: A Void Filled to the Brim With Hatred." Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2001, C1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to Jerrold Post, George Washington University psychiatry professor and co-author of Political Paranoia -- The Psychopolitics of Hatred, "[t]he suicidal terrorist ... is simply an extreme example of 'the true believer' described by social philosopher Eric Hoffer in a landmark book of that name half a century ago -- the individual whose inner sense of worthlessness, confusion or rage seeks refuge and validating rebirth within a charismatic mass movement."

Tagliabue, John, and Raymond Bonner. "German Data Led U.S. to Search for More Hijackers After Attack." New York Times, 29 Sep. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"In the hours following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, German intelligence agents intercepted a phone conversation between jubilant followers of Osama bin Laden that led the F.B.I. to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to officials in both countries."

Risen, James. "U.S. Pursued Secret Efforts to Catch or Kill bin Laden." New York Times, 30 Sep. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA "secretly began to send teams of American officers to northern Afghanistan about three years ago in an attempt to persuade the leader of the anti-Taliban Afghan opposition [Ahmed Shah Massoud] to capture and perhaps kill Osama bin Laden."

Brooks, T[homas] A. [RADM/USN (Ret)] "Did Intelligence Fail Us?" U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 127, no. 10 (Oct. 2001): 54-55.

"Intelligence failed not in its inability to predict time and place, but in its inability to think the unthinkable, and to understand the mind-set of the enemy and extrapolate that into warning of what could happen." Bath, NIPQ 18.1, comments that this article provides "a well-considered view of what can reasonably be expected of intelligence and why it failed to deliver" in the case of 11 September 2001.

Gordon, Michael R., and David E. Sanger. "Bush Approves Covert Aid for Taliban Foes." New York Times, 1 Oct. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Administration officials said on 30 September 2001 that "President Bush has approved a secret effort to strengthen a diverse array of groups opposing the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan."

Pincus, Walter. "House Panel Suggests Revamping Intelligence." Washington Post, 2 Oct. 2001, A11. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

In a report on the fiscal 2002 intelligence authorization bill, HPSCI "has suggested in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks that a 'fresh look' be taken at restructuring the CIA and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, including establishment of a separate clandestine service devoted to human intelligence."

Perlez, Jane, and David E. Sanger. "Powell Says U.S. Had Signs, but Not Clear Ones, of a Plot." New York Times, 3 Oct. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 2 October 2001, U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that "the Bush administration had received a 'lot of signs' that terrorists were planning attacks against the United States but extensive efforts by intelligence agencies failed to pick up enough information to stop the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington."

Woodward, Bob, and Thomas E. Ricks. "CIA Trained Pakistani Commandos to Nab Bin Laden." Washington Post, 3 Oct. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to "people familiar with the operation," the CIA in 1999 "trained and equipped" some 60 commandos from the Pakistani intelligence agency to enter Afghanistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. "The operation was arranged by then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his chief of intelligence.... The plan was aborted later that year when Sharif was ousted in a military coup."

Atkinson, Rick. "Special, Not Super." Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2001, A31.

The U.S. Special Forces "are among the best trained, best equipped and best conditioned soldiers of any army in any era.... [But] there are limits to what can be expected of these elite forces." In an unconventional campaign, such as they will be called upon to conduct in Afghanistan, "the ability of the U.S. military to think in unorthodox terms will be as important as valor, tenacity and firepower."

Risen, James. "In Hindsight, C.I.A. Sees Flaws That Hindered Efforts on Terror." New York Times, 7 Oct. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

DCI George J. Tenet "issued a secret directive shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks" that called for "an immediate end to peacetime bureaucratic constraints on the C.I.A." and demanded "improved coordination and information sharing throughout the government's national security apparatus." The DCI's "directive did not address the controversy surrounding the C.I.A.'s guidelines that require high-level approval before the C.I.A.'s American officers can recruit foreign spies with unsavory backgrounds." But a U.S. intelligence official said that since 9/11, the CIA."has streamlined the guidelines in order to speed the approval process for the recruitment of new agents. Now, new agents can be approved by the C.I.A.'s Deputy Director of Operations..., and the requests no longer have to be sent further up the agency's organization chart, including all the way to the director himself."

Hersh, Seymour M. "What Went Wrong: The C.I.A. and the Failure of American Intelligence." New Yorker, 8 Oct. 2001. [Posted at http://www.newyorker.com on 1 October 2001]

According to a Justice Department official, "the widely anticipated white paper [showing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks] could not be published ... for lack of hard facts.... Today's C.I.A. is not up to the job" of getting at the kind of intelligence needed against terrorists. The CIA "has steadily reduced its reliance on overseas human intelligence and cut the number of case officers abroad ... whose mission is to recruit spies." [Quotes from Reuel Marc Gerecht, "The Counterterrorist Myth." Atlantic Monthly, Jul.-Aug. 2001.]

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. "In Hot Pursuit." Time, 8 Oct. 2001. [http://www.time.com]

"Sources tell TIME that U.S. special forces have been moving in and out of Afghanistan for three years now looking for bin Laden. Recently, the activity has been stepped up. But they face the challenge of capturing a man who knows the terrain, has dozens of hideouts and is surrounded by loyal followers."

Pianin, Eric. "Ridge Assumes Security Post Amid Potential for New Attacks." Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2001, A6. "'An Orchestra Leader, Not a Drill Sergeant': As Homeland Security Chief, Ridege Coordinates Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Defense." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 15-21 Oct. 2001, 30.

On 8 October 2001, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was sworn in as "director of the Office of Homeland Security, with responsibility for coordinating a wide variety of federal, state and local security activities to combat terrorism, including the gathering and distribution of intelligence reports on terrorist threats, preparedness efforts to deal with potential attacks and actions to prevent such attacks."

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Steps Up Scope, Pace of Efforts on Terrorism." Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2001, A4. "A New Era in Cooperation: The CIA, Other Government Agencies and the Military Are Pooling Efforts to Fight Terrorism." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 15-21 Oct. 2001, 31.

Senior intelligence officials say that the "CIA has doubled the size of its counterterrorism center" since the 9/11 attacks, "adding not only more of its own analysts and operations officers but also FBI and Pentagon personnel, including members of the Army's Special Forces.... To ensure that there is a more complete exchange of information, officials from the counterterrorism center meet twice a day with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and his deputies to go over new data."

Sipress, Alan, and Vernon Loeb. "CIA's Stealth War Centers on Eroding Taliban Loyalty and Aiding Opposition." Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2001, A1. "The CIA's Stealth War: U.S. Covert Efforts Include Winning the Loyalty of Taliban Defectors." Washington Poat National Weekly Edition, 15-21 Oct. 2001, 6.

According to administration officials, the CIA has launched an effort "in the parts of Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban is most deeply rooted in the local ethnic Pashtun community ... to win the loyalty of dissident Taliban commanders through the use of money or fear.... The success of this strategy could turn on the intelligence efforts and intimate cooperation of Pakistan.... That prospect received a crucial boost" on 7 October 2001 when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf "ousted several influential intelligence and military leaders who remained close to the Taliban, most notably purging Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed of the Interservices Intelligence Agency."

Fenton, Ben. "CIA Tries to Bribe Taliban to Swap Sides." Telegraph (London), 11 Oct. 2001. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"CIA agents were reported [on 10 October 2001] to be trying to bribe and cajole Taliban commanders to turn against the regime in the south and east of Afghanistan."

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