June 16, 2017

The Cyclical Politics of Counterterrorism

By Adam Klein

Why didn’t the United States invade Afghanistan and destroy Al Qaeda before September 11, 2001? 

This isn’t as farfetched as it might sound.  In 2001, President Bush issued a presidential directive instructing the Department of Defense to “‘develop contingency plans’ to attack both al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan.”  After the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, CIA Director George Tenet told employees that the Agency was “at war” with Al Qaeda.  And the intelligence community well understood Al Qaeda’s grave threat to the homeland: the August 6, 2001, President’s Daily Brief included an item entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” the 36th PDB item briefed that year on Al Qaeda.

Read the full piece on Lawfare.

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