Policy and procedure as a prelude to peril: Linkage blindness, cultural lag and the terrorism of 9/11

Ronald Eugene Pedro


The terrorist attacks on the United States partially may have been due to the impact of two combined cultural forces: one at the top administrative level of the federal government and one at the administrative level of local policing. The former concerns the enduring low-trust culture between the FBI and the CIA. The latter concept addresses linkage blindness. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to determine if linkage blindness still exists at both levels of law enforcement; and, if so, is it attributable to certain aspects of William F. Ogburn's concept of cultural drag or its corollary, cultural lag? For years, political analysts have contended that feuds, turf wars, power struggles, and personality clashes have impeded the critical flow of information between and within these agencies for decades (Reisling, 1994; Odom, 2003). National security may have been compromised on more than one occasion (Trento, 2001). Likewise, at the local level, at least one police administrator may have exacerbated a high-profile homicide by prematurely closing a case that was the first conspiratorial rehearsal for future atrocities (Posner, 2003). The consequence of these cultural forces during the last decade of the 20th Century may have catapulted the nation into a new millennium with old paradigms and bureaucratic paralyses. In order to substantiate further the foregoing premise, the researcher conducted a cross-cultural comparison among selected policing units at similar administrative levels in Chicago, Houston, Ontario, and Mexico. A Structural Equation Model, SEM, was used to perform a confirmatory factor analysis that was used to develop measures for the concepts of linkage blindness and cultural lag. These concepts were examined through a comparison between the agencies involved in the research project. Further comparisons were made concerning differences in gender, levels of education, and levels of duty. The results of this research indicated that linkage blindness was present. However, there was no statistically significant difference when the researcher considered gender, education, and duty. Somewhat as a surprise to the researcher, cultural lag was not significant in this particular research project.