By Pamela Hess - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Oct 7, 2008 9:32:56 EDT
Marine Corps Times
WASHINGTON — A top former CIA official said the intelligence agency had more than 100 Afghans acting as spies before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but told a magazine in a rare interview that nothing could have averted the attacks.
Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, said that looking back, he can’t think of a thing “we could have done that would have changed anything.” Black, a top executive with Blackwater Worldwide, the security firm, made the comment in an interview published in November issue of Men’s Journal.
Black told the magazine that the Taliban was ousted in 10 weeks with just “300 Army special forces and 110 CIA officers” — a statement that ignores the more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines and foreign troops that joined the battle in November. But he acknowledges that victory was temporary.
“It was not as effectively followed up as we would have liked, as U.S. military resources were redirected toward Iraq,” he said.
He contrasts the capture of the terrorist Carlos the Jackal in Sudan in 1994 and arrest by the French government with the failure to capture al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden so far.
“The CIA played a key role in locating [Carlos] and identifying him, and had comprehensive knowledge of him to facilitate a rendition,” Black said. “If there had been a similar warrant for Osama bin Laden’s arrest, a similar type of scenario could have been developed.”
He said that bin Laden’s capture would have a “detrimental effect on al-Qaida.” But it will not be a catastrophic defeat for the terrorist organization.
“Someone will rise to take his place, and we will have to deal with it,” he said.
COMMENT: The success of the Islamic jihadists' attack on the United States homeland was an U.S. intelligence failure. It indicates a failure to communicate between agencies--CIA and FBI--as the FBI-generated memo of Moslem students training in U.S. flying schools, squashed by the FBI, was apparently unreachable by the CIA.
The magnitude of the Islamic 9-11 operation, requiring coordination between the originators of the plan in Afghanistan, the recruitment of the mass-murderers-to-be, the training of these in the U.S., and the final embarkation of Saudi and Egyptian Moslems in murder squads on diverse aircraft, was something that should have caught the attention of the CIA, FBI, and military intelligence agencies.
9/11 can be attributed to an intelligence failure. For an ex-intelligence functionary to declare that "it could not be averted" is unacceptable. The sidelining of the memo by an alert FBI agent who was concerned about so many Saudi Moslems taking flying lessons shows the usual operation of a bureaucracy--an intelligence-gathering and -compiling agency must not operate as does the unsual inefficient government agency or private corporation. "Usual" inefficiency and ineffectiveness were not good enough and cost near 3000 lives. Unforgivable.
The lack of success of Islamic jihad attacks against the U.S. homeland, however, shows that intelligence whether by CIA, FBI, military, or non-governmental bodies has operated successfully since 9/11. Credit must be given to the re-organization, coordination, and cooperation of all U.S. intelligence operations. lw