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Draft ~ Unclassified

Proposed Work Plan for the Counterterrorism Policy Team

Alexis Albion
Scott Allan
Warren Bass
Daniel Byman
Bonnie Jenkins
Charles Hill

Draft: April 25, 2003

Draft -- Unclassified
Draft — Unclassified


Project Overview

Key Questions

Proposed Division of Labor

Initial Document Review List

Appendix One: Summary of Joint Inquiry Staff Work on Policy

Appendix Two: Suggested Readings

Appendix Three: Notional Interview List

Appendix Four: Proposed Briefings for the Commissioners

Draft — Unclassified
Project Overview: Counter-terrorism Policy

The policy team seeks to understand and assess the development of U.S. counterterrorism
policy before the September 11 attacks, the changes in the immediate aftermath, and the
nature of the policy today. These tasks will require reviewing overall priorities,
identifying and evaluating the different instruments used to fight terrorism (prosecutions,
military strikes, extraditions/renditions, and so on), and determining how well senior
policy makers understood the threat from al-Qa'ida. Another integral part of the policy
team's effort is examining U.S. relationships with key foreign partners and adversaries
with regard to counterterrorism. When appropriate, the team will distinguish between
U.S. counterterrorism policy in general and U.S. efforts to fight al-Qa'ida in particular.

The nature of terrorism during the Cold War shaped U.S. counterterrorism policy when
al-Qa'ida began to emerge. These earlier terrorists, in the words of RAND's Brian
Jenkins, wanted "a lot of people watching and a lot of people listening and not a lot of
people dead." Their goals were usually tied to Marxist or ethno-nationalist agendas. The
most lethal terrorists during this era were those backed by states, not those operating
independently. In general, terrorism during this period was viewed as an important but
not overriding policy concern.

As al-Qa'ida and affiliated Islamist groups emerged and grew in the 1990s, the focus
slowly shifted. The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center marked a turning point. For
the first time, Islamist radicals sought mass casualties on U.S. soil. In contrast to the
terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s, who had balked at destroying entire buildings, the new
radicals wanted a lot of people watching and a lot of people dead.

Several government counterterrorism officials recognized the danger al-Qa'ida posed, but
U.S. policy changed unevenly at best. The 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania elevated the importance of terrorism in general and al-Qa'ida in
particular, but policy still lagged behind the immensity of the threat. It took the
September 11 attacks to dramatically change U.S. counterterrorism policy. Even today,
counterterrorism policy is evolving, with important policy decisions being made almost

The policy team expects to follow a normal investigative regimen of document requests
and review, briefings by key individuals both inside and outside government, and
extensive interviews with those in a position to discuss the formulation and
implementation of U.S. government policy in the counterterrorism arena. In addition, the
team will draw on the work of the Congressional September 11 Joint Inquiry as
Key Questions

At the Commission hearings held on March 31 in New York, witnesses described their
views of the September 11 attackers, the intelligence capabilities of the government, and
the quality of the USG's counterterrorism policy before September 11. They also
suggested improvements in these areas in order to prevent another tragedy. Based upon
their statements and our research so far, we have compiled a list of key questions and
issues that we think need to be addressed by the Commission.

The list is divided into three parts, corresponding to the overall statutory structure of the
Commission's inquiry. Most of the questions focus on Part I (the pre-September 11 era),
as this is essential for understanding Parts n and HI, which cover the period after the

Part One: Counterterrorism Policy before September 11,2001


1. What shaped counterterrorism policy before the 1993 World Trade Center attack?
• What was the "old paradigm" regarding the threat posed by terrorist groups?
• What instruments (law enforcement, diplomacy, military strikes, financial
controls, and so on) were used for fighting terrorism?
• How important was terrorism considered, in general?

Strategy and Priorities

2. Did the USG possess a unified counterterrorism policy prior to September 11, or did
policy vary between agencies?
• Did our strategy employ all instruments of U.S. national power?
• What were the gaps in the strategy? Were they obvious at the time?
• Was there leadership and coordination?
• Did any political concerns affect counterterrorism policy?

3. Was counterterrorism factored into the design of key foreign policy measures,
including policy toward Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Middle East peace process, Pakistan, and

4. Where was counterterrorism on the overall USG priority list?

• What were the other priorities?
• Did money follow the priority list? Did high-level time and attention follow
the list? If not, why not?
• Was there a system for managing priorities?
• Was there an integration of domestic policy and foreign policy on
• With the knowledge available at the time, should counterterronsm have been a
higher priority?
• Was the particular threat of al-Qa'ida recognized?

5. Were any "balls dropped" during the transition from the Clinton administration to the
Bush administration? Were transition mechanisms effective?

Understanding the Threat

6. Did policy makers feel well-informed by the intelligence community on the nature of
the threat, both at home and abroad? At what stage was al-Qa'ida considered a threat?
At what point was al-Qa'ida considered a grave threat?

