Terrorist Attacks of the World Trade Center and Failures of the U.S. Government to Combat Terrorism
The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York took by surprise the United States intelligence community and shocked the American people. Prior to this remarkable event, the American population perceived they were immune from terrorist attacks in the homeland. This paper will demonstrate many of the primary causes of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the resulting effects of such a broad-spectrum attack on the American people. The perceived false sense of safety and security exhibited by the American people resulted in a complacent attitude within the American government, which affected the effectiveness of the law enforcement agency to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Law enforcement officials in fact overlooked warning signs that may have prevented the attack on the World Trade Center. In the aftermath many Americans find themselves faced with several questions.
What were the causes of the 9/11 tragedies? The effects of the attacks are obvious; the American people find themselves' plunged into a war against a foe unseen. The U.S. government finds itself engaged in conflict unknown. No forewarning existed from our enemy, no warning from our multi-billion dollar defense systems, no prior intent of aggression. How are the American people to know of future impending attacks? What will prevent further terrorist activity and violence from our unforeseen enemy? One can only draw the conclusion that government complacency resulted in overlooking and dismissal of critical intelligence reports and information that might have prevented the World Trade Center attacks, and information that may prevent future attacks.
One of the primary reasons the World Trade Center attacks were so successful was the false sense of security many Americans felt. Many citizens truly believed that prior to the World Trade Center attacks, the U.S. was immune from devastating terrorist activity. This false sense of security can be partially blamed on the media. The media has always touted the technological sophistication of the U.S. military and their ability to predict and prevent such devastation from occurring in this country. However, history has shown that the government and CIA has failed the people of the U.S. On many occasions, and failed to implement critical steps necessary to establish a solid central intelligence infrastructure; one that might have prevented the World Trade Center attacks (Goodman, 59). According to national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, "Sixty years ago, the United States did not have a director of central intelligence and 13 billion to produce an early warning against our enemies" (Goodman, 59). Such a statement would cause any American citizen to believe that given modern technology, the government obviously should have realized imminent clues revealing the impending attacks on the Trade Center towers, but perhaps ignored them.
The report by Condoleeza Rice also points out that in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt appointed high- level officials to assess the cause of the attack (Goodman, 59). Current President Bush however, failed to do so. In fact, President Bush and the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligent committee "adamantly opposed any investigation or post mortem" (Goodman, 59). Why would a government interested in the health and safety of its citizens oppose such efforts?
A second cause for the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is that the intelligence agencies within the United States overlooked critical information regarding terrorist attacks around the world and at home. Signs of eminent aggression and impending disaster abroad for American citizens have been prevalent for some time. In December of 1999, a Port Angeles terrorist arrest made clear that "Americans have reason to worry about the porous ness of their borders" (Flynn, 57). According to a study related to the prevention of terror and U.S. international relations, more than "2.7 million UNDOCUMENTED immigrants" have entered the U.S. In recent years simply by swimming, walking or riding across Mexican and Canadian borders (Flynn, 57). What is to stop a terrorist from doing the same? Central intelligence agencies are in fact aware that between five and ten million pounds of chlorofluorocarbons are smuggled into the U.S. each year (Flynn, 57).
One can only logically conclude that terrorists may just as easily smuggle biological, chemical and human deadly agents into the U.S. undetected (Flynn, 57).
Time has also proven that the American people have perceived the threat of terrorism as greatly increased over the last two decades. Wouldn't one logically presume that central intelligence agencies had received, but perhaps ignoring the same information? In a study conducted of the American people over a ten-year period, close to one fourth of respondents between 1986 and 1991 believed that a major terrorist attack was likely within the U.S. (Hoffman, 1993). In subsequent years the intelligence agencies of the government had the Oklahoma bombings and World Trade Center attacks of 1993 to consider (Hoffman, 1993). It seems only very highly likely that central intelligence agents received, yet overlooked critical information that may have intercepted the World Trade attacks.
Also prevalent within the U.S. government as a secondary cause of the World Trade Attacks was the lack of cooperation between the thirteen agencies that reported to the CIA, making it difficult for anyone to decipher and analyze any information provided by the agency. Generally, with the exception of Pearl Harbor the U.S. has not experienced widespread terrorist attacks within its homeland. Many have reported that the terrorists' main goals are to "demonstrate that the government is unable to fulfill primary security functions, which include safety and order" (Wardlaw, 1989). The information provided to our chiefs of security is conflicting at best. The American people desire to believe that the government has the wherewithal to assist and protect them in the event of true threat, but little evidence has been produced to substantiate such a claim.
Ultimately, the effects of the terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center in New York became world renown and widespread. President Bush enacted many laws in an effort to halt future terrorism. The intelligence agencies were re-arranged in an effort to effectively prevent future attacks. Financially, the nations airlines such as United were devastated, and have yet to recover from the terrorist attacks. Many companies, most notably those housed in the World Trade Centers, lost invaluable records as a result of the terrorist attacks. Since the attacks, many government agencies have enacted reform methods to share information; among them are the following: FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Immigration and Naturalization service to name a few (Stephens, 34). President Bush recently signed the Homeland Security Act into law, which will authorize the Homeland Security team to develop and protect the nations critical infrastructures such as: telecommunications, financial, banking and transportation (Stephens, 35). The U.S. Department of Justice has also "enacted measures to ensure the integrity and safety of IT and U.S. communication systems" (Stephens, 35). Many U.S. institutions and firms such as Merrill Lynch are also installing back up security and safety measures to ensure the integrity of their communications and data in the event of future terrorist attacks (Stephens, 36). What of the airline industry?
The government has infused thousands of dollars into the flailing industry to help support it during the economic downturn. However, are these efforts enough to sustain the industry? The people of the United States are afraid to fly. The government has enacted several new laws and protocol to guarantee the safety of passengers flying nationally and internationally. Ultimately however, the people of the United States are bogged down by common day affairs. They are held-up by long security lines to examine their baggage. Even after close security precautions and new equipment to prevent explosives from being brought on board, many people are still uncertain about their safety when flying. Companies such as United have…