How 9/11 Exposed the Problems of Government

John Farmer discusses The Ground Truth

By + More

Should we blame the leaders?

Well, I think there's a tendency after any one of these things to point at the leader and say, "Off with his head!" But when you see the same kinds of failures occurring over many different types and styles of leadership, and many different types and styles of departments and of crises, you have to question that reaction to it and realize that it's a much more fundamental problem.

How can the government change to better accommodate future crises?

Again, working our way up—after the civilians, the next most primary people are going to be the first responders—the police, the fire, the military. The most important recommendation of the 9/11 commission that has not been acted on is our recommendation that a bandwidth be set aside to establish a national interoperable emergency communications network, because that's the next level up from the ground.

Some conspiracy theorists argue that you're part of an ongoing coverup to hide federal complicity in the attacks.

Well, it's just simply not true. I understand some of the impetus for these conspiracy theories because when the government hasn't told the truth about something, and that comes to light, then people's imaginations are sort of free to run wild. But the book, as I've written it, is laden with primary source material, and that doesn't lie.

What is the overall message you hope to give your readers?

I think the takeaway from the book, when it's looking at both crises, is the necessity to re-examine the way government is organized to meet these kinds of crises. In the past, what we've really done is take the government organizational chart and try to overlay it, so that people at the top make the critical decisions. Maybe in an ideal world, that's what would happen. But that's not the world we live in. We need to configure government to respond in a way that we now know these crises will be experienced.

  • Check out our political cartoons.
  • Become a political insider: Subscribe to U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine.