“I typed a single sentence, a memo to myself:
Nothing will ever be the same.”
CIA Deputy Director & Acting Director — 2000 to 2004
The hijacked planes hit the twin towers at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m. and the Pentagon at 9:37. Around 10 a.m., we moved out of our headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, to an adjacent structure; we assumed that our building was also a target.
Our initial reaction to the attacks was basically:
“So, that’s it.”
All summer long, we had been monitoring an upsurge in threat reporting, anticipating an attack and seeking to thwart it. We had warned of the growing danger both in public testimony and in private meetings at the White House.
But we did not have hard intelligence on the specific timing, target or methodology of the attack. So while we were surprised by specific events of the day, we were not surprised that an attack had finally occurred. (…)
The subsequent months and years brought dramatic changes to the CIA: new resources, new authorities, a closer integration with the U.S. military and an entire generation of officers socialized in war. It also brought new dangers.
When an officer is killed in the line of duty, the CIA carves a star in the marble wall of its headquarters lobby. There are 117 stars; one-third of them have been carved since 9/11.
So the sentence I wrote on that chaotic night 15 years ago may be the most prescient thing I’ve ever written. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nothing has been the same — for the CIA or for the United States.
The recently declassified “28 pages” document certainly raises disturbing questions about the role that some individuals from Saudi Arabia played in these attacks.