- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002


Lawmakers yesterday approved a report designed to correct intelligence shortcomings that might have prevented authorities from stopping the September 11 attacks.

Details of the report, approved in a private meeting of the House and Senate select intelligence committees, were not revealed. Preliminary drafts called for creating the position of national intelligence director, a Cabinet-level post that would oversee all U.S. intelligence operations.

Paul Anderson, a spokesman for Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said lawmakers made changes in the recommendations, but he gave no specifics.

The recommendations will be announced at a news conference today. Some of the 20 or so recommendations would:

•Commission a study on whether a new domestic intelligence agency is needed.

•Thoroughly investigate whether U.S.-based terrorists receive help from foreign governments.

•Review whether to expand a law allowing surveillance of foreign terror suspects in the United States.

•Establish procedures to reward staff members who acted in ways that could have prevented the attacks and discipline those whose actions might have prevented the attacks from being stopped.

The recommendations followed months of public and private hearings in which congressional staff faulted the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies for failing to share information that, if pieced together, might have uncovered the September 11 plot.

Asked Monday if he believed the attacks could have been prevented, Mr. Graham gave "a conditional yes."

"It would have required several things to have happened, which in fact did not occur," he said in an interview.

Those included having a single person with the job of reviewing all the information collected by different organizations, "a creative mind that would have seen the pieces of this puzzle start to form a plot that would have triggered a law-enforcement response."

Creating a position for an intelligence director would help overcome any barriers that block communication among agencies, Mr. Graham said.

The Senate panel's top Republican, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, said the position should be like the chief executive of intelligence.

"Short of that, we're going to continue to have a lot of principalities, a lot of dukedoms and no one really in charge of the intelligence community," Mr. Shelby said.

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