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371: World Politics and Terrorism
The 9/11 Commission Report
Outline by: Liz Arnett '05, April 2005.
1.1 Inside the Four Flights
1.2 Improvising A Homeland Defense
"Several FAA air traffic control officials told
us it was the air carriers’ responsibility to notify their planes of security
One of the senior FAA air traffic control manager
expressed in this section that it is not the FAA’s position to demand the
airlines what to tell their pilots.
Clarifying the Record
Military Notification and Response: Boston Center
did not follow the proper protocol regarding military assistance by not
properly adhering to the prescribed chain of command.
FAA Awareness: In the last transmission from
United Airlines Flight 175 the following was stated:
"UAL175: New York UAL 185 Heavy.
FAA: UAL 175 go ahead.
UAL175: Yeah. We figured we’d wait to go to your
center. Ah, we heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of
Boston, ah, with, someone, ah, it sounded like someone keyed the mikes
and said ah everyone stay in your seats.
FAA: Oh, okay. I’ll pass that along over here."
Soon after this transmission the UAL 175 turned
southwest without clearance and after American 11 crashed, UAL 175 changed
its transpoder code twice without notice from FAA because they were too
busy tracking American 11.
Shortly after these changes the air traffic controller
noticed the changes, attempted to notify the regional managers; however
these managers would not be disturbed because they were busy searching
for American 11.
In response, this New York air controller informed
another New York air controller about UAL 175 being another hijacked plane.
2.1 Declaration of War
"…the NEADS air defenders had nine minutes’ notice
on the first hijacked plane, no advanced notice on the second, no advance
notice on the third, and no advance notice on the fourth." (31).
Due to the lack of notice of these attacks, NEADS
and the FAA did the best they could by actively searching for information
and making the best decisions they could based upon that information.
FAA made a great decision in making a national
alert and making all airplanes and executed this perfectly.
NORAD made a false testimony to the commission
regarding the time that they received notification of United 93 being hijacked
at 9:16, however this flight was proceeding normally then.
NORAD also made false testimony about the Langley
Fighters being scrambled to respond to the notification about American
77, United 93 or both. This is false because the Langley Fighters were
scrambled due to the report that American 11 was heading south which are
taped conversations at NEADS and FAA.
NEADS never received notice of America 77 being
Teleconference at White House included: Richard
Clarke (special assistant to the President for counterterrorism), CIA,
FBI, department of State, Justice, and Defense, the FAA and the White House
2.2 Bin Ladin’s Appeal in The Islamic World
-1996 was one of the first times that Bin Ladin
openly called for Muslims to push American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia
-Plans to attack the U.S. were being developed
throughout the 1990’s by Bin Laden and his Jihad
2.3 The Rise of Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda
-"Seizing on symbols of Islam’s past greatness,
he promises to restore pride to people who consider themselves the victims
of successive foreign masters." (48).
-Extreme Islamist like Bin Ladin blames the decline
from Islam’s golden age on rulers and other people who have turned away
from the true path of Islam.
-According to Bin Ladin, Americans have attacked
Islam and that Americans are responsible for all Muslim conflicts.
2.4 Building an Organization, Declaring War of
the United States (1992-1996)
-Bin Ladin understood that in order for his organization
to survive it would need to be world wide and be funded world wide. He
then created what is known as the "Golden Chain" which is Ladin’s financial
support network, mainly put together by Saudi financiers.
Bin Ladin started his organization at a good
time because it was when both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. where giving money
to rebel groups in Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Occupation.
-Bin Ladin networked his organization throughout
the world, including the United States, largest of which was the Farouq
mosque in Brooklyn.
2.5 Al Qaeda’s Renewal in Afghanistan
-Early 1992 is when Ladin issued a fatwa calling
for jihad against the United States specifically because then they would
be cutting off "the head of the snake".
Bin Ladin made attempts to buy weapons-grade
-Bin Ladin sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in
Iraqi Kurdistan in attempt to attract them to his Islamic army.
3.1 From the Old Terrorism to the New: The First
World Trade Center Bombing
-Since the 1970’s, Pakistan used religion as
a powerful political force.
Due to lack of funding, Pakistan allowed privately
funded religious schools serve as a cost-free alternative, thus creating
numbers of half educated young men with no marketable skills, but with
deeply held Islamic views.
-Pakistan was a main reason that Bin Ladin was
able to return to Afghanistan.
Bin Ladin soon took over the Taliban in 1996.
-March 1998 when Ladin made his public fatwa
against the United States, Iraq sent and Iraqi delegation to meet with
Bin Ladin and the Taliban.
