College | Political Science |
| Maps | Terrorism
| What's New?
309: Terrorism & Developing Countries
| Summary of the 9/11 Commission Report
Compiled by Prof. Jeremy
Lewis, revised 6 Sep. '07.
Ch. 1: We Have Some Planes
2: The Foundation of the New Terrorism
Ch. 3: Counterterrorism
Ch. 4: Responses to Al
Qaeda's Initial Assaults
Ch. 5: Al Qaeda Aims at the
Ch. 6: From Threat to Threat
The Attack Looms
Ch. 8: The System was Blinking
Ch. 9: Heroism and Horror
Ch. 10: Wartime
Ch. 11: Foresight -- and Hindsight
Ch. 12: What to Do? A Global
Ch. 13: How to Do it? A
Different Way of Organizing the Government.
Created by statute, November 2002.
Broad mandate to explore "facts and circumstances
relating to" 9/11 attacks.
Scale: 19 days of hearings, 160 witnesses.
2.5 M pages of documents, interviewed 1,200 individuals
in 10 countries.
Ch. 1. We Have Some Planes
FAA had no experience with multiple hijackings.
There was little coordination among airlines and
FAA -- let alone with military
Too little time too coordinate response
First nationwide ground stop was ordered by Herndon
ATC Command Center at 9:25 am -- with 4,500 planes in air.
Notifications to military were too late and wrong.
"Most federal agencies learned about the crash
in New York from CNN."
National Command Authority (president, VP and
SecDef) uncoordinated & ineffective.
Ch. 2: The Foundation of the New Terrorism
A Declaration of War
- In 1998, when interviewed Bin Ladin
claimed it was more important for Muslims to kill Americans than other
infidels: fatwa issued
The Rise of Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda
- Plans to attack the United States were developed
throughout the 1990’s
- Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda say America attacked
Islam and America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims
- In the 1990’s, the Iranian revolution lost momentum,
prestige and public support, and Pakistan’s rulers found most of its population
had little enthusiasm for fundamentalist Islam
- A decade of conflict in Afghanistan,
1979-1989, rallying point and training field
- "Golden Chain", Ladin’s financial support network,
US & Saudi funding Mujahadeen in Afghanistan
- World wide network
- Bin Ladin had access to family fortune
- Bin Ladin soon took over the Taliban in 1996
- 1998 2 US embassies bombed in East Africa, injuring
Ch. 3: Counterterrorism Evolves
1993 first WTC bombing; FBI responded
well by law enforcement means, under single field office command tradition
1991 CT reorganization at FBI did not succeed
1978 Congress passed Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act which regulated intelligence collection.
FAA concerned with sabotage, not CT, did not receive
intell, did not enforce locked cockpit door rule
1995 Janet Reno issued formal procedures on sharing
of intelligence between the intelligence side of the house to the criminal
FBI perceived could not share intell with criminal
1997-98, a "watchlist" was created
CIA & NSA surveillance both more alert to
CT, but cuts post cold war, controls post watergate
State & Defense had global databases but systems
had holes, deterrence not designed for non-state enemies
Presidency increasing concern with CT
Iran-Contra affair made bureaucracy skeptical
about directives from White House.
Congress used external commissions instead of own
work, ignored their many recommendations
unclear whether presidency needed congressional
authority on CT
Ch.4. Responses to Al Qaeda's Initial Assaults
1993 Bin Ladin was put on the TIPOFF watchlist
1997 no policy with regards to Afghanistan
Pakistan/India civil war main focus in region
U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, & Dar es
Salaam, Tanzania were bombed.
This led to the firing of cruise missiles, none
of which killed Bin Ladin.
Lewinsky scandal a distraction
Diplomacy: little success pressing Taliban &
Pakistan to give up Bin Ladin
Intelligence: shared with Saudi, US agents interrogated
Covert: Clinton memo of notification: CIA to use
tribal assets to capture Bin Ladin
Never got actionable intelligence on Bin Ladin's
location, even in 1999 when very close
July 1999 authorized CIA to collaborate with governments
and Northern Alliance to capture OBL.
Ch. 5: Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was the principal
architect of 9/11 attacks, & involved in the first World Trade Center
Bombing, was captured in 2003.
Jemaah Islamiah (JI) cooperated with AQ in Indonesia,
but not under OBL command
Only part of KSM's 9/11 operation proceeded, because
of practical difficulties in EAst Asia
Frankfurt jihadists fluent in English; all trained
in Afghan by KSM, most concealed radicalization at home.
cost under half $M, funded by AQ, jihadists inserted
to US from 2000 onwards, leaving money trail
Ch. 6: From Threat to Threat
Millennium Crisis, arrests of plotters
in Jordan, CIA surveilling OBL, FBI communicative
March 2000 CIA knew one plotter flew to Los Angeles,
but only CTC was told
CIA needed more funding after milliennial surveillance,
need to disrupt AQ fundraising
principals agreed on border controls
2000 Clinton spoke on improving covert action
2000 Attack on USS Cole, needed intell before
CTC wanted support of Afghan & Uzbek tribes,
2001, Bush admin: Condi Rice shifted priorities
to China, missile defence, middle east peace process collapse, & Persian
3 phase strategy: ultimatum to Taliban, diplomatic
pressure, covert action, international coalition -- if not, covert action.
