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Full text of "The 9/11 Commission report [electronic resource] : final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States"

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12 

WHAT TO DO? 
A GLOBAL STRATEGY 

12.1 REFLECTING ON A GENERATIONAL CHALLENGE 

Three years after 9/11, Americans are still thinking and talking about 
how to protect our nation in this new era. The national debate continues. 

Countering terrorism has become, beyond any doubt, the top national 
security priority for the United States. This shift has occurred with the full 
support of the Congress, both major political parties, the media, and the Amer- 
ican people. 

The nation has committed enormous resources to national security and to 
countering terrorism. Between fiscal year 2001, the last budget adopted before 
9/11, and the present fiscal year 2004, total federal spending on defense (includ- 
ing expenditures on both Iraq and Afghanistan), homeland security, and inter- 
national affairs rose more than 50 percent, from $354 billion to about $547 
billion. The United States has not experienced such a rapid surge in national 
security spending since the Korean War. 1 

This pattern has occurred before in American history. The United States 
faces a sudden crisis and summons a tremendous exertion of national energy. 
Then, as that surge transforms the landscape, comes a time for reflection and 
reevaluation. Some programs and even agencies are discarded; others are 
invented or redesigned. Private firms and engaged citizens redefine their rela- 
tionships with government, working through the processes of the American 
republic. 

Now is the time for that reflection and reevaluation.The United States should 
consider what to do — the shape and objectives of a strategy. Americans should 
also consider how to do it — organizing their government in a different way. 

Defining the Threat 

In the post-9/1 1 world, threats are defined more by the fault lines within soci- 
eties than by the territorial boundaries between them. From terrorism to global 

361 



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362 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

disease or environmental degradation, the challenges have become transnational 
rather than international. That is the defining quality of world politics in the 
twenty-first century. 

National security used to be considered by studying foreign frontiers, 
weighing opposing groups of states, and measuring industrial might. To be dan- 
gerous, an enemy had to muster large armies. Threats emerged slowly, often 
visibly, as weapons were forged, armies conscripted, and units trained and 
moved into place. Because large states were more powerful, they also had more 
to lose. They could be deterred. 

Now threats can emerge quickly. An organization like al Qaeda, headquar- 
tered in a country on the other side of the earth, in a region so poor that elec- 
tricity or telephones were scarce, could nonetheless scheme to wield weapons 
of unprecedented destructive power in the largest cities of the United States. 

In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests 
"over there" should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America 
"over here." In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. 

But the enemy is not just "terrorism," some generic evil. 2 This vagueness 
blurs the strategy.The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more spe- 
cific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism — especially the al Qaeda net- 
work, its affiliates, and its ideology. 3 

As we mentioned in chapter 2, Usama Bin Ladin and other Islamist terror- 
ist leaders draw on a long tradition of extreme intolerance within one stream 
of Islam (a minority tradition), from at least Ibn Taimiyyah, through the 
founders of Wahhabism, through the Muslim Brotherhood, to Sayyid Qutb. 
That stream is motivated by religion and does not distinguish politics from reli- 
gion, thus distorting both. It is further fed by grievances stressed by Bin Ladin 
and widely felt throughout the Muslim world — against the U.S. military pres- 
ence in the Middle East, policies perceived as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, and 
support of Israel. Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: 
to them America is the font of all evil, the "head of the snake," and it must be 
converted or destroyed. 

It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it 
there is no common ground — not even respect for life — on which to begin a 
dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated. 

Because the Muslim world has fallen behind the West politically, economi- 
cally, and militarily for the past three centuries, and because few tolerant or sec- 
ular Muslim democracies provide alternative models for the future, Bin Ladin s 
message finds receptive ears. It has attracted active support from thousands of 
disaffected young Muslims and resonates powerfully with a far larger number 
who do not actively support his methods. The resentment of America and the 
West is deep, even among leaders of relatively successful Muslim states. 4 

Tolerance, the rule of law, political and economic openness, the extension 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 363 

of greater opportunities to women — these cures must come from within Mus- 
lim societies themselves. The United States must support such developments. 

But this process is likely to be measured in decades, not years. It is a process 
that will be violently opposed by Islamist terrorist organizations, both inside 
Muslim countries and in attacks on the United States and other Western 
nations. The United States finds itself caught up in a clash within a civilization. 
That clash arises from particular conditions in the Muslim world, conditions 
that spill over into expatriate Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries. 

Our enemy is twofold: al Qaeda, a stateless network of terrorists that struck 
us on 9/11; and a radical ideological movement in the Islamic world, inspired 
in part by al Qaeda, which has spawned terrorist groups and violence across 
the globe. The first enemy is weakened, but continues to pose a grave threat. 
The second enemy is gathering, and will menace Americans and American 
interests long after Usama Bin Ladin and his cohorts are killed or captured.Thus 
our strategy must match our means to two ends: dismantling the al Qaeda net- 
work and prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to 
Islamist terrorism. 

Islam is not the enemy. It is not synonymous with terror. Nor does Islam 
teach terror. America and its friends oppose a perversion of Islam, not the great 
world faith itself. Lives guided by religious faith, including literal beliefs in holy 
scriptures, are common to every religion, and represent no threat to us. 

Other religions have experienced violent internal struggles. With so many 
diverse adherents, every major religion will spawn violent zealots. Yet under- 
standing and tolerance among people of different faiths can and must prevail. 

The present transnational danger is Islamist terrorism. What is needed is a 
broad political-military strategy that rests on a firm tripod of policies to 

• attack terrorists and their organizations; 

• prevent the continued growth of Islamist terrorism; and 

• protect against and prepare for terrorist attacks. 



More Than a War on Terrorism 

Terrorism is a tactic used by individuals and organizations to kill and destroy. 
Our efforts should be directed at those individuals and organizations. 

Calling this struggle a war accurately describes the use of American and 
allied armed forces to find and destroy terrorist groups and their allies in the 
field, notably in Afghanistan. The language of war also evokes the mobilization 
for a national effort. Yet the strategy should be balanced. 

The first phase of our post-9/11 efforts rightly included military action to 
topple the Taliban and pursue al Qaeda. This work continues. But long-term 
success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelli- 



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364 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

gence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public 
diplomacy, and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting oth- 
ers, we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort. 

Certainly the strategy should include offensive operations to counter ter- 
rorism. Terrorists should no longer find safe haven where their organizations 
can grow and flourish. America's strategy should be a coalition strategy, that 
includes Muslim nations as partners in its development and implementation. 

Our effort should be accompanied by a preventive strategy that is as much, 
or more, political as it is military. The strategy must focus clearly on the Arab 
and Muslim world, in all its variety. 

Our strategy should also include defenses. America can be attacked in many 
ways and has many vulnerabilities. No defenses are perfect. But risks must be 
calculated; hard choices must be made about allocating resources. Responsi- 
bilities for America's defense should be clearly defined. Planning does make a 
difference, identifying where a little money might have a large effect. Defenses 
also complicate the plans of attackers, increasing their risks of discovery and 
failure. Finally, the nation must prepare to deal with attacks that are not 
stopped. 

Measuring Success 

What should Americans expect from their government in the struggle against 
Islamist terrorism? The goals seem unlimited: Defeat terrorism anywhere in the 
world. But Americans have also been told to expect the worst: An attack is 
probably coming; it may be terrible. 

With such benchmarks, the justifications for action and spending seem lim- 
itless. Goals are good. Yet effective public policies also need concrete objectives. 
Agencies need to be able to measure success. 

These measurements do not need to be quantitative: government cannot 
measure success in the ways that private firms can. But the targets should be 
specific enough so that reasonable observers — in the White House, the Con- 
gress, the media, or the general public — can judge whether or not the objec- 
tives have been attained. 

Vague goals match an amorphous picture of the enemy. Al Qaeda and its 
affiliates are popularly described as being all over the world, adaptable, resilient, 
needing little higher-level organization, and capable of anything. The Ameri- 
can people are thus given the picture of an omnipotent, unslayable hydra of 
destruction. This image lowers expectations for government effectiveness. 

It should not lower them too far. Our report shows a determined and capa- 
ble group of plotters. Yet the group was fragile, dependent on a few key per- 
sonalities, and occasionally left vulnerable by the marginal, unstable people 
often attracted to such causes. The enemy made mistakes — like Khalid al Mihd- 
har's unauthorized departure from the United States that required him to enter 
the country again in July 2001, or the selection of Zacarias Moussaoui as a par- 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 365 

ticipant and Ramzi Binalshibh's transfer of money to him. The U.S. govern- 
ment was not able to capitalize on those mistakes in time to prevent 9/11. 

We do not believe it is possible to defeat all terrorist attacks against Ameri- 
cans, every time and everywhere. A president should tell the American people: 

• No president can promise that a catastrophic attack like that of 9/11 
will not happen again. History has shown that even the most vigilant 
and expert agencies cannot always prevent determined, suicidal 
attackers from reaching a target. 

• But the American people are entitled to expect their government to 
do its very best. They should expect that officials will have realistic 
objectives, clear guidance, and effective organization. They are enti- 
tled to see some standards for performance so they can judge, with 
the help of their elected representatives, whether the objectives are 
being met. 



12.2 ATTACK TERRORISTS 

AND THEIR ORGANIZATIONS 

The U.S. government, joined by other governments around the world, is work- 
ing through intelligence, law enforcement, military, financial, and diplomatic 
channels to identify, disrupt, capture, or kill individual terrorists. This effort was 
going on before 9/11 and it continues on a vastly enlarged scale. But to catch 
terrorists, a U.S. or foreign agency needs to be able to find and reach them. 

No Sanctuaries 

The 9/11 attack was a complex international operation, the product of years 
of planning. Bombings like those in Bali in 2003 or Madrid in 2004, while able 
to take hundreds of lives, can be mounted locally. Their requirements are far 
more modest in size and complexity.They are more difficult to thwart. But the 
U.S. government must build the capacities to prevent a 9/11-scale plot from 
succeeding, and those capabilities will help greatly to cope with lesser but still 
devastating attacks. 

