- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

U.S. intelligence information from electronic communications probably will provide clues about plans for the Sept. 11 attacks but analyses of the data are too slow, a senior House member said yesterday.
Rep. Norm Dicks, Washington Democrat and former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, also said the FBI failed to pursue leads to the hijackers suspected of carrying out the attacks.
"Part of our problem is that we collect all this sigint [signal intelligence], for example, but we don't process it all because we don't have the capability to do it," Mr. Dicks told defense reporters.
As for the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, "we didn't get there" in detecting plans for the attacks, said Mr. Dicks, currently a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee.
Mr. Dicks said he found that during every crisis in which he took part on the intelligence panel, "there was information that if we had properly analyzed it, would have led us to a conclusion, not with great specificity but with some specificity, that something significant was going to happen."
"And in this situation I'm sure we'll go back and find things in the sigint stuff that was never processed that will have given us indications that, had we processed it, would have maybe helped us," Mr. Dicks said.
He said the U.S. intelligence community is working on high-technology computer techniques that sift and "correlate" the large amounts of information collected by various spy agencies.
Mr. Dicks faulted the FBI for failing to stop the hijackers from the Middle East who received flight training. The FBI was informed of the activity and did not work "as hard as they should have worked it," he said.
"Frankly, here, I also believe that there were a number of significant tips that were handed off to the FBI and if there was a failure here, in my judgment, the failure was with the FBI," Mr. Dicks said. "They did not do the job that the country would have expected from them, I think. There are a lot of things here that should have been followed up on that were not done."
Mr. Dicks said major problems for U.S. intelligence are the secrecy and "stovepiping" of agencies that prevent close cooperation.
CIA Director George J. Tenet has taken steps to "bring down the walls" that separate the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence components, Mr. Dicks said.
Asked about a report in The Washington Times that Russian merchant ships continued to spy on U.S. nuclear submarines in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Dicks said he was worried about the security of nuclear submarines and their weapons, from both Russian spying and foreign terrorist attack.
A secret State Department, Pentagon and Coast Guard program to monitor Russian merchant ships near nuclear submarines based in Washington state's Puget Sound was undercut by a Transportation Department agreement with Moscow in June that loosened rules on Russian ship visits.
The agreement ended a policy requiring Russian ships to provide 72-hours notice before entering Puget Sound. Such notice is required for Russian merchant ships that enter other sensitive ports such as San Diego and Kings Bay, Ga., where nuclear submarines are based.
Mr. Dicks said Russian ships should be required to provide 72-hours notice of arrival in Puget Sound to prevent spying on submarines.
"What they are obviously doing is trying to watch and monitor the submarines as they come and go," said Mr. Dicks, who lives near the nuclear submarine base located along the Hood Canal near Bangor, Wash. "I think it's serious enough that we at least need to get 72-hour notification so that we're alerted."
Mr. Dicks said the Coast Guard has stepped up security for nuclear submarines and is escorting boats as they sail out of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Security improvements also are needed at Bangor and Kings Bay, he said.
"I mean, talk about potential targets," Mr. Dicks said. "I mean, you've got nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons.
"To me, it just jumps out as two of the most significant bases in this country that whatever we have to do for security at those bases we ought to enhance," he said, "and we ought to be very careful about what happened with these Russian ships coming in and out of there and at least making sure that at least they do the 72-hour notification."

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