'Blame the leadership failures'
Essential reading from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (with some emphasis added by your blogger). Guest columnist Thomas Bonsell is a retired newspaper editor who has also been a cryptanalyst for the US Air Force and an intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency:
Having two important professions in a lifetime would usually be satisfying, but I am dismayed at seeing much of one of my professions (journalism) beating up on my other profession (intelligence) over so-called intelligence failures leading up the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Let's be honest: There were no intelligence failures.
Intelligence doesn't come wrapped up like a Tom Clancy novel with a beginning, middle and an end. Intelligence comes in bits and pieces, from numerous sources. It is collected by thousands of agents and analysts in numerous agencies over prolonged periods of time. These thousands of scattered tidbits must be pieced together to form a coherent picture.
Before the 9/11 attacks, an FBI agent in Minneapolis discovered a suspicious Muslim taking flying lessons but not wanting to know how to take off or land. That was an intelligence success. Another FBI agent in Phoenix uncovered several Muslim suspects in flight schools. That was an intelligence success. Their discoveries were ignored. That was a leadership failure.
There were numerous analysts in several intelligence agencies who had concluded that Iraq did not possess "weapons of mass destruction." That was intelligence success. They were ignored. That was leadership failure.
Others knew Iraq was not a partner in the 9/11 attacks. That was intelligence success. They were ignored. That was leadership failure.
Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Africa to check out stories that Iraq was seeking processed uranium for a nuclear-bomb project. He found no truth to the stories. That was intelligence success. The administration ignored him and launched a character-assassination attack against him. That was leadership failure.
The CIA had briefed President Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, on reports that the al-Qaida terrorist network was planning attacks in the United States and intended to hijack aircraft. That was intelligence success. The information was ignored and no effort to prevent the hijackings was made. That was leadership failure.
Had leaders combined the discoveries by the two FBI agents with the CIA report, a clear picture of the 9/11 attacks would have emerged. Not doing so was leadership failure, not intelligence failure.....
Americans should know that so-called strong and steady leadership in the war against terror is of no value when the leaders are incompetent.
We deserve better.