The Rise of Terrorism Questions and Answers

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What elements of the intelligence cycle failed in the period leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

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The terrorist attacks upon the United States on September 11, 2001, constituted a series of failures at every component of the intelligence cycle, especially if one factors in both domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, and especially if one factors in, as one should, the initial stage of that cycle: clear direction provided by the National Command Authority, also known as the Office of the President.

The planning and execution of the terrorist attacks by members of al Qaeda was initiated in 1996.  From that date on, numerous opportunities to detect the planning of the operation were missed.  As important was the failure of the Administration of President George W. Bush to focus on the threat from al Qaeda during its first seven months in office.  As former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke has written, getting senior members of the new administration to focus and act on intelligence regarding al Qaeda was extremely difficult:

“My message was stark: al Qaeda...

(The entire section contains 554 words.)

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