Sirens Are Blaring and Red Warning Lights Are Blinking at the CIA. Is the White House Listening?

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Every once in a while, history gives us a second chance. 

The multitude of errors and missed signals that led up to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon taught us valuable lessons about the nature of the world we live in and how truly vulnerable we are in the United States to bad actors looking for blood.


One of the most valuable lessons we learned from that terrible day is that complacency is a deadly disease that can result in tragedy too painful to bear. We had many warnings about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and their maniacal desire to attack the U.S. Most notably, CIA Director George Tenet, from the time he took office in 1997 until 9/11, testified before Congress ten times about the al-Qaeda threat and Osama bin Laden.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, writing in Foreign Affairs with Harvard professor Graham Allison on June 10, highlighted Tenet's Herculean efforts to warn us that an attack was coming.  

In February 1999, six months after the group bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he claimed, "There is not the slightest doubt that Osama bin Laden . . . [is] planning further attacks against us." In early 2000, he warned Congress again that bin Laden was “'foremost among these terrorists, because of the immediacy and seriousness of the threat he poses" and because of his ability to strike "without additional warning."

Tenet wasn't the only one, of course. Others in the government were convinced that Osama bin Laden was going to attack us. But on September 11, 2001, America bestrode the world as the only remaining superpower. We were untouchable, invulnerable, many in the White House thought. 

Today, the motivation of those ignoring the current terrorist warnings is that they're terrified to single out Muslims as terrorist suspects. The political cost to Joe Biden in states like Michigan, if he were to highlight the very real threat of Muslim extremists entering the United States through our porous Southern border, outweighs any possible threat to the safety of American citizens. So the Biden administration has remained quiet.


Eight Muslim extremists suspected of being connected to ISIS quietly entered the United States sometime in the last few months and, like millions of other illegal aliens, claimed asylum. And like millions of illegal aliens, they were processed, given a court date, and given their freedom.

Why were they here?


Though there is no hard evidence indicating they were sent to the US as part of a terror plot, at least some of the Tajik nationals had expressed extremist rhetoric in their communications, either on social media or in direct private communications that US intelligence was able to monitor, three officials said.

That discovery set off a flurry of emergency investigative efforts by federal agents and analysts across the country, sources said, including physical and electronic surveillance of the men — a counterterrorism operation reminiscent of the years immediately following 9/11, when the FBI investigated numerous homegrown plots.

The title of former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell's Foreign Affairs article, "The Terrorism Warning Lights Are Blinking Red Again: Echoes of the Run-Up to 9/11," suggests that history may be giving us a second chance.

"Given the particular vulnerability of the southern border, Biden’s recent executive order to restrict asylum processing is a valuable step toward limiting entry to the United States," Morell wrote.


"But with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting close to 200,000 encounters with migrants at this border each month so far in 2024, and with thousands of people each week crossing the border undetected, the government will need to take additional action — including the use of national emergency authorities — to ensure that terrorists are not exploiting this overwhelmed channel to enter the country," the authors said.

"[FBI Director Christopher] Wray has repeatedly drawn attention to security gaps at the United States’ southern border, where thousands of people each week enter the country undetected," Morell and Graham noted. 

Like Tenet telling Congres in the lead-up to 9/11 about our vulnerabilities, Wray has been sounding the alarm about the wide-open Southern border for years.

"Last year, hundreds of individuals on the United States’ terrorist watch list attempted to enter the country via the southern border," Morell wrote. "It is not difficult to imagine a person, or even a group, with the intent to do harm slipping across a border—where U.S. officials reported 2.5 million encounters with migrants in 2023—and then purchasing assault rifles and carrying out a large massacre. There is no shortage of locations across the United States where hundreds, if not thousands, of people gather on a regular basis—and all may be ready targets for those seeking to incite terror."


The "stated intentions of terrorist groups, the growing capabilities they have demonstrated in recent successful and failed attacks around the world, and the fact that several serious plots in the United States have been foiled point to an uncomfortable but unavoidable conclusion."

"Put simply, the United States faces a serious threat of a terrorist attack in the months ahead," Morell added.

If we're attacked again, the reaction will be more detrimental to American liberty than the 9/11 attacks. 

We've been warned. But is anyone listening?



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