TCS Daily


"Luck is the Residue of Design."

By Austin Bay - September 11, 2006 12:00 AM

On Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaida's terrorist hijackers implemented an audacious, imaginative, and well-designed -- but risky -- attack. Al-Qaida's 9-11 planners and hijackers believed audacity and vicious execution would minimize the risk of failure. But they all counted on a little luck.[i] The 9-11 commission demonstrated the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies had traces and hints of the plan, but failed to see the larger patterns. Still, an insightful, imaginative analyst might have made the intuitive leap and guessed al-Qaida intended to turn commercial aircraft into suicide ICBMs. Al-Qaida took the chance its evil design was simply too outrageous for imaginations pinned by bureaucratic regimens.

Al-Qaida also relied on American lassitude. Al-Qaida had declared war on America, but America ignored it. Americans simply didn't want to be distracted from their pursuit of happiness. Al-Qaida's 9-11 hijackers would leverage American complacency and exploit America's freedom of movement to board aircraft.

Al-Qaida also relied, to a degree, on cowardice. Al-Qaida's own agit-prop interpretation of the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia in 1993 gave it confidence in American cowardice.

Al-Qaida's May 24, 1994, "Third Letter to Africa Corps" said: "The Somali experience confirmed the spurious nature of American power and that it has not recovered from the Vietnam complex. It fears getting bogged down in a real war that would reveal its psychological collapse at the level of personnel and leader."

But 9-11 revealed a heroic America, with the pinnacle of heroism the self-sacrifice of Flight 93. The passengers on Flight 93 confronted the hijackers. Passengers learned their jetliner had become a terrorist ICBM, and they counterattacked. Flight 93 crashed, but it did not strike its ground target.

Flight 93's counterattack is the moment al-Qaida's luck began to sour. That's the moment America went on the offensive, against al-Qaida and the dysfunctional political systems that helped create it.

Al-Qaida's "Afghanistan trap" failed. Afghanistan was designed to be the battle that launched Osama bin Laden's "globalized war of Islam against America." A U.S. military defeat in the Himalayas would signal "Divine Sanction" for al-Qaida's project, and make al-Qaida a global power within Islam. American victories on Afghan battlefields muted the notion God was on al-Qaida's side.

And America has continued to have success.

It may not look that way, for the "metrics" in the War on Terror don't conform to World War II-type shifts in geographic frontlines and casualty counts, but in the midst of WWII the metrics of battles and miles also lacked certainty.

"Asymmetric" war has "asymmetric" metrics. One measure is the lack of a second 9-11 on U.S. soil. We've indications al-Qaida and its affiliates have tried. We've experienced minor terror attacks -- for example, the "sudden jihadi" who smashed his car into passersby in North Carolina.

Islamo-fascist terrorists have murdered en masse from Bali to Madrid, but there's been no second 9-11 in America. Perhaps Rickey's residue has played a part, but we've also gotten smarter. It's not simply the inspection regimen. The passengers know the stakes, and the passengers are at war.

American-led offensive action has also taken the war to its source: the politically dysfunctional Middle East. That's by design. A terrible yin-yang of tyranny and terror afflicts the Middle East. Defeatist hotheads who natter about "root causes of terror" must understand the taproot of terror is tyranny, not poverty.

Iraq's free elections and its new democratic government -- by design -- offer an alternative to the tyrants' and the terrorists' violent dynamic. Sept. 11 was an "asymmetric" terror attack on a "conventional" America. Iraq is an "asymmetric" offensive political action led by America, an offensive designed to empower Middle Eastern societies that will police terror, not promote it.

In July of this year, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and said, "Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror."

The violent dynamic isn't broken -- but Arab Muslims are now fighting for their own freedom. Five years after 9-11, that isn't a design, but a fact. 

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and TCS Daily contributing writer.



[i] Branch Rickey, the great baseball general manager, once mused, "Luck is the residue of design."

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54 Comments

Dream on
that the so called free elections and democratic governments will bring peace to a region which has no concept of individual rights and separation of the temporal and the spiritual.

"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" = but, sure, it was all luck.
George W. Bush got an intelligence briefing in August, 2001 entitled "Bin laden Determined to Strike in U.S." You can say it was "America" that did nothing about that warning but it was George W. Bush who didn't want to interrupt his vacataion.

Similarly, sure, "America" failed to act betwen January, 2001 (when intelligence determined that Al Qaeda was behind the Cole attack. At the time "America" had decided that the big foreign policy issue was renouncing the ABM treaty.

