A Hawaii-based study group says a five-month examination of evidence shows the Sept. 11 attacks may have been the beginning of an ongoing long-term effort to destroy the United States and much of Western civilization.

On a website titled “The Final Phase,” or TFP, the group has published a collection of scholarly papers and studies, as well as links to other papers, that assess the impact and implications of the 9-11 attacks.

The World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11

Some of the group’s analysts concluded that the terrorist attacks that toppled the World Trade Center towers and damaged the Pentagon were the beginning of a decades-long effort to subvert U.S. national security by lulling Washington into a false sense of security with some of its key allies.

William Wallace, chief editor of the project, said the group is attempting to showcase “key findings and questions aimed at promoting in-depth discussion and analysis of the intelligence-related aspects of the [Sept. 11] attack on America, as well as this attack’s place in the larger geopolitical picture.”

“Analysts convened here hold that vital components of our national security were dismantled after the end of the Cold War,” he said. “This dismantling, they argue, consisted not just of funding and staffing cuts, but the abandonment of … methodology which for five decades kept us safe from disastrous surprise attacks.”

Those arguments were framed in a 1996 paper discussing the future intelligence needs of the United States. The report, titled “Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence,” which was authored by the House Armed Forces Commission, claimed that “in the euphoria that followed the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, some wondered whether intelligence agencies would still be necessary.”

“Gone was the Cold War’s military threat to U.S. survival, and no comparable threat appeared on the horizon,” the report said. “It was soon apparent, however, that significant, if lesser, threats remained.”

So, analysts concluded, despite the end of the Cold War the U.S. should “better integrate intelligence into the policy community it serves,” while pressing “intelligence agencies to operate as a ‘community.'” Finally, analysts said there was a “need to create greater efficiency,” though few of the recommended steps “will be easy.”

Institutional blindness?

Some lawmakers already agree that U.S. intelligence agencies could be suffering from institutional blindness.

In comments published last month, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he thought a “thorough and unbiased investigation will reveal that the intelligence community is encumbered by ossified and entrenched bureaucracies, which inhibit its ability to confront current and emerging threats.”

Wallace agrees, adding that TFP’s findings were initially timed to coincide with the release of a joint House-Senate intelligence committee’s report on holes in U.S. national security that may have made it easier for terrorists to commit the Sept. 11 attacks.

But the joint committee’s findings may be delayed; its staff director, L. Britt Snider, resigned last month amid charges that as the CIA’s inspector general under George Tenet, his objectivism may be compromised.

Officials said Snider will be replaced – at least short-term – by Rick Cinquegrana. And as if to underscore the concern of institutional blindness, reports say both men have long ties to the intelligence community.

What’s one of the best ways to prevent intelligence atrophy?

“New leaders, new ways of doing business and a truckload of pink slips,” writes TFP analyst Angelo M. Codevilla.

“The current war on terrorism is only the latest instance in which the CIA’s ineptitude, incompetence, gullibility, prejudice, corruption and self-serving nature have made it a net detriment to U.S. national security,” Codevilla said. “Hence, getting good intelligence must begin with the firing of most of the people now employed at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., starting with George Tenet,” the current CIA director who was appointed during President Clinton’s tenure.

Some analysts have been making dire predictions of attacks against the U.S. for some time.

In fact, many of the conclusions reached by TFP were originally made by Anatoliy Golitsyn, a former KGB intelligence analyst who defected to the U.S. in 1961. Golitsyn has been credited with successfully predicting the “Break with the Past” – the separation of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the period from 1989-91, among other world events.

Mark Riebling, in his book, “Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA,” performed an analysis of Golitsyn’s predictions, outlined in the former communist spook’s tome, “New Lies for Old.” He found Golitsyn’s predictions to be correct 94 percent of the time – far better than most U.S. intelligence agencies.

But, Wallace argues, it is precisely his accuracy rate that has caused many American intelligence agencies to spend so much effort trying to debunk Golitsyn’s analyses.

“This singular achievement puts all other analysts, including some official services, to shame; and it is precisely because of his record of pin-point accuracy that Western governments, policymakers and even some intelligence services, whose record bears little comparison with Golitysn’s, have competed with one another over the years to find reasons why Golitsyn’s perceptive explanations of Soviet strategy should be ignored,” writes Christopher Story, who edited the former KGB agent’s second book, “The Perestroika Deception: Memoranda to the Central Intelligence Agency.”

“The democracies of the United States and Western Europe are facing a dangerous situation and are vulnerable because their governments, the Vatican, the elite, the media, the industrialists, the financiers, the trade unions and, most important, the general public are blind to the dangers of the strategy of ‘perestroika,'” Golitsyn wrote. “The democracies could perish unless they are informed about the aggressive design of ‘perestroika’ against them.”

