In the aftermath of September 11 2001, criticism was raised of American intelligence. How was it possible, it was asked, that future terrorists with ties to Bin Laden and Islamic Chechen units could attend American flight academies showing no interest in the skills of landing or take-off without causing any concern? How could men who had trained in Afghanistan enter the United States on regular tourist visa? When the existence of the Phoenix memo – filed by a local agent in July 2001, but ignored by the FBI – which had pointed to Al Qaeda supporters attending flight academies in Arizona appeared in the American news in May 2002, criticism turned to the procedures and bureaucracy of the FBI. Institutional inertia, atrophied hierarchies and top officers’ lack of attention were identified as hindering the acquisition of pertinent information.