A complex international terrorist operation aimed at launching a cata- 
strophic attack cannot be mounted by just anyone in any place. Such opera- 
tions appear to require 

• time, space, and ability to perform competent planning and staff work; 

• a command structure able to make necessary decisions and possessing 
the authority and contacts to assemble needed people, money, and 
materials; 



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366 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

• opportunity and space to recruit, train, and select operatives with the 
needed skills and dedication, providing the time and structure 
required to socialize them into the terrorist cause, judge their trust- 
worthiness, and hone their skills; 

• a logistics network able to securely manage the travel of operatives, 
move money, and transport resources (like explosives) where they 
need to go; 

• access, in the case of certain weapons, to the special materials needed 
for a nuclear, chemical, radiological, or biological attack; 

• reliable communications between coordinators and operatives; and 

• opportunity to test the workability of the plan. 

Many details in chapters 2, 5, and 7 illustrate the direct and indirect value of 
the Afghan sanctuary to al Qaeda in preparing the 9/11 attack and other oper- 
ations. The organization cemented personal ties among veteran jihadists work- 
ing together there for years. It had the operational space to gather and sift 
recruits, indoctrinating them in isolated, desert camps. It built up logistical net- 
works, running through Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. 

Al Qaeda also exploited relatively lax internal security environments in West- 
ern countries, especially Germany. It considered the environment in the United 
States so hospitable that the 9/11 operatives used America as their staging area 
for further training and exercises — traveling into, out of, and around the coun- 
try and complacently using their real names with little fear of capture. 

To find sanctuary, terrorist organizations have fled to some of the least gov- 
erned, most lawless places in the world. The intelligence community has pre- 
pared a world map that highlights possible terrorist havens, using no secret 
intelligence — just indicating areas that combine rugged terrain, weak gover- 
nance, room to hide or receive supplies, and low population density with a town 
or city near enough to allow necessary interaction with the outside world. Large 
areas scattered around the world meet these criteria. 5 

In talking with American and foreign government officials and military offi- 
cers on the front lines fighting terrorists today, we asked them: If you were a 
terrorist leader today, where would you locate your base? Some of the same 
places come up again and again on their lists: 

• western Pakistan and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region 

• southern or western Afghanistan 

• the Arabian Peninsula, especially Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and the 
nearby Horn of Africa, including Somalia and extending southwest 
into Kenya 

• Southeast Asia, from Thailand to the southern Philippines to Indonesia 

• West Africa, including Nigeria and Mali 

• European cities with expatriate Muslim communities, especially cities 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 367 

in central and eastern Europe where security forces and border con- 
trols are less effective 

In the twentieth century, strategists focused on the world's great industrial 
heartlands. In the twenty-first, the focus is in the opposite direction, toward 
remote regions and failing states. The United States has had to find ways to 
extend its reach, straining the limits of its influence. 

Every policy decision we make needs to be seen through this lens. If, for 
example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places 
that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if 
we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or 
warlords and narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once 
again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor. 

Recommendation: The U.S. government must identify and prioritize 
actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries. For each, it should have a 
realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run, 
using all elements of national power. We should reach out, listen to, 
and work with other countries that can help. 

We offer three illustrations that are particularly applicable today, in 2004: Pak- 
istan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. 

Pakistan 

Pakistan's endemic poverty, widespread corruption, and often ineffective gov- 
ernment create opportunities for Islamist recruitment. Poor education is a par- 
ticular concern. Millions of families, especially those with little money, send 
their children to religious schools, or madrassahs. Many of these schools are 
the only opportunity available for an education, but some have been used as 
incubators for violent extremism. According to Karachi's police commander, 
there are 859 madrassahs teaching more than 200,000 youngsters in his city 
alone. 6 

It is hard to overstate the importance of Pakistan in the struggle against 
Islamist terrorism. Within Pakistan's borders are 1 50 million Muslims, scores of 
al Qaeda terrorists, many Taliban fighters, and — perhaps — Usama Bin Ladin. 
Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons and has come frighteningly close to war 
with nuclear-armed India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. A political 
battle among anti- American Islamic fundamentalists, the Pakistani military, and 
more moderate mainstream political forces has already spilled over into vio- 
lence, and there have been repeated recent attempts to kill Pakistan's president, 
Pervez Musharraf. 

In recent years, the United States has had three basic problems in its rela- 
tionship with Pakistan: 



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368 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

• On terrorism, Pakistan helped nurture the Taliban. The Pakistani army 
and intelligence services, especially below the top ranks, have long 
been ambivalent about confronting Islamist extremists. Many in the 
government have sympathized with or provided support to the 
extremists. Musharraf agreed that Bin Ladin was bad. But before 9/11, 
preserving good relations with the Taliban took precedence. 

• On proliferation, Musharraf has repeatedly said that Pakistan does not 
barter with its nuclear technology. But proliferation concerns have 
been long-standing and very serious. Most recently, the Pakistani gov- 
ernment has claimed not to have known that one of its nuclear 
weapons developers, a national figure, was leading the most danger- 
ous nuclear smuggling ring ever disclosed. 

• Finally, Pakistan has made little progress toward the return of demo- 
cratic rule at the national level, although that turbulent process does 
continue to function at the provincial level and the Pakistani press 
remains relatively free. 

Immediately after 9/11, confronted by the United States with a stark choice, 
Pakistan made a strategic decision. Its government stood aside and allowed the 
U.S. -led coalition to destroy the Taliban regime. In other ways, Pakistan actively 
assisted: its authorities arrested more than 500 al Qaeda operatives and Taliban 
members, and Pakistani forces played a leading part in tracking down KSM, 
Abu Zubaydah, and other key al Qaeda figures. 7 

In the following two years, the Pakistani government tried to walk the fence, 
helping against al Qaeda while seeking to avoid a larger confrontation with Tal- 
iban remnants and other Islamic extremists. When al Qaeda and its Pakistani 
allies repeatedly tried to assassinate Musharraf, almost succeeding, the battle 
came home. 

The country's vast unpoliced regions make Pakistan attractive to extremists 
seeking refuge and recruits and also provide a base for operations against coali- 
tion forces in Afghanistan. Almost all the 9/11 attackers traveled the north- 
south nexus of Kandahar— Quetta— Karachi. The Baluchistan region of Pakistan 
(KSM s ethnic home) and the sprawling city of Karachi remain centers of 
Islamist extremism where the U.S. and Pakistani security and intelligence pres- 
ence has been weak. The U.S. consulate in Karachi is a makeshift fortress, 
reflecting the gravity of the surrounding threat. 8 

During the winter of 2003—2004, Musharraf made another strategic deci- 
sion. He ordered the Pakistani army into the frontier provinces of northwest 
Pakistan along the Afghan border, where Bin Ladin andAyman al Zawahiri have 
reportedly taken refuge. The army is confronting groups of al Qaeda fighters 
and their local allies in very difficult terrain. On the other side of the frontier, 
U.S. forces in Afghanistan have found it challenging to organize effective joint 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 369 

operations, given Pakistan's limited capabilities and reluctance to permit U.S. 
military operations on its soil. Yet in 2004, it is clear that the Pakistani govern- 
ment is trying harder than ever before in the battle against Islamist terrorists. 9 

Acknowledging these problems and Musharraf's own part in the story, we 
believe that Musharraf's government represents the best hope for stability in 
Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

• In an extraordinary public essay asking how Muslims can "drag our- 
selves out of the pit we find ourselves in, to raise ourselves up," 
Musharraf has called for a strategy of" enlightened moderation." The 
Muslim world, he said, should shun militancy and extremism; the 
West — and the United States in particular — should seek to resolve dis- 
putes with justice and help better the Muslim world. 10 

• Having come close to war in 2002 and 2003, Pakistan and India have 
recently made significant progress in peacefully discussing their long- 
standing differences. The United States has been and should remain a 
key supporter of that process. 

• The constant refrain of Pakistanis is that the United States long treated 
them as allies of convenience. As the United States makes fresh com- 
mitments now, it should make promises it is prepared to keep, for years 
to come. 

Recommendation: If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in 
a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the United States 
should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult 
long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan. Sustaining the cur- 
rent scale of aid to Pakistan, the United States should support Pak- 
istan's government in its struggle against extremists with a 
comprehensive effort that extends from military aid to support for 
better education, so long as Pakistan's leaders remain willing to make 
difficult choices of their own. 

Afghanistan 

Afghanistan was the incubator for al Qaeda and for the 9/11 attacks. In the fall 
of 2001, the U.S. -led international coalition and its Afghan allies toppled the 
Taliban and ended the regimes protection of al Qaeda. Notable progress has 
been made. International cooperation has been strong, with a clear UN man- 
date and a NATO-led peacekeeping force (the International Security Assis- 
tance Force, or ISAF). More than 10,000 American soldiers are deployed today 
in Afghanistan, joined by soldiers from NATO allies and Muslim states. A cen- 
tral government has been established in Kabul, with a democratic constitution, 
new currency, and a new army. Most Afghans enjoy greater freedom, women 



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370 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

and girls are emerging from subjugation, and 3 million children have returned 
to school. For the first time in many years, Afghans have reason to hope. 11 

But grave challenges remain. Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have regrouped 
in the south and southeast. Warlords control much of the country beyond 
Kabul, and the land is awash in weapons. Economic development remains a dis- 
tant hope.The narcotics trade — long a massive sector of the Afghan economy — 
is again booming. Even the most hardened aid workers refuse to operate in 
many regions, and some warn that Afghanistan is near the brink of chaos. 12 

Battered Afghanistan has a chance. Elections are being prepared. It is reveal- 
ing that in June 2004, Taliban fighters resorted to slaughtering 16 Afghans on 
a bus, apparently for no reason other than their boldness in carrying an 
unprecedented Afghan weapon: a voter registration card. 

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, is brave and committed. He is trying 
to build genuinely national institutions that can overcome the tradition of allo- 
cating powers among ethnic communities. Yet even if his efforts are successful 
and elections bring a democratic government to Afghanistan, the United States 
faces some difficult choices. 