-Bin Ladin was able to recruit men who were apart
of the U.S. army, specifically Ali Mohamed, who was an instructor at Fort
3.2 Adaptation- and Nonadaptation- In the Law
"The law enforcement process is concerned with
proving the guilt of persons apprehended and charged…The process was meant,
by its nature, to mark for the public the events as finished-case solved,
justice done. It was not designed to ask if the events might be harbingers
of worse to come." (73).
3.3 …And in the Federal Aviation Administration
In the Justice Department and FBI, counterterrorism
and counterintelligence work was not a career-enhancing experience.
There was a time in the 1970’s and 1980’s where
the FBI could investigate
terrorist attacks against Americans outside the
U.S. and then arrest them without the consent of the host country.
Vice President George H. Bush pushed for a Counter
Terrorist Center where FBI and CIA could work together.
Louis Freeh in 1993 felt that FBI’s work should
be done by the field offices and therefore he cut headquarters staff and
Even after Freeh emphasized to shift resources
to be shared among groups such as CIA and FBI by creating a Counterterrorist
Division, however this did not help resource sharing much.
FBI did not spend adequate training time for
counterintelligence and counterterrorism- only three days of a 16-week
agent’s course was dedicated to the above.
1978 Congress passed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act which regulated intelligence collection.
1995 Janet Reno issued formal procedures on sharing
of intelligence between the intelligence side of the house to the criminal
A perception was soon created that the FBI could
not share any intelligence information with criminal investigators, even
if no FISA procedures had been used.
1998, 1997 a "watchlist" was created and supposedly
kept multiple terrorist from entering the country because of it.
3.4 …And in the Intelligence Community
FAA perceived sabotage as a greater threat than
hijacking in earlier years.
Intelligence from both CIA and FBI failed to
reach the FAA as it was suppose to do.
The CAPPS system was a system that was suppose
to find passengers that pose more than a minimal risk, however the only
passengers eligible were those checking bags
FAA did not prohibit knives with blades under
4 inches long
Cockpit doors being closed and locked at all
times during flight was not always followed
3.5 …And the State Department and the Defense
DCI provides intelligence to federal entities.
The director of the DCI has limited powers.
After Cold War, cuts were made in national security
funding and in response cuts were made in intelligence agencies.
World Wide Web has given terrorist a much easier
means of acquiring information and easier way to communicate internationally.
CIA lost power after Watergate era because oversight
committees were created
3.6 …And in the White House
1976 Congress created an assistant secretary
of state in hopes to help combat terrorism by increasing the visibility
of counterterrorism matters within the department and to help integrate
U.S. policy implementation among government agencies.
The question that remained was how deterrence
could be effective when the adversary was a loose transnational network.
3.7… And in the Congress
Iran-Contra affair plays an important role in
9/11 in that it made parts of the bureaucracy reflexively skeptical about
any operating directive from the White House.
4.1 Before the Bombings in Kenya
Question of whether the President should need
congressional authorization to wage war.
House and Senate select committees on intelligence,
they do not have exclusive authority over intelligence agencies.
Growing threat of Bin Ladin was not understood
in Congress like in the Presidency.
Congress tended to push questions regarding national
security off their own agenda and left it for others to deal with.
4.2 Crisis: August 1998
"As we pointed out in chapter 3, the White House
is not a natural locus for program management. Hence government efforts
cope with terrorism were essentially the work of individual agencies."
1993 Bin Ladin was put on the TIPOFF watchlist
which probably kept him from getting a visa and coming into the United
1997 a diplomat said that the United States had
no policy with regards to Afghanistan.
Due to the Pakistan/India civil war, the United
States put Bin Ladin on the back burner.
1998 the Counterterrorist Center came up with
a plan to capture Bin Ladin using tribal groups in Afghanistan, however
it was never followed through with.
U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, Dar es Salaam,
and Tanzania were all almost simultaneously bombed.
This led to the firing of cruise missiles, none
of which killed Bin Ladin.
Lewinsky scandal was occurring at this time and
many felt that Clinton was sending missiles abroad to take pressure off
of him in the United States.
This bombing was critical in shaping U.S.’s policy
toward Bin Ladin.
4.4 Covert Actions
Diplomacy options to press the Taliban in suspending
Bin Ladin were not more promising than using military.
Other efforts were made in intelligence sharing
with the Saudi Arabian government and also permitting U.S. agents interrogate
prisoners in Saudi custody.
