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Why the CIA is Responsible for 911

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 By RDFollendoreIII


This essay concerns the responsibility of the CIA for 911.  It is one thing to be responsible for an action.  It is another to be responsible for preventing an action.  Yet once an action has taken place, both parties become responsible in different ways.  The purpose of this essay is to express the crisis that exists by allowing organizations critical to National Security to deny the existence of their responsibility.


January 24, 2003


No one should for a second think that the CIA planned or participated in the planning and execution of 911.  But recently a senior official at the Central Intelligence Agency decided to speak out and say that his agency was not responsible for the 911 terrorism events.  His perspective was that it is the terrorists that funded, and executed the plan that are responsible.  None of us could agree with him more on that particular point.  Those who plan and commit acts of terror should be held responsible for their actions.


However in extending this point to claim deniable responsibility, the Agency has allowed their official representative to ignore their responsibility to national security.  National Security is the primary justification for the existence of the CIA.  This means that every time that National Security is breached by foreign organized attacks, each act represents failure by the CIA as an organization.  Because the CIA is the primary organization that was responsible for knowing about and preventing terrorism that affects United States National Security the CIA failed.  Because it failed in its responsibilities to detect foreign threats in time to prevent them, it can and should be held accountable for the events.    


The problem here is that accountable acceptance of responsibility is not the same thing as acceptance of criminal intention.  

Assume that it is a guards job to prevent a bank robbery.  The guards management decides that it is unlikely that a bank robbery will occur at a particular branch bank so they allow the guard to go and come from his post on company business whenever he chooses. He is given no backup and is cut off from communicating with other authorities. The guard company does little to check or provide him support. One day the bank is robbed, a very large amount of money is taken and the bank employees killed.  The guard comes back from wherever he was to find the door open and everyone dead.  The management of course denies that it is responsible for the robbery.

Assume that a circuit breaker company had a contract to create devices that prevented fires from occurring in overheated pumps chemical plants.  The company decides that they do not need more engineering on a particular breaker that has shown problems.  They do not put the resources to fix the problem because of other priorities.  One day a breaker fails and a fire breaks out in a plant, spewing dangerous materials over a community. The fire department investigation proves that the circuit breaker failed to perform.  The circuit breaker company of course denies that it is responsible for fires.

Assume that a ordinance manufacturer for the Air Force built safety devices for nuclear weapons that prevent them from going off.  The company officials knew that under some circumstances a combination of corrosion and violent vibration could cause the bomb to arm.  The company product specifications do not require it to utilize it's company engineering resources to correct this design defect because the device met the specifications of the government.  There is also no specific requirement to communicate with others to correct such problems. One day bad weather causes a crash and an Air Force Bomber trying to land crashes into the ocean.  Shortly there after a nuclear event takes place and destroys part of a city.  The ordinance manufacturer denies it is responsible for weather related crashes that set the bomb off.

The obvious problem with choosing a course of deniability of responsibility is that it is not always plausible.  The deniability of responsibility is not plausible when it is the primary obligation of the organization to prevent certain events from occurring.  Deniability of responsibility is not plausible when it is the justification of the organization's management, budget and resources to assure that certain kinds of events do not happen but they do. When authority is accepted to prevent or deny problems, along with that authority comes responsibility for such problems when and if they do occur.  


There should be no doubt that working within the CIA is a grave responsibility and sometimes your duty requires you to sacrifice your career to do the right thing. The secrecy of the work is too often used to cover up astounding management mistakes. The issue of secrecy is used to create a management attitude and environment of conformity.  There are many very intelligent and the worlds top notch people working with the CIA.  But hard work and good intentions of people are just not enough to fix the kinds of problems in decision making that continues to occur there.  These problems have become endemic to a very unusual organization.    


This is the reason why the Central Intelligence Agency is responsible for 911.  They were unable to perform a primary job to which they were assigned.  They have continued to stonewall on their internal problems and deny that they are able to adapt technology and overcome their internal organizational problems.  They failed to perform their duties and yet they deny their responsibility in the failing.  This is astounding in that by doing so their senior officials have ignored their oath as Federal officials.  


America can do better than this.  It is only through recognition and acceptance of responsibility for failure as well as success that organizations can evolve.  The danger to National Security can not recede until changes are made to breakup the clandestine culture inducing denial of responsibility. 




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved