OODA OriginalUncategorized

The best intel in the world . . .

. . . is no good if you chose to ignore it, or, “Why it helps to know what the **** you’re doing.”

In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm’s likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

The [Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center ] NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina’s size would “likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching” and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. […]

In a second document, also obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina’s likely impact to that of “Hurricane Pam,” a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse. […]

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans’s Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, an event that the report described as “the greatest concern.” The breach of two canal floodwalls near the lake was the key failure that left much of central New Orleans underwater and accounted for the bulk of Louisiana’s 1,100 Katrina-related deaths. […]

The reports echo warnings given around the same time by Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center, who began sounding the alarm when forecasters first placed Katrina on a collision with the Gulf Coast on the evening of Aug. 26. But the FEMA and NISAC reports provided much more detail and covered a wider range of possible consequences, from damaged ports and oil terminals to spikes in energy prices.

Granted, the weatherman always couches his forecast in adjectives (Bob Ryan, I’m looking in your direction) but when faced with such clear specifics I find it hard to believe that what happened after Katrina was the best we could do.

Want a more traditional view of the problem? Consider this case heretofore known as “how to ignore what is as plain as the nose on your face”:

Top MI5 and other security agency sleuths knew a year before the July 7 London bomb attacks that the ringleader of the suicide bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was planning to fight for Al Qaeda.

The disclosure, highly embarrassing for MI5, has once again triggered the demand for a full public inquiry into the July 7 attacks.

It is said that MI5 bugged Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, another of the bombers, for two months in 2004 as they talked about Khan’s desire to fight an “Islamic war”. He also talked about retuning to Pakistan, where he had attended a camp for British Muslim terrorists. The two also talked about engaging in crimes to raise funds.

But after all this, MI5 and police decided that the two men were not an “imminent risk”. As a result their surveillance was discontinued.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.