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Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11 (Hoover Studies in Politics, Economics, and Society) Hardcover – March 22, 2005
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A bold new work that is a welcome antidote to the commission fatigue that is settling over Washington. Posner's demystification of the 9/11 commission and of the role of the September 11 families . . . is timely and pertinent. You can't read this book and come away believing that Congress has fixed the problem. (Jim Hoagland, columnist, Washington Post)
"Preventing Surprise Attacks" provides a... useful and contrarian view of the commision report. (Eric Lichtblau The New York Times)
Posner trenchantly takes to task the grandstanding 9/11 commission. The picture painted by this useful book is pessimistic but not dire. Preempting another 9/11 would be difficult. But, as Posner argues, to the limited extent intelligence structure many factor in, the new legislation has enough play in the joints to allow competent actors to operate. (Andrew McCarthy New York Post)
In this concise book, Posner...critically unravels the foundations of the 9/11 Commission report and shows defects in..the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004....substantially enhances the public debate about intelligence reform." (Steven Puro, St. Library Journal)
It's fitting that Posner sits on the federal bench, where the Constitution guarantees jurists life tenure, and a salary that can never be reduced. A critic this honest, piercing, and unforgiving would otherwise have a short tenure in Washington, D.C. (David White American Enterprise)
A rewarding read that is worth re-reading. (Parameters)
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Specifically, Posner takes on the "The 9/11 Commission Report," for offering an organizational solution for a managerial failure. He shows how the Commission's organizational line and block solution led to the enactment of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. He shows how this happened with little or no debate about the Commission's recommendations.
Posner explains why surprise attacks happen, and how little the organization of an intelligence apparatus has to do with it. For example, the Arab nations surprised Israel in the Yom Kipur War. An Israel commission determined, after the fact, that the reason for the surprise was lack of decentralization in its intelligence services. The 9/11 Commission, on the other hand, determine the surprise of 9/11 was due to not enough centralization. The fact that there are divergent views on this matter is not surprising. What is surprising is that the 9/11 Commission failed to even investigate them.
As Posner explains, surprise attacks happen, because the adversary does something that is essentially stupid and self-defeating. Often, the surprise attack is a miscalculation, not just for the attacked, but for the attacker as well. This makes anticipation of such attacks particularly challenging.Read more ›
This, his first of two books disagreeing with the 9-11 Commission focus on centralization, has a number of nuggets worthy of study, but this book is largely oblivious to the many recommendations of both insiders and outsiders who can be considered "iconoclastic." Judge Posner is an insider, and he draws primarily from "establishment" sources.
He states, I believe correctly, that the Intelligence Reform Act was a "backward step" and provides very professional and detailed support for his view.
The biggest mistake in his view was the refusal to remove intelligence from the FBI culture and create a separate domestic intelligence agency (note: since the Department of Homeland Security has steadfastly refused to do its assigned job of integrating intelligence in support of its mission, Judge Posner can be said to be totally correct in this view).
He posits a fork in the road for the Director of National Intelligence, between engaging in substance and managing the larger enterprise, and appears oblivious to the fact that the Vice President has ordered the DNI to distance himself from the three national agencies captured by the Department of Defense, which are "hands off" in all practical terms.
Judge Posner is at his most articulate and most pointed when he says that the Intelligence Reform Act is a placebo, misleading the public into thinking something has been done, and preventing or lessening focus on other needed defenses including border security, deterrence, and hardening of potential targets.Read more ›