After paying relatively little attention to rebuilding Afghanistan during the 
military campaign, U.S. policies changed noticeably during 2003. Greater con- 
sideration of the political dimension and congressional support for a substan- 
tial package of assistance signaled a longer-term commitment to Afghanistan's 
future. One Afghan regional official plaintively told us the country finally has 
a good government. He begged the United States to keep its promise and not 
abandon Afghanistan again, as it had in the 1990s. Another Afghan leader noted 
that if the United States leaves, "we will lose all that we have gained." 13 

Most difficult is to define the security mission in Afghanistan.There is con- 
tinuing political controversy about whether military operations in Iraq have 
had any effect on the scale of America's commitment to the future of 
Afghanistan. The United States has largely stayed out of the central govern- 
ment's struggles with dissident warlords and it has largely avoided confronting 
the related problem of narcotrafficking. 14 

Recommendation:The President and the Congress deserve praise for 
their efforts in Afghanistan so far. Now the United States and the 
international community should make a long-term commitment to 
a secure and stable Afghanistan, in order to give the government a 
reasonable opportunity to improve the life of the Afghan people. 
Afghanistan must not again become a sanctuary for international 
crime and terrorism. The United States and the international com- 
munity should help the Afghan government extend its authority over 
the country, with a strategy and nation-by-nation commitments to 
achieve their objectives. 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 371 

• This is an ambitious recommendation. It would mean a redoubled 
effort to secure the country, disarm militias, and curtail the age of war- 
lord rule. But the United States and NATO have already committed 
themselves to the future of this region — wisely, as the 9/11 story 
shows — and failed half-measures could be worse than useless. 

• NATO in particular has made Afghanistan a test of the Alliances abil- 
ity to adapt to current security challenges of the future. NATO must 
pass this test. Currently, the United States and the international com- 
munity envision enough support so that the central government can 
build a truly national army and extend essential infrastructure and min- 
imum public services to major towns and regions. The effort relies in 
part on foreign civil-military teams, arranged under various national 
flags. The institutional commitments of NATO and the United 
Nations to these enterprises are weak. NATO member states are not 
following through; some of the other states around the world that have 
pledged assistance to Afghanistan are not fulfilling their pledges. 

• The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is overwhelmingly oriented toward 
military and security work. The State Department presence is woe- 
fully understaffed, and the military mission is narrowly focused on al 
Qaeda and Taliban remnants in the south and southeast. The U.S. gov- 
ernment can do its part if the international community decides on a 
joint effort to restore the rule of law and contain rampant crime and 
narcotics trafficking in this crossroads of Central Asia. 15 

We heard again and again that the money for assistance is allocated so rigidly 
that, on the ground, one U.S. agency often cannot improvise or pitch in to help 
another agency, even in small ways when a few thousand dollars could make a 
great difference. 

The U.S. government should allocate money so that lower-level officials 
have more flexibility to get the job done across agency lines, adjusting to the 
circumstances they find in the field. This should include discretionary funds for 
expenditures by military units that often encounter opportunities to help the 
local population. 

Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism. At the 
level of high policy, Saudi Arabia's leaders cooperated with American diplomatic 
initiatives aimed at the Taliban or Pakistan before 9/1 1 . At the same time, Saudi 
Arabia's society was a place where al Qaeda raised money directly from indi- 
viduals and through charities. It was the society that produced 15 of the 19 
hijackers. 



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372 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

The Kingdom is one of the world's most religiously conservative societies, 
and its identity is closely bound to its religious links, especially its position as the 
guardian of Islam's two holiest sites. Charitable giving, or zakat, is one of the five 
pillars of Islam. It is broader and more pervasive than Western ideas of charity — 
functioning also as a form of income tax, educational assistance, foreign aid, and 
a source of political influence.The Western notion of the separation of civic and 
religious duty does not exist in Islamic cultures. Funding charitable works is an 
integral function of the governments in the Islamic world. It is so ingrained in 
Islamic culture that in Saudi Arabia, for example, a department within the Saudi 
Ministry of Finance and National Economy collects zakat directly, much as the 
U.S. Internal Revenue Service collects payroll withholding tax. Closely tied to 
zakat is the dedication of the government to propagating the Islamic faith, par- 
ticularly the Wahhabi sect that flourishes in Saudi Arabia. 

Traditionally, throughout the Muslim world, there is no formal oversight 
mechanism for donations. As Saudi wealth increased, the amounts contributed 
by individuals and the state grew dramatically Substantial sums went to finance 
Islamic charities of every kind. 

While Saudi domestic charities are regulated by the Ministry of Labor and 
Social Welfare, charities and international relief agencies, such as the World 
Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), are currently regulated by the Ministry 
of Islamic Affairs. This ministry uses zakat and government funds to spread Wah- 
habi beliefs throughout the world, including in mosques and schools. Often 
these schools provide the only education available; even in affluent countries, 
Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools are often the only Islamic schools. Some 
Wahhabi-funded organizations have been exploited by extremists to further 
their goal of violent jihad against non-Muslims. One such organization has 
been the al Haramain Islamic Foundation; the assets of some branch offices have 
been frozen by the U.S. and Saudi governments. 

Until 9/11, few Saudis would have considered government oversight of 
charitable donations necessary; many would have perceived it as interference 
in the exercise of their faith. At the same time, the government's ability to 
finance most state expenditures with energy revenues has delayed the need for 
a modern income tax system. As a result, there have been strong religious, cul- 
tural, and administrative barriers to monitoring charitable spending. That 
appears to be changing, however, now that the goal of violent jihad also extends 
to overthrowing Sunni governments (such as the House of Saud) that are not 
living up to the ideals of the Islamist extremists. 16 

The leaders of the United States and the rulers of Saudi Arabia have long 
had friendly relations, rooted in fundamentally common interests against the 
Soviet Union during the Cold War, in American hopes that Saudi oil supplies 
would stabilize the supply and price of oil in world markets, and in Saudi hopes 
that America could help protect the Kingdom against foreign threats. 

In 1990, the Kingdom hosted U.S. armed forces before the first U.S. -led war 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 373 

against Iraq. American soldiers and airmen have given their lives to help pro- 
tect Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has difficulty acknowledging this. 
American military bases remained there until 2003, as part of an international 
commitment to contain Iraq. 

For many years, leaders on both sides preferred to keep their ties quiet and 
behind the scenes. As a result, neither the U.S. nor the Saudi people appreci- 
ated all the dimensions of the bilateral relationship, including the Saudi role in 
U.S. strategies to promote the Middle East peace process. In each country, polit- 
ical figures find it difficult to publicly defend good relations with the other. 

Today, mutual recriminations flow Many Americans see Saudi Arabia as an 
enemy, not as an embattled ally. They perceive an autocratic government that 
oppresses women, dominated by a wealthy and indolent elite. Saudi contacts 
with American politicians are frequently invoked as accusations in partisan polit- 
ical arguments. Americans are often appalled by the intolerance, anti-Semitism, 
and anti-American arguments taught in schools and preached in mosques. 

Saudis are angry too. Many educated Saudis who were sympathetic to 
America now perceive the United States as an unfriendly state. One Saudi 
reformer noted to us that the demonization of Saudi Arabia in the U.S. media 
gives ammunition to radicals, who accuse reformers of being U.S. lackeys. Tens 
of thousands of Saudis who once regularly traveled to (and often had homes 
in) the United States now go elsewhere. 17 

Among Saudis, the United States is seen as aligned with Israel in its conflict 
with the Palestinians, with whom Saudis ardently sympathize. Although Saudi 
Arabia's cooperation against terrorism improved to some extent after the Sep- 
tember 1 1 attacks, significant problems remained. Many in the Kingdom ini- 
tially reacted with disbelief and denial. In the following months, as the truth 
became clear, some leading Saudis quietly acknowledged the problem but still 
did not see their own regime as threatened, and thus often did not respond 
promptly to U.S. requests for help. Though Saddam Hussein was widely 
detested, many Saudis are sympathetic to the anti-US. insurgents in Iraq, 
although majorities also condemn jihadist attacks in the Kingdom. 18 

As in Pakistan,Yemen, and other countries, attitudes changed when the ter- 
rorism came home. Cooperation had already become significant, but after the 
bombings in Riyadh on May 12, 2003, it improved much more.The Kingdom 
openly discussed the problem of radicalism, criticized the terrorists as reli- 
giously deviant, reduced official support for religious activity overseas, closed 
suspect charitable foundations, and publicized arrests — very public moves for 
a government that has preferred to keep internal problems quiet. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now locked in mortal combat with al Qaeda. 
Saudi police are regularly being killed in shootouts with terrorists. In June 
2004, the Saudi ambassador to the United States called publicly — in the Saudi 
press — for his government to wage a jihad of its own against the terrorists. "We 
must all, as a state and as a people, recognize the truth about these criminals," 



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374 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

he declared, "[i]f we do not declare a general mobilization — we will lose this 
war on terrorism." 19 

Saudi Arabia is a troubled country. Although regarded as very -wealthy, in 
fact per capita income has dropped from $28,000 at its height to the present 
level of about $8,000. Social and religious traditions complicate adjustment to 
modern economic activity and limit employment opportunities for young 
Saudis. Women find their education and employment sharply limited. 

President Clinton offered us a perceptive analysis of Saudi Arabia, contend- 
ing that fundamentally friendly rulers have been constrained by their desire to 
preserve the status quo. He, like others, made the case for pragmatic reform 
instead. He hopes the rulers will envision what they want their Kingdom to 
become in 10 or 20 years, and start a process in which their friends can help 
them change. 20 

There are signs that Saudi Arabia's royal family is trying to build a consensus 
for political reform, though uncertain about how fast and how far to go. Crown 
Prince Abdullah wants the Kingdom to join the World Trade Organization to 
accelerate economic liberalization. He has embraced the Arab Human Develop- 
ment Report, which was highly critical of the Arab world's political, economic, 
and social failings and called for greater economic and political reform. 21 

Cooperation with Saudi Arabia against Islamist terrorism is very much in 
the U.S. interest. Such cooperation can exist for a time largely in secret, as it 
does now, but it cannot grow and thrive there. Nor, on either side, can friend- 
ship be unconditional. 

Recommendation: The problems in the U.S. -Saudi relationship must 
be confronted, openly. The United States and Saudi Arabia must 
determine if they can build a relationship that political leaders on 
both sides are prepared to publicly defend — a relationship about more 
than oil. It should include a shared commitment to political and eco- 
nomic reform, as Saudis make common cause with the outside world. 
It should include a shared interest in greater tolerance and cultural 
respect, translating into a commitment to fight the violent extrem- 
ists who foment hatred. 



