This paper is about the how the intelligence community functioned prior to the 9/11/01 attacks.

Essay by killpatty May 2003

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The National Security Act of 1947 spawned the birth of the United States' intelligence efforts, which were focused on Russia and other nuclear threats of the Cold War. During the Cold War terrorism existed in small groups sponsored by either rich private citizens or other countries that could afford the terrorist's employment. The problem that arrived after Russia's fall is that a new assortment of cheap weaponry became readily available to whoever had the money. The terrorist organizations had always been able to collect weapons but were now able to buy them even cheaper, which allows the money that would have been spent on guns to be transferred to planning, recruiting, and training. An argument can be made that the United States was a safer place when the Russians had control of their weapons and Americans actually had the comfort of knowing who the enemy was.

The United States intelligence community was not prepared to guard against the new approaches from terrorist organizations.

Looking directly at the events of September 11th, the federal government was definitely not prepared for the takeover of an airplane with the intent to use the vessel for further destruction. In the past when a flight was overtaken, threats were made to either take the terrorists' to another destination or meet some demand, but the crews and the passengers were not in danger and were viewed as hostages. September 11th put a new unforeseen twist on the view of terrorism, and now the crews and passengers must be evaluated as already dead. Any action to change their status, such as the use of deadly force for any terrorist attack during flight, is now authorized. The pilots are also being allowed to carry side arms that are to be used as defense...