Why didn’t the CIA know about the October 7 attack by Gazans in advance?

Today is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an intelligence failure so spectacular that it has spawned what the righteous fondly refer to as “conspiracy theories,” e.g., that Roosevelt actually knew about the attack in advance. Certainly the U.S. did have enough warning to have launched fighter planes and manned antiaircraft guns (see “The Three Missed Tactical Warnings That Could Have Made a Difference at Pearl Harbor”), but radar alerts were ignored.

One parallel between Pearl Harbor and recent events is that the Japanese did not expect the U.S. to wage total war in response to the attack. There was supposed to be a negotiation, after which the Japanese government would remain in power and in a stronger position than before. One theory is that the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”) set up October 7 as a way to take Israeli soldiers hostage and then exchange them for Palestinians who had been convicted of stabbings, car bombings, shootings, etc. and sentenced to prison. However, ordinary civilian Gazans followed Hamas into Israel and, lacking the discipline of Hamas soldiers, proceeded to rape, maim, and kill as well as take civilians as hostages. As a result of the unplanned orgy of violence, Israel chose the unexpected (by Hamas) path of partial war (nothing like the brutality of what the U.S. did to the Japanese) with the goal of removing Hamas from its position as the legitimately elected government of Gaza.

Let’s go back to the intelligence failure aspect, however. The Central Intelligence Agency has over 21,000 employees (that Wikipedia knows about). The fighting after the October 7 attack motivated the U.S. to move an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean. Thus, even if the October 7 attack couldn’t have been stopped, it would have been valuable for the U.S. to know about it in advance. We pay about $100 billion per year for intelligence, central and otherwise. Why didn’t we have some agents and/or informants in Gaza who could have told CIA Langley (“George Bush Center for Intelligence”!) about the attack in advance?

From The Puzzler (2022, A.J. Jacobs):

In 1988, the CIA commissioned a Maryland-based artist named Jim Sanborn to create a sculpture for its expanding headquarters. The agency wanted to install some art that would be relevant to its mission of cracking secrets. Sanborn’s sculpture, Kryptos (Greek for “hidden”), was unveiled in 1990, located in a courtyard abutting the CIA cafeteria. Kryptos is a wavy wall of copper about twenty feet long and twelve feet high. Into the copper, Sanborn has carved about eighteen hundred seemingly random letters and four question marks. It’s a code, a secret message. No one knows the solution except Sanborn and possibly the former director of the CIA (Sanborn has hinted he didn’t tell the director everything). Thirty years later, the code has not been fully cracked—even by the CIA itself.

I ask Sanborn what it was like to create Kryptos. It wasn’t easy, he says. He had to get lessons in cryptology from a retiring CIA agent. And as for the sculpting itself, “I went through fifteen different assistants, nine hundred jigsaw blades, and twelve Bosch jigsaws over two and a half years,” Sanborn says.

From the CIA’s page:

Loosely related… “U.S. Navy Rescues Ship From Pirate Attack in Gulf of Aden” (New York Times):

The U.S. Navy intervened to stop the hijacking of a commercial cargo ship by pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia on Sunday, after which two ballistic missiles were fired from Yemen toward the Navy destroyer that responded to the incident, the U.S. military said.

The ballistic missiles were fired from the part of Yemen controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, according to a statement released by U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the region. If the missiles were meant to hit the U.S.S. Mason, a Navy destroyer, they fell well short of the mark: They landed in the Gulf of Aden 10 nautical miles from the American ship.

From CNN… “Missiles fired from Yemen toward US warship that responded to attack on commercial tanker”:

Two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi rebel-controlled Yemen toward a US warship in the Gulf of Aden, after the US Navy responded to a distress call from a commercial tanker that had been seized by armed individuals, the US military said Sunday. … The incident comes after Iran-backed Houthi forces launched numerous attacks against US interests in the region… Last week, the USS Thomas Hudner shot down multiple one-way attack drones launched from Yemen while it was patrolling in the Red Sea. On November 15, the Hudner also shot down a drone believed to have been heading toward the ship.

The “Houthi rebels” are the de facto government of Yemen right now, ruling over 80 percent of the population and controlling the capital city. We pay about $250 billion per year to keep the Navy and Marines going. Why aren’t the Houthis afraid that there will be some consequence to firing missiles at U.S. Navy ships? (For that matter, I guess, why didn’t the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”) immediately release all American hostages that it grabbed on October 7, 2023 for fear of being attacked by the U.S. Navy?)

Posted in War

16 thoughts on “Why didn’t the CIA know about the October 7 attack by Gazans in advance?

  1. They may have. Egypt did, and told Israel about it ahead of time. It was possibly self-serving on the part of Egypt to disclose such communications, while the CIA has no similiar motivations. The real question is why did the Mossad not know about it, since such matters would be of the first priority for them.

    Also, I think all the Japanese leaders knew on some level that Pearl Harbor meant their doom. The internal politics were based around saving face and avoiding assassination (kind of an old school “cancel culture”).

  2. Thought we’d get a blog post about Taylor Swift being person of the year instead of Greenspun.

  3. According to the NYT the Israelis themselves have known for over a year, in minute details, of Hamas’ plan, but chose to ignore it out of complacency and a belief this was mere wishful thinking on Hamas’ part. The level of detail suggests they had high-level moles within Hamas itself (or Iran) given the fighters themselves were only briefed hours before the onslaught.


    The CIA is presumably less motivated by Israel’s security than the Israelis themselves.

    As for total war, Hamas is a death cult, they welcome it. Their goal was presumably torpedoing Gulf Arab leaders’ ability to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel without risking being assassinated by their own guards as happened to Anwar Sadat. It seems clear that objective was attained.

    The Japanese knew full well what would happen, but the alternative of surrendering to the US oil embargo was too painful to contemplate, to the point even guaranteed destruction, as foreseen by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, was preferable:


  4. False flag feelings.

    I’m trying to understand the players. The image emerging is the Zionists (vehemently hated by my favorite Indy journalists – who all seem to be Jewish and really smart) are probably part of the same criminal cartel running most of the world’s governments, and sacrificing lives for power is a simple equation that to them = win win.

    Mossad, CIA, FBI all seem to be part of the same blob, and they run everything.

    • Ted: If we hear that a government that has pledged as part of its charter to attack Israel and that has kept up a regular stream of attacks since being elected in 2006 has launched an additional fairly similar attack (lots of rockets, some fighters getting through the border fence) our first thought is supposed to be “false flag”? Were the 17 years of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza that we heard about also false flag attacks, all kept secret through multiple changes of government in Israel?

    • @Philg-
      Perhaps they were waiting for a change in U.S. government, not a change in Israeli government.

  5. “Why didn’t the CIA know about the October 7 attack by Gazans in advance?”

    All CIA officers and analysts have been “working from home” since March 2020.

  6. The problem is that if you defy the deep state, they come to get you. (Ask the Kennedys)
    So the CIA does what it wants, produces little of value, and nobody can stop them.

  7. October 7 seems to be very similar to September 11. From what I see on the small scale (and things on a big scale seem to be the same), we are ruled by bunch of psychopaths. They are smart, and very capable in realizing their own personal goals. Some of the bad things happen because they are in accord with personal goals of the rulers, but most of them happen in random chaos, simple because they do not care, and middle management is only concerned with sleezing up to the big players. In the Middle East, one of the main goals is permanent production of chaos (divide et impera). If you consider this to be just some crazy conspiracy theory, then nothing that happens makes sense, and we seem to be surrounded by stupidity and incompetence. But those people are not stupid, and it might be arrogant to assume so.

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