The term “perestroika” refers to the policy of economic and governmental reform instituted by then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union during the mid-1980s. In some circles, Gorbachev is considered a player in the “deception.”

Who’s right?

Al Santoli, a national-security adviser to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., says he’s familiar with Golitsyn’s work but not sure what to make of it. He did, however, tell WorldNetDaily, “there is definitely [a global] element who still wants to destroy the U.S.”

Does that include Moscow?

“I see the Russians as moving in all directions, in terms of relations with the U.S.,” he said.

TFP analyst John LeBoutillier, like Golitsyn, also distrusts Russia. But he says China is also a major player working to destabilize U.S. national security.

“Russia is more dangerous than at any time since the fall of the Berlin Wall 12 years ago. Russia is re-arming its own military and also manufacturing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ for its allies – including Iran, Iraq and North Korea – to earn hard currency,” LeBoutillier writes.

Meanwhile, he said, “Chinese missile technology has been sent to” all three “axis of evil” countries – Iraq, Iran, and North Korea – as have “Chinese scientists in hopes of expanding biological and chemical weapons programs.”

What is known and generally acknowledged in the intelligence community is that both countries utilize “surrogate” nations – as did the U.S. and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War – to carry out destabilization objectives. But when it comes to naming names, identifying direct threats and how best to protect the United States from them, other experts give differing opinions.

“A lot must, can, and will be done to shore up U.S. intelligence collection and analysis,” says Richard K. Betts, director of the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, writing in the February 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Reforms that should have been made long ago will now go through. New ideas will get more attention and good ones will be adopted more readily than in normal times,” Betts said. And while there is no shortage of ideas, Betts says in some cases there is a “shortage of perspective.”

“Some of the changes will substitute new problems for old ones. The only thing worse than business as usual would be naive assumptions about what reform can accomplish,” he writes. “The awful truth is that even the best intelligence systems will have big failures.”

John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said he believes the spread of weapons of mass destruction are Washington’s biggest security threat.

“The spread of weapons of mass destruction to state sponsors of terrorism and terrorist groups is, in my estimation, the gravest security threat we now face,” he said yesterday in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. “The attacks of Sept. 11 reinforced with blinding clarity the need to be steadfast in the face of emerging threats to our security.”

Bolton says the Bush administration is “working hard to create a comprehensive security strategy with Russia,” even though Golitsyn believes Moscow is deceiving the U.S. and the West into believing it is an ally but is actually a nemesis.

CIA: ‘No comment’

To best protect the homeland, America’s spy agencies need to be “visionary, opportunistic and willing to manage risk as opposed to avoid it,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the National Security Agency, in a February 2000 speech.

But are they? In various public statements issued since Sept. 11, the nation’s top intelligence agencies say they are on top of things. As of this week, though, it’s hard to say with any certainty. A spokesman at the CIA told WorldNetDaily the agency had “no comment,” while officials at the National Security Agency said they deferred questions about intelligence and potential threat analyses “to the CIA.”

However, at least one recent study seems to lend credibility to TFP’s conclusion that intelligence-gathering should be revamped.

A Heritage Foundation paper compiled by The Working Group on Intelligence and Law Enforcement urges the Department of Homeland Security to “rapidly improve information-gathering capabilities at all levels of government.”

Another priority the agency should address, said the report, is the improvement of “intelligence and information sharing among all levels of government with homeland security responsibilities.”

Other groups say the primary goal of U.S. intelligence agencies in this age of terrorism should be efforts aimed at reducing threats to American society.

“How can the United States possibly outsmart and outmaneuver terrorists, who can change their tactics and their targets whenever they see the need?” asks a Brookings Institution study on homeland defense. “By focusing primary attention on vulnerabilities that could lead to thousands of deaths or other horrendous damage, and by systematically analyzing the country’s major vulnerabilities, the job becomes far from hopeless.”

Besides taking a number of preventative measures to beef up security “within the United States,” the study recommends increasing protection of key targets within U.S. borders, securing the U.S. perimeter and planning responses to attacks should they occur.

And while admitting that U.S. intelligence is still important, other studies seem to suggest it is not as vital as it once was.

“During the Cold War, when U.S. survival seemed at stake, Americans, for the most part, accepted the need for an intelligence apparatus to fathom the intentions and capabilities of a hostile, dangerous adversary which often acted in secret,” said the Armed Forces Commission report.

But, “countries that once threatened our survival now are emerging democracies. Information once denied the outside world now is readily available from a multitude of sources. Some ‘denied areas’ are no longer so,” the report said.

“Given this radically changed global environment, are intelligence capabilities still needed? If so, can their efficiency and effectiveness be improved?”

Wallace and company resoundingly answer “yes” to both those questions.

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