CIA officer: we’re not prepared for this |

CIA officer: we’re not prepared for this

Incline Village resident Bart Bechtel has special insight into the Herculean task Tuesday’s terrorist attack presents the nation’s emergency staff.

“They aren’t prepared,” he said. “No city besides Washington, D.C., maybe, can handle the number of actively injured in the attacks, let alone all the cases of collateral damage, of people walking around in shock, and who are having heart attacks.”

Bechtel has a broad background in domestic and international terrorism, and in crisis management. He recently retired from a lengthy career as a CIA operations and counterintelligence officer, and, among his current activities, is a member of Emergency Planning Associates, a private firm with services that include standby emergency medical first response.

He is also on the faculty of the Centre for Counterintellegence and Security Studies, a private Alexandria, Va.-based center that includes former members of the CIA, FBI, military and KGB.

Based on his years in counterterrorism operations, both with the CIA and in a consulting capacity, Bechtel strongly suspects the attacks are the work of Osama bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi fugitive blamed for terrorist attacks against American targets, a belief echoed by many U.S. officials, according to a CNN report.

“The terrorist attack was well-coordinated and could have only been accomplished with the assistance of major state players that allow terrorists to operate and train in their territory,” he said.

“I can’t imagine who else it could be. He certainly has the resources to pull it off, and it’s just the way he has operated in the past. It’s his resolve to inflict damage on the United States.”

He said he and some associates had speculated on the significance of the date – 9/11, like the emergency telephone number, saying symbolism was important in such attacks.

Bechtel said airplane attacks of the sort inflicted on the World Trade Center in New York, and on the Pentagon in Washington had been thought about a great deal among his peers.

“It’s a scenario that those of us who live in Washington have thought about a great deal because of the flight paths … and high-profile targets along them.”

Bechtel said he was sure the entire country was joined in trying to come to grips with what had happened.

“The whole country is sitting here, asking questions,” he said. “The questions are numbing, and the answers are, too. Freedom has a price. The freedoms we enjoy unfortunately make us vulnerable. But our response to this has got to be resolute and devastating, one where nobody can misunderstand that we won’t accept an attack on our soil.”

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