12.3 PREVENT THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF 
ISLAMIST TERRORISM 

In October 2003, reflecting on progress after two years of waging the global 
war on terrorism, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked his advisers: "Are 
we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than 
the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 375 

against us? Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the 
next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a 
long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop 
terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the 
terrorists' costs of millions." 22 

These are the right questions. Our answer is that we need short-term action 
on a long-range strategy, one that invigorates our foreign policy with the atten- 
tion that the President and Congress have given to the military and intelligence 
parts of the conflict against Islamist terrorism. 

Engage the Struggle of Ideas 

The United States is heavily engaged in the Muslim world and will be for many 
years to come. This American engagement is resented. Polls in 2002 found that 
among America's friends, like Egypt — the recipient of more U.S. aid for the 
past 20 years than any other Muslim country — only 15 percent of the popu- 
lation had a favorable opinion of the United States. In Saudi Arabia the num- 
ber was 12 percent. And two-thirds of those surveyed in 2003 in countries from 
Indonesia to Turkey (a NATO ally) were very or somewhat fearful that the 
United States may attack them. 23 

Support for the United States has plummeted. Polls taken in Islamic coun- 
tries after 9/11 suggested that many or most people thought the United States 
was doing the right thing in its fight against terrorism; few people saw popu- 
lar support for al Qaeda; half of those surveyed said that ordinary people had a 
favorable view of the United States. By 2003, polls showed that "the bottom 
has fallen out of support for America in most of the Muslim world. Negative 
views of the U.S. among Muslims, which had been largely limited to countries 
in the Middle East, have spread. . . . Since last summer, favorable ratings for the 
U.S. have fallen from 61% to 15% in Indonesia and from 71% to 38% among 
Muslims in Nigeria." 24 

Many of these views are at best uninformed about the United States and, 
at worst, informed by cartoonish stereotypes, the coarse expression of a fash- 
ionable "Occidentalism" among intellectuals who caricature U.S. values and 
policies. Local newspapers and the few influential satellite broadcasters — like 
aljazeera — often reinforce the jihadist theme that portrays the United States 
as anti-Muslim. 25 

The small percentage of Muslims who are fully committed to Usama Bin 
Ladin's version of Islam are impervious to persuasion. It is among the large 
majority of Arabs and Muslims that we must encourage reform, freedom, 
democracy, and opportunity, even though our own promotion of these mes- 
sages is limited in its effectiveness simply because we are its carriers. Muslims 
themselves will have to reflect upon such basic issues as the concept of jihad, 
the position of women, and the place of non-Muslim minorities. The United 



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376 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

States can promote moderation, but cannot ensure its ascendancy. Only Mus- 
lims can do this. 

The setting is difficult.The combined gross domestic product of the 22 coun- 
tries in the Arab League is less than the GDP of Spain. Forty percent of adult 
Arabs are illiterate, two-thirds of them women. One-third of the broader Mid- 
dle East lives on less than two dollars a day. Less than 2 percent of the popula- 
tion has access to the Internet. The majority of older Arab youths have 
expressed a desire to emigrate to other countries, particularly those in Europe. 26 

In short, the United States has to help defeat an ideology, not just a group of 
people, and we must do so under difficult circumstances. How can the United 
States and its friends help moderate Muslims combat the extremist ideas? 

Recommendation: The U.S. government must define what the mes- 
sage is, what it stands for. We should offer an example of moral lead- 
ership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by 
the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. Amer- 
ica and Muslim friends can agree on respect for human dignity and 
opportunity. To Muslim parents, terrorists like Bin Ladin have noth- 
ing to offer their children but visions of violence and death. America 
and its friends have a crucial advantage — we can offer these parents 
a vision that might give their children a better future. If we heed the 
views of thoughtful leaders in the Arab and Muslim world, a moder- 
ate consensus can be found. 

That vision of the future should stress life over death: individual educational 
and economic opportunity. This vision includes widespread political participa- 
tion and contempt for indiscriminate violence. It includes respect for the rule of 
law, openness in discussing differences, and tolerance for opposing points of view. 

Recommendation: Where Muslim governments, even those who are 
friends, do not respect these principles, the United States must stand 
for a better future. One of the lessons of the long Cold War was that 
short-term gains in cooperating with the most repressive and brutal 
governments were too often outweighed by long-term setbacks for 
America's stature and interests. 

American foreign policy is part of the message. America s policy choices 
have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy 
regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dom- 
inant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.That 
does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong. It means those choices must be 
integrated with America's message of opportunity to the Arab and Muslim 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 377 

world. Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist ter- 
rorism grows stronger. 

The United States must do more to communicate its message. Reflecting 
on Bin La din's success in reaching Muslim audiences, Richard Holbrooke won- 
dered, "How can a man in a cave outcommunicate the world's leading com- 
munications society?" Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage worried to 
us that Americans have been "exporting our fears and our anger," not our vision 
of opportunity and hope. 27 

Recommendation: Just as we did in the Cold War, we need to defend 
our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values. 
The United States defended, and still defends, Muslims against 
tyrants and criminals in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and 
Iraq. If the United States does not act aggressively to define itself in 
the Islamic world, the extremists will gladly do the job for us. 

• Recognizing that Arab and Muslim audiences rely on satellite 
television and radio, the government has begun some prom- 
ising initiatives in television and radio broadcasting to the 
Arab world, Iran, and Afghanistan. These efforts are beginning 
to reach large audiences. The Broadcasting Board of Gover- 
nors has asked for much larger resources. It should get them. 

• The United States should rebuild the scholarship, exchange, 
and library programs that reach out to young people and 
offer them knowledge and hope.Where such assistance is pro- 
vided, it should be identified as coming from the citizens of 
the United States. 



An Agenda of Opportunity 

The United States and its friends can stress educational and economic oppor- 
tunity. The United Nations has rightly equated "literacy as freedom." 

• The international community is moving toward setting a concrete 
goal — to cut the Middle East region's illiteracy rate in half by 2010, 
targeting women and girls and supporting programs for adult literacy. 

• Unglamorous help is needed to support the basics, such as textbooks 
that translate more of the world's knowledge into local languages and 
libraries to house such materials. Education about the outside world, 
or other cultures, is weak. 



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378 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

• More vocational education is needed, too, in trades and business skills. 
The Middle East can also benefit from some of the programs to bridge 
the digital divide and increase Internet access that have already been 
developed for other regions of the world. 

Education that teaches tolerance, the dignity and value of each individual, and 
respect for different beliefs is a key element in any global strategy to eliminate 
Islamist terrorism. 

Recommendation: The U.S. government should offer to join with 
other nations in generously supporting a new International Youth 
Opportunity Fund. Funds will be spent directly for building and 
operating primary and secondary schools in those Muslim states that 
commit to sensibly investing their own money in public education. 

Economic openness is essential. Terrorism is not caused by poverty. Indeed, 
many terrorists come from relatively well-off families. Yet when people lose 
hope, when societies break down, when countries fragment, the breeding 
grounds for terrorism are created. Backward economic policies and repressive 
political regimes slip into societies that are without hope, where ambition and 
passions have no constructive outlet. 

The policies that support economic development and reform also have 
political implications. Economic and political liberties tend to be linked. Com- 
merce, especially international commerce, requires ongoing cooperation and 
compromise, the exchange of ideas across cultures, and the peaceful resolution 
of differences through negotiation or the rule of law. Economic growth 
expands the middle class, a constituency for further reform. Successful 
economies rely on vibrant private sectors, which have an interest in curbing 
indiscriminate government power.Those who develop the practice of control- 
ling their own economic destiny soon desire a voice in their communities and 
political societies. 

The U.S. government has announced the goal of working toward a Middle 
East Free Trade Area, or MEFTA, by 2013. The United States has been seek- 
ing comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Middle Eastern 
nations most firmly on the path to reform. The U.S. -Israeli FTA was enacted 
in 1985, and Congress implemented an FTA with Jordan in 2001. Both agree- 
ments have expanded trade and investment, thereby supporting domestic eco- 
nomic reform. In 2004, new FTAs were signed with Morocco and Bahrain, 
and are awaiting congressional approval. These models are drawing the inter- 
est of their neighbors. Muslim countries can become full participants in the 
rules-based global trading system, as the United States considers lowering its 
trade barriers with the poorest Arab nations. 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 379 

Recommendation: A comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter terror- 
ism should include economic policies that encourage development, 
more open societies, and opportunities for people to improve the lives 
of their families and to enhance prospects for their children's future. 

Turning a National Strategy into a Coalition Strategy 

Practically every aspect of U.S. counterterrorism strategy relies on international 
cooperation. Since 9/11, these contacts concerning military, law enforcement, 
intelligence, travel and customs, and financial matters have expanded so dra- 
matically, and often in an ad hoc way, that it is difficult to track these efforts, 
much less integrate them. 

Recommendation: The United States should engage other nations in 
developing a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terror- 
ism. There are several multilateral institutions in which such issues 
should be addressed. But the most important policies should be dis- 
cussed and coordinated in a flexible contact group of leading coalition 
governments. This is a good place, for example, to develop joint strate- 
gies for targeting terrorist travel, or for hammering out a common 
strategy for the places where terrorists may be finding sanctuary. 

Presently the Muslim and Arab states meet with each other, in organizations 
such as the Islamic Conference and the Arab League. The Western states meet 
with each other in organizations such as NATO and the Group of Eight sum- 
mit of leading industrial nations. A recent G-8 summit initiative to begin a dia- 
logue about reform may be a start toward finding a place where leading Muslim 
states can discuss — and be seen to discuss — critical policy issues with the lead- 
ing Western powers committed to the future of the Arab and Muslim world. 

These new international efforts can create durable habits of visible cooper- 
ation, as states willing to step up to their responsibilities join together in con- 
structive efforts to direct assistance and coordinate action. 

Coalition warfare also requires coalition policies on what to do with enemy 
captives. Allegations that the United States abused prisoners in its custody make 
it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military alliances the government 
will need. The United States should work with friends to develop mutually 
agreed-on principles for the detention and humane treatment of captured inter- 
national terrorists who are not being held under a particular country's criminal 
laws. Countries such as Britain, Australia, and Muslim friends, are committed to 
fighting terrorists. America should be able to reconcile its views on how to bal- 
ance humanity and security with our nation's commitment to these same goals. 

