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Don’t get all warm & fuzzy just yet

The Washington Times allows for a moment of reflection:

Despite statements by senior al Qaeda leaders, U.S. intelligence agencies do not have information indicating the group is ready to conduct a major attack, U.S. counterterrorism officials said.

[…] there are no signs of an impending attack like the hijacked airline strikes on the Pentagon and World Trade Center that killed almost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, the officials said.

[…] A U.S. intelligence official said no hard intelligence relates to the al Qaeda statements and nothing indicates that the group is set to carry out an attack.

“Not every tape that comes out has been followed by an attack,” the official said. “However, when they make these kinds of statements, you have to take them seriously.”

I don’t want to say that this is just another way of fudging the language of warning – or just plain not knowing the difference – but if I’m not mistaken a post-mortem has revealed that there was plenty of warning of 9/11 (and the Cole). This included both “hard” intelligence (the kind even the cold-war addled brain of your boss can comprehend) and the softer stuff that, if you mention out loud, people will think you are nuts.

Not having strategic warning data and not paying attention to it are two different things. Given the major change to the IC since 9/11 was more cash and bodies, not more original thinking or willingness to take risks, I wouldn’t stop going to go to bed with one eye open.

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.