Do we control terror, or does terror control us?
In a world where all of a sudden extremists of all
persuasions are feeling empowered, how safe are we? And isn't it the role of
intelligence agencies to let us know when we are in danger? Perhaps it's
better all round not to know too much.
The Daily Telegraph on 5 June 2002 reports: "Secret
congressional hearings opened yesterday into intelligence failures before
September 11, with the FBI and CIA each determined to shift the blame.
President George W Bush acknowledged for the first time that
there had been a breakdown between the two agencies. "In terms of whether or
not the FBI and CIA were communicating properly, I think it is clear that they
weren't," he said. "We have addressed that issue. The CIA and the FBI are
now in close communication."...
But a consensus has emerged on Capitol Hill that the US
intelligence community probably had enough information to be able to prevent the
September 11 attacks....
...the two main intelligence agencies are more preoccupied
with pointing the finger at one another than learning how to prevent another
More that 350,000 documents have been turned over by the CIA
for hearings that began in secure, sound-proofed rooms before 37 members of the
Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees....
Both Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, which operates
domestically, and George Tenet, head of the CIA, which operates abroad, are
likely to face angry questioning from senators and congressmen....
One of the star witnesses will be Coleen Rowley...
She claimed... that agents at FBI headquarters ignored and
even blocked the efforts of agents in Minneapolis to alert them to the
activities of Zacharias Moussaoui, accused of being the "20th
hijacker" in the September 11 plot....
The FBI... claims that the CIA failed to pass on information
that linked two of the September 11 hijackers to Osama bin Laden's network...."
Now in an effort to take back control of US security and
pre-empt further attacks, a controversial 71 page strategy proposal was unveiled
by President Bush on 16 July 2002. The blueprint considers procedures for
dealing with biological attacks and identification systems for tracking visitors
to the US.
The Dominion Post, 18 July 2002 stated, 'Bush
unveils anti-terrorism plan'
"...The National Homeland Security Strategy, eight months
in the making, calls for sweeping new powers for the government, new extradition
and secrecy laws, the stockpiling of newly developed anti-terror vaccines, and
the creation of federal "red teams" that would dream up ways of attacking US
targets to expose the nation's weak points...
"Protecting Americans from attack is our most urgent
national priority and we must act on that priority," Mr Bush said....
The plan, parts of which face a stormy reception in Congress,
relies heavily on science and technology to help prevent "a new wave of
terrorism" in the US, including the "catastrophic threats" of nuclear
attack, radiological "dirty" bombs, and biological and chemical weapons.
The White House is calling for research on new vaccines, the
creation of "biometric" travel documents for foreigners that contain scans
of physical features, and the development of screening tools to predict human
behaviour. It calls for greatly expanded use of sensors to detect nuclear and
radiological devices at borders, ports and main highways.
It also calls for the first thorough inventory of critical
infrastructure, including highways, pipelines, agriculture, the Internet and
energy plants, and a secret plan to protect it....
...one of its most contentious points: the use of the US
military to counter domestic threats.
Until yesterday senior Pentagon officials, including Defence
Secretary, Donald Rumsfield, the (sic) had repeatedly denied that they planned
to ask Congress to overturn, or bypass, the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, a
fundamental piece of legislation that sharply restricts the military's ability
to take part in domestic law enforcement. But the government now argues for a
"thorough review" of the law -– an initiative that will add to the problems
the security strategy faces in Congress....
The strategy, illustrated with potential targets including a
nuclear power plant and a Washington subway station, incorporates many
initiatives already under way: improving the FBI's counter-terrorism
capabilities, strengthening protection against cyber attacks, improving the
ability of government computer systems to talk to each other, and working
internationally to make passports harder to forge..."
For some very interesting reading on the subject, I recommend
readers download the following: A Report to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and the Minority Leader - July 2002 Subcommittee on terrorism
and homeland security house permanent select committee on intelligence:
Counterterrorism Intelligence Capabilities and Performance Prior to 9-11