“An Intelligence Failure of Historic Proportions”
It was “an intelligence failure of historic proportions.” John Kiriakou, former CIA officer and author of The Convenient Terrorist.
A quote from the book The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, regarding Bush and Tenet after Tenet had presented the CIA’s proposed plans for responding to the 9/11 attacks:
“Did Bush have any anxiety about the leverage Tenet had over him, having laid out a series of warnings about Al Qaeda in the previous months, resulting in little offensive action from the leadership that received it? Bush didn’t need enemies. He needed friends.” [p. 107]
It has been a question frequently raised after the 9/11 attacks why the CIA didn’t inform the FBI or the White House about the presence of two known terrorists in the United States until shortly before those attacks. The CIA claims either they did inform the FBI or they didn’t, but it’s a mystery why there is no evidence of such information being passed or why it wasn’t passed. One common speculation is that the agency was running an operation involving these terrorists and didn’t want that operation interfered with. But here now is another possibility: That CIA, by not revealing all it knew, could mislead the FBI and the White House as to the likelihood of such attacks while claiming they had warned others. Then, if and when the attacks occurred, the CIA would be in the driver’s seat, so to speak, as that organization that was on top of things, thereby guaranteeing that their plans regarding a response to the attacks would be adopted. Which is what happened on September 17th, after Tenet had presented the CIA’s proposals at Camp David to Bush and his cabinet on September 15th.
If so, Kiriakou’s description of the lead up to 9/11 as “an intelligence failure of historic proportions” would be precisely the description the CIA was going for at that time. So, in the midst of what looks like a historic intelligence failure, the CIA comes out smelling like roses and has its way in the aftermath. As a result, the CIA’s document “Destroying International Terrorism” which was “a wish list accumulated from decades of CIA directors’ and employees’ wildest dreams” would become the heart and soul of the US’s response to 9/11. This would constitute “a striking [program] that was a substantive departure from all prior US policy.” [p. 102, 103-04] All restraints would be abandoned and, as a result, “illegality would become official American policy.” Further, according to Tenet, “in dozens of countries…, there was a need for a host of covert activities, from propaganda to killings….Tenet asserted that a terrorist assassination list should be developed and updated by his counterterrorist staff.”
As Tenet himself said, in selling his proposals: “Nobody knew this target like we knew it. Others haven’t been paying attention to this for years as we had been doing. And nobody else had a coordinated plan for expanding out of Afghanistan to combat terrorism across the globe….” [p. 106] Of course, Tenet’s claim that no one else knew the enemy like the CIA did was true in part because the CIA kept others from knowing what the CIA knew. And for similar reasons, others hadn’t been paying attention as had the CIA.
To call what preceded the 9/11 attacks “an intelligence failure of historic proportions” is both true and the perfect cover up of what the CIA had and had not been doing during that time. For a long time, many have said that CIA’s greatest cover up is selling itself as an intelligence-gathering agency. It seems that its cover up of its activities prior to 9/11 ranks up there with its cover up as an intelligence agency.