U.S. put pressure on Pakistan
U.S. pressure did not help in anything
4.5 Searching for Fresh Options
Clinton signed a Memorandum of Notification authorizing
the CIA to let its tribal assets to capture Bin Ladin by force.
President Clinton allowed the tribal assets to
try and capture Bin Ladin and his associates alive, but if that was not
possible, to go ahead and kill them.
Lack of confidence in tribal assets, yet they
continued to provide intelligence, however never able to predict Bin Ladin’s
would be at.
5.1 Terrorist Entrepreneurs
August 1998 when strikes were launched, the concern
was preparing to redeploy Special Forces to Afghanistan even after these
Many were worried about failure due to lack of
intelligence on where Bin Ladin was hiding.
U.S. missed opportunities due to not enough intelligence,
and even in 1999 when we knew a general idea of where he was, we did not
act because we were not sure and then he moved on to another place.
Kandahar in May 1999 was the last and most likely
place to kill Bin Ladin with cruise missiles, but this was also a mission
that never happened.
July 1999, President Clinton authorized CIA to
work with other governments in attempt to find and capture Bin Ladin
The Northeast were Massoud’s Northern Alliance
that seemed to be the U.S.’s best shot at getting Bin Ladin.
5.2 The "Planes Operation"
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the principal architect
of 9/11 attacks.
KSM was involved in the first World Trade Center
KSM was captured in 2003 after 9/11 attacks.
Jemaah Islamiah (JI) was the creation of a key
coordinator called Hambali in Southeast Asia.
JI assisted Al Qaeda passing through Kuala Lumpur.
JI worked closely with Al Qaeda, but was always
kept separate; this caused future problems when Ladin would try and assign
JI’s to terrorist projects.
5.3 The Hamburg Contingent
KSM claims credit for the 9/11 attacks.
KSM original plane was to have 10 aircrafts that
hit destinations all over the U.S. including FBI headquarters, CIA and
nuclear power plants.
Travel issues and visas played a huge part in
Fall 1999, Bin Ladin chose 4 operatives to go
and attend elite training at al Qaeda’s Mes Aynak camp in Afghanistan.
The four volunteers knew that they were in a
suicide operation that was going to be either in U.S. or in Asia- according
Bin Ladin canceled the East Asia part of the
planes operation in the Spring of 2000 due to difficulty.
5.4 A Money Trail?
Bin Ladin and KSM found new four aspiring jihadist
from Germany, who would be ideal due to their fluency in English and familiarity
with life in the West, and they all played a important role in the 9/11
2000 after all the conspirators were trained
in Afghanistan by KSM, they all left being less radical in order to attract
less attention to themselves.
However one member could not conceal his radicalization
from his Lebanese family that lived in Germany, which could lead in his
doubt on his mission due to his closeness to his family.
Al Qaeda would recycle passports by making their
men leave them behind just in case they were killed in battle.
6.1 The Millennium Crisis
9/11 plotters spent between $400,000 and $500,000
to plan and conduct their attack.
Al Qaeda relied on a fund-raising network that
has been developed over time.
Al Qaeda has a $30 million operating budget.
9/11 attackers were funded by Al Qaeda through
wire transfers or cash provided by KSM.
May 2000 two operatives in 9/11 were already
in the U.S. and three of four Hamburg cell members were soon to come.
6.2 Post-Crisis Reflection: Agenda for 2000
November 30, 1999 Jordanian intelligence intercepted
a phone call between Abu Zubaydah and Khadr Abu Hoshar in which Zubaydah
said, "The time for training is over." Jordanian government arrested them
and 15 others and reported it to Washington.
CIA worked hard on keeping an eye on Bin Ladin
The FBI was more communicative than it has ever
been during the millennium.
March 2000, Bangkok reported to the CIA that
Nawaf al Hazmi had departed on January 15 and unknowingly Khalid al Mihdhar
on a United Airlines to Los Angeles. No one outside of the Counterterrorist
Center was told.
6.3 The Attack on The USS Cole
In the CTC and higher up, the CIA believed that
they needed more funding because Bin Ladin and the millennium alert had
spent up all of their funds for the fiscal year.
The need to crack down on terrorist organizations
and disrupt their fund-raising.
The principals also agreed on paying attention
to America’s porous borders.
In 2000 Clinton commented on U.S. needing to
improve their covert action.
September 7, 2000, the "Predator"(an unmanned
plan) flew over Afghnistan in search of Bin Ladin, and the footage was
described by Berger as being astonishing
6.5 The New Administration’s Approach
The attack on the USS Cole greatly helped al
Qaeda’s recruitment efforts.
