Thursday, August 18, 2005

❄ 9.11 Commission [III]

Did the US Army have the names of Mohammed Atta and three of his accomplices, identified as an Al Qaeda cell, in 2000? More on the ‘Able Danger’ controversy, noting especially the deft move of 9.11 Commission chair Thomas H. Kean to put the next step up to the Pentagon.

The Question

How can the members of the 9.11 Commission best pursue whether they were denied crucial information?


The first job is to determine whether assertions of fact are sound, while not taking onto the Commission’s members the task of making that judgment. Commission Chair Thomas H. Kean has

“ . . . called on the Pentagon on Wednesday to move quickly to evaluate the credibility of military officers who have said that a highly classified intelligence program managed to identify the Sept. 11 ringleader more than a year before the 2001 attacks. He said the information was not shared in a reliable form with the panel.

“The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, offered no judgment about the accuracy of the officers&146; accounts. But he said in an interview that if the accounts were true, it suggested that detailed information about the intelligence program, known as Able Danger, was withheld from the commission and that the program and its findings should have been mentioned prominently in the panel’s final report last year.”  [1]

Shifting the move to the other ‘player’ is a standard option in diplomacy, and was treated as a formal ‘move’ by Thomas Schelling in his Strategy of Conflict. [2]

The Political Design Problem

What can we learn about ‘move shifting’ in a negotiation between two parties who are not adversaries, but may have different interests or different views to express?


[1] Philip Shenon, “9/11 Panel’s Leader Requests Quick Assessment of Officers,”
The New York Times
, 18 August 2005.

[2] Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960).

[Political Design 2005.08.18 Post A10.]


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