Israel had warned the U.S. in August a of major assault
September 20, 2001 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Israel had warned the U.S. in August a of major assault Mossad (Intelligence agency) had warned the U.S. of many known terrorists slipping into America. Nothing done.
posted by Postroad (15 comments total)

Knowing that something is going to happen isn't terribly helpful. Even knowing where doesn't help much: we've known that the WTC is a major target ever since the '93 bombing. But unless who know who and when the intel just tells us what we already know.

We can blame the NSA and the CIA for not warning us, but it's incredibly difficult to pinpoint times and places from sigint when the enemy uses encrypted links and compartmentalizes the operational cells. The airlines must shoulder part of the burden: their abysmal security measures allowed the terrorists to hijack four large airliners practically simultaneously. We can blame the INS for not catching the terrorists when they entered the country. We can blame the FBI for not following the "watch list" more closely.

Ultimately there is a lot of blame to spread around, but the simple fact is that America just was not prepared for this kind of attack. A free society is by definition an open one, and an open society has many points of weakness. The terrorists found such a point, at exploited it at terrible cost.

In my view, we are going to have to give the CIA much more leeway than we have in the past to make use of humint: human intelligence. People on the ground. Spies. Assassins. It may be unsavory, but it's the most effective way to fight an enemy of this kind.
posted by mrmanley at 8:03 AM on September 20, 2001

I wish, for the sake of face, that the nsa, cia and fbi would publish a (the) list of foiled attacks. There have been so many attempts its scary. Anyone have news/links about this?
posted by tomplus2 at 8:04 AM on September 20, 2001

gee, and i'm sure the USA recieves NO other threats. If the USA took every threat seriously, our country would be under lockdown 24/7...
posted by jmd82 at 8:06 AM on September 20, 2001

I think these warnings from actual governments should be taken seriously. These aren't just crackpots, they found evidence, yet it seems we just ignored it. I don't get it.
posted by Mark at 8:19 AM on September 20, 2001

What bothers me about this aspect of events is that one the one hand, the agencies are saying "there was no warning" and requesting more funding, more freedom to eavesdrop, etc., while on the other hand it seems they aren't working with the information they already have. It's complicated, I know. I realize the difficulty of intelligence work and sorting through mountains of information to determine what's an actual threat and what isn't. I'm in agreement with you, mrmanley, that human intelligence will be most important in the future, and that includes analysts. I'm all for increased funding if it provides more people to parse the data.
posted by Dean King at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2001

Wired says they left a big paperless paper trail, and did you see this: "Some of them chose paperless electronic tickets, and -- for reasons hard to grasp -- entered in their frequent-flier numbers."
posted by elvissinatra at 8:28 AM on September 20, 2001

F.B.I agent-"yes senator, we did have the terrorists under survelliance"

Senator Livid:"agent idiot, do the words Wells and Fargo mean anything to you, because even they wont hire you..."

i want someones head on a stick.
posted by newnameintown at 8:43 AM on September 20, 2001

tomplus2: Thanks for pointing out what many fail to grasp. Yes, there was a failure of American intelligence here, but for cryin' out loud...there were likely hundreds (thousands?) of attempts that were thwarted before they were executed. Remember Y2K? Would-be terrorists stopped at several border crossings? Didn't make a big splash in the headlines, but you can be sure that catching those bad guys prevented many, many American (and other) lives from being lost.

Right now, the best thing (but not only thing) to do is GET BETTER re: intelligence. There will be time to assign blame or pinpoint specific failures later.
posted by davidmsc at 8:49 AM on September 20, 2001

We have tons of information and tons of names and databases with all that information and it is not getting out to the people who need that information. In business someone would be hired to get the information out to those who need it (airports). But here it seems to be the business of government to keep people from having access to that information. Wrong.
posted by slowlightning at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2001

And who is this Donald "Stonewall" Rumsfeld?????
posted by slowlightning at 9:35 AM on September 20, 2001

The thwarted attack I remember that made the news came around last new years. I live in Seattle, and it was at the nearby Canadian border they caught the person with bomb materials in the car. They say that was from alert border guards rather than intelligence sources. But perhaps it was from intelligence agencies, and they *didn't want* to reveal they knew something in order to protect their sources? That could be the case elsewhere.
posted by borgle at 10:03 AM on September 20, 2001 seems to be the business of government to keep people from having access to that information.

Which is another concern. I can't find the link to the article (there have been so many in the past week), but there seems to exist a spirit of "competition" between various intelligence agencies. The FBI won't share information with the CIA (and vice versa) in order to keep the case to themselves and take the credit once the case has been made. Obviously there needs to be reform in this area.
posted by Dean King at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2001

Hell, I don't care if they tell the public or not about these threats. In fact, I'd rather not know.

But if there was even a 2% chance that their plots were plausible, SOMEONE should have done something about airport security.
posted by kat at 12:41 PM on September 20, 2001

common guys
Moassad gives 100's of tips to what is going to happen but never happened, we can't blame the CIA unless they gave them more than it is going to happen sometime
let CIA do its job
posted by pentiunmx at 1:32 PM on September 20, 2001

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