The United States and some of its allies do not accept the application of full 
Geneva Convention treatment of prisoners of war to captured terrorists. Those 



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Conventions establish a minimum set of standards for prisoners in internal con- 
flicts. Since the international struggle against Islamist terrorism is not internal, 
those provisions do not formally apply, but they are commonly accepted as basic 
standards for humane treatment. 

Recommendation: The United States should engage its friends to 
develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and 
humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw 
upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed con- 
flict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which 
the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are gen- 
erally accepted throughout the world as customary international law. 

Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction 

The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will 
materialize if the world's most dangerous terrorists acquire the world's most 
dangerous weapons. As we note in chapter 2, al Qaeda has tried to acquire or 
make nuclear weapons for at least ten years. In chapter 4, we mentioned offi- 
cials worriedly discussing, in 1998, reports that Bin Ladin's associates thought 
their leader was intent on carrying out a "Hiroshima." 

These ambitions continue. In the public portion of his February 2004 
worldwide threat assessment to Congress, DCI Tenet noted that Bin Ladin con- 
sidered the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction to be a "religious obli- 
gation." He warned that al Qaeda "continues to pursue its strategic goal of 
obtaining a nuclear capability." Tenet added that "more than two dozen other 
terrorist groups are pursuing CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and 
nuclear] materials." 28 

A nuclear bomb can be built with a relatively small amount of nuclear mate- 
rial. A trained nuclear engineer with an amount of highly enriched uranium 
or plutonium about the size of a grapefruit or an orange, together with com- 
mercially available material, could fashion a nuclear device that would fit in a 
van like the one RamziYousef parked in the garage of the World Trade Cen- 
ter in 1993. Such a bomb would level Lower Manhattan. 29 

The coalition strategies we have discussed to combat Islamist terrorism 
should therefore be combined with a parallel, vital effort to prevent and counter 
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).We recommend sev- 
eral initiatives in this area. 

Strengthen Counterproliferation Efforts. While efforts to shut down 
Libya's illegal nuclear program have been generally successful, Pakistan's illicit 
trade and the nuclear smuggling networks of Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan have 
revealed that the spread of nuclear weapons is a problem of global dimensions. 
Attempts to deal with Iran's nuclear program are still underway. Therefore, the 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 381 

United States should work with the international community to develop laws 
and an international legal regime with universal jurisdiction to enable the cap- 
ture, interdiction, and prosecution of such smugglers by any state in the world 
where they do not disclose their activities. 

Expand the Proliferation Security Initiative. In May 2003, the Bush 
administration announced the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI): nations in 
a willing partnership combining their national capabilities to use military, eco- 
nomic, and diplomatic tools to interdict threatening shipments ofWMD and 
missile-related technology. 

The PSI can be more effective if it uses intelligence and planning resources 
of the NATO alliance. Moreover, PSI membership should be open to non- 
NATO countries. Russia and China should be encouraged to participate. 

Support the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Outside experts 
are deeply worried about the U.S. government's commitment and approach to 
securing the weapons and highly dangerous materials still scattered in Russia 
and other countries of the Soviet Union. The government's main instrument 
in this area, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (usually referred to as 
"Nunn-Lugar," after the senators who sponsored the legislation in 1991), is 
now in need of expansion, improvement, and resources. The U.S. government 
has recently redoubled its international commitments to support this program, 
and we recommend that the United States do all it can, if Russia and other 
countries will do their part. The government should weigh the value of this 
investment against the catastrophic cost America would face should such 
weapons find their way to the terrorists who are so anxious to acquire them. 

Recommendation: Our report shows that al Qaeda has tried to 
acquire or make weapons of mass destruction for at least ten years. 
There is no doubt the United States would be a prime target. Pre- 
venting the proliferation of these weapons warrants a maximum 
effort — by strengthening counterproliferation efforts, expanding the 
Proliferation Security Initiative, and supporting the Cooperative 
Threat Reduction program. 

Targeting Terrorist Money 

The general public sees attacks on terrorist finance as a way to "starve the ter- 
rorists of money." So, initially, did the U.S. government. After 9/1 1, the United 
States took aggressive actions to designate terrorist financiers and freeze their 
money, in the United States and through resolutions of the United Nations. 
These actions appeared to have little effect and, when confronted by legal chal- 
lenges, the United States and the United Nations were often forced to 
unfreeze assets. 



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382 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

The difficulty, understood later, was that even if the intelligence commu- 
nity might "link" someone to a terrorist group through acquaintances or com- 
munications, the task of tracing the money from that individual to the terrorist 
group, or otherwise showing complicity, was far more difficult. It was harder 
still to do so without disclosing secrets. 

These early missteps made other countries unwilling to freeze assets or 
otherwise act merely on the basis of a U.S. action. Multilateral freezing mech- 
anisms now require waiting periods before being put into effect, eliminating 
the element of surprise and thus virtually ensuring that little money is actually 
frozen. Worldwide asset freezes have not been adequately enforced and have 
been easily circumvented, often within weeks, by simple methods. 

But trying to starve the terrorists of money is like trying to catch one kind 
of fish by draining the ocean. A better strategy has evolved since those early 
months, as the government learned more about how al Qaeda raises, moves, 
and spends money. 

Recommendation:Vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing must 
remain front and center in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The govern- 
ment has recognized that information about terrorist money helps 
us to understand their networks, search them out, and disrupt their 
operations. Intelligence and law enforcement have targeted the rela- 
tively small number of financial facilitators — individuals al Qaeda 
relied on for their ability to raise and deliver money — at the core of 
al Qaeda's revenue stream. These efforts have worked. The death or 
capture of several important facilitators has decreased the amount of 
money available to al Qaeda and has increased its costs and difficulty 
in raising and moving that money. Captures have additionally pro- 
vided a windfall of intelligence that can be used to continue the cycle 
of disruption. 

The U.S. financial community and some international financial institutions 
have generally provided law enforcement and intelligence agencies with 
extraordinary cooperation, particularly in supplying information to support 
quickly developing investigations. Obvious vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial 
system have been corrected. The United States has been less successful in per- 
suading other countries to adopt financial regulations that would permit the 
tracing of financial transactions. 

Public designation of terrorist financiers and organizations is still part of the 
fight, but it is not the primary weapon. Designations are instead a form of diplo- 
macy, as governments join together to identify named individuals and groups 
as terrorists. They also prevent open fundraising. Some charities that have been 
identified as likely avenues for terrorist financing have seen their donations 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 383 

diminish and their activities come under more scrutiny, and others have been 
put out of business, although controlling overseas branches of Gulf-area char- 
ities remains a challenge. The Saudi crackdown after the May 2003 terrorist 
attacks in Riyadh has apparently reduced the funds available to al Qaeda — per- 
haps drastically — but it is too soon to know if this reduction will last. 

Though progress apparently has been made, terrorists have shown consid- 
erable creativity in their methods of moving money If al Qaeda is replaced by 
smaller, decentralized terrorist groups, the premise behind the government's 
efforts — that terrorists need a financial support network — may become out- 
dated. Moreover, some terrorist operations do not rely on outside sources of 
money and may now be self-funding, either through legitimate employment 
or low-level criminal activity 30 



12.4 PROTECT AGAINST AND PREPARE 
FOR TERRORIST ATTACKS 

In the nearly three years since 9/11, Americans have become better protected 
against terrorist attack. Some of the changes are due to government action, such 
as new precautions to protect aircraft. A portion can be attributed to the sheer 
scale of spending and effort. Publicity and the vigilance of ordinary Americans 
also make a difference. 

But the President and other officials acknowledge that although Americans 
may be safer, they are not safe. Our report shows that the terrorists analyze 
defenses. They plan accordingly. 

Defenses cannot achieve perfect safety. They make targets harder to attack 
successfully, and they deter attacks by making capture more likely. Just increas- 
ing the attacker's odds of failure may make the difference between a plan 
attempted, or a plan discarded. The enemy also may have to develop more elab- 
orate plans, thereby increasing the danger of exposure or defeat. 

Protective measures also prepare for the attacks that may get through, con- 
taining the damage and saving lives. 

Terrorist Travel 

More than 500 million people annually cross U.S. borders at legal entry points, 
about 330 million of them noncitizens. Another 500,000 or more enter ille- 
gally without inspection across America's thousands of miles of land borders or 
remain in the country past the expiration of their permitted stay. The challenge 
for national security in an age of terrorism is to prevent the very few people 
who may pose overwhelming risks from entering or remaining in the United 
States undetected. 31 

In the decade before September 11, 2001, border security — encompassing 



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384 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

travel, entry, and immigration — was not seen as a national security matter. Pub- 
lic figures voiced concern about the "war on drugs," the right level and kind 
of immigration, problems along the southwest border, migration crises origi- 
nating in the Caribbean and elsewhere, or the growing criminal traffic in 
humans. The immigration system as a whole was widely viewed as increasingly 
dysfunctional and badly in need of reform. In national security circles, how- 
ever, only smuggling of weapons of mass destruction carried weight, not the 
entry of terrorists who might use such weapons or the presence of associated 
foreign-born terrorists. 

For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must 
travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. 
To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface 
to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security offi- 
cials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points. 

In their travels, terrorists use evasive methods, such as altered and counter- 
feit passports and visas, specific travel methods and routes, liaisons with corrupt 
government officials, human smuggling networks, supportive travel agencies, 
and immigration and identity fraud. These can sometimes be detected. 

Before 9/1 1, no agency of the U.S. government systematically analyzed ter- 
rorists' travel strategies. Had they done so, they could have discovered the ways 
in which the terrorist predecessors to al Qaeda had been systematically but 
detectably exploiting weaknesses in our border security since the early 1990s. 

