View Full Version : Phil. Inquirer : "Report: Sept. 11 attacks stoppable"

Jul 24, 2003, 03:23 PM
link (http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/6375741.htm)

Posted on Thu, Jul. 24, 2003

Report: Sept. 11 attacks stoppable

Knight Ridder Newspapers

A hard-hitting congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks released Thursday catalogs U.S. intelligence and law enforcement failures and concludes that the hijacking plot that killed more than 3,000 people could have been foiled.

The 900-page report by a joint House-Senate staff investigating the attacks contains revelations about mistakes, lapses and missed opportunities by the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and their unwillingness to share vital intelligence data.

At least two of the hijackers lived openly in San Diego and had many contacts with an FBI informant and with four other people who were "the focus of active FBI investigations" at the time because of their involvement in Islamic extremism, the report found.

But the two Saudi hijackers, Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi, eluded FBI detection. The FBI was not told that the two had been spotted by the CIA at a meeting of al Qaida terrorists in late 1999.

Only in August 2001, after the CIA reviewed its files, did the agency add the two to a watchlist of potential terrorists.

The two hijackers lived with a FBI informant who gave "inconsistent information" about his knowledge. Al Mihdhar and al Hazmi also received money and help from a Saudi employee of that country's civil aviation authority in Los Angeles, the report found.

An FBI agent responsible for the informant told the joint inquiry that if the CIA had told him the significance of al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, "we would have given them the full-court press - physical surveillance, technical surveillance and other assets."

The San Diego case was "perhaps the best chance to unravel the Sept. 11 plot," the report concludes.

The report was finished in December but its release was held up until Thursday following a drawn-out battle with the Bush administration and intelligence agencies over how much information should be declassified.

The most sensitive section of the classified report that was not released deals with the financing of terrorism in general - and the hijackers specifically - by influential Saudis. The report does not conclude that Saudi officials had any advance knowledge of the hijacking plot.

Aug 1, 2003, 06:39 PM
Good old 20/20 hindsight. Sure, it could have been stopped, if...If the dog hadn't stopped to poop, he'd have caught the rabbit. If a frog had wings...

The communications lapses are institutionalized, and I see no real-world way to change it. Not with the human nature of those who work in pyramidal hierarchies, anyway. Tell me when you believe you can get rid of inter-agency rivalries (budget issues, e.g.) and the various personal likes and dislikes between people. Intra-agency problems are bad enough...