Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9/11, Conspiracies and Communication Failure

As I write this today, I am wearing a yellow shirt.  It is, after all, Yellow Shirt Day for me, something a group of us co-created with a colleague who was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the media is rich with various forms of documentaries including the obligatory set of suggestions of conspiracy.  Apparently people “in the know” know for certain, without releasing their secret sources, that 9/11 occurred because of government conspiracies, aliens, an angry God (or gods for someone), etc.  One guy in a documentary on CBC in Canada said that he believed that WTC 7 was constructed in the 1980’s with the demolition charges already installed in preparation for such an event.

There is no limit to how deep they will dig to find something that resonates with their misfiring mind.

There is, however, ONE thing that does bother me about 9/11.

In 1993, after the bombing of the World Trade Center, I was talking to my former father-in-law (now deceased) about the security threats facing the United States.  As a USAF colonel and former staffer at the Strategic Air Command (before it was folded into another entity), I felt he might have some insight.

He indicated that one of the US military’s greatest concerns at that time was the use of commercial aircraft against buildings and significant landmarks on US soil.  It was a concern, he said, because it was difficult to prevent and would be incredibly disruptive to the American psyche (creating fear that terrorists wish to induce).  There was also a great concern amongst military planners that should the need to shoot down an American commercial aircraft arise, would a USAF pilot be able to do it without hesitation and if he/she did it, what would the ramifications be that an American pilot was forced to kill Americans to protect other Americans?

Eight years later, the US was rocked by 9/11 and a number of us lost treasured friends, family members and colleagues.  President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others claimed we were caught by surprise – that no one could have predicted an attack in this fashion.

And yet I was told eight years prior that this was one of the greatest concerns of the US military and that they were trying to come up with mitigation strategies to prevent it or minimize its impact.

Now ten years later, former leaders are still saying that this attack and the techniques used caught everyone by surprise.

I don’t buy it.  If a civilian (and a non US citizen at that) was told by a senior military officer in 1993 that defending against such an attack was one of the highest priorities of the US military in 1993, then many people knew this was coming.

Maybe the leaders who claim they didn’t know truly didn’t know.  I leave that to conspiracy theorists to toss back and forth.

The fact that some people possibly didn’t know reflects how poorly our communications get when we have too complex a network to communicate across.  Too many people with too many opinions and too many conflicting agendas create too much noise and when this noise is created, important information doesn’t get communicated to the people who need it.  I see this level of confusion in many large organizations that I have helped over the years.  In their desire to over-communicate, they have instead over-inundated and failure of some type becomes inevitable.

Sometimes, such poor communication creates an inconvenience.

Sometimes it may create catastrophic business unit results or total organization failure.

However, there are times it has the potential to produce fatal results.

Such as the day when my friends Narender Nath, Eric Bennett, Stephen Fiorelli and 12 others were 15 of the thousands killed on the morning of 9/11.

I’m not a conspiracy guy.  But if a lowly civilian knew about the probability of these attacks in 1993, then I have to look at the poor communications and the billions spent on intel-gathering leading up to 9/11 as a huge failure in the intelligence community.

That’s not a charge of conspiracy.

It’s one of incompetence.

There is a huge difference.

Thomas Jefferson said it best LONG before 9/11.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

In service and servanthood,


PS For an excellent analysis debunking traditional 9/11/ conspiracy myths, please go here.

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