How many times have we dealt with this same memo?
This memo was vague, non-committal and, if heeded, might have distracted from stopping the actual attacks.

You can find the full text of the memo here:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/04/10/august6.memo/

First, was anybody *not* concerned that Osama bin Laden was going to attack the US in 2001? We all knew that he had tried before, we had all seen him say what he was going to do so on the news. Except for the specific intelligence found towards the end of the memo, there is *nothing* new here. It has a conveniently provacative title, nothing more.

Second, the memo offers *no* specifics. There is nothing truly actionable in here. There is no specific timeframe for an attack, mentioning only that bin Laden wants to strike and that he plans ahead. Furthermore, the memo mentions several different types of attack, none of which are identical to the 9-11 attacks. How is the President supposed to figure out Osama's plot from these vague details? How is he supposed to choose the right path to pursue from amongst the three or four different options presented to him in this memo? Should he institute extra security checks from the moment he gets this memo until the end of time without having any clear evidence that a hijacking rather than a bombing is about to take place? Would people actually submit to the regular rectal probes and pat-downs that we recieve at the airport if the 9-11 attacks had not happened?

The article cites 70 FBI field-investigations. What can the President do, keep informed on the results of every one of them? Of course not, he relies on people like Richard Clarke to feed him actionable intelligence, not CYA garbage like this.

Third, even if the President had actually responded to the vague threats in the memo, the attacks would not likely have been prevented. Hijackings are mentioned, but that generally implies that people are going to land at some point, and not crash in to buildings. A hijacked aircraft means that you should get the hostage rescue teams ready, not the interceptors. Furthermore, the targets listed in the memo were wrong. NYC Federal Buildings were not struck, the WTC was. Beefing up security there might have resulted in a false sense of security rather than a chance to stop the attacks. Finally, how about the claim that terrorists were planning attacks with explosives? The only explosive used in this attack was jet fuel, not Semtex.

Bill Clinton saved Osama's life at least two times after he attacked us, and you blame President Bus
From an article on NewsMax.com:

"Mansoor Ijaz, who negotiated with Sudan on behalf of Clinton from 1996 to 1998, paints a portrait of a White House plagued by incompetence, focused on appearances rather than action, and heedless of profound threats to national security.

Ijaz also claims Clinton passed on an opportunity to have Osama bin Laden arrested.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, hoping to have terrorism sanctions lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of bin Laden and 'detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt's Islamic Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas,' Ijaz writes in today?s edition of the liberal Los Angeles Times.

These networks included the two hijackers who piloted jetliners into the World Trade Center.

But Clinton and National Security Adviser Samuel "Sandy? Berger failed to act.

'I know because I negotiated more than one of the opportunities,' Ijaz writes.

'The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening.'"

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/12/5/153637.shtml

President Clinton confirms that he turned down bin Laden and, in fact, sent a negotiator (Ijaz) to broker his release. You can find an mp3 of Pres. Clinton's confirmation of the remarks on the following website:

http://www.newsmax.com/cgi-bin/showinside.pl?a=2002/8/10/230919

The Sudanses government has also confirmed another of Ijaz's statements concerning intelligence on various jihadist groups meeting with Osama at the time, and offered to give the US intelligence, in return for the end of terrorism sanctions. They would send us intelligence on who was present, what was said and where the meetings were taking place. Briefly following this, they offered to kick bin laden out of the Sudan ans send him to Saudi Arabia, where he would be interrogated. Berger and Clinton were both silent, according to Ijaz, and the Sudanese agree.

http://books.google.com/books?id=4DtMq2tXJ-UC&pg=PA145&lpg=PA141&ots=1H_j3w7oWD&dq=sudanese+government+osama+bin+laden+bill+clinton&sig=uLS0ih4U0Nn9bJ8SS3az33BPLQs

George W. Bush may not have immediately focused all of his attention on Osama bin Laden, but he did not let an international terrorist go free, and actively ignore extremely valuable offers of intelligence from governments seeking to join the world again. Furthermore, he did not put in place the one thing that most critically led to this attack: the Gorellick wall. By preventing communication between the FBI and the CIA (bad enough without a wall,) she prevented vital information from being shared between the agencies.

Finally, who gave Osama the impression that we were a bunch of little girls when it came to casualties? I'll repeat what he himself said:

"It cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers," Osama bin Laden said of Somalia in his interview with ABC News journalist John Miller in May 1998. "The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."

http://www.nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200311041024.asp

Except nothing was done
Sure, the warning about the specific means was vague. The message, though, was unmistakeable.