Many people in Washington were worried about
tying Bin Ladin to the USS Cole attack because if the U.S. responded militarily,
it might create a uproar in Islamic world if U.S. was wrong in accusing
Counterterrorist Center put some of it’s best
ideas called the "Blue Sky" which had the following: support the Northern
Alliance by sharing intelligence and increased funding, increase support
of the Uzbeks, and give assistance to anti-Taliban groups.
Condolezza Rice’s policy priorities were different
from those during Clinton Administration.
Her priorities were China, missile defense, the
collapse of the Middle East peace process and the Persian Gulf for the
The Bush administration decided on no retaliation
for the USS Cole because it would be counterproductive
7.1 First Arrivals in California
Bush Administration has a 3 phase strategy: an
envoy would give Taliban a last chance, if this failed a diplomatic pressure
would be combined with the planned covert action program encouraging anti-Taliban
Afghans to attack Taliban bases, and while this occurs the U.S. will create
a international coalition, and lastly if this failed, the U.S. would try
covert action to topple the Taliban’s leadership.
September 2001 Clarke sent Rice a strong note
criticizing U.S. counterterrorism efforts of past and present.
Since the Predator was now being criticized for
being inefficient, people were waiting for what the Bush Administration
was going to do next.
7.2 The 9/11 Pilots in the United States
Only one in the first group that came into the
U.S. left do to homesickness: Mindhar.
KSM and Bin Ladin were able to communicate through
e-mail the entire time KSM and the other 9/11 participants stayed in the
7.3 Assembling the teams
The 9/11 pilots changed their visas from tourists
to students and started to apply to flight school.
Mid-December 2000 they passed their commercial
pilot tests and received their licenses.
7.4 Final Strategies and Tactics
Twelve of the thirteen muscle hijackers came
from Saudi Arabia
KSM denies that any Saudis were chosen for the
9/11 plot to drive a wedge between U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated
the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11,
and some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.
8.1 The Summer of Threat
Once all the hijackers arrived in the U.S., they
were divided into teams by their fluency in English so that they would
have someone to command passengers in English.
There was going to be a second wave of attacks,
but KSM could not plan it because he was to busy with the plane operations
and he had only recruited 3 pilots for the second wave.
Bin Ladin pressured KSM to advance the date especially
after the controversy of Israeli leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the TEMPLE
Mount in Jerusalem.
9.1 Preparedness as of September
There were more than 40 intelligence articles
in the President’s Daily Briefing from January 10 to September 10, 2001
that related to Bin Ladin.
Spring 2001 there was a large increase of reports
on terrorist threats, and in response FBI searched all their resources
and databases and found no suggestion of a domestic threat
"It was warned that there was an increased volume
of threat reporting, indicating a potential for attacks against the U.S.
targets abroad from a groups ‘aligned with or sympathetic to Usama Bin
Ladin.’ Despite the general warnings, the message further stated, ‘The
FBI has no information indicating a credible threat of terrorist attack
in the United States." (258).
July 27 Clarke informed Rice and Hadley that
the threat of the al Qaeda attack had stopped.
During the time of spring and summer of 2001,
Bush requested information on al Qaeda, nothing came up and there has been
no further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top
9/11 attacks fell into void between the foreign
and domestic threats and the domestic agencies did not know what to do
and had no guidance.
In response to 9/11 attacks, Rice asked for increased
surveillance for possible terrorist who participated in 9/11.
9.2 September 11, 2001
The 1993 Terrorist Bombing of the World Trade
Center showed a lot of inefficiency in the WTC like unlit stairwells and
generators having to be turned off to safely remove people. $100 million
was spent initially by the Port Authority to make physical, structural
and technological improvements and enhanced fire safety.
Port Authority lacked any standard operating
procedures to govern how officers from multiple commands would respond
to and then be staged and then be staged and utilized at a major incident
at the WTC.
NYPD was headed by a police commissioner whose
duties was not primarily operational, but had operational authority.
Fire Department was headed by a fire commissioner
who lacked operational authority.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani created the Mayor’s Office
of Emergency Management with 3 basic functions: monitor the city’s key
communications channels, improve New York City’s response to major incidents,
including the terrorist attacks, and manages the city’s overall response
The 911 system was not equipped to handle the
enormous volume of calls and some callers were unable to get through.
"911 operators and FDNY dispatchers had no information
about either the location or the magnitude of the impact zone and were
therefore unable to provide information as fundamental as whether callers
were above or below the fire." (286).
