The commission investigating the 9/11 attacks has heard plenty of complaints about the failure of U.S. counterterrorism. Officials have described agencies as underfunded and understaffed. The CIA and FBI worked with outdated technology and few experts on Middle East languages. Above all, they were weak on sharing information, even within their own agencies.
A chilling tale of information breakdown was reported last December by a former official at the National Security Agency. Stewart Baker, writing in Slate, says that FBI officials knew in August 2001 the names of two al-Qaeda agents in the U.S.—Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. These men later hijacked an American Airlines plane and flew it into the Pentagon.