In fact, if Bush had ordered the FBI and the CIA to coordinate and beat the bushes as a top priority, lots of stuff was lying out in plain sight, as the 9/11 commission noted. No, it wasn't remotely a sure thing, but it would have been an appropriate response. Instead, it was off for a run at Crawford.

This is simply wrong
The story about the Sudanese offer of Bin Laden was discussed in detail by the 9/11 commission.

"Sudan's minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the United States. The Commission has found no credible evidence that this was so."

Marine Intelligence Chief says Iraq Province is Lost
Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 11, 2006; Page A01

The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.

The officials described Col. Pete Devlin's classified assessment of the dire state of Anbar as the first time that a senior U.S. military officer has filed so negative a report from Iraq.

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/10/AR2006091001204.html?referrer=email

Talk about second hand information.
“MY brother knows this guy that has a barber that cut this other guy’s hair that read a report written by this other guy that says…”

Why do people take as gospel information that the news gives out when they don’t even have access to original documents? And even if they did have access to this one report how can you tell how accurate one report is? Maybe this guy was having a real depressing day when he wrote it and could only focus on the bad side?

I had to write a lot of reports and papers in Grad school. The most important idea behind all these papers was to have access to primary sources and back it up with secondary sources. The report Col. Devlin wrote is a secondary source, the information he used to write it is the primary source. So in fact this article is written based on rumors from people that have only read secondary source material.

So Col. Devlin of Marine Intelligence, doesn't know what he's talking about??
you really don't seem to get the idea:

> The report Col. Devlin wrote is a secondary source, the information he used to write it is the primary source. So in fact this article is written based on rumors from people that have only read secondary source material.

Um, yes. It's based on Colonel Devlin's analysis of primary sources, with his professional conclusions, based on this analysis. This report isn't a 'rumor,' it's a document. Do you think he's being misquoted? That the report doesn't exist? If you thnk Devlin's got it all wrong, what sources are you basing yourself on??

And it's now 5 years after 9/11 and Bin Laden is still sending us videos
The trail has gone cold, according to recent press accounts, and the Pakistanis are refusing to go after him, or let American troop mount an operation to go after him. That's five years after 9/11.

Bill Clinton Admitted in Public
That he had an opportunity to get OBL, and couldn't find a compelling reason to apprehend the S*B. So who's lying, the Sudanese or WJC?

The speech was documented in another thread a few days or so ago.

no
No I’m saying the news report is based on third hand information based on a report that the reporter has never seen. The article is based on other people feelings and subjections of a secondary source. In other words rumors spread by people that saw the report.

Not something I would put a lot of weight on. Now if the reporter had read the report himself, or had other reports to backup the conclusions of the report…

More was done in the first few months of George W. Bush's term to stop these guys than by Bill Clint
In fact, he could have done nothing and it would have been better than actively aiding bin Laden like Clinton did. When Clinton argued IN FAVOR OF bin Laden's expulsion from Syria without detention in Saudi Arabia, what must bin Laden have thought? When Clinton pulled out of Somalia after the "Black Hawk Down" incident, we know what bin Laden thought, because I quoted the Frontline interview he gave in another post.

All George W. Bush had to do was not surrender to the terrorists immediately, and he was doing a substantially better job than Bill Clinton.

Finally, how many other terrorist groups are actively trying to kill us? Should the President order round-the-clock sweeps by all Federal agencies involved in law-enforcement every time he learns a new terrorist wants to hit us? How will he find the people or the money to do so?

The Commission is misleading people, not lying.
So was Bill Clinton. The Sudanese offered to hand bin Laden over to the Saudis, not the Americans. While both the Commission and the former-President are strictly telling the truth, they are lying by omission.

eric and roy don't care about facts, they just want something to scream about.
...

We'd known for 15 years, that Bin Laden wanted to attack in the US.
There was nothing new in the briefing that has your panties in such a wad.

The ABM treaty had been dead for a decade. Since the other party in the treaty died. It was hindering our development of an ABM system, one which is starting to play a major role in our defense.

The US ambassador to Sudan and Clinton, both disagree with you.
She stated categorically, that Sudan wanted to the Bin Laden to the US.
B. Clinton also has admitted this.

no doubt eric will be making this claim off and on every few days for the foreseeable future.
he doesn't care about facts, he cares about winning idelogical arguments.

