- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

Creating a Cabinet-level director of national intelligence would reduce "massive failures" of spy and police work that make Americans vulnerable to terrorism, said lawmakers who wrapped up work on a Joint Intelligence Committee yesterday.
Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said that if committee recommendations are followed, "our government's ability to detect, deter and disrupt the next assault will be significantly improved."
The committee, which examined intelligence failures leading up to the September 11 terrorist attacks, was limited to investigating only the country's intelligence apparatus. The independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, established last month, will examine failures in areas such as immigration and aviation security.
That commission, headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, will go forward with a new co-chairman, former House Foreign Affairs Chairman Lee Hamilton. Former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell of Maine announced his resignation last night, citing pressures to sever ties from his law practice.
"My understanding of the law establishing the commission is that it contemplates members who will serve part-time while continuing their prior employment," Mr. Mitchell said in his resignation letter. "I have concluded that the work of the commission will require more time than I anticipated and more time than I can commit to."
The Joint Intelligence Committee's report suggests that a director of national intelligence would coordinate the analysis of threats posed to America by Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and "other significant terrorist groups."
Mr. Graham lamented that "we knew" terrorists were training in camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s and "had the capability of knocking them out, but didn't."
"Where are the next generation of terrorists being trained?" asked Mr. Graham. "Syria, Lebanon and in Iran. Yet we have been derelict in not attacking the headquarters and those training camps."
CIA Director George J. Tenet, former CIA Director John Deutch and FBI chief Louis J. Freeh were singled out by Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, for failing to share information that might have prevented the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"There have been more massive failures of intelligence on [Tenets] watch as director of CIA than any director in the history of the agency," said Mr. Shelby, who has been calling for Mr. Tenet's resignation since shortly after the September 11 attacks.
Mr. Deutch, who served as head of the CIA from 1995 to 1996, "took insufficient steps" in his tenure to prepare the CIA to fight international terrorism, Mr. Shelby added, and Mr. Freeh has "presided over the FBI during a catastrophic era."
Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, defended the performance of Mr. Tenet, suggesting that since he controls only 20 percent of his budget the Pentagon controls the other 80 percent "he didn't have the tools" to fight terrorism effectively "after we declared war on al Qaeda in 1998."
"He wanted to get something done, but he couldn't get it done," Mr. DeWine said. "I can't tell you what they are," he added, saying that information was classified.
"There needs to be a long-term commitment to spend whatever it takes on intelligence," Mr. DeWine said. "Do we have the guts to spend money on this?"
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel discussed the idea of creating a domestic intelligence-gathering agency similar to Britain's famed MI5 domestic spying agency but decided that any debate on that issue should be done entirely in public.
Along with proposing the creation of a national intelligence director, the report also recommends expanding surveillance of foreign terror suspects, rewarding those in federal law enforcement and intelligence who expose the dysfunction of their agencies, and punishing those responsible for creating it.
In other National Commission on Terrorist Attacks appointments, four Democrats were named last night to the commission: outgoing Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia; Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana; Jamie Gorelick, vice chairman of Fannie Mae; and Richard Ben-Veniste, former Democratic counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee.

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