As it happens when

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September 13, 2001 7:59 p.m.
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As it happens, when this horror began I had been
doing reporting for a piece about Osama bin Laden for a couple months. A
bit of this went into an article
I wrote about bin Laden in Salon.com this afternoon. The following,
though, is a combination of information from a number of sources I spoke
with today and just thinking the matter through myself.

It’s been commonly stated over the last forty-eight hours that the twin
attacks on the the WTC and the Pentagon were of sufficient sophistication
that they necessarily required state support or the backing of a large and
extremely sophisticated terrorist organization.

But is this really true? Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying there
aren’t state sponsors of terrorism or that one wasn’t involved in this
tragedy. But was it necessary? I’m not so sure.

What was really needed. As nearly as I can figure, that would be …

a) perhaps a dozen people with the ability to fly a
commercial jetliner

b) some crude and easily obtainable weapons

c) detailed schedules and flight plans of commercial airlines

d) $500,000 or $1,000,000 to pay for miscellaneous expenses primarily
including housing and board for a few dozen individuals

e) sophisticated organizational skills to coordinate the activities
of a few dozen people while presumably keeping many of them unaware of
the activities of the others

Of course, one could easily
argue that the real issue is what superintending authority could bring all
these people together. That’s an extremely good question. And the point of
bringing this up is not to exonerate anyone, of course. But I think it’s
worth noting that at least from what we’ve heard what was really needed
here was not so much complex infrastructure, facilities, or resources as
several knowledgeable, experienced individuals and lots and lots of time.

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