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HomeCybersecurityReflecting on September 11 after 20 years | MIT News

Reflecting on September 11 after 20 years | MIT News

Reflecting on September 11 after 20 years MIT News

The 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks is an opportunity to look back at the American response to the atrocities, how and why they occurred, and the implications for future global policies in dealing with terrorist groups. The protracted war in Afghanistan, a country devastated by the war that sheltered Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and the ensuing war in Iraq claimed thousands of lives between American troops and sparked a global war on terror. Many calculations have yielded dubious results.

Steven Simon, a member of the Robert E. Wilhelm Center for the MIT Center for International Studies, has been a White House staffer and observer of the war on terror as a scholar and writer. During the Obama administration, he served as senior director of the National Security Council in the Middle East and North Africa, and as senior director of the White House Counter-Terrorism Council in Clinton. These assignments came after a 15-year career in the U.S. State Department. Among the government appointments he worked in the private sector and the academic sector. He comes to MIT from Colby College where he was Professor of International Relations. Simon has co-authored books, including the US response to 9/11 The next attack: the failure of the war on terror and a strategy to correct it, Lionel Gelber was a finalist for the prize and was listed among the best books of the year on this topic. Washington Post and Financial Times.

In this interview, Simon reflects on the 9/11 disaster and gives some advice on where we can go from here.

Issue: Looking back on the events leading up to September 11, it was often noted that there was a lack of communication between the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to carry out the attacks. Based on your experience at the White House before 9/11, do you agree that this is the most important failure of intelligence?

that: Like many sudden attacks, 9/11 was linked to a series of interconnected intelligence and policy failures. There is no doubt in the minds of the intelligence services that the CIA ‘s failure to inform the FBI about the entry of two key pilots captured by the CIA at an Al Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur is a blatant mistake. . They were told, however, that there were legitimate questions about how well the FBI would act. For example, another conspirator, Zacharias Musoui, who was attending a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, was arrested shortly before 9/11 for immigration violations. The local FBI Field Office concluded that he was part of an impending attack, but the DC headquarters rejected a request for a warrant for the hijacking of Moussou’s computer. However, there was a long-standing reluctance among CIA officials to share intelligence with law enforcement. Such information may eventually be disclosed by users, leaving sources and methods at risk, and may continue to gain access to intelligence from important sources and assets.

Perhaps even more devastating could be the failure of both agencies to build U.S. support infrastructure for Saudi government employees, facilitate the entry of burglars and deposit them, provide funding, provide housing, and arm them with driving licenses. And so on. Although the United States has repeatedly named the U.S. a terrorist organization that has attacked the United States, many in the Saudi government are aware of the diversion of resources to support Al Qaeda (there is no evidence that al-Saud is himself. Rather than act, policy mistakes were made in convincing the new administration that the main challenges facing the United States arose from rival nation-states. [then U.S. national security advisor] Condoleezza Rice’s frequent quotes from the president are quoted [George W.] Bush refused to “soak up the flies” to divert attention from important work. Unfortunately, 19 of those flies destroyed the towers of the World Trade Center, destroyed much of the Pentagon, massacred passengers and crew on four commercial planes, and plunged the Bush administration into a 20-year bloody war.

Issue: The initial response – the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the fall of the Taliban – is correct?

that: Many observers will agree that Al Qaeda cannot continue to attack the United States and that the Taliban are an essential co-conspirator, not only because of bin Laden but also because they were housed in training camps for pirates. And teaching. The strategic argument suggested that it could only be prevented by destroying both Al Qaeda and its Afghan sponsor. There are legitimate reasons for this broad action in traditional international law and the United Nations Charter.

Issue: What advice do you have to take the Biden administration forward?

that: There are some things that are obvious. The first is that terrorism will not be eradicated. Grievances will persist, the media will be available, and people prone to action will continue to circulate. According to the United Nations, although the number of jihadists has always been high, domestic terrorism, led by white supremacists, is on the rise. The widespread use of chemical weapons in Syria and the development of genetic modification against the backdrop of a brutal epidemic have led to the idea of ​​using these weapons against the enemy. Cyber ​​terrorism is perhaps a lesser threat, but based on crime models and can be costly to the victim.

Prescription in general is the ability to tolerate social and infrastructure. But the ability to resist is futile if anti-terrorist policy turns to another partisan tool to formulate a sentence. Of all the challenges, terrorism is likely to have the most dangerous and most counterproductive effect, and the situation in American politics would have deteriorated if the two sides had not cooperated in building and activating effective defenses. If politics fails to allow such a preparation, a successful strike against the United States will make the partisan blame game more toxic and it will be difficult to engineer an appropriate response.

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