The September 11 attacks remains in the mind of Americans as a threat to national security regarded as the deadliest attack committed in United States soil. The terrorism attack against New York City and Washington left 2,750 fatalities in New York World Trade center, 184 at the Pentagon and other 40 casualties in Pennsylvania after the passengers tried to salvage the plane from the terrorists. The attack was associated with an Islamic Terrorism group (Al-Qaeda) with a reported number of approximately 19 militants. According to the 9/11 commission report, the attack was an avoidable tragedy which was instead perpetrated due to intelligence failure as well as failure by the Intelligence Community (IC) to connect the dots. Agencies on top of the list in light of the attack are the FBI (Federal Bureau Investigation), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), and NSA (National Security Agency) who failed to communicate intelligence information about terrorists meeting and planning the attack in Kuala Lumpur. CIA was accused of failing to register the names of the two terrorists who turned out to be hijackers. The NSA also had information after intercepting a conversation from Al Qaeda leaders who later switched communication lines prior to the day of the attack.
The Intelligence Community (IC) associate the 9/11 attack to a number of issues within and outside the Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement (LE) agencies. However, the IC admits that the attack materialized as a result of failure to share information across different agencies on the basis of policy makers in Washington, individual mistakes, and power plays within the intelligence community (Petersen, 2017, p. 34). Three reasons for the failed communication are, first, admission by Intelligence Community citing lack of sufficient resources in the intelligence community after a budget cut on intelligence from 1990 all through to 2000. With collapse of Soviet Union, the intelligence docket was hard it whereby in 1996 when only 25 career trainees graduated as case officers, a challenge to CIA's Directorate of Operations.
Second reason can be attributed to policy making within the US government on matters of counterterrorism before the attack. Even though a number of threats were reported to various domestic agencies by press media such as The New York Times which exposed Osama Bin Laden as a threat, the issue of counterterrorism was second or third priority (Petersen, 2017, p. 33). Thus the press reports that the group had only managed to kill 50 Americans overseas vindicated the precautions to be concentrated abroad and not in the United States soil. According to 9/11 Commission Report, communication barrier between the FBI and CIA is the third reason for a failed sharing of information. The FBI cites poor organizational structure, incentive systems, and a collaborative culture in the 1990s attested to a crippling Intelligence Community.
From a viewpoint of Law Enforcement community in the Federal, state and local jurisdiction, the Intelligence Community (IC) claims for lack of sharing information among agencies is a sham excuse to clinch on regarding the 9/11 attack. First, the police departments across different cities and towns have been effective in defending the community against a number of crimes ranging from rape, assault, petty theft and fraud. In everyday activities among Law Enforcement agents, high number of information is collected daily, the kind of information which when properly analyzed can be beneficial to build a case against criminals in an intelligence report (Carter, 2006). As such, the Intelligence Community failed to materialize the little information they had on the terrorists by coming up with lame excuses. The law enforcement authorities ranging from police departments and immigration department repositioning could have used the intelligence information to solve the criminal case were they alerted about the presence of hostile criminals who managed to plan for the attack in American soil.
Repositioning of the Law Enforcement in the US could have been beneficial in facilitating information sharing among various agencies thus making it easy to track any criminal activities ahead of the 9/11 attack. By providing actionable intelligence to law enforcement organizations such as the immigration and naturalization service, and Department of Justice powers to investigate intelligence on terrorist groups, the attack could have been neutralized before it happened. Sharing of information among various departments and agencies could have improved knowledge of the attack via unclassified database and communication systems (N.A., 2009). The repositioning of Homeland Security by incorporating various parties in the fight against terrorism by full participation of IC representatives and the law enforcement agencies has so far transformed anti-terrorism strategies in the United States. If state and local departments accountable for the security of the citizens are provided with classified information to reinforce their efforts on counterterrorism, sharing of information becomes efficient and timely to fulfill specific goals set by the Intelligence Community (IC) in the United States.
Years after the 9/11 attack, repositioning of the Intelligence Community has proved to be effective with law enforcers at state, local, and tribal law putting their life at risk to ensure the United States community is protected (N.A., 2009). Homeland Security has been restructured beyond the conventional investigating tradition by having teams that work as terrorism prevention and preparedness units across the United States. However, the national government should provide law enforcers with intelligence resources required to position them efficiently in securing the country against terrorism attacks.
Carter, D.L. (2006). Law enforcement intelligence: A guide for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Ilardi, G. J. (2009). The 9/11 attacks-a study of Al Qaeda's use of intelligence and counterintelligence. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 32(3), 171-187.
N.A. (2009). LEAP: Law Enforcement Assistance and Partnership Strategy. Washington, DC: Office of Congressman Bennie Thompson.
Petersen M., (2017). Reflections on Readings on 9/11, Iraq WMD, and Detention and Interrogation Program. Studies in Intelligence Vol. 61, No. 3, 31-44.
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