Is there any explanation on why Gondor didn't recognize that the Palantir at Minas Ithil (now Minas Morgul) was in danger before it was captured by Sauron? It seems they should have recognized that it was not safe and moved it to a safer location. Or do we just say that Gondor was just as capable of bureaucratic screw-ups as more modern governments?

I also have the same question regarding the Orthanc stone, although the belief that Saruman was an ally makes a difference in this situation.

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    Because it would be like removing a radio from an outpost in case the enemy captured it. Not worth the inconvenience, especially when you have no idea that the enemy would or even could use it to corrupt your leader. – amflare Dec 8 '17 at 15:54
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    It wasn't just a belief. Saruman was still a legitimate ally when he first moved into Orthanc. It was the use of the Palantir, communicating with Sauron directly and other things that he saw that caused him to turn. – suchiuomizu Dec 8 '17 at 16:22
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    @amflare I wouldn't consider it that implausible for a radio to be removed from an outpost – not if the radio is one of only a handful of its kind, and there's only a small chance that it might be exploited by the enemy if captured. A Palantír might be better comparable with a full cryptography system like Enigma, rather than just a radio: even without knowing the codes, enemy intelligence could conceivably gain a lot of advantage by capturing one (as the British did in WW2). – leftaroundabout Dec 9 '17 at 0:49
up vote 20 down vote accepted

The watch on Mordor fell as Sauron’s forces returned, leading to the attack from the Witch-king coming as a surprise

The waning watchfulness of Gondor may have led to the attack from the Witch-king coming as a surprise to what was left of Minas Ithil. This combined with the attack from the Witch-king coming from the path leading up to Cirith Ungol instead of through Ithilien may have caused the Gondorians to be caught unawares.

[T]he Witch-king escap[ed] from the North … to Mordor, and there gathered the other Ringwraiths… [In] 2000 that they issued from Mordor by the Pass of Cirith Ungol and laid siege to Minas Ithil. This they took in 2002, and captured the palantír of the tower. They were not expelled while the Third Age lasted; and Minas Ithil became a place of fear, and was renamed Minas Morgul. Many of the people that still remained in Ithilien deserted it.
The Return of the King - Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers

Considering the only way out from Minas Ithil was through the Ithil Vale, and the power in Osgiliath and Ithilien was dwindling, the siege laid by the Witch-king would only have been successful in claiming the Ithil-stone if the defenders of Minas Ithil hadn't known of the Witch-king's movements and been able to move the stone before his arrival. However, due to various reasons, including the neglectful watch on Mordor, the possible lack of knowledge of the existence of the stone (as addressed in Blackwood's answer and in amflare's comment below), the defenders had not moved the stone and were caught unawares.

Furthermore as evidenced in @amflare's comment:

Because it would be like removing a radio from an outpost in case the enemy captured it. Not worth the inconvenience, especially when you have no idea that the enemy would or even could use it to corrupt your leader.
Amflare's comment under the question

This point had come up in a discussion elsewhere. Considering it required great strength to master a stone, often only thought to be entitled to rulers, they had presumed the enemy wouldn't have found use or could find use for it. In addition, given the required care needed to properly see out of a palantir, it is unknown if the stone would've had any use without Minas Ithil.


The dwindling of the watchfulness of Gondor

As the years wore on after the fall of Sauron against the Last Alliance, the watchfulness of Gondor and its outposts in Mordor waned. This is clear from the descriptions not only of Cirith Ungol, but also of Narchost and Carchost:

[T]he strength of Gondor failed, and men slept, and for long years the towers stood empty. Then Sauron returned. Now the watch-towers, which had fallen into decay, were repaired, and filled with arms, and garrisoned with ceaseless vigilance.
The Two Towers - Book Four, Chapter 3: The Black Gate is Closed

[A]s with Narchost and Carchost, the Towers of the Teeth, so here too the vigilance had failed, and treachery had yielded up the Tower to the Lord of the Ringwraiths.
Return of the King - Book Six, Chapter 1: Cirith Ungol

Not only were the towers neglected, but Osgiliath as well. As the appendices to the Lord of the Rings tell us, Tarondor, nephew of King Telemnar moved to Minas Arnor due to the desertion of Osgiliath.

[A] deadly plague came … out of the East. The King [Telemnar] and all his children died, and great numbers of the people of Gondor, especially those that lived in Osgiliath. Then for weariness and fewness of men the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased and the fortresses that guarded the passes were unmanned. … Tarondor, his nephew, … succeeded him… He … moved … to Minas Anor, for Osgiliath was now partly deserted, and began to fall into ruin.
The Return of the King - Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers

In addition to the excellent answer by Edlothiad. I think it is worth pointing out that we learn many things reading The Lord of the Rings that were not common knowledge among the people in the books.

