Blogger Herb Ely offers a comparison between the 9/11 hearings and the Scandal, discussing the common causes of a failure of an organizational culture to deal with a looming catastrophe. I think there’s the germ of a much longer analysis in his piece, something that could pull many more lessons out of the two different tragedies that happened to come at the same time, although the warning signs were long there, as well as many missteps by some of the players.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to list cases in which a warning should have reached the Chief Executive and resulted in corrective action. Historians point to Pearl Harbor as a prime example. There are others. In 1985 Father Thomas Doyle warned Cardinal Law, and the American Catholic Bishops, of the scope of the sexual abuse scandal. In 2004, the Bishops would do well to meditate on the old Virginia proverb. FBI agent John O’Neil was close to correctly predicting the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda. Unable to convince the FBI, he retired. He then took a position as chief of security at the World Trade Center, where he died on 9/11.