Last Thursday, September 26th, we joined forces with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City to host a panel discussion about the events following September 11th, 2001.
The panel, “Essential Intelligence: The CIA’s Response to 9/11,” was moderated by former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell. The panel featured former Acting Director John McLaughlin and former Senior Paramilitary Officer Phil Reilly, who was a member of the first team to touch down in Afghanistan, 15 days after the attacks.
“Memories of that day are vivid and many,” John began when asked about his recollections from the day. He was in a meeting on the 7th floor of CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, when he found out that America was under attack. “I remember writing on a piece of paper ‘nothing is ever going to be the same.’
Phil was sitting in language training on September 11th, preparing for his next overseas assignment. “My first reaction was shock and anger, and maybe even a little bit of rage,” he said, recalling his emotions from the day.
The three CIA alumni discussed the impact of 9/11 on the world of intelligence, from hardening the elements of homeland security that would prevent another attack, to the creation of elements like CIA’s Red Cell that would enable the intelligence community to think creatively about vulnerabilities and threats.
Phil discussed his experiences as the Deputy Chief of, a team of CIA officers that were in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The three panelists heralded the unprecedented collaboration that came in response to 9/11, both internally between the military and Intelligence Community and externally with international allies.
“Today,” John said, “one of the incredible capabilities the US has is the ability to marry up civilian produced intelligence with military powers in a way that I don’t think we could have done pre-9/11.”
You can watch the entire panel discussion here.