I am a 9/11 widow who fought long and hard to learn lessons from 9/11 so that our nation would be safer from a terrorist attack. How is it possible that the same exact mistakes that were made 8 years ago have been repeated? How is it possible that like President Bush, President Obama is not holding anyone accountable?
Just what has to happen for anybody in Washington to be held accountable?
I relished John Brennan's comments on CNN over the weekend. Brennan noted that what set 12/25 apart from 9/11 was that 9/11 involved deliberate concealing of information whereas 12/25 was merely accidental withholding of information. That's reassuring.
Really, President Obama, your answer that everyone needs to play better together is as pathetic as the 9/11 Commission's final conclusion that everybody is at fault and therefore nobody is at fault.
In fact, President Obama, in this situation there are two people who are clearly at fault. Michael Leiter, the Director of NCTC and Dennis Blair, the DNI. Their job descriptions laid out below should remove any unease you might feel in terminating these two men for just cause.After all just yesterday you did say:
I have repeatedly made it clear -- in public, with the American people, and in private, with my national security team -- that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.
***From the NCTC website:
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established by Presidential Executive Order 13354 in August 2004, and codified by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). NCTC implements a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission: "Breaking the older mold of national government organizations, this NCTC should be a center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies."1 See Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, at p. 403.
The Director of NCTC is a Deputy Secretary-equivalent with a unique, dual line of reporting: (1) to the President regarding Executive branch-wide counterterrorism planning, and (2) to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) regarding intelligence matters. NCTC follows the policy direction of the President, and National and Homeland Security Councils.
NCTC is staffed by more than 500 personnel from more than 16 departments and agencies (approximately 60 percent of whom are detailed to NCTC). NCTC is organizationally part of the ODNI.
NCTC's core missions are derived primarily from IRTPA, as supplemented by other statutes, Executive Orders, and Intelligence Community Directives.2 NCTC's mission statement succinctly summarizes its key responsibilities and value-added contributions: "Lead our nation's effort to combat terrorism at home and abroad by analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of effort."
"Analyzing the Threat"
By law, NCTC serves as the primary organization in the United States Government (USG) for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism (except for information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism).
NCTC integrates foreign and domestic analysis from across the Intelligence Community (IC) and produces a wide-range of detailed assessments designed to support senior policymakers and other members of the policy, intelligence, law enforcement, defense, homeland security, and foreign affairs communities. Prime examples of NCTC analytic products include items for the President's Daily Brief (PDB) and the daily National Terrorism Bulletin (NTB). NCTC is also the central player in the ODNI's Homeland Threat Task Force, which orchestrates interagency collaboration and keeps senior policymakers informed about threats to the Homeland via a weekly update.
NCTC leads the IC in providing expertise and analysis of key terrorism-related issues, with immediate and far-reaching impact. For example, NCTC's Radicalization and Extremist Messaging Group leads the IC's efforts on radicalization issues. NCTC's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Counterterrorism Group pools scarce analytical, subject matter, and scientific expertise from NCTC and CIA on these critical issues.
NCTC also evaluates the quality of CT analytic production, the training of analysts working CT, and the strengths and weaknesses of the CT analytic workforce. NCTC created the Analytic Framework for Counterterrorism, aimed at reducing redundancy of effort by delineating the roles of the IC's various CT analytic components. NCTC also created a working group for alternative analysis to help improve the overall rigor and quality of CT analysis.
"Sharing that Information"
By law, NCTC serves as the USG's central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups. NCTC also provides USG agencies with the terrorism intelligence analysis and other information they need to fulfill their missions. NCTC collocates more than 30 intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security networks under one roof to facilitate robust information sharing. NCTC is a model of interagency information sharing.
Through the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), NCTC maintains a consolidated repository of information on international terrorist identities and provides the authoritative database supporting the Terrorist Screening Center and the USG's watchlisting system. The Center also produces NCTC Online (NOL) and NCTC Online CURRENT, classified websites that make CT products and articles available to users across approximately 75 USG agencies, departments, military services and major commands. NCTC's Interagency Threat Analysis and Coordination Group (ITACG) facilitates information sharing between the IC and State, Local, Tribal, and Private partners - in coordination with DHS, FBI, and other members of the ITACG Advisory Council.
NCTC also provides the CT community with 24/7 situational awareness, terrorism threat reporting, and incident information tracking. NCTC hosts three daily secure video teleconferences (SVTC) and maintains constant voice and electronic contact with major Intelligence and CT Community players and foreign partners.
"Integrating All Instruments of National Power"
By law, NCTC conducts strategic operational planning for CT activities across the USG, integrating all instruments of national power, including diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement to ensure unity of effort. NCTC ensures effective integration of CT plans and synchronization of operations across more than 20 government departments and agencies engaged in the War on Terror, through a single and truly joint planning process.
NCTC's planning efforts include broad, strategic plans such as the landmark National Implementation Plan for the War on Terror (NIP). First approved by the President in June 2006 and then again in September 2008, the NIP is the USG's comprehensive and evolving strategic plan to implement national CT priorities into concerted interagency action.
NCTC also prepares far more granular, targeted action plans to ensure integration, coordination, and synchronization on key issues, such as countering violent extremism, terrorist use of the internet, terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, and counter-options (after an attack). NCTC also leads Interagency Task Forces designed to analyze, monitor, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks.
NCTC assigns roles and responsibilities to departments and agencies as part of its strategic planning duties, but NCTC does not direct the execution of any resulting operations.
NCTC monitors the alignment of all CT resources against the NIP and provides advice and recommendations to policy officials to enhance mission success.
The Director of NCTC is also the CT Mission Manager for the IC, per DNI directive3. Thus implementing a key recommendation of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. In that role, NCTC leads the CT community in identifying critical intelligence problems, key knowledge gaps, and major resource constraints. NCTC also created the CT Intelligence Plan (CTIP) to translate the NIP and the National Intelligence Strategy into a common set of priority activities for the IC, and to establish procedures for assessing how the IC is performing against those objectives.
NCTC, in partnership with NSC and HSC, is leading reform of CT policy architecture to streamline policymaking and clarify missions.
***From the ODNI website:
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC), overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. Working together with the Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI) and with the assistance of Mission Managers and four Deputy Directors, the Office of the DNI's goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad.
With this goal in mind, Congress provided the DNI with a number of authorities and duties, as outlined in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004. These charge the DNI to:
• Ensure that timely and objective national intelligence is provided to the President, the heads of departments and agencies of the executive branch; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior military commanders; and the Congress
• Establish objectives and priorities for collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence
• Ensure maximum availability of and access to intelligence information within the Intelligence Community
• Develop and ensure the execution of an annual budget for the National Intelligence program (NIP) based on budget proposals provided by IC component organizations
• Oversee coordination of relationships with the intelligence or security services of foreign governments and international organizations
• Ensure the most accurate analysis of intelligence is derived from all sources to support national security needs
• Develop personnel policies and programs to enhance the capacity for joint operations and to facilitate staffing of community management functions
• Oversee the development and implementation of a program management plan for acquisition of major systems, doing so jointly with the Secretary of Defense for DoD programs, that includes cost, schedule, and performance goals and program milestone criteria
Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kdbreitweiser