Surprise and Intelligence Failure; Strategic Insights: v.1, issue 7 (September 2002)
Wirtz, James J.
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Surprise is as old as warfare itself. The frequency of its occurrence in history, however, offers neither adequate warning nor consolation, especially when its effects can be so devastating. The events of September 11, 2001 proved especially shocking both because they were so destructive and because they were so unexpected. Yet, both the fact that the attack occurred and even the form it took should not have taken the United States completely unawares. Familiarity with terrorist methods, repeated attacks against U.S. facilities overseas, combined with indications that the continental United States was at the top of the terrorist target list might have alerted us that we were in peril of a significant attack. And yet, for reasons those who study intelligence failure will find familiar, 9/11 fits very much into the norm of surprise caused by a breakdown of intelligence warning.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (September 2002), v.1 no.7
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