Fixing the Failures of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

Fixing the Failures of 9/11

9/11: A Systemic Failure of the United States Government

The events of September 11th, 2001 have had a larger impact on the United States Intelligence Community than any single event in its history. It forced the U.S. Intelligence community to look critically at their policies, organization, and how they handled business. The Joint Inquiry, 9/11 Commission, and Inspectors General found numerous deficiencies in communication, technological capabilities, and limited oversight. The government responded to these gaps through creation of legislation, implementation of regulations, a massive restructuring of the intelligence community, and utilization of new technologies.

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism or PATRIOT Act of 2001 was the first in a deluge of post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation. It enhanced domestic security through establishing a Counter-terrorism fund; increased funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's information technology department; and created the National Electronic Crime Task Force network inspired by New York's pilot program. The PATRIOT Act fleshed out surveillance procedures against Computer Fraud & Terrorism while expanding FISA of 1978. Through measures like: mandatory detention of suspected terrorists; implementing a foreign student monitoring program; and requiring new machine readable passports; the PATRIOT Act helped to protect U.S. Boarders. It secured benefit preservation for terrorism victims and first responders as well as for their families. Perhaps, most importantly, it removed key investigative obstacles. It allowed for DNA identification of terrorists and other violent offenders in addition to disclosure of educational records. The PATRIOT Act also helped facilitate communication between Law Enforcement and the Intelligence Community through breaking down legislative barriers and clarifying them. Sensenbrenner's Act further refined & strengthened Anti-terrorist criminal law. Specifically, it increased penalties, eliminated and expanded the statutes of limitation for certain terrorist crimes, and prohibiting aiding & abetting of terrorists. Lastly, the PATRIOT act introduced the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act of 2001 which defined jurisdictions; expanded penalties for financial crimes; and amended the Bank Secrecy Act.

The Homeland Security Act 2002 was the first step to completely restructuring the U.S. Intelligence and Defense Communities. The main subject of the act was established a Department of Homeland Security with a primary mission to:

“prevent attacks within the United States; reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; [and] minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States . . . .”

Numerous offices were transferred to the DHS including: the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to agency transfers, Customs & Border Patrol and the Immigration & Customs Enforcement offices were instituted. This paved the way for the National Targeting center and the expansion of the Automated Targeting system- a massive intelligence analysis system. ATS specifically integrates data from law enforcement, commercial, and other government agencies to identify high risk targets and travelers. While it has proven to be useful, it also poses privacy concerns.

Besides re-organization, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 accomplished other tasks. The Homeland Security act also included the Safe Explosives act and other provisions to prevent possession of explosives by unauthorized individuals including the establishment of the ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR). Additionally, It prohibitied the U.S...
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