Late last week the CIA released its Inspector General report relating to the 9/11 attacks. It may be found at:
Since I cover the subject of 9/11 attacks in considerable detail in Surprise Attack, in this post I’m going to focus on the report in regard to the value and issues with sources of this type. However in the interest of blatant salesmanship, if you are interested in 9/11 and planning to order Surprise Attack go ahead and pre-order it now, you don’t get billed in advance and it helps convince Amazon, Borders, etc. to place a reasonable initial stocking order. I plan to post the first book review – from Kirkus – in a couple of days but it is still “embargoed” at this point so I will save that for later.
On the CIA IG report, first it’s important to keep in mind what it is and what it’s not – which is actually very well stated it its introduction. It is not a comprehensive CIA self-examination nor does it examine the overall performance of the intelligence community, although there are a few comments in that regard. It is actually a specific response to the Joint Congressional inquiry and the joint commission’s report (referred to as the JI report in the CI study). Specifically it was supposed to assess and report on accountability issues within the Agency – bottom line being that it should identify performance failures and lead to management action related to individuals determined to have failed in their duties. Of course the CIA IG can’t actually make that happen, all they can do is report and then senior CIA officers have to respond. And indeed the CIA IG did call for accountability boards to be convened and individual performance acted upon.
Amazingly enough (sarcasm noted), that did not happen, no boards were convened and as far as is known no personnel actions resulted – all in all the same result that followed the CIA IG report on the Bay of Pigs fiasco back in 1961. At least during the Iran Contra / Oliver North mess, certain CIA officers were determined to have been culpable and disciplined – even though many of the related legal consequences were overturned by Presidential action.
Beyond that, the CIA IG did find and report on a variety of “systemic” failures within the Agency, in particular its CT group. It would be useful to know what those were however the report notes that they were identified and reports on them were forwarded internally to the management of the sections involved – they are not part of the report itself. I write a good bit about such things in Surprise Attack, in particular the process by which such reports either make a difference in future operations – or don’t. Actually there some good contemporary examples of where IG reports make a difference, as well as some consistent and ongoing failures, documented by the IG groups themselves.
In regard to the overall value of the report for historical analysis – factually its valuable and to a large extent accurately factual, but only in terms of the limited context of the Agency. In terms of the much larger subject of the attacks, if read by itself it would be very incomplete and even misleading. For instance the CIA IG says that it cannot identify a single point of failure – which is a questionable statement, undermined even by remarks in the report itself. It is far more questionable if you know the full story of the CIA, FBI, NSA, FAA and the Bush Administration principals. The report is actually compelling in its discussion of warnings and threat indicators surging prior to the attacks – but does its best to be politically correct in qualifying its language and offering certain comments which could be used to support disclaimers given by highly placed officials following the attacks. If you have the rest of the story it’s easy to cut through that and the reality will leave you gritting your teeth.
Perhaps one of its worst sections is its discussion of aircraft as weapons. What it says is accurate enough; what it doesn’t is far more important. Once you factor in the Bojinka plot, the FBI warnings, the NORAD exercises and the activities of Clarke’s NSC counter terrorism group, the whole artifice falls apart. Apart from more teeth gritting, that leads to the conclusion that one of the most systemic failures that should have been noted is that the CIA was truly not functioning as a Central Intelligence Agency, proactively correlating threat and indications information and translating it to operational warnings – domestically. Perhaps due to its history and charter it focused on threats overseas, leaving the FBI to deal with domestic issues – which is another story indeed. There is even an argument to be made that its overseas focus delayed warnings that could/should have been given domestically.
Bottom line, read the report, its good context and background, actually it’s what it claims to be, which is a very limited and focused effort to identify failures within a single Agency. Now if we had the equivalent internal inquiries from a Justice Department IG, an FAA IG, a NORAD IG, a NSC IG or if there was such a thing as a National Command Authority IG.…


About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

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