Core issues related to Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged) case & Possible ways to address the root cause in order to solve the problems and leverage the strength:-
Core issues related to Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged) case:
1. Occurrence of terror attack at pentagon due to mishandling of information.
2. Conflicts among various federal agencies in terms of information dissemination and authority responsibility relationship.
3. Ignorance of the analysis of information received to FBI from different sources which could if properly analyzed and examined, stop the incident that took place.
4. Lack of coordination among different officials of FBI and among FBI officials and other federal agencies such as CIA, FAA, NSA and SLTLE.
5. Information did not always flow smoothly within and beyond the Bureau, particularly due to the complexity of the organization and its tasks as well as the sensitivity of information.
6. Special rules and regulations for issuing warrants and gathering intelligence about agents of foreign powers as per Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 also created a problem leading to occurrence of the attack.
Analysis of data for the root cause/s of the problem of Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged) Case
Ignorance of the electronic memo sent by Phoenix Special Agent Kenneth Williams advising the Bureau and New York of the possibility of a coordinated effort by Osama Bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation universities and colleges and putting themselves in a position in the future to conduct terror activity against civil aviation targets. Even after 17 days of sending of electronic memo, dated July 10, 2001, it did not enter the Automated Case System of FBI until July 27, 2001. His recommendation was totally ignored .No actions have been taken by IOS in the Radical Fundamentalist Unit and Osama Bin Laden Unit on the information provided in the memo. Neither they shared it with senior FBI personnel, nor did they distribute it to other federal agencies. Several agents in the New York field office who received the memo also took no action.
Failure of FBI agents in Minnesota to secure a FISA warrant from FBI headquarter to search Moussaoui’s laptop computer and other belongings on the ground of FISA rules as it required the agents to demonstrate that Moussaoui was an agent of a foreign power. It was later found that he had ties to the hijackers. There was a complete communication failure among different agencies and their officials. Minnesota agents were startled when they learned of Williams’ memo, and Williams had no idea about events in Minneapolis. Neither CIA officials, who had been made aware of the Moussaoui investigation, had information about neither Williams’ memo nor FBI personnel who had quashed the Moussaoui warrant request.
In case of Khalid and Nawaf, there was a complete information and security failure. Twenty months before 9/11, U.S. government officials identified Khalid as a likely terrorist and realized that he had a valid U.S. visa. Yet he managed to enter the U.S. twice, apply for and receive a new visa, and rent a room from an FBI informant…all without being tracked or detained. As per the information given by NSA to CIA, CIA agents noted that he had a valid U.S. visa, but they did not tell the FBI about Mihdhar’s U.S. visa. Immigrations and Customs officials were not aware that the CIA suspected them to be terrorists. Even they used their real names to open bank accounts, apply for driver’s licenses, and enroll in flight school. In March 2000, Thai officials alerted the CIA that Hazmi had flown to Los Angeles. CIA personnel did not pass this information to the FBI. The FBI informant told his FBI handler about the arrival of “two Saudi nationals,” but agents in the local field office had not given special attention to the two neither shared this information to senior officials.
Photograph given by Yemen official who had been suspected as the mastermind of U.S.S. Cole had associations with both of them. Mihdhar had a valid U.S. visa; and Hazmi had landed in Los Angeles. No individual, however, had all this information. CIA and FBI agents were working together to discuss the progress on cole case but none of them shared the information to each other as CIA participants felt not to share CIA information to FBI resulting in getting the visa to Mihdhar in time to fly to New York on July 4, 2001 for the second time, passing through Immigrations and Customs without scrutiny.
After a month’s review and analysis of information regarding the Kuala Lumpur meeting. An FBI analyst at CIA’s Counterterrorism Center realized the potential significance of Mihdhar and Hazmi. She called the Immigration and Naturalization Service on August 22 and learned that Mihdhar had entered the U.S. twice. She asked FBI agents to investigate the two men. An argument broke out within FBI ranks about who should be involved. Agents conducting the criminal investigation of the Cole bombing wanted badly to speak with the two men. FBI lawyers objected due to FISA concerns and the task of tracking down Mihdhar and Hazmi was assigned to a New York agent with no experience in counterterrorism was again a mistake. The FBI agent at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center again misconceptualised the urgency and placed Mihdhar and Hazmi on the State Department’s watchlist, which named 60,000 suspected terrorists who would be denied visas. They neither informed FAA nor asked them to put their names in ‘NO FLY list’ due to which American Airlines permitted them to board Flight 77, which the hijackers crashed into the Pentagon.
Probable solutions based on the root cause to solve the problems of Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged) Case
Due to such a complex structure and conflicts among various security and federal agencies in terms of information dissemination and power authority relationships, the context of whole information got distorted and none of the officials investigating the case has all concrete information available at one table leading to communication and security failure. There must be a central information processing system which can keep an integrated record of all the information possessed by different agencies of USA. Autonomy to work in their own fashion and culture should be encouraged keeping in view the sharing of all the information to a centralized information procession, which can facilitate to eliminate the disaster, happened in the form of 9/11.
Since FBI hires employees and promotes them on the basis of law enforcement criteria, either they must restrict its scope to a law enforcement agency or if it wanted to remain the nation’s domestic intelligence service as well the president of USA and Congress should restructure FBI and its interactions with other agencies of the country on a horizon centralized information processing system.