Letters and Clarification: What the CIA Knew and When It Knew It: Readers Respond to Our June 10 Cover on Terrorists

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Our June 10 investigative cover story on the terrorists who eluded federal agents generated letters that ranged from conspiracy theories to those expressing full confidence in our government. One writer compared NEWSWEEK's reporting to that of an earlier time: "Just when I thought news magazines had stopped doing the real journalism of the Watergate era, you proved me wrong." Others were angered by revelations of a lack of interagency communication. "My stomach is churning with disgust. Our country appears to be controlled by idiotic bureaucrats whose main concern is shirking responsibility," a reader said, while another opined, "I am angry and ashamed of our government. For every life that was lost because of these failures, there should be someone held accountable." Nevertheless, a few sought to put the blame game aside and to focus on the future instead. As one reader soberly put it, "I will sleep easier at night when the people of this country put as much effort into preventing the next terrorist act as we put into finger-pointing at the various agencies."

A Tragic Failure of Intelligence

I really enjoyed your June 10 cover story, "The 9/11 Terrorists the CIA Should Have Caught." I hope to see more reporting that forces the CIA, the FBI and particularly the White House to stand up and begin to accept their responsibility for September 11. As a retired 24-year Army veteran with roots in Vietnam, I am wounded to my heart and soul to see the continuing decline of a responsible government. Having been a part of the military establishment for years, I am quite aware of how politics and being in political favor affect both policy and procedure. So many men and women on active duty are trained to provide leaders and top officials with time-pertinent information that allows these officials to make informed decisions that could save lives. Yet they are stifled by regulations geared more to protect political images than to protect the public. "We the people" has great merit and meaning. My hat is off to the reporters who responsibly report what those in power wish to keep secret. Americans have a right to expect accountability and responsible actions from our elected officials. Please continue keeping this nation strong by providing news that forces true accountability.

Larry Moses

Oliveburg, Pa.

When I was 12 years old, I was punched by the neighborhood bully. I never thought he would pick on me, but in hindsight, I should have seen it coming. Knowing all the signs leading up to the punch, however, would not have stopped me from getting a black eye. Preventing evil is a utopian ideal. Bad people will always find ways to do bad things. While we try to gain better methods of prevention, let us not lose sight of the full retribution due to the September 11 perpetrators. After all, I may have gotten a black eye when I was 12 years old, but you should have seen the other guy.

Lynden Wenger

Alpharetta, Ga.

Please keep digging. I'm a political conservative and I like our president, but whatever mistakes were made need to see the light of day. Don't back off, NEWSWEEK.

T. L. Seiler

Reisterstown, Md.

As someone who worked and played very close to the World Trade Center, I found witnessing September 11 very tough. After reading your magazine weekly for updates, I'm just as puzzled as the rest of the nation in trying to figure out how we could have prevented this tragedy. However, the question that looms largest in my mind is why George W. Bush appears to be getting a free pass on this when previous presidents have faced great consequences for actions that cost our nation far less.

Dionne Kendrick

New York, N.Y.

Although I understand the news value of reporting on the CIA and FBI and their alleged failures in stopping the September 11 tragedy, I also hope that the American public appreciates the positive steps these courageous agencies take every day to avert tragedies. …