Essay: CIA FBI 911

Pages: 6 (1790 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper


There is no doubt that the world has changed in America since the fateful attacks on September, 11 2001. The safe and secure environment that was known to many millions of its citizens was significantly disturbed when terrorism and violence came knocking. As of today, much confusion still exists about those events and how they came into fruition. It is human nature to want to learn more and understand these occurrences so that they may be prevented in the future.

The results of these terrorist attacks forced many to look to the federal government for the reasons this happened and it is justifiable that many are confused that the greatest military power this planet has ever known was succinctly and easily ambushed at the core of its defense capabilities. The symbolic attack on the Pentagon itself signifies failure at a colossal level and shows the ineptitude of the agencies that are afforded billions of dollars of resources to protect such an attack on the domestic front.

The purpose of this essay is to explore the faults and mistakes of both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their conduct and actions prior to the events of 9/11. The essay will look at each agency independently and those specific errors before examining the faults of the intelligence system at large. This essay will conclude by offering suggestions on how these problems can be mended and the status of the improvements of their procedures since these attacks.


The CIA is an extremely secretive federal agency that has traditionally been concerned with gathering intelligence on foreign threats and suspicions. The CIA appears to hold the most responsibility in the failures of the intelligence system that led to the attacks and deserves heavy scrutiny to understand what exactly happened and what those actions caused in the long run. In fact according to Leon Panetta, the former DCIA "Counterterrorism is CIA's primary mission.." The CIA works closely with military assets and other governmental agencies to specifically find information about terrorist threats and apply and appropriate response.

The CIA failed at a level that deserves much more investigation than is currently applied to the idea. It should not be underestimated that the CIA's ineptitude has demonstrated to the rest of the world that America, despite its immense resources of wealth and ingenuity, is wholly vulnerable to a less powerful, but more intelligent enemy threat.

To understand these failures displayed by the CIA it is first necessary to investigate their own self-criticism to determine their summation of the problem. Rizzo (2011) used his experience as the CIA's chief legal officer from 2001-2009 to help formulate some understanding of the missteps. He wrote that the problems were mostly political and that the communication systems were lacking in a significant way. He lamented that "There is no way to expect that from a handful of politicians being made to listen some very dicey and chilling information in sporadic, off-the-record sessions." According to him a select group of 8 politicians were the only connection between intelligence and a means to address the problems. This was not enough: "While used only rarely in the past, the "Gang of 8" notification process is explicitly authorized in the congressional oversight provisions of the National Security Act for covert actions of "extraordinary" sensitivity. It was an entirely lawful way to proceed to notify Congress about the EIT program. Yet I am convinced it proved to have disastrous consequences for CIA."

Another aspect of the failures of the CIA are outlined in the Office of the Inspector General's report on CIA Accountability With Respect to the 9/11 attacks. This report, once classified, gave another perspective of how the CIA specifically erred in its actions prior to the attacks. This report was rather kind to the CIA in many aspects and denoted that not one CIA agent broke the law in any of the proceedings. The report suggested that greatest concern lied in the systemic problem where the CIA's programs did not work as they should have. According to the report the main problem could be described by the following: " The team found neither a single point of failure nor a silver bullet that would have enabled the Intelligence Community to predict or prevent the 9/11 attacks. The team did find however, failures to implement and manage important processes to follow through with operation and to properly share and analyze critical data."

The ridiculousness of this report suggests that idiocy or deceit is rampant amongst the halls of the CIA. The CIA's very job and main purpose is to "properly share and analyze critical data," when this fails to happen the CIA is useless. The scope and magnitude of the failure by the CIA has left many stunned at the ineffectiveness of the agency and provides a constant and stinging source of embarrassment. The CIA demonstrated that when they were most needed they could not be counted on, and that any trust between this agency and the American, people, who these agents supposedly serve, has been lost or at least severely damaged to the point of needing a massive reconstruction.


The vague and elusive meanings and connotations dealing with the word " terrorism" is at the heart of the failures leading up to the events of 9/11 in relation to the FBI. The FBI is a federal agency dealing with domestic issues for the most part, and since the attacks were supposedly partially concocted and actually carried out on domestic soil, the FBI is responsible for this blunder. The U.S. Intelligence agency is composed of 14 sub-groups, of which, the FBI is one. The size, scope and resources available to this historic institutions is another reason why it is to receive the scorn of failure as well.

The Office of the Inspector General has provided a review of the FBI's role in the intelligence failures relating to the 9/11 attacks. In this report the FBI is targeted with committing several egregious errors in its conduct during this critical time.

Once again, poor communication is blamed for the FBI's mistakes. The report cited that "In addition to the wall between FBI intelligence investigators and criminal prosecutors, a wall within the FBI between criminal investigations and intelligence investigations also was created. Although it is unclear exactly when this wall within the FBI began, sometime between 1995 and 1997 the FBI began segregating intelligence investigations from criminal investigations and restricting the flow of information between agents who conducted intelligence investigations and agents who conducted criminal investigations." This compartmentalization appears to be the major trend in how such a failure to act manifested in the manner it did.

Eggen (2005) offered a slightly different approach when describing the FBI's role in the intelligence gaffs that were on display for the world to see on 9/11. He suggested that "In one particularly notable finding, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine concluded that the FBI missed at least five chances to detect the presence of two of the suicide hijackers -- Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar -- after they first entered the United States in early 2000. In the case of Alhazmi and Almihdhar, the report said the FBI missed at least five opportunities to possibly locate the pair after Almihdhar was first identified in connection with a Malaysian meeting of al Qaeda operatives." In this instance the operational capability of the FBI has come into question, and the tactics that were used appear to be insignificant in their ability to thwart the danger.

The FBI simply seemed to be ignoring many of the obvious threats that were being presented to them. Many who claim the intentionality of the attacks are justified in doing so because of the sheer size of the lapse in judgment. Those who question the 9/11 Commission's report have ample motivation to suggest that something larger is at stake when the very core of our security system revealed how fragile and weak this country truly appears to demonstrate in its intelligence gathering operations as exhibited by the FBI.

Systemic Failure

To understand a more complete picture, the relationship between the CIA and FBI must be examined in order to gain a finer appreciation for the truth that occurred on 9/11. The blaming of the failure on only one of these two agencies is shortsighted and avoids gaining any real value from the tragedy through retrospection and learning. The system itself is more important than the individual agencies in a case of a national attack and to understand this component can be helpful in revealing the true nature and causes of the problem at hand.

A dearth of leadership, guidance and reason can attest for the real problems with the intelligence community. The inter-agency competition and segregation has compartmentalized these assets into mere obscurity. A common goal is missing between the FBI and CIA that manifested itself in the attacks of 9/11. Communication… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Essay:

APA Format

CIA FBI 911.  (2014, January 21).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from

MLA Format

"CIA FBI 911."  21 January 2014.  Web.  21 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"CIA FBI 911."  January 21, 2014.  Accessed May 21, 2019.