7. Did the White House and Congress exercise effective oversight of the intelligence
community and other bureaucracies fighting terrorism?
• Was U.S. policy realistic given the limitations of the key agencies?
• In formulating counterterrorism policy, was sufficient attention given to the
organization of the intelligence community and its ability to combat
• In formulating counterterrorism policy, did the USG focus sufficient attention
on the FBI's organizational ability to counter foreign terrorists in the United

Terrorism and Foreign Relations

8. To what extent did the United States emphasize and integrate counterterrorism into its
foreign relations? What were the tradeoffs?

9. Did the USG fail to confront terrorist sanctuaries in the Sudan and Afghanistan?

10. Did the United States properly address the issue of state sponsors of terrorism? Was
too much attention given to state-sponsored terrorist groups?

11. How supportive were key countries in fighting al-Qa'ida?

• How supportive were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries where popular
support for Islamists was high and where the governments reportedly had links to
• How supportive were key European countries, such as Germany?
• Who were our vital friends in the effort against al-Qa'ida?

Counterterrorism Instruments

12. What were the primary instruments used in fighting terrorism?

• What were their limitations?
Were these instruments effective? Were they used well?
Were certain options off the table? Should they have been?

Part Two: The Immediate Aftermath of September 11 (through September 20)

13. What changes were made in the aftermath of September 11, and why?

14. Could these changes have been made before September 11? Why or why not?

15. What was the doctrine laid out by the President's September 20 speech and other key
pronouncements made during this pivotal period? How did these emerge?

Part Three: Counterterrorism Policy Today

16. Could the United States be better positioned to fight al-Qa'ida and other terrorists

17. Are the problems that hindered effective efforts against al-Qa'ida and terrorism
before September 11 fixed?

18. What policy steps should be taken today? What bureaucratic and coordination
changes are necessary?

19. Is counterterrorism properly integrated into U.S. foreign policy today? Does our
current handling of such issues as "winning hearts and minds" abroad, using preemptive
or retaliatory force, handling failed states, and formulating Middle East policy make
sense from the perspective of the war against al-Qa'ida?
Proposed Division of Labor (this will change as our team decides who has the
best skills for which issue)

Person Agency Issues

Alexis Albion CIA, DoD Background (lead),
oversight, transition,
understanding the threat
Scott Allan State, DoJ, CIA Post-9/1 1 changes,
instruments (lead), foreign
governments and
Warren Bass White House/NSC, State Strategies/priorities (lead),
foreign governments,
transitions (lead),
understanding the threat,
post-9/1 1 changes
Daniel Byman White House/NSC Foreign governments (lead),
Bonnie Jenkins DoD, State Post-9/1 1 changes (lead),
oversight (lead),
instruments (but not law
Charles Hill* State Background, foreign
Dana Leseman or other DOJ Counterterrorism
person who could do DOJ instruments (particularly
issues law enforcement)
Kevin Scheid or other OMB Counterterrorism budgets
person with budget

* Senior advisor. It may be best to use him to review the research plan and work as it
progresses rather than assign a particular task. Byman may be used in a similar

All team members will work Part IJJ - or at least we will split it up later.
Proposed Briefings for the Commission

We believe the Commissioners would benefit from briefings about general U.S.
counterterrorism policy, U.S. policy toward al-Qa'ida before September 11, and the
status of U.S. policy today.

• Richard Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, would be

the ideal briefer, given his pivotal role in counterterrorism in both administrations.

• General John Gordon, who now holds Clarke's old job, should brief on the
current counterterrorism policy.

• Ambassador Michael Sheehan, the former Special Coordinator for

Counterterrorism, would also be well-suited for helping Commissioners
understand counterterrorism policy in context before September 11.

• Dr. Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation, perhaps the leading non-
government authority on terrorism, could provide an excellent analysis of how the
threat of terrorism has changed over the years.

• Dr. Paul Pillar, currently the National Intelligence Office for the Near East and
South Asia, is perhaps the government's leading analyst of terrorism and could
provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of different counterterrorism

If necessary, staff member Daniel Byman could brief on the nature of al-Qa'ida and
several aspects of the Joint Inquiry investigation (e.g. covert action, foreign liaison, the
use of military force, and the overall counterterrorism strategy as it related to
intelligence). However, in his view, these briefers would be preferred given their stature
and experience.

Mr. Clarke, Ambassador Sheehan, Dr. Pillar, and Dan Byman would probably prefer to
brief in a classified or, at least, private venue in order to provide the maximum detail.
Dr. Hoffman could brief in public.
Generalized Document Review List

It will be difficult to accurately predict what documents the team will want to review,
although there are some obvious ones. Much, if not all, of the material we will be asking
for will be classified. Since we will be requesting policy documents, the focus will be the
Executive/NSC/OMB and probably the Departments of State and Justice as well. This
list will grow and become more specific as the investigation proceeds.

