NSA Analyst: “We Could Have Prevented 9/11”

Phantom Report Notes:

I am one to believe that Drake is still an intelligence operative. He is nothing but a news piece distraction to divert the public’s attention away from the 9/11 inside job. If Drake was entrenched in the intelligence community,  then he must be well aware of the 9/11 discrepancies and unanswered questions. His actions are not those of a disgruntled employee. If I am wrong I will be the first to admit it. Drake is still in the intelligence circle.

Thomas Drake, a brilliant intelligence analyst, software engineer, and IT management consultant, worked at the CIA in the 1980s, then as a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and ultimately as an NSA senior executive in 2001. But from 2006 until July 2011, he became the government’s and NSA’s public enemy.

Why? From his high-level perch at NSA, he saw the failure to act on intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, and he saw corruption at the highest levels.

So he blew the whistle. Four times, from the fall of 2001 through 2004.


This is what he told us.

Barbara Koeppel: What did you tell the Saxby Chambliss Congressional subcommittee and the Congressional Joint Inquiry?

Thomas Drake: I can’t say fully, because it’s classified. But I showed that NSA knew a great deal about the 9/11 threats and Al Qaeda, electronically tracking various people and organizations for years — since its role is to collect intelligence. The problem is, it wasn’t sharing all of the data. If it had, other parts of government could have acted on it, and more than likely, NSA could have stopped, I say stopped 9/11. Later, it could have located Al Qaeda — at the very time the U.S. was scouring Afghanistan.

It’s true that there were systemic failures throughout the intelligence system, but NSA was a critical piece of it. I gave both committees prima facie evidence, with documents. One was an early 2001 NSA internal, detailed multi-year study of Al Qaeda and sympathetic groups’ movements that revealed what NSA knew, could have done, and should have done. It was astonishingly well-analyzed current intelligence. Soon after 9/11, some NSA analysts called me about it. Why? Because they were pulling their hair out, knowing they had this information and they couldn’t get NSA leadership to share the report with the rest of the intelligence community — even though it’s mandatory! It was actionable information. Remember the time period–we were in the early part of the war in Afghanistan. People needed to act on it, to unravel Al Qaeda networks.

But NSA leaders deliberately decided not to disseminate it. So the analysis — about what it knew before and after 9/11 — got buried very deeply, because it would really have made them look bad.

In fact, after the analysts called me to complain, I told my superior, Maureen Baginski, Director of Signals Intelligence (called SIGINT), who was the number-three person at NSA. But instead of acting on it, she got mad at me. She said, “Tom, I wish you’d never brought this to my attention.”


BK: Why was it so important for NSA to hide what it knew?

TD: Because NSA is a closed, secret culture. Its primary focus is collecting data, even within the intelligence community.

The coin of the realm is what you know. If I share something with you, then I don’t have power any more. So why would I give my power away? Because we collect the data, we own it. If we own it, we control it. If we control it, we can say what it means. We tell you what we want to, or not. I used to hear that in executive sessions, post-9/11. Other agencies were clamoring for the raw or nearly raw data, to do their own analyses. And NSA was balking because “we don’t know what they’re going to do with it.”

BK: But wouldn’t NSA want to prevent a 9/11 or track Al Qaeda?

TD: That’s logical thinking. You have to remember, NSA is an institution, and it preserves its integrity before anything else. Rule number one. It’s pathological. It’s what I call the deep, dark side of this culture, one that has rarely been discussed. Everything is secret. Over decades, people work, communicate, and engage in secret. Obviously, certain state secrets are legitimate, but this goes way beyond that. The agency thinks, if it gives away information, it’s fragmenting its identity. In fact, even before 9/11, NSA reprimanded people for cooperating with other parts of the intelligence community.

BK: Do other intelligence agencies operate the same way?

TD: Yes. When I was at CIA, I worked in the Science and Technology directorate on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. I was asked by people at its National Photographic Interpretation Center to look at pictures of WMD targets. I agreed, but I couldn’t tell from the photos who was talking to whom without knowing more about the target. So I called my buddies at NSA — because they have electronic and signals intelligence — to find out, and they told me what they knew. But the people I worked with at CIA said, “Why did you call them? You have everything you need right here.” Well, I didn’t. It’s so arrogant, to say you can’t learn from others. But this is the culture. And it’s even worse at NSA.

Read More: Huffington Post

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