We found that as many as 15 of the 19 hijackers were potentially vulnera- 
ble to interception by border authorities. Analyzing their characteristic travel 
documents and travel patterns could have allowed authorities to intercept 4 to 
15 hijackers and more effective use of information available in U.S. govern- 
ment databases could have identified up to 3 hijackers. 32 

Looking back, we can also see that the routine operations of our immigra- 
tion laws — that is, aspects of those laws not specifically aimed at protecting 
against terrorism — inevitably shaped al Qaeda's planning and opportunities. 
Because they were deemed not to be bona fide tourists or students as they 
claimed, five conspirators that we know of tried to get visas and failed, and one 
was denied entry by an inspector.We also found that had the immigration sys- 
tem set a higher bar for determining whether individuals are who or what they 
claim to be — and ensuring routine consequences for violations — it could poten- 
tially have excluded, removed, or come into further contact with several hijack- 
ers who did not appear to meet the terms for admitting short-term visitors. 33 

Our investigation showed that two systemic weaknesses came together in 
our border systems inability to contribute to an effective defense against the 
9/11 attacks: a lack of well-developed counterterrorism measures as a part of 
border security and an immigration system not able to deliver on its basic com- 
mitments, much less support counterterrorism. These weaknesses have been 
reduced but are far from being overcome. 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 385 

Recommendation: Targeting travel is at least as powerful a weapon 
against terrorists as targeting their money. The United States should 
combine terrorist travel intelligence, operations, and law enforcement 
in a strategy to intercept terrorists, find terrorist travel facilitators, 
and constrain terrorist mobility. 

Since 9/11, significant improvements have been made to create an integrated 
watchlist that makes terrorist name information available to border and law 
enforcement authorities. However, in the already difficult process of merging 
border agencies in the new Department of Homeland Security — "changing the 
engine while flying" as one official put it 34 — new insights into terrorist travel 
have not yet been integrated into the front lines of border security. 

The small terrorist travel intelligence collection and analysis program cur- 
rently in place has produced disproportionately useful results. It should be 
expanded. Since officials at the borders encounter travelers and their documents 
first and investigate travel facilitators, they must work closely with intelligence 
officials. 

Internationally and in the United States, constraining terrorist travel should 
become a vital part of counterterrorism strategy. Better technology and train- 
ing to detect terrorist travel documents are the most important immediate steps 
to reduce America's vulnerability to clandestine entry. Every stage of our bor- 
der and immigration system should have as a part of its operations the detec- 
tion of terrorist indicators on travel documents. Information systems able to 
authenticate travel documents and detect potential terrorist indicators should 
be used at consulates, at primary border inspection lines, in immigration serv- 
ices offices, and in intelligence and enforcement units. All frontline personnel 
should receive some training. Dedicated specialists and ongoing linkages with 
the intelligence community are also required.The Homeland Security Depart- 
ment's Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection 
should receive more resources to accomplish its mission as the bridge between 
the frontline border agencies and the rest of the government counterterrorism 
community. 

A Biometric Screening System 

When people travel internationally, they usually move through defined chan- 
nels, or portals. They may seek to acquire a passport.They may apply for a visa. 
They stop at ticket counters, gates, and exit controls at airports and seaports. 
Upon arrival, they pass through inspection points. They may transit to another 
gate to get on an airplane. Once inside the country, they may seek another form 
of identification and try to enter a government or private facility. They may 
seek to change immigration status in order to remain. 

Each of these checkpoints or portals is a screening — a chance to establish 
that people are who they say they are and are seeking access for their stated 
purpose, to intercept identifiable suspects, and to take effective action. 



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386 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

The job of protection is shared among these many defined checkpoints. By 
taking advantage of them all, we need not depend on any one point in the sys- 
tem to do the whole job. The challenge is to see the common problem across 
agencies and functions and develop a conceptual framework — an architec- 
ture — for an effective screening system. 35 

Throughout government, and indeed in private enterprise, agencies and 
firms at these portals confront recurring judgments that balance security, effi- 
ciency, and civil liberties. These problems should be addressed systemically, not 
in an ad hoc, fragmented way. For example: 

What information is an individual required to present and in what 
form? A fundamental problem, now beginning to be addressed, is the lack of 
standardized information in "feeder" documents used in identifying individu- 
als. Biometric identifiers that measure unique physical characteristics, such as 
facial features, fingerprints, or iris scans, and reduce them to digitized, numer- 
ical statements called algorithms, are just beginning to be used. Travel history, 
however, is still recorded in passports with entry-exit stamps called cachets, 
which al Qaeda has trained its operatives to forge and use to conceal their ter- 
rorist activities. 

How will the individual and the information be checked? There are 
many databases just in the United States — for terrorist, criminal, and immigra- 
tion history, as well as financial information, for instance. Each is set up for dif- 
ferent purposes and stores different kinds of data, under varying rules of access. 
Nor is access always guaranteed. Acquiring information held by foreign gov- 
ernments may require painstaking negotiations, and records that are not yet dig- 
itized are difficult to search or analyze. The development of terrorist indicators 
has hardly begun, and behavioral cues remain important. 

Who will screen individuals, and what will they be trained to do? A 

wide range of border, immigration, and law enforcement officials encounter 
visitors and immigrants and they are given little training in terrorist travel intel- 
ligence. Fraudulent travel documents, for instance, are usually returned to trav- 
elers who are denied entry without further examination for terrorist 
trademarks, investigation as to their source, or legal process. 

What are the consequences of finding a suspicious indicator, and who 
will take action? One risk is that responses may be ineffective or produce no 
further information. Four of the 9/11 attackers were pulled into secondary bor- 
der inspection, but then admitted. More than half of the 19 hijackers were 
flagged by the Federal Aviation Administration's profiling system when they 
arrived for their flights, but the consequence was that bags, not people, were 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 387 

checked. Competing risks include "false positives," or the danger that rules may 
be applied with insufficient training or judgment. Overreactions can impose 
high costs too — on individuals, our economy, and our beliefs about justice. 

• A special note on the importance of trusting subjective judgment: 
One potential hijacker was turned back by an immigration inspector 
as he tried to enter the United States. The inspector relied on intu- 
itive experience to ask questions more than he relied on any objec- 
tive factor that could be detected by "scores" or a machine. Good 
people who have worked in such jobs for a long time understand this 
phenomenon well. Other evidence we obtained confirmed the 
importance of letting experienced gate agents or security screeners ask 
questions and use their judgment. This is not an invitation to arbitrary 
exclusions. But any effective system has to grant some scope, perhaps 
in a little extra inspection or one more check, to the instincts and dis- 
cretion of well trained human beings. 

Recommendation: The U.S. border security system should be inte- 
grated into a larger network of screening points that includes our trans- 
portation system and access to vital facilities, such as nuclear reactors. 
The President should direct the Department of Homeland Security to 
lead the effort to design a comprehensive screening system, addressing 
common problems and setting common standards with systemwide 
goals in mind. Extending those standards among other governments 
could dramatically strengthen America and the world's collective abil- 
ity to intercept individuals who pose catastrophic threats. 

We advocate a system for screening, not categorical profiling. A screening 
system looks for particular, identifiable suspects or indicators of risk. It does not 
involve guesswork about who might be dangerous. It requires frontline border 
officials who have the tools and resources to establish that people are who they 
say they are, intercept identifiable suspects, and disrupt terrorist operations. 

The U.S. Border Screening System 

The border and immigration system of the United States must remain a visible 
manifestation of our belief in freedom, democracy, global economic growth, and 
the rule of law, yet serve equally well as a vital element of counterterrorism. Inte- 
grating terrorist travel information in the ways we have described is the most 
immediate need. But the underlying system must also be sound. 

Since September 11, the United States has built the first phase of a biomet- 
ric screening program, called US VISIT (the United States Visitor and Immi- 
grant Status Indicator Technology program). It takes two bio metric 



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388 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

identifiers — digital photographs and prints of two index fingers — from travel- 
ers. False identities are used by terrorists to avoid being detected on a watch- 
list. These biometric identifiers make such evasions far more difficult. 

So far, however, only visitors who acquire visas to travel to the United States 
are covered. While visitors from "visa waiver" countries will be added to the 
program, beginning this year, covered travelers will still constitute only about 
12 percent of all noncitizens crossing U.S. borders. Moreover, exit data are not 
uniformly collected and entry data are not fully automated. It is not clear the 
system can be installed before 2010, but even this timetable may be too slow, 
given the possible security dangers. 36 

• Americans should not be exempt from carrying biometric passports 
or otherwise enabling their identities to be securely verified when 
they enter the United States; nor should Canadians or Mexicans. Cur- 
rently U.S. persons are exempt from carrying passports when return- 
ing from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The current system 
enables non-US. citizens to gain entry by showing minimal identifi- 
cation. The 9/11 experience shows that terrorists study and exploit 
America's vulnerabilities. 

• To balance this measure, programs to speed known travelers should 
be a higher priority, permitting inspectors to focus on greater risks. 
The daily commuter should not be subject to the same measures as 
first-time travelers. An individual should be able to preenroll, with his 
or her identity verified in passage. Updates of database information 
and other checks can ensure ongoing reliability. The solution, requir- 
ing more research and development, is likely to combine radio fre- 
quency technology with biometric identifiers. 37 

• The current patchwork of border screening systems, including several 
frequent traveler programs, should be consolidated with the US VISIT 
system to enable the development of an integrated system, which in 
turn can become part of the wider screening plan we suggest. 

• The program allowing individuals to travel from foreign countries 
through the United States to a third country, without having to obtain 
a U.S. visa, has been suspended. Because "transit without visa" can be 
exploited by terrorists to enter the United States, the program should 
not be reinstated unless and until transit passage areas can be fully 
secured to prevent passengers from illegally exiting the airport. 

Inspectors adjudicating entries of the 9/11 hijackers lacked adequate infor- 
mation and knowledge of the rules. All points in the border system — from con- 
sular offices to immigration services offices — will need appropriate electronic 
access to an individual's file. Scattered units at Homeland Security and the State 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 389 

Department perform screening and data mining: instead, a government-wide 
team of border and transportation officials should be working together. A mod- 
ern border and immigration system should combine a biometric entry-exit sys- 
tem with accessible files on visitors and immigrants, along with intelligence on 
indicators of terrorist travel. 