So what, he's a has been
Regardless, the last video from BL was over a year ago.
The most recent was taken prior to 9/11.

in eric's world
a single person who agrees with you, is all the proof you need.
It doesn't matter how many thousands disagree with you.

Nobody is saying the story misrepresents Devlin
And the story notes that other analysts aren't as pessimistic as he is. But the reporter talked to a whole bunch of people who read what Devlin wrote. Do you really think that this is a 'rumor?'

No, that's not true
The 9/11 commission report says, the Sudanese were willing to give him to the Saudis. But the Saudis wouldn't take him.

So tell us what was done?
Your conclusion is not supported by the 9/11 commission.

Rumor
“A rumor is a piece of purportedly true information that circulates without substantiating evidence. Classically, rumors spread from person to person by word of mouth, as in gossip.”

Sound like a dead on description to me. Until that report is unclassified all we have is word of mouth. And I’m sure that the people he talked to were very limited on what they told him seeing as how it was a secret document, if not they should be court-martialed for treason.

Fine: then call it a 'rumor'
Again: do you think it's inaccurate? That Devlin never wrote a report? That the people who discussed it with the reporter didn't read it? That they misrepresented what Devlin said?

But it's not. A rumor is unsourced. This is sourced. It wouldn't have appeared if the reporter were not convinced that the people he talked to were reliable. It was checked by talking to others.

And it would be easy to shoot down. If Devlin weren't who the story says he is; if the Marines said no such report existed, etc.

Finally: does what Devlin purportedly says seem unlikely?? Is he wrong?

Tell Col. Devlin that
Be sure to add that you think he's a cowardly appeaser working for the enemy.

Bin Laden almost sank the Cole just 10 months before the report
No action by Bush.

And it sure is lucky we have an effective ABM now. Oh, wait, we don't.

She??
His name was Tim Carney.

In late 1995, when Bin Ladin was still in Sudan, the State Department and the CIA learned that Sudanese officials were discussing with the Saudi government the possibility of expelling Bin Ladin. U.S. Ambassador Timothy Carney encouraged the Sudanese to pursue this course. The Saudis, however, did not want Bin Ladin, giving as their reason their revocation of his citizenship.6

Sudan's minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the United States. The Commission has found no credible evidence that this was so. Ambassador Carney had instructions only to push the Sudanese to expel Bin Ladin. Ambassador Carney had no legal basis to ask for more from the Sudanese since, at the time, there was no indictment out-standing.7

Can't catch the has-been, can't catch the now-ares
But it's all going great, right?

catching the are-nows by the dozens
I'm not surprised that your mother hasn't told you about it.

eric's view of reality
Actually we do have the beginnings of an effective ABM system. If Clinton hadn't blocked progress for 8 years, it would be even more effective.

Clinton had 7 years after the first Twin Tower bombings, and all he managed to do was blow up an empty aspirin factory.

Tell it to Col. Devlin
And your argument doesn't get stronger with the mother stuff.

Complete crap
> If Clinton hadn't blocked progress for 8 years, it would be even more effective.

Clinton did not "block progress." He continued research. It wasn't working. Since it wasn't working, he had no reason to deploy it.

>Clinton had 7 years after the first Twin Tower bombings, and all he managed to do was blow up an empty aspirin factory.

He stopped a conspiracy to blow up LA Airport, and missed killing Bin laden by 15 minutes. But sure, it's all his fault.

mirror time
shut up, mark.

A rumor is unsourced.
A rumor does not have to be unsourced. As far a accurate? That is the problem…I have no idea. Did the people misrepresent the info? Highly likely that they only let out what they wanted too let out, after all it was a classified report and only people with an agenda would “leak” classified information. And in reality this is an unsourced item. Did the report list any of the sources for these people that “saw” the report? No just “unnamed” Army personnel. Why was this? One could be that if they where named they would be facing court-marshal for leaking. Another could be that what they said does not match the report for what ever reason. A third could be that the reporter never got any “real” concrete information and he is basing the story and tidbits and filling in the rest with his views. This list could go on a long time.

In the end with out Devlin coming out and supporting this, the unclassification of the report or the addition of other reports to back it up, it is just rumor.

LA airport/immigration
If you are referring to the Ressam problem, why does Clinton get the credit for the work of a lady and a few men at the ICE? The border agents are swamped with work, and should keep out Arabs especially since they are the ones who keep bringing jihad to our land.
Miss Mindy Kleinberg, a widow of 9-11 has shown that the Gov. is lazy and ineffective in doing the paper work on applications allowing people into this country, so why not take off the gloves and tackle the real problem of illegal immigration? How many more will fall for the PC rhetoric that "we are a nation of immigrants" without talking about the problems of assimilation, and tax dollars wasted on multi-ligual ballots?

If he gets the blame, why not the credit?
this is a two-way street.

eric can't stand up to facts and reason
never could, has no desire to.

It'd be easy to deny
If there were no such memo, the Marines would say so. Devlin would say so.

>Did the report list any of the sources for these people that “saw” the report? No just “unnamed” Army personnel.

It was "several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Not just army. Do you think the reporter was making this up?

>Why was this? One could be that if they where named they would be facing court-marshal for leaking.

"Like others interviewed about the report, he spoke on the condition that he not be identified by name because of the document's sensitivity." This is pretty clear.

>Another could be that what they said does not match the report for what ever reason.

You mean they made it up? Why were a number of them making up the same thing?

>. A third could be that the reporter never got any “real” concrete information and he is basing the story and tidbits and filling in the rest with his views.

And if this were the case, the story would have been blown out of the water by people saying no such memo, or memo misquoted. The reporter is completely straightforward about this:

"No one interviewed would quote from the report, citing its classification, and The Washington Post was not shown a copy of it. But over the past three weeks, Devlin's paper has been widely disseminated in military and intelligence circles. It is provoking intense debate over the key finding that in Anbar, the U.S. effort to clear and hold major cities and the upper Euphrates valley has failed."

Also, here is a named source:

But an Army officer in Iraq familiar with the report said he considers it accurate. "It is best characterized as 'realistic,' " he said.

"From what I understand, it is very candid, very unvarnished," said retired Marine Col. G. I. Wilson. "It says the emperor has no clothes."

eric lies, as always
Research continued, but at only a fraction the level budgeted by Reagan.

He didn't stop the LA bombings, an alert Canadian border agent did.

He missed Bin Laden because his adminstration told the Paki's that the attack was coming with enough lead time that they were able to get Bin Laden out before the bombs hit.

When has he won any arguement
None i've seen. He just like to spout off. I guess he gets off on it somehow.

Very interesting…
I find this credible and eric's take to be on point. But just as credible is the others to aren't as pessimistic.

Regardless, so what? We have two choices; completely blockade the area in questiona nd let no one in or out or blow the whole place up. Neither is very palatable so the default is to do nothing and hope they are wrong.

This is not the choice of this administration, but one forced on the executive branch by political necessity and homegrown inflamation of every reported incident, whether it really happened or not.

I will agree that the situation in Iraq is fast becoming a quagmire; but it is not the fault of the present administration. Rather it is the fault of all who oppose what the present administration has done and wants to do. Compromise in combat is just another term for suicide.

source these allegations, please
but you can't: you never have, you never do.

Buddy, you're not the scorekeeper
But dream on, it seems like you need to keep patting yourself on the back.

Of course he is. I made the assignment last week.
I decided that you get to play the role of village idiot.

How does this work???
I mean, this is ridiculous.

>I will agree that the situation in Iraq is fast becoming a quagmire; but it is not the fault of the present administration. Rather it is the fault of all who oppose what the present administration has done and wants to do. Compromise in combat is just another term for suicide.

OK, Bush is President and he has a Republican Senate and Republican House behind him. So he has the political clout to make decisions and says he's not worried abot polls. He can appoint or fire officers and cabinet members.

But if the situation turns sour, it's not his fault, but the fault of people who disagree?? You see a review in a newspaper that says a restaurant is absolutely horrible: bad food, bad service, bad everything. But you go anyway, and in fact it is bad food, bad service, bad everything.

So you blame the newspaper.

But for you, Mark, it's not a role
It's your identity.Village idiot is not something you play. It's what you are, and what you'll always be.

How dare you, I am the grand master, I assign roles, not you.
now get back into that cute little costume I bought for you.

I didn't blame the newspaper
I said you and this story sounded credible (incredibly).

Bush started the "War on Terror" all fire and no bullsh it. Then the peaceniks and the democrats began am disinformation campaign and started putting on the political pressure. Every civilian causality has been the reason for congressional democrats to show outrage and demand an investigation; doesn't matter whether or not the U.S. military was involved.

You know this is the case. But you hate Bush and now blame him for every stall and problem the military encounters.

Fine, that your trip.

Nurse! Nurse! Mark's gone off the deep end
someone get him his meds.

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