At least during the time of the Stewards, the existence of the palantír was a secret. Gandalf says in the Houses of Healing:

Though the Stewards deemed that it was a secret kept only by themselves, long ago I guessed that here in the White Tower, one at least of the Seven Seeing Stones was preserved.

The Lord of the Rings Book Five, Chapter 7: The Pyre of Denethor
Page 856 (Single volume 50th Anniversary Edition)

It is likely that even in the time of the Kings, knowledge of the palantíri was not widespread. When King Telemnar and his children died, and his nephew Tarondor succeeded him and moved to Minas Anor, he may not have known about the palantír until he had time to read his uncle's papers.

Once he learned of it, he may well have thought it of minor importance. After all, Sauron's power was immense, and the additional ability to see events far away (rather than waiting for spies to report them) would only be a small increase in his power. He would not have considered the existence of another palantír in Minas Anor to be a problem, because all he had to do was not be stupid enough to use it.

As suchiuomizu points out in a comment (thanks, suchiuomizu), Unfinished Tales has a section on the palantíri. That section starts out by explaining that the palantíri were not a matter of common knowledge.

The palantíri were no doubt never matters of common use or common knowledge, even in Númenor. In Middle-earth they were kept in guarded rooms, high in strong towers, only kings and rulers, and their appointed wardens, had access to them, and they were never consulted, nor exhibited, publicly. But until the passing of the Kings they were not sinister secrets. Their use involved no peril, and no king or other person authorized to survey them would have hesitated to reveal the source of his knowledge of the deeds or opinions of distant rulers, if obtained through the Stones.

Unfinished Tales Part Four, Chapter III: The Palantíri
Page 403 (Houghton Mifflin 1980 hardback edition)

That paragraph does mention that the palantíri had wardens, who presumably should have tried to keep the palantír of Minas Ithil out of Sauron's hands. We do not know exactly what happened, but we are told that:

Two things contributed then to the neglect of the Stones, and their passing out of the general memory of the people. The first was ignorance of what had happened to the Ithil-stone: it was reasonably assumed that it was destroyed by the defenders before Minas Ithil was captured and sacked; but it was clearly possible that it bad been seized and had come into the possession of Sauron, and some of the wiser and more farseeing may have considered this. It would appear that they did so, and realized that the Stone would be of little use to him for the damage of Gondor, unless it made contact with another Stone that was in accord with it. It was for this reason, it may be supposed, that the Anor-stone, about which all the records of the Stewards are silent until the War of the Ring, was kept as a closely-guarded secret, accessible only to the Ruling Stewards and never by them used (it seems) until Denethor II.

Unfinished Tales Part Four, Chapter III: The Palantíri
Page 403 (Houghton Mifflin 1980 hardback edition)

So it appears that the palantír of Minas Ithil was captured when Minas Ithil fell to Sauron. There is no reason to suppose that the defenders were indifferent to its capture, but they presumably had other things on their minds at the time. At least some of those who knew of its existence understood that it may have been captured, but they didn't consider it a major setback.

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    The Palantiri chapter in Unfinshed Tales backs that up in the opening: "The Palantiri were no doubt never matters of common use or common knowledge, even in Numenor. In Middle-Earth they were kept in guarded rooms, high in strong towers, only kings and rulers, and their appointed wardens had access to them, and they were never consulted nor exhibited publicly." – suchiuomizu Dec 8 '17 at 16:36
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    @suchiuomizu this however suggest that the wardens had known, and therefore the wardens of Minas Ithil (which I presume existed) would have known. – Edlothiad Dec 8 '17 at 16:40

This is specifically regarding the sub-question on the Orthanc stone. Unfinished Tales does give some explanation in the section on the Palantiri:

Isengard remained a personal possession of the Stewards, but Orthanc itself became deserted, and eventually it was closed and its keys removed to Minas Tirith. If Beren the Steward considered the Stone at all when he gave these to Saruman, he probably thought that it could be in no safer hands than those of the head of the Council opposed to Sauron.

As I mentioned in the comment to the question itself, Saruman had not yet betrayed the Free Peoples at this point. It was the use of the Palantir that ultimately led to his betrayal, so Beren's logic was not as foolish as it might seem to the reader or those he betrayed in hindsight.

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