Our border screening system should check people efficiently and welcome 
friends. Admitting large numbers of students, scholars, businesspeople, and 
tourists fuels our economy, cultural vitality, and political reach. There is evi- 
dence that the present system is disrupting travel to the United States. Over- 
all, visa applications in 2003 were down over 32 percent since 2001. In the 
Middle East, they declined about 46 percent. Training and the design of secu- 
rity measures should be continuously adjusted. 38 

Recommendation: The Department of Homeland Security, properly 
supported by the Congress, should complete, as quickly as possible, 
a biometric entry-exit screening system, including a single system for 
speeding qualified travelers. It should be integrated with the system 
that provides benefits to foreigners seeking to stay in the United 
States. Linking biometric passports to good data systems and deci- 
sionmaking is a fundamental goal. No one can hide his or her debt 
by acquiring a credit card with a slightly different name. Yet today, a 
terrorist can defeat the link to electronic records by tossing away an 
old passport and slightly altering the name in the new one. 

Completion of the entry-exit system is a major and expensive challenge. 
Biometrics have been introduced into an antiquated computer environment. 
Replacement of these systems and improved biometric systems will be 
required. Nonetheless, funding and completing a biometrics-based entry-exit 
system is an essential investment in our national security. 

Exchanging terrorist information with other countries, consistent with pri- 
vacy requirements, along with listings of lost and stolen passports, will have 
immediate security benefits. We should move toward real-time verification of 
passports with issuing authorities. The further away from our borders that 
screening occurs, the more security benefits we gain. At least some screening 
should occur before a passenger departs on a flight destined for the United 
States. We should also work with other countries to ensure effective inspection 
regimes at all airports. 39 

The international community arrives at international standards for the 
design of passports through the International Civil Aviation Organization 
(ICAO).The global standard for identification is a digital photograph; finger- 
prints are optional. We must work with others to improve passport standards and 
provide foreign assistance to countries that need help in making the transition. 40 



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390 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Recommendation: The U.S. government cannot meet its own obli- 
gations to the American people to prevent the entry of terrorists 
without a major effort to collaborate with other governments. We 
should do more to exchange terrorist information with trusted allies, 
and raise U.S. and global border security standards for travel and bor- 
der crossing over the medium and long term through extensive inter- 
national cooperation. 

Immigration Law and Enforcement 

Our borders and immigration system, including law enforcement, ought to 
send a message of welcome, tolerance, and justice to members of immigrant 
communities in the United States and in their countries of origin. We should 
reach out to immigrant communities. Good immigration services are one way 
of doing so that is valuable in every way — including intelligence. 

It is elemental to border security to know who is coming into the country. 
Today more than 9 million people are in the United States outside the legal 
immigration system. We must also be able to monitor and respond to entrances 
between our ports of entry, working with Canada and Mexico as much as pos- 
sible. 

There is a growing role for state and local law enforcement agencies. They 
need more training and work with federal agencies so that they can cooperate 
more effectively with those federal authorities in identifying terrorist suspects. 

All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of U.S. identification 
document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would 
have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other nec- 
essary activities. 

Recommendation: Secure identification should begin in the United 
States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance 
of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers 
licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a prob- 
lem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including 
gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last oppor- 
tunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check 
whether they are terrorists. 41 

Strategies for Aviation and Transportation Security 

The U.S. transportation system is vast and, in an open society, impossible to 
secure completely against terrorist attacks. There are hundreds of commercial 
airports, thousands of planes, and tens of thousands of daily flights carrying 
more than half a billion passengers a year. Millions of containers are imported 
annually through more than 300 sea and river ports served by more than 3,700 
cargo and passenger terminals. About 6,000 agencies provide transit services 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 391 

through buses, subways, ferries, and light-rail service to about 14 million Amer- 
icans each weekday. 42 

In November 2001, Congress passed and the President signed the Aviation 
and Transportation Security Act. This act created the Transportation Security 
Administration (TSA), which is now part of the Homeland Security Depart- 
ment. In November 2002, both the Homeland Security Act and the Maritime 
Transportation Security Act followed. These laws required the development of 
strategic plans to describe how the new department and TSA would provide 
security for critical parts of the U.S. transportation sector. 

Over 90 percent of the nation's $5.3 billion annual investment in the TSA 
goes to aviation — to fight the last war. The money has been spent mainly to 
meet congressional mandates to federalize the security checkpoint screeners 
and to deploy existing security methods and technologies at airports. The cur- 
rent efforts do not yet reflect a forward-looking strategic plan systematically 
analyzing assets, risks, costs, and benefits. Lacking such a plan, we are not con- 
vinced that our transportation security resources are being allocated to the 
greatest risks in a cost-effective way. 

• Major vulnerabilities still exist in cargo and general aviation security. 
These, together with inadequate screening and access controls, con- 
tinue to present aviation security challenges. 

• While commercial aviation remains a possible target, terrorists may 
turn their attention to other modes. Opportunities to do harm are as 
great, or greater, in maritime or surface transportation. Initiatives to 
secure shipping containers have just begun. Surface transportation sys- 
tems such as railroads and mass transit remain hard to protect because 
they are so accessible and extensive. 

Despite congressional deadlines, the TSA has developed neither an integrated 
strategic plan for the transportation sector nor specific plans for the various 
modes — air, sea, and ground. 

Recommendation: Hard choices must be made in allocating limited 
resources. The U.S. government should identify and evaluate the 
transportation assets that need to be protected, set risk-based prior- 
ities for defending them, select the most practical and cost-effective 
ways of doing so, and then develop a plan, budget, and funding to 
implement the effort. The plan should assign roles and missions to 
the relevant authorities (federal, state, regional, and local) and to pri- 
vate stakeholders. In measuring effectiveness, perfection is unattain- 
able. But terrorists should perceive that potential targets are 
defended. They may be deterred by a significant chance of failure. 



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392 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Congress should set a specific date for the completion of these plans and 
hold the Department of Homeland Security andTSA accountable for achiev- 
ing them. 

The most powerful investments may be for improvements in technologies 
with applications across the transportation modes, such as scanning technolo- 
gies designed to screen containers that can be transported by plane, ship, truck, 
or rail. Though such technologies are becoming available now, widespread 
deployment is still years away. 

In the meantime, the best protective measures may be to combine improved 
methods of identifying and tracking the high-risk containers, operators, and 
facilities that require added scrutiny with further efforts to integrate intelligence 
analysis, effective procedures for transmitting threat information to transporta- 
tion authorities, and vigilance by transportation authorities and the public. 

A Layered Security System 

No single security measure is foolproof. Accordingly, theTSA must have mul- 
tiple layers of security in place to defeat the more plausible and dangerous forms 
of attack against public transportation. 

• The plan must take into consideration the full array of possible enemy 
tactics, such as use of insiders, suicide terrorism, or standoff attack. 
Each layer must be effective in its own right. Each must be supported 
by other layers that are redundant and coordinated. 

• TheTSA should be able to identify for Congress the array of poten- 
tial terrorist attacks, the layers of security in place, and the reliability 
provided by each layer. TSA must develop a plan as described above 
to improve weak individual layers and the effectiveness of the layered 
systems it deploys. 

On 9/1 1, the 19 hijackers were screened by a computer-assisted screening sys- 
tem called CAPPS. More than half were identified for further inspection, which 
applied only to their checked luggage. 

Under current practices, air carriers enforce government orders to stop cer- 
tain known and suspected terrorists from boarding commercial flights and to 
apply secondary screening procedures to others. The "no-fly" and "automatic 
selectee" lists include only those individuals who the U.S. government believes 
pose a direct threat of attacking aviation. 

Because air carriers implement the program, concerns about sharing intel- 
ligence information with private firms and foreign countries keep the U.S. gov- 
ernment from listing all terrorist and terrorist suspects who should be 
included. The TSA has planned to take over this function when it deploys a 
new screening system to take the place of CAPPS. The deployment of this sys- 
tem has been delayed because of claims it may violate civil liberties. 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 393 

Recommendation: Improved use of "no-fly" and "automatic 
selectee" lists should not be delayed while the argument about a suc- 
cessor to CAPPS continues. This screening function should be per- 
formed by the TSA, and it should utilize the larger set of watchlists 
maintained by the federal government. Air carriers should be 
required to supply the information needed to test and implement this 
new system. 

CAPPS is still part of the screening process, still profiling passengers, with 
the consequences of selection now including personal searches of the individ- 
ual and carry-on bags.TheTSA is dealing with the kind of screening issues that 
are being encountered by other agencies. As we mentioned earlier, these screen- 
ing issues need to be elevated for high-level attention and addressed promptly 
by the government. Working through these problems can help clear the way 
for theTSA s screening improvements and would help many other agencies too. 

The next layer is the screening checkpoint itself. As the screening system 
tries to stop dangerous people, the checkpoint needs to be able to find danger- 
ous items. Two reforms are needed soon: (1) screening people for explosives, 
not just their carry-on bags, and (2) improving screener performance. 

Recommendation: The TSA and the Congress must give priority 
attention to improving the ability of screening checkpoints to detect 
explosives on passengers. As a start, each individual selected for spe- 
cial screening should be screened for explosives. Further, the TSA 
should conduct a human factors study, a method often used in the 
private sector, to understand problems in screener performance and 
set attainable objectives for individual screeners and for the check- 
points where screening takes place. 

Concerns also remain regarding the screening and transport of checked bags 
and cargo. More attention and resources should be directed to reducing or mit- 
igating the threat posed by explosives in vessels' cargo holds. The TSA should 
expedite the installation of advanced (in-line) baggage-screening equipment. 
Because the aviation industry will derive substantial benefits from this deploy- 
ment, it should pay a fair share of the costs. TheTSA should require that every 
passenger aircraft carrying cargo must deploy at least one hardened container to 
carry any suspect cargo. TSA also needs to intensify its efforts to identify, track, 
and appropriately screen potentially dangerous cargo in both the aviation and 
maritime sectors. 

The Protection of Civil Liberties 

Many of our recommendations call for the government to increase its presence 
in our lives — for example, by creating standards for the issuance of forms of 



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394 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

identification, by better securing our borders, by sharing information gathered 
by many different agencies. We also recommend the consolidation of author- 
ity over the now far-flung entities constituting the intelligence community. The 
Patriot Act vests substantial powers in our federal government. We have seen 
the government use the immigration laws as a tool in its counterterrorism 
effort. Even without the changes we recommend, the American public has 
vested enormous authority in the U.S. government. 