September 2001 Clarke sent Rice a strong note
criticizing U.S. counterterrorism efforts of past and present.
Predator search for OBL seen ineffective, new
Ch. 7: The Attack Looms
Early 2000, KSM led first jihadists to
California, to study English before learning to fly, some difficulties
Summer 2000: Hamburg group learned to fly in Florida,
others in Arizona
Only one, Mindhar, did not stay in country
Dec. 2000 pilots completed training
Muscle hijackers from Saudi learned self defense
in gyms and opened bank accounts
Atta was told in Spain of OBL's desire for quick
strikes (after Sharon's provocative visit to Temple Mount), & made
plans for each plane's group.
Teams based on few with English skills, at least
one per team
Evidence shows Iran facilitated AQ transfers from
Second wave of attacks was dropped for lack of
Chapter 8: “The System was Blinking Red”
2001: CIA daily presidential briefings
on OBL threats
Spring 2001 highest terror threat since Millennium
alert, then higher still in summer
6, 2001, the CIA issued a report during the Presidential Daily Briefing,
“Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in the US.” It was the 36th
PDB item in 2001, first to mention US as specific target.
July 27 Clarke informed Rice and Hadley that the
threat of the al Qaeda attack had ended.
attacks fell in the void between foreign and domestic threats -- US was
protecting its installations abroad, mostly
Mistakes, when govt ran out of time and failed to see connections:
who left US when homesick, was still issued US visa.
memo from Phoenix to HQ warned of OBL's flight students -- but not read
investigation on Moussaoui [the absent, 20th hijacker] who was thought
to be planning to hijack a plane. The FBI sought to end his flight training
and issue a deportation order. The investigation failed to search his laptop
Ch. 9: Heroism and Horror
Port Auth had improved emergency facilities
at WTC after 1993, if not procedures
NYPD commissioner had operational authority when
NYFD commissioner lacked operational authority
Mayor's Office of Emergency Management: monitor
comms; improve city's capability for major incidents; manage city's overall
enormous volume of calls, dispatchers
lacked info, lacked location of callers.
FDNY responded immediately
Police and Port Auth closed bridges & tunnels
N. Tower upper floor sprinklers failed
Port Auth quickly ordered evacuation of WTC
FD mobilized 2000 after second plane hit
improvised, lack of rooftop rescue procedures,
lack of control of local units, lack of effective comms
Ch. 10. Wartime
White House: temporary "domestic consequences"
group created a checklist for future crisis planners
Pakistan immediately agreed to war on terrorism
Sec. Powell received numerous offers of aid, Search
& Rescue (SAR) & medical teams
Wolfowitz called for attack against Iraq as source
of terrorism (on 12 Sep.)
Phase 2: air strikes and SOF attacks on AQ &
Taliban, CIA & SOF together
Dec. 2001: all cities in hands of coalition, killed
a quarter of AQ's known leaders.
Ch. 11: Foresight -- and Hindsight
Attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination,
policy, capabilities and management.
AQ more globally aware than was US.
1995 and 1997 NIEs did appreciate growing threat
of AQ, but there was little reaction.
There was little expectation of the scale of destruction
No unit with specific responsibility, and terrorists
not tracked from Bangkok to US
CTC warned, and was ordered increased, but not
ramped up before 9/11/01
CIA did most of any agency, but still not operating
on basis of a large scale enemy.
Repeated failures to spot significant nuggets
of info about AQ leaders, to warn FBI, or pass on info about Cole plotters
or 1990s plotters from Far east.
Millennial plot exceptions: FBI info flowed widely,
government was mobilized. Returned to normal pattern quickly.
Ch. 12: What to Do? A Global Strategy
Generational challenge is to view terrorism
as threat at home, not just abroad
Specific focus on Islamist terrorism -- not some
Attack terrorists and their organizations
Include Pakistan as Muslim ally
Prevent growth of Islamist terrorism
Make Afghanistan stable & secure
Confront Saudi about past & present problems
Encourage reform & democracy for muslims
Protect against terrorist attacks
Multilateralism, US to accept help from others
500 million border crossings legally,
500K illegally -- needs travel intelligence
Tighten up on identity fraud
Screen for explosives
Ch. 13: How to Do it? A Different Way
of Organizing the Government
Five major recommendations:
National Counter terrorism Center
against Islamist threat
National Intelligence Director to unify
intelligence on Islamist threat
Network-based information sharing system
for CT agencies
Unifying congressional oversight on this
Strengthening FBI and Homeland Defenders
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