Skip to comments.Lapses before Pearl Harbor echoed in buildup to Sept. 11
Posted on 06/03/2002 8:01:57 PM PDT by vannrox
Lapses before Pearl Harbor echoed in buildup to Sept. 11
WASHINGTON (AP) - They said authorities lacked the imagination to foresee the surprise attack. They said vital intelligence never made it to those who might have saved the day.
So many clues. Never the right conclusions.
When members of Congress' intelligence committees begin joint hearings today to explore why the government did not prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, they will bump into history.
In 1946, another House-Senate panel delivered its report on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor five years earlier.
It found overlooked intelligence, bosses and subordinates who did not talk to each other and plenty of fault to go around - exonerating, however, the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Then, lawmakers thought they had settled on lessons that, if followed in generations to come, would mean no more Pearl Harbors. Now they are looking at why America was caught off- guard once again.
Here is a comparison of the Pearl Harbor findings and the current situation. Failure of Imagination
Then: The Pearl Harbor committee, building on the findings of seven other inquiries after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, said U.S. officials possessed "unusually significant and vital intelligence" but failed to "employ the necessary imagination" to put it together.
Now: America possessed vital intelligence before Sept. 11 about potential hijacking intentions by al-Qaida and other signs of imminent trouble from restive terrorists.
But senior Bush administration officials say they could not have imagined that hijackers would go on a suicide mission using airliners as missiles. This, despite the knowledge before Sept. 11 that terrorists had talked of using such tactics and had hoped to destroy the Eiffel Tower that way.
"Why has there been this lack of imagination?" asked Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Larry Johnson, who was deputy director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism in the first Bush admini- stration, said: "That information was in their files, and if they weren't imagining it, that is a failure of intelligence and a failure of imagination." Broken Communications
Then: The committee said it was essential in the future that subordinates and superiors not hold anything important back from each other.
Before Pearl Harbor there were many instances of subordinates in Washington not informing superiors of what they knew, including Japanese intentions conveyed in intercepted telegrams from Tokyo.
Now: The Phoenix memo, in which an FBI agent raised concerns about Arabs training at U.S. flight schools, did not make it past FBI middle managers before Sept. 11.
In addition, an FBI agent in Minnesota alleges that the bureau's Washington headquarters hindered an investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, who is considered the 20th hijacker who was arrested on immigration charges a month before the attacks after arousing suspicions over his flight training. Scattered Intelligence
Then: The committee faulted Army and Navy intelligence units for poor communication with each other. It said coordination of intelligence must be centralized to avoid "all of the pitfalls of divided responsibility which experience has made so abundantly apparent."
Such concerns led to the creation of the CIA after World War II.
Now: The new inquiry will look into communications between the CIA and FBI, agencies that have supposedly strengthened coordination since Sept. 11.
The attacks led to the creation of the Office of Homeland Security.
Do you have then an explanation as to why a myriad of Pearl Harbor documents remain classified?