At our first public hearing on March 31, 2003, we noted the need for balance 
as our government responds to the real and ongoing threat of terrorist attacks. 
The terrorists have used our open society against us. In wartime, government calls 
for greater powers, and then the need for those powers recedes after the war ends. 
This struggle will go on. Therefore, while protecting our homeland, Americans 
should be mindful of threats to vital personal and civil liberties. This balancing is 
no easy task, but we must constantly strive to keep it right. 

This shift of power and authority to the government calls for an enhanced 
system of checks and balances to protect the precious liberties that are vital to 
our way of life. We therefore make three recommendations. 

First, as we will discuss in chapter 13, to open up the sharing of informa- 
tion across so many agencies and with the private sector, the President should 
take responsibility for determining what information can be shared by which 
agencies and under what conditions. Protection of privacy rights should be one 
key element of this determination. 

Recommendation: As the President determines the guidelines for 
information sharing among government agencies and by those agen- 
cies with the private sector, he should safeguard the privacy of indi- 
viduals about whom information is shared. 

Second, Congress responded, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, with the 
Patriot Act, which vested substantial new powers in the investigative agencies 
of the government. Some of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot 
Act are to "sunset" at the end of 2005. Many of the act's provisions are rela- 
tively noncontroversial, updating America's surveillance laws to reflect techno- 
logical developments in a digital age. Some executive actions that have been 
criticized are unrelated to the Patriot Act. The provisions in the act that facil- 
itate the sharing of information among intelligence agencies and between law 
enforcement and intelligence appear, on balance, to be beneficial. Because of 
concerns regarding the shifting balance of power to the government, we think 
that a full and informed debate on the Patriot Act would be healthy. 

Recommendation:The burden of proof for retaining a particular gov- 
ernmental power should be on the executive, to explain (a) that the 
power actually materially enhances security and (b) that there is ade- 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 395 

quate supervision of the executive's use of the powers to ensure pro- 
tection of civil liberties. If the power is granted, there must be ade- 
quate guidelines and oversight to properly confine its use. 

Third, during the course of our inquiry, we were Cold that there is no office 
within the government whose job it is to look across the government at the 
actions we are taking to protect ourselves to ensure that liberty concerns are 
appropriately considered. If, as we recommend, there is substantial change in 
the way we collect and share intelligence, there should be a voice within the 
executive branch for those concerns. Many agencies have privacy offices, albeit 
of limited scope. The Intelligence Oversight Board of the Presidents Foreign 
Intelligence Advisory Board has, in the past, had the job of overseeing certain 
activities of the intelligence community. 

Recommendation: At this time of increased and consolidated gov- 
ernment authority, there should be a board within the executive 
branch to oversee adherence to the guidelines we recommend and 
the commitment the government makes to defend our civil liberties. 

We must find ways of reconciling security with liberty, since the success of 
one helps protect the other. The choice between security and liberty is a false 
choice, as nothing is more likely to endanger America's liberties than the suc- 
cess of a terrorist attack at home. Our history has shown us that insecurity 
threatens liberty. Yet, if our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are 
struggling to defend. 

Setting Priorities for National Preparedness 

Before 9/1 1, no executive department had, as its first priority, the job of defend- 
ing America from domestic attack. That changed with the 2002 creation of the 
Department of Homeland Security.This department now has the lead respon- 
sibility for problems that feature so prominently in the 9/11 story, such as pro- 
tecting borders, securing transportation and other parts of our critical 
infrastructure, organizing emergency assistance, and working with the private 
sector to assess vulnerabilities. 

Throughout the government, nothing has been harder for officials — exec- 
utive or legislative — than to set priorities, making hard choices in allocating 
limited resources. These difficulties have certainly afflicted the Department of 
Homeland Security, hamstrung by its many congressional overseers. In deliv- 
ering assistance to state and local governments, we heard — especially in New 
York — about imbalances in the allocation of money. The argument concen- 
trates on two questions. 

First, how much money should be set aside for criteria not directly related 
to risk? Currently a major portion of the billions of dollars appropriated for 



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396 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

state and local assistance is allocated so that each state gets a certain amount, or 
an allocation based on its population — wherever they live. 

Recommendation: Homeland security assistance should be based 
strictly on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities. Now, in 2004, 
Washington, D.C., and New York City are certainly at the top of any 
such list. We understand the contention that every state and city needs 
to have some minimum infrastructure for emergency response. But 
federal homeland security assistance should not remain a program 
for general revenue sharing. It should supplement state and local 
resources based on the risks or vulnerabilities that merit additional 
support. Congress should not use this money as a pork barrel. 

The second question is, Can useful criteria to measure risk and vulnerabil- 
ity be developed that assess all the many variables? The allocation of funds 
should be based on an assessment of threats and vulnerabilities. That assessment 
should consider such factors as population, population density, vulnerability, and 
the presence of critical infrastructure within each state. In addition, the federal 
government should require each state receiving federal emergency prepared- 
ness funds to provide an analysis based on the same criteria to justify the dis- 
tribution of funds in that state. 

In a free-for-all over money, it is understandable that representatives will 
work to protect the interests of their home states or districts. But this issue is 
too important for politics as usual to prevail. Resources must be allocated 
according to vulnerabilities. We recommend that a panel of security experts be 
convened to develop written benchmarks for evaluating community needs. We 
further recommend that federal homeland security funds be allocated in accor- 
dance with those benchmarks, and that states be required to abide by those 
benchmarks in disbursing the federal funds. The benchmarks will be imperfect 
and subjective; they will continually evolve. But hard choices must be made. 
Those who would allocate money on a different basis should then defend their 
view of the national interest. 

Command, Control, and Communications 

The attacks on 9/11 demonstrated that even the most robust emergency 
response capabilities can be overwhelmed if an attack is large enough. Team- 
work, collaboration, and cooperation at an incident site are critical to a suc- 
cessful response. Key decisionmakers who are represented at the incident 
command level help to ensure an effective response, the efficient use of 
resources, and responder safety. Regular joint training at all levels is, moreover, 
essential to ensuring close coordination during an actual incident. 



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WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 397 

Recommendation: Emergency response agencies nationwide should 
adopt the Incident Command System (ICS). When multiple agencies 
or multiple jurisdictions are involved, they should adopt a unified 
command. Both are proven frameworks for emergency response. We 
strongly support the decision that federal homeland security funding 
will be contingent, as of October 1, 2004, upon the adoption and reg- 
ular use of ICS and unified command procedures. In the future, the 
Department of Homeland Security should consider making funding 
contingent on aggressive and realistic training in accordance with ICS 
and unified command procedures. 

The attacks of September 11, 2001 overwhelmed the response capacity of 
most of the local jurisdictions where the hijacked airliners crashed.While many 
jurisdictions have established mutual aid compacts, a serious obstacle to multi- 
jurisdictional response has been the lack of indemnification for mutual-aid 
responders in areas such as the National Capital Region. 

Public safety organizations, chief administrative officers, state emergency 
management agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security should 
develop a regional focus within the emergency responder community and pro- 
mote multi-jurisdictional mutual assistance compacts. Where such compacts 
already exist, training in accordance with their terms should be required. Con- 
gress should pass legislation to remedy the long-standing indemnification and 
liability impediments to the provision of public safety mutual aid in the 
National Capital Region and where applicable throughout the nation. 

The inability to communicate was a critical element at the World Trade 
Center, Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, crash sites, where mul- 
tiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded. The occurrence of this 
problem at three very different sites is strong evidence that compatible and ade- 
quate communications among public safety organizations at the local, state, and 
federal levels remains an important problem. 

Recommendation: Congress should support pending legislation 
which provides for the expedited and increased assignment of radio 
spectrum for public safety purposes. Furthermore, high-risk urban 
areas such as New York City and Washington, D.C., should establish 
signal corps units to ensure communications connectivity between 
and among civilian authorities, local first responders, and the 
National Guard. Federal funding of such units should be given high 
priority by Congress. 

Private-Sector Preparedness 

The mandate of the Department of Homeland Security does not end with 
government; the department is also responsible for working with the private 



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398 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

sector to ensure preparedness. This is entirely appropriate, for the private sec- 
tor controls 85 percent of the critical infrastructure in the nation. Indeed, unless 
a terrorist's target is a military or other secure government facility, the "first" 
first responders will almost certainly be civilians. Homeland security and 
national preparedness therefore often begins with the private sector. 

Preparedness in the private sector and public sector for rescue, restart, and 
recovery of operations should include (1) a plan for evacuation, (2) adequate 
communications capabilities, and (3) a plan for continuity of operations. As we 
examined the emergency response to 9/11, witness after witness told us that 
despite 9/11, the private sector remains largely unprepared for a terrorist attack. 
We were also advised that the lack of a widely embraced private-sector prepared- 
ness standard was a principal contributing factor to this lack of preparedness. 

We responded by asking the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 
to develop a consensus on a "National Standard for Preparedness" for the pri- 
vate sector. ANSI convened safety, security, and business continuity experts 
from a wide range of industries and associations, as well as from federal, state, 
and local government stakeholders, to consider the need for standards for pri- 
vate sector emergency preparedness and business continuity. 

The result of these sessions was ANSI's recommendation that the Commis- 
sion endorse a voluntary National Preparedness Standard. Based on the exist- 
ing American National Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and 
Business Continuity Programs (NFPA 1600), the proposed National Prepared- 
ness Standard establishes a common set of criteria and terminology for pre- 
paredness, disaster management, emergency management, and business 
continuity programs. The experience of the private sector in the World Trade 
Center emergency demonstrated the need for these standards. 

Recommendation: We endorse the American National Standards 
Institute's recommended standard for private preparedness. We were 
encouraged by SecretaryTom Ridge's praise of the standard, and urge 
the Department of Homeland Security to promote its adoption. We 
also encourage the insurance and credit-rating industries to look 
closely at a company's compliance with the ANSI standard in assess- 
ing its insurability and creditworthiness. We believe that compliance 
with the standard should define the standard of care owed by a com- 
pany to its employees and the public for legal purposes. Private-sec- 
tor preparedness is not a luxury; it is a cost of doing business in the 
post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a tremendous potential cost in lives, 
money, and national security.