Tuesday, May 28, 2002

I am a long time fan of investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. In the latest issue of The New Yorker he rips into the problems of the US intelligence and law-enforcement agencies before and after September 11th. Key points: The amount of raw information available before the attacks. The inability to process and act on the information. Actor James Wood shares a first class cabin with four of the terrorists. The planning for September 11th appears to have been more ad hoc, not carefully orchestrated. Airlines concerned about money over safety. Many examples of terrorist threats to commercial aviation, intelligence about the role of flight schools, the tactics used by the hijackers. Identity theft. The antiquated state of computer systems used by law-enforcement.

My first exposure to investigative journalism was reading Seymour Hersh. Mr. Moss, my high school history teacher, liked to use as much source material as possible to make history interesting. Hersh's reporting about the My Lai massacre was powerful. Many factors led to the conclusion of Vietnam, but his expose changed the way the war was reported, and influenced public opinion about what the US was doing there.

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