there a risk assessment failure by the President?
It is the job of
the President, assisted by his principal aides and National
Security staff, to assess risks posed by various threats
and take appropriate counter-measures. After Arab Jihadists
simultaneously bombed two US Embassies in August 1998,
attempted unsuccessfully to blow up the Los Angeles
International Airport in January 2000 and blew a forty
foot hole in the USS Cole in October 2000, there could
be no minimizing the risk of subsequent bombing attacks
on American targets. Between May and August 2001, the
FBI issued no fewer than three sets of warnings. One
possibility recognized by various agencies of the US
Government was that a civilian aircraft might be crashed
into a building. For example in July 2001, President
Bush's security planners considered the possibility
of such an aerial attack against President Bush and
other heads of state meeting at the G-7 summit in Genoa.
Such threat planning was not just limited to overseas
targets. Prior to 9-11-2001 the North American Aerospace
Defense Command (NORAD) planned scrambling interceptors
to respond to the simulated highjackings of two airliners
( and, in one scenario, shooting down the airliners) but
postponed the exercise after 9-11. Also prior to 9-11,
the CIA planned a simulated
crash of a civilian plane into a crucial
link in the nation's satellite intelligence system, the
headquarters of the National Reconnaissance Office. The
simulation took place on the morning of September 11th
2001, just as a real aerial attack was occurring at the
The issue is
risk-assessment. In the case of the Genoa summit, the
White House assessed the risk to be of a sufficient
magnitude to request that anti-aircraft rocket batteries
with a range of 9 miles be set up at the Genoa airport
and the air space around the city closed. The Italian
government, agreeing with this risk assessment complied.
If the White House had assessed a similar level of risk
existed for the seizure of airliners in the United States,
it could, at a minimum, have had the FAA order that
airlines not keep keys to cockpit doors in the passenger
compartment (for the convenience of the attendants).
It could also, depending on the level of assessed risk,
order NORAD to maintain patrols to intercept rogue airliners
(as it did after 9-11) or even place armed guards in
the planes. What is not known is how much risk could
be reasonably inferred by the President.
1) Did the National Security Staff
brief the President on the threat of terrorist attacks
prior to 9-11?
2) Did Richard A. Clarke, the NSC
officer on terrorism, write any memos on terrorists threats?
If so, to whom were they offered and how were they evaluated?
3) Did George Tenet brief the National
Security Council or President on the risks of terrorist
attacks? If so, how were those briefings evaluated?
4) How Did the CIA's "station" on
Al-Qaeda or its Warning Officer on terrorism assess the
probability of a terrorist attack in the summer of 2001?
Was this assessment provided to the White House?
5) On what intelligence, analysis
or warnings, if any, did the CIA and NRO base the simulated
air crash on 9-11?
6) On what intelligence, analysis
or warnings, if any, did NORAD base its simulated hijacking?
7) On what intelligence, analysis
or warnings, if any, did the Secret Service base its request
to the Italian govern for anti-aircraft defenses and air-space
closure in Genoa in July 2001?
8) Were Counter-Attack Teams (CATs)
deployed with surface to air missiles at the White House,
Pentagon or other buildings prior to 9- 11? If so, On
what intelligence, analysis or warnings, if any, were
these CAT team deployment based?
Richard A. Clarke
John Fulton (NRO, CIA Simulation
Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart (commander