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UQ Wire: Commission Recommendations Will Not Help

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Thursday, July 22, 2004 Contact: (510) 632-1366
media@independent.org

9/11 Commission’s Recommendations for new Counter-Terrorism Center will not Improve Intelligence

Government Should Cut Number of Intelligence Bureaucracies, Not Increase Them, Says National Security Expert Ivan Eland

Oakland, Ca., — Although the 9/11 Commission uncovered government incompetence that should make Americans wonder if the September 11 attacks could have been prevented and made some useful recommendations, the panel by-and-large avoided the most important question surrounding the attacks, says national security expert Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. The commission correctly criticized the performance of U.S. intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, aviation security and the military prior to or on that horrible day, says Eland. The commission also made useful recommendations to safeguard American liberties-namely reform of the FBI instead of creating a dangerous new domestic spy agency and improved congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security agencies.

But like many government and quasi-government bodies after September 11, Eland points out, the 9/11 Commission focused on dubious recommendations about what the government could do to “improve” its response to terrorism instead of the more important question of what it could do to lessen the chances of an attack in the first place. For example, the commission recommended creating a new national counter-terrorism center to coordinate foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism and the post of a new national intelligence director that would control the myriad of intelligence agencies and their budgets. Like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, however, these proposed reforms would add a layer of bureaucracy, exacerbating the governmental coordination problems discovered by the commission itself. “To fight small, agile terror groups, the government should cut the number of intelligence bureaucracies, not increase them,” says Eland.

“The major flaw in the commission’s analysis and recommendations, however, was one of omission,” says Eland. “They did not address the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks. Dealing with the underlying causes is the only way to reduce the chances of future terrorist attacks. In his statement, upon release of the commission’s report, Thomas Kean, the commission’s chairman, incorrectly opined that the terrorists hate America and its policies. Even al Qaeda does not hate America per se. The group’s statements indicate that it hates U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, especially the U.S. government’s propping up of corrupt Arab regimes. Ending longstanding U.S. government meddling in the Middle East would achieve more than any of the commission’s recommendations to reduce terrorist attacks on innocent Americans.”

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