National Defense Panel predicted WTC-style attack in 1997.
September 21, 2001 11:24 PM   Subscribe

National Defense Panel predicted WTC-style attack in 1997. Also contains link to report. Haven't read it yet (it's pretty long), so I don't know what it suggests. But apparently the Administration is paying attention now. "Unanticipated asymmetries," indeed.
posted by aflakete (3 comments total)
"a homeland security agency -- a sweeping sort of interior ministry whose very name might have unsettled many Americans before Sept. 11."
I know it's been said before, but that name still unsettles me. And I want it to stay that way.
posted by liam at 11:40 PM on September 21, 2001

The salient points are in the article. The writers of that report didn't spend time thinking up specific scenarios; it was more about the general problem. Now that anybody could fill a Ryder truck with fertilizer and get in the history books, it was the type of attack that would be increasingly seen, one which spent as little money and manpower as possible to have the greatest possible effect.

It was nice to see Gingrich humbly giving some of the credit to Clinton. I guess the Freepers would see him as a sell-out for a comment like that ...

What's really striking, though, is reading this report how seemingly every page anticipates this type of attack, e.g.

An adaptive adversary:
exploiting his strengths? attacking our weaknesses

* Attack our will to fight
* Employ imaginative tactics and techniques
* Deny access to forward locations
* Exploit WMD [weapons of mass destruction] technology
* Target fixed installations and massed formations
* Move the fight to urban areas
* Combine approaches for even greater synergy

... which describes 9-11 in every way except the forward locations aspect, or later,

Transnational challenges and threats, by definition, reside in more than one country and require a multi-partner response.


* Vulnerable to unconventional attack
* Blurs military/ law enforcement line
* Respects no boundaries
* Requires international cooperation

There is much in this report about global and regional stability and the importance of developing cooperative partnerships everywhere we can. It was very troubling to me and others that the Bush foreign policy was tilting dangerously unilateral -- seeing engagement with other nations as something of a chore leading to frustrating interference with favored domestic policy -- up until last week, when it appear that they discovered the value of having leverage with even Russia and China, and found that all it took to shut down the intifada was the right amount of arm-twisting. It looks very much to me like Bush has finally read this report and is probably basing much of his approach to the current crisis on it. Notably there was some overlap with the military reform efforts that Rumsfeld (and his lackey Wolfowitz) were working on, including elements such as: smaller, more mobile units at high readiness; fewer expensive bases; more exotic weapons for space and information warfare (favorites of Rummy); and privatization of many military logistics roles -- but that was a force strategy, not a foreign policy.

Really, nobody imagined anything quite like this -- it really seemed like something out of the fevered, irrational minds of folks like Klebold and Harris, even, more than rational terrorists striking at rational targets like defense forward positions (Beirut, Dhahran). Unfortunately, there were men so mad out there, and there's more where they came from. But the general response has been outlined, and there are some uncomfortable truths there.
posted by dhartung at 1:31 AM on September 22, 2001

This is why William Saletan's brave piece about reverse consequentialism was also misguided. The ticklish point overlooked by his argument is that turning consequentalism on its head only really works when there is some sort of symmetry. Without it, the argument turns into "You think you've got your gun against my forehead? Do you? NO! I'VE got MY FOREHEAD against YOUR GUN! Your move, sucker!!!".

The suicide assailant means that you - by definition - have more to loose. This is the essence of the asymmetry. There is absolutely no defence your country (with its current infrastructure) can mount. Even a tiny breach in your defence is capable now of resulting in intolerable damage to your system.

Phile Agre offers an intriguing alternative to approach to responding to the security threat - redesigning your infrastructure with security features built in.
posted by RichLyon at 2:23 AM on September 22, 2001

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