My thoughts on the show:
Overall, I thought it was well done and pretty accurate (considering it was a movie condensed into 5 hours) based on what I know. Like I said earlier, the movie showed how our bureaucracy hindered the front line people who are fighting the war on terror. I do not think anyone should be blamed other than the terrorists for the attacks. Hind site is always 20/20. I will discuss some failures I thought were important that helped lead to 9-11 that were shown in the movie.
1. The policy that prohibited the US government from hiring or operating in the filed with criminals. This failed policy was enacted and enforced by the Clinton administration. Clinton had disdain towards the intelligence community especially the CIA. He cut many intelligence assets and never even met with his first CIA Director James Woolsey aside from when they were first introduced. This policy directly prohibited the CIA and other intelligence agencies from gathering needed intelligence. In this business dealing with terrorists you are inevitably going to come across some less than desirable characters that can provide valuable information. I believe this policy has been rescinded.
2. The Administration considered the terrorist attacks (first WTC, embassy bombings, USS Cole ect.) were handled as a law enforcement matter. The enemy was fighting a war against us and we were treating it as a few criminal acts. This changed after 9-11 when we finally started to wage war against the terrorists. Even today their are still some people who think the terrorists should be treated as criminals instead of enemies waging war on us.
3. There was poor leadership in our government. No one wanted to step to the plate and make a decision. Following the Waco incident where Janet Reno was left hanging out to dry by the administration, everyone was afraid to make a difficult decision. In one scene Sandy Burger would not authorize the CIA to take out Bin Laden. He told Tennant if he wants to do it he is on his own. This is not how the chain of command should work.
4. bureaucrats worried more about career advancement than doing what is right. This was highlighted in the scene where the US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine put a haut to the investigation conducted by the FBI into the USS Cole bombing. Bodine was worried more about offending the Yemenis than protecting American lives. This brings me to my next point.
5. "Political Correctness rules the day." The people who are keeping us safe by fighting the war on terror are hindered by political correctness. Everyone is so worried about offending people that they can not effectively keep us safe when they are worried about getting sued by organizations such as the ACLU. Political correctness still rules the day, though since 9-11 there are a lot of people who realize our safety is more important than trying not to offend someone.
6. The wall in put in place during the Clinton administration that prohibited the CIA and military intelligence from sharing information with our domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. This was a failed policy that prohibited investigators from putting the pieces together from collected intelligence. This was shown as a reason the 9-11 terrorists were not located and identified when they were in the US preceding the attacks. This wall was removed by the current administration.
7. Pre Patriot Act difficulties in gathering evidence. This was illustrated in the film mostly during the scene where INS and FBI took possession of Moussaoui's laptop prior to the 9-11 attack. Later on we found details of the attacks on that laptop. This problem has been solved with the Patriot Act.
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