National Security Before September 11, 2001
When the terrorist from Al Quaeda hijacked the commercial airlines on September 11, 2001, and flew them into the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania, the nation was duly shocked. One of the great myths of America had been destroyed. Specifically, America was certain that it was invincible, and that it would never see a war fought on its home soil. September 11, 2001, has already become a watershed day, much like December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963. It has also become a benchmark day for the people involved in the nation's security.
An internet search of the New York Times with the filter "National Security" and limited to the year 2001 and the months of January through August revealed 1183 stories. Of those stories, only 122 had anything remotely connected with defense of the nation. More than 500 had to do with Credit Card fraud and identity theft. About 100 had to do with increased security for high risk businesses in gang neighborhoods. It would be safe to surmise that "national security" as we have since come to know it, was not a critical issue.
In an article in the National Journal, in June, 2001, analysts James Kitfield, Peter H. Stone, Mary Beth Warner, Bruce Stokes, and Jason Ellenburg, give an analysis of the then-current State Department and its readiness to handle crises. The article is prescient since it talks about almost all of the people whose names have become dishearteningly familiar -- Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, Bush the elder, Bush the Junior.
A favorite parlor game in Washington is handicapping whether Powell will eventually win an internal power struggle against the hard-liners among the Administration's foreign affairs and national security team. Signs of those tensions have been evident in Republican criticisms of Powell's plan for new 'smart sanctions' against Iraq" (Kitfield, Stone, Warner, Stokes, Ellenbu...