What Went Wrong
The terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on September 11, 2001 were the most traumatic and gut-wrenching events many of us have ever experienced. Almost three years later, we have not fully recovered from the first attack on a major U.S. city since the British sacked Washington in the War of 1812. For those of us who remember the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the terrorist attack was worse because we could watch it happen. The Pearl Harbor attack was a distant event for most of us, reported in the press, of course, and in scratchy radio broadcasts, but 9/11 was right there on TV or in smoky skies. The silence in the air that followed, broken only by the roar of fighter jets overhead, was an eerie reminder of what had happened.
In the days that followed, shock and anger began to focus on the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), a loose conglomerate of agencies dedicated, among other things, to preventing surprise. It had apparently failed in the worst possible way, permitting a band of 19 terrorists to enter the United States, hijack four airliners almost at the same time, and ram two of them into the World Trade Towers in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington with devastating effect. Only the heroism of passengers on the fourth airliner kept it from striking its likely target, the Capitol building in Washington. How could the CIA, the FBI, and the others have failed to pick up the trail of the terrorists?
In subsequent months, angry rhetoric from members of Congress, scathing articles in the press, and little response from senior intelligence