FDNY responded within five seconds of the crash
On the North Tower the sprinklers or standpipes
were not working on the upper floors.
NYPD and PAPD coordinated the closing of bridges
and tunnels into Manhattan.
PAPD did not know the severity initially, but
they quickly reacted and demanded the evacuation of all civilians in WTC
FDNY chief’s mobilized 2000 men after the second
10.1 Immediate Responses At Home
"…the emergency response to the attacks on 9/11
was necessarily improvised." (315).
There was a lack of protocol for rooftop rescues
and a lack of comprehensive evacuation of south tower immediately after
the north tower impact.
Civilians need to take responsibility for maximizing
the probability that they will survive if disaster strike.
During 9/11 first responder agencies did not
always have command of its own units and adequate internal communications.
There were also radio communication problems
that led to the lack of effectiveness and urgency of evacuation instructions
which would have been very beneficial to firefighters.
10.2 Planning for War
First few days after 9/11, White House Deputy
Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten chaired a temporary "domestic consequences"
group that created a checklist for future crisis planners. (326-327).
10.3 "Phase Two" and the Question of Iraq
U.S.’s first move was getting Pakistan to back
them in a war on terrorism, and they did.
By September 18, Powell had contacted 58 of his
foreign counterparts and received offers of general aid, search-and-rescue
equipment and personnel and medical teams.
"Secretary Powell recalled that Wolfowitz-not
Rumsfeld- argued that Iraq was ultimately the source of the terrorist problem
and should therefore be attacked." (335).
Phase two- air strikes and Special Operations
attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban targets. CIA and Special Forces would work
By early December all major cities had fallen
to the coalition.
The combat operations in Afghanistan killed or
captured about a quarter of the enemy’s known leaders.
It is obvious that the U.S. did not understand
the threat of terrorism.
"…those government experts who say Bin Ladin
as an unprecedented new danger needed a way to win broad support for their
views, or at least spotlight the area of dispute, and perhaps prompt action
across the government."(343).
Before 9/11 the CIA had the most responsibility
and did the most to attack al Qaeda by working day and night however they
12.1 Reflecting on a Generational Challenge
There were no tracking efforts of the terrorist
pilots after they had reached and disappeared into Bangkok.
No one specifically had the job to make sure
that things were done and followed up on.
Between December 1999 and January 2000, information
flowed from the FBI, which was unusual because they use to not share information.
There intelligence even reached local airport managers and local police
However after the millennium alert the government
relaxed and Counterterrorism went back to being secretive.
12.2 Attack Terrorists and their Organizations
Threats are defined by the fault lines within
societies than by the territorial boundaries between them.
Threats against American interests are no longer
considered to be "over there" but instead "over here" and that is how the
American people should view terrorism.
12.3 Prevent the Continued Growth of Islamist
Do not allow terrorist to have sanctuaries
"The U.S. government must identify and prioritize
actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries. For each, it should have a realistic
strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run, using all
elements of national power. We should reach out, listen to and work with
other countries that can help." (367).
Having Pakistan as an ally is huge due to its
150 million Muslims, scores of al Qaeda terrorists, many Taliban fighters
and maybe even Usama Bin Ladin.
U.S. also needs to commit to making Afghanistan
a stable and secure country.
U.S. needs to confront Saudi Arabia about past
and present problems with one another.
12.4 Protect against and Prepare for Terrorist
We must encourage reform, freedom, democracy
and opportunity to the Muslims who are not committed to the Islam created
by Bin Ladin.
The U.S. should be more multilateral instead
of being unilateral. U.S. be willing to accept help from others.
13.1 Unity of Effort across the Foreign-Domestic
"More than 500 million people annually cross
U.S. borders at legal entry points, about 330 million of them noncitizens.
Another 500,000 or more enter illegally without inspection… (383).
U.S. should target travel by using travel intelligence.
Check points to enter the country should be multiplied
and include the transportation system and access to vital facilities.
U.S. Government should set standards for the
issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification. U.S. Government
needs to tighten up on identity fraud.
Improve screening checkpoints for explosives.
As the sharing intelligence increases, the Government
should make special notice to protecting the rights of individuals.
Unify strategic intelligence and operational
planning against Islamist terrorist with a National Counterterrorism Center.(399)
Unify intelligence with a new National Intelligence
Unify many participants in counterterrorism efforts
and their knowledge in a network-based information-sharing system that
goes beyond traditional government. (400).
Unify and strengthen Congress oversight to improve
quality and accountability. (400).
Strengthen FBI and other homeland defenders.