Re­port re­veals CIA failed to plot against al Qaeda

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Bill Gertz

The CIA lacked a strat­egy to counter al Qaeda in the months lead­ing up to the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks and com­mit­ted mul­ti­ple an­a­lyt­i­cal and op­er­a­tional fail­ures that pre­vented the agency from stop­ping Osama bin Laden’s ter­ror group, ac­cord­ing to a once-se­cret CIA in­spec­tor gen­eral re­port re­leased Aug. 21.

Be­fore the at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter and Pen­tagon, the CIA and its of­fi­cers “did not dis­charge their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in a sat­is­fac­tory man­ner,” the re­port said, not­ing that the agency should cre­ate an “ac­count­abil­ity board” of non-CIA per­son­nel to re­view the fail­ures.

How­ever, CIA Di­rec­tor Michael V. Hay­den, along with his pre­de­ces­sor, Porter J. Goss, re­jected the cre­ation of the ac­count­abil­ity board in an ap­par­ent ef­fort to pro­tect agency bu­reau­crats from be­ing held ac­count­able. Con­gres­sional lead­ers have crit­i­cized the CIA for fail­ing to re­buke a sin­gle em­ployee for intelligence fail­ures re­lated to Septem­ber 11.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s crit­i­cism was kept se­cret for three years, and the re­port’s 19-page ex- ec­u­tive sum­mary was posted on the CIA’s Web site af­ter pres­sure from con­gres­sional mem­bers who had sought to leg­is­late its re­lease. The pur­pose of the IG re­port was to de­ter­mine whether any CIA em­ploy­ees should be pun­ished for fail­ures re­lated to Septem­ber 11.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the CIA was guilty of “fail­ure to im­ple­ment and man­age im­por­tant pro­cesses, to fol­low through with op­er­a­tions, and to prop­erly share and an­a­lyze crit­i­cal data.”

Strained re­la­tions be­tween the CIA and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, which con­ducts elec­tronic spy­ing, also ham­pered ef­forts to counter al Qaeda, the re­port said, blam­ing for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Ge­orge J. Tenet for fail­ing to re­solve the dif­fer­ences. The NSA re­fused to share raw intelligence with the CIA.

The re­port iden­ti­fied sev­eral pre-Septem­ber 11 an­a­lyt­i­cal short­com­ings: a fail­ure to pro­duce a sin­gle re­port fo­cus­ing on bin Laden since 1993; no anal­y­sis of the pos­si­ble use of hi­jacked air­craft as ter­ror­ist weapons; a lim­ited fo­cus on the U.S. as a po­ten­tial tar­get; and no anal­y­sis of ter­ror­ist threats from the spring and sum­mer of 2001.

Oper­a­tionally, the CIA failed to plant a spy inside or near al Qaeda and thus lacked “ac­tion­able intelligence” that could have pre­vented the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks, the re­port said, not­ing that the CIA re­lied too heav­ily on li­ai­son with for­eign spy agen­cies. It also was re­stricted by post-Water­gate “dirty as­set” rules that lim­ited re­cruit­ment of ter­ror­ists. In par­tic­u­lar, CIA ties to Saudi Ara­bia lim­ited the agency’s abil­ity to un­der­stand and stop al Qaeda, the re­port said.

The CIA re­lied on a sin­gle group of covert-ac­tion per­son­nel who were “of ques­tion­able re­li­a­bil­ity” and lacked the ex­per­tise to pur­sue bin Laden, the re­port said. The CIA also failed to dis­rupt al Qaeda’s fi­nances, the re­port said. Fund­ing for coun­tert­er­ror­ism was mis­man­aged, the re­port said, with funds taken from the Coun­tert­er­ror­ist Cen­ter and used to pay cor­po­rate taxes and other non-coun­tert­er­ror­ism needs.

Also, U.S. intelligence agen­cies failed to em­ploy a “com­pre­hen­sive approach to al Qaeda.” The in­spec­tor gen­eral sin­gled out Mr. Tenet, who the re­port said “did not use all of his au­thor­i­ties in lead­ing the intelligence com­mu­nity’s strate­gic ef­fort against” bin Laden.

Mr. Tenet was “ei­ther un­will­ing or un­able to mar­shal the full range of [intelligence com­mu­nity] re­sources nec­es­sary to com­bat the grow­ing threat to the United States,” the re­port said.

Mr. Tenet said the re­port is wrong in claim­ing there was no plan to fight al Qaeda.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

For­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Ge­orge J. Tenet “did not use all of his au­thor­i­ties in lead­ing the intelligence com­mu­nity’s strate­gic ef­fort against” Osama bin Laden, said an in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port kept se­cret for three years.

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