The Banality of Evil: Richard Clarke as Cassandra

NPR aired an absolutely fascinating report on the events which led up to the 9/11 tragedy.  It illustrates both the disconnect between intelligence gathering and policy implementation in the United States and the ‘banality’ of evil, or how evil made simple, plodding, and un-amazing steps to carry out the attacks.

Yet to me the most bizarre fact is that Clarke had warned and warned and was ignored time and again.  Amazing.

Do give the essay a read.  Here’s just a bit

The summer of 2001 will likely go down in history as the summer of missed opportunities.

“We were listening to al-Qaida people. We were intercepting their phone calls. We were intercepting their emails,” Clarke says, “and all of those indicators were coming back that there was a major attack in the works.”

Still, clues were overlooked: A man named Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota after his flight school instructor said he was acting like a hijacker. The CIA gave Bush a briefing with the now famous title of “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

All summer, Clarke couldn’t get the Bush administration to plan a Cabinet-level meeting on al-Qaida. Too many people were on vacation. By the time a meeting was scheduled in September, Clarke was already planning on transferring jobs.

“So I left the Sept. 4 meeting frustrated that they hadn’t made decisions and frustrated that they still hadn’t got it, and thinking, ‘Well at least in three weeks it won’t be my responsibility anymore,'” he says.

Again, read the whole.  Amazing.  And food for thought.

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