The documents we will be requesting include:

• Presidential Decision Directives related to counterterrorism policy;

• NSC Memoranda related to counterterrorism policy;

• State Department records, from both Foggy Bottom and the field, related to

counterterrorism policy;

• Records of discussion of counterterrorism policy;

• Deliberative information and factors considered before issuing policy;

• Tasking directed to the intelligence community related to counterterrorism;

• Tasking directed to the military related to counterterrorism; and

• Budget documents reflecting resources applied to counterterrorism.

Many of the most interesting documents for the purposes of our effort will be
predecisional. Such documents will provide insights into which options were chosen,
which were rejected, and which were off the table. Because of the sensitivity of these
documents, it may prove difficult to acquire them, which may necessitate high-level
Appendix One: Congressional Joint Inquiry Activity in the Policy Area

The Inquiry did some work on policy issues, but most of that focused on the intelligence-
policy nexus rather than on the soundness of the overall policy. The Inquiry discussed
intelligence priorities, the dissemination of information, and the quality of analysis with
policy makers in some depth, but it did not venture far beyond this. The focus of its work
was on the late Clinton-early Bush administrations, with the Inquiry having more success
learning about the Clinton period.

Policies toward foreign partners received at best incomplete attention. For example, the
Inquiry looked at how the policy makers' desire for a strong bilateral relationship with
Country X affected intelligence gathering on Country X or on neighboring countries.
However, this was only done with a few countries, and even there it was not done
systematically. Moreover, the Inquiry deliberately did not try to judge whether other
equities in a bilateral relationship were more or less important than counterterrorism.

The Inquiry did more extensive work on the use of military force and on covert action.
On the former, however, it was hampered by a lack of interviews and access to many key
individuals and documents outside the strict purview of intelligence.

The Inquiry did not try to judge overall counterterrorism policy in any comprehensive
way. Parts of the Inquiry's work looked at issues such as warning the public, working
with state and local officials, and emphasizing law enforcement over disruption of
terrorist groups. Many of these issues, however, involved the work of non-Intelligence
Community agencies (e.g. the Department of Justice, the INS), which received less
attention than they deserved. In addition, the Inquiry did not do basic policy analysis
such as trying to evaluate the available instruments, the limits on those instruments, and
political support in Congress.
Suggested Readings for the Commissioners on Terrorism and U.S. Policy

Readings on U.S. Policy

1. Jonathan Fredman, "Covert Action, Loss of Life, and the Prohibition on

Assassination," Studies in Intelligence (1997), pp. 15-25.

2. Adam Roberts, "Counter-terrorism, Armed Force, and the Laws of War," Survival,
Vol. 44, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 7-32.

3. Paul Pillar, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (Brookings, 2001), pp. 73-129.

4. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House,
2002), pp. 219-392.

General Readings on Terrorism

1. Martha Crenshaw, "The Logic of Terrorism," in Terrorism and Counterterrorism,

eds. Russell D. Howard and Reid L. Sawyer (McGraw Hill, 2002), pp. 55-66.

2. Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (Columbia University Press, 1998), pp. 13-44.

Readings on al-Oa'ida and Jihadist Groups

1. Anonymous, Through Our Enemies' Eyes (Brassey's, 2002), entire.

2. Bruce Hoffman, "Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11," Studies in

Conflict and Terrorism, no. 25 (2002), pp. 303-316.

3. Rohan Gunaratna, Inside al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (Columbia University

Press, 2002), pp. 101-114.

4. Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova, "Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?" New
Republic, June 24,2002.

5. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House,
2002), pp. 3-37.
Notional List of People to Interview

As a first cut, the team would divide people to be interviewed into several categories:
those with responsibilities for U.S. foreign policy who can place counterterrorism in
context; those with counterterrorism responsibilities; those with valuable related
responsibilities; foreign officials; and outside experts. The first list in particular includes
the most prominent names in U.S. government. That may seem ambitious, but priorities
and focus do begin at the top — and often end there. Once you go one or two levels down
the food chain, the individuals have "accounts" and thus do not have a sense of where
their responsibilities fit into the overall picture. So if we are to be comprehensive, we
need to talk to these people. In several cases (e.g., at OMB), it may be more appropriate
to talk to a deputy or someone who focused more on counterterrorism.

Given the prominence of several of the people on this list, we favor interviewing the
working-level individuals, particularly those involved in counterterrorism, and outside
experts first whenever possible. Only when we know as much of the story as possible
will we interview the most senior individuals.

People Responsible for Overall Policy

• President George W. Bush

• President William J. Clinton
• Vice President Richard Cheney
• Vice President Al Gore
• Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor
• Samuel Berger, former National Security Advisor
• Anthony Lake, former National Security Advisor
• Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor
• Colin Powell, Secretary of State
• Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State
• Attorney General John Ashcroft
• Former Attorney General Janet Reno
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
• Secretary of Defense William Cohen
• Former Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew
• Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels
• Former FBI Director Louis Freeh
• Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet
• Former Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch
• Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson
• Any other participants in the "Small Group"
• Deputies of various departments as appropriate