On September 11, 2001 the country awakens to a rude shock, at 8.46 in the morning an airliner crashes into the North tower of the world trade center, at 9.03 a second airliner flies into the south tower of the world trade center in lower Manhattan New York, at 9.37 a third airliner crashes into the western face of the Pentagon and a fourth airliner is reported to crash in a field in southern Pennsylvania at 10.03. The U.S. experienced 103 minutes of shock, anguish, and unimaginable pain. There were lapses in the state and local enforcement offices to prevent these attacks from occurring. If they could have been functioning well, then maybe these events could have been avoided. The recommendations below could help to improve the functioning of these offices, and, therefore, improve federal law enforcement and national security.
The federal bureau of investigation (FBI) is the dominant agency under the department of justice. The office does not possess general authority, but works under specific statutory authority. Before the 9-11 attacks, it failed to live to its mandate of preventing terrorism because of the following reasons: the agency had concentrated on traditional crimes like fraud rather than on terrorism. The agency did not increase its budget to counter terrorism office despite being allocated more funds; the management had reservations as they preferred allocating to other departments
The FBI used statistics to evaluate the performance of the field offices. The performance was evaluated on the number of cases solved, indictments, prosecutions, and arrests made. The offices preferred traditional cases of fraud, robbery, and other easy cases so that they could improve their numbers. Cases like terrorism were shunned away because they took a long time to be solved. It is evident that they failed to prosecute individuals belonging to the Al Qaeda earlier arrested and connect it to the imminent attacks on September 11, 2001.
The organization and structure of the FBI was also wanting. Cases which occur in a given state were given to that office only to investigate. The FBI office in New York was given the jurisdiction to investigate the cases on Osama Bin Laden and his group, because that is where an earlier attack had taken place. Suspects arrested in other states like Zacarias Moussaoui, who declared an interest in flying a commercial jet airliner on the first day of joining a refresher course on piloting in Arizona, were not prosecuted. The FBI failed in its mandate of countering terrorism by not arresting suspected terrorists although they passed through the borders, and resided in the US, some for a year before the 9-11 attacks. Others had participated in terrorist attacks like in the case of the USS and other parts of the world, for example, attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, still gained entry into the United States. The FBI failed to recognize false statements in visa applications and fraudulent manipulation of information in the visas.
The FBI insisted on employing individuals within the agency to fill the top spots in the agency rather than on employing qualified individuals. The authority of the FBI was also limited to the national level until congress approved the FBI operating outside the country. The FBI recognized the threat of terrorism, and; therefore, started locating offices outside the country, especially in the Middle East. To improve on the operations, the FBI must move from a statistical evaluated agency, receive more funding, reform its structure, and get more mandate to counter terrorism in and outside our country.
Another agency that failed to meet its mandate is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The US government tried other tactics like diplomatic negotiations with the government of Taliban Afghanistan to flush out Bin Laden and close lieutenants, but these negotiations failed terribly. The US government, therefore, relied heavily on the CIA for its intelligence and covert operations to fight terrorism. The agency was marred by problems which made it fail to meet its mandate of preventing terrorism, specifically the 9-11 attacks.
The CIA does not have jurisdiction to operate in the US. It is given authority to operate in foreign countries. Another problem is the conflict of interests between the FBI and the CIA on the jurisdiction of operating in foreign countries which led to constant wrangles between the two agencies as no clear specifications on who is to carry out what were given. Another problem encountered by the CIA is the lack of enough trained manpower to carry out covert operations against Al Qaeda. The women and men of the CIA were mostly well-educated university graduates, who had no relevant skills to carry out the covert operations. They mostly preferred writing analytical articles and literature compare essays to carrying covert operations.
Another problem encountered by the CIA was security concerns within the organization. There were concerns that there were people working for enemies within the agency. Therefore, there were concerns on sharing information within the departments. Information was selectively shared and departmentalized which led to the agency not working efficiently. The employees of the agency were hired selectively with few able to speak Arabic which also impaired their ability to perform their tasks.
This and many other problems made the agency not live up to its mandate. The recommendations to streamline it include improving its budget, stating clearly the duties of each agency especially relations between the FBI and CIA to improve on its human resource management and quality assurance within the firm to avoid security concerns.
The National Security Agency (NSA) is another organ that malfunctioned. The agency is charged with intercepting useful information and collecting intelligence. The agency has been operating on a limited budget, therefore, it was not able to acquire or intercept communication of terrorists because of the sophisticated equipments they used. The NSA is also needed to acquire a warrant before listening to conversations or intercept information. Although the NSA could have intercepted communication abroad between the terrorists, it did not get a FISA warrant as they believed it was a task for the FBI.
Many other agencies are given the task of ensuring the national security. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) ensures that people are protected against hijacking, injury, and other forms of discomfort while travelling. There were many problems that made it fail to meet its objective. The FAA did not emphasize on its intelligence office. It was understaffed with only 33 air marshals before the 9-11 attacks. It emphasized on sabotage and explosives and ignored other weapons like firearms and hijacking. Therefore, it is not surprising that the hijackers of the 9-11 planes used crude weapons like box cutters, knifes, and pepper spray. The FAA also failed to harden the doors to the cockpit and adequately train employees on hijacking procedures. The FAA dealing with this and many more problems will improve the national security in our air space.
The other agencies that malfunctioned include the Justice Department, which had 4000 US air marshals, but did not offer the much needed support to the FBI and the CIA. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) despite having large numbers of manpower of patrol officers allowed the terrorists to gain entry into the country as they were overwhelmed by the illegal entries on the south western border, criminal aliens, and the increasing naturalization claims. The state department failed to negotiate with the Taliban government to flush out Bin Laden and his operatives. The Department of Defense, which has an enormous budget, had also failed to meet its objectives; it has lessened the options available to the president, although there was significant believe that Bin Laden and his lieutenants could have been eliminated in an air strike earlier, the Department of Defense failed to consider the option because of the consequences of either missing its target and making Osama look strong or the government loosing face.
The state house is charged with coordinating military operations, for example, President Reagan used state house staff until marines were killed and he signed a directive replacing it. The congress is another organ that ensures federal law enforcement and national security. Congress is to approve military actions against an enemy, except for small military operations where the president can approve. The resistance of congress to adjust to change has seriously impaired the fight against terrorism. Although intelligence was available of the imminent attack by Al Qaeda, congress failed to approve military action against Bin Laden and his group Al Qaeda. It was not until 9-11 attacks that congress approved the use of military action to remove the terrorism threat.
Since terrorist groups like Al Qaeda are ideological groups and not the groups of organized individuals, the terrorism threat shall always be imminent. The restructuring and improvement of the organs charged with federal law enforcement and national security to respond appropriately, shall determine how safe we are.