- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

From combined dispatches

Leaders of the two congressional intelligence committees announced a wide-ranging inquiry yesterday into why the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies failed to learn of and prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We owe this to the 3,000 who died, their families and the rest of America," said Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

However, the choice of the senior official appointed to head the investigation has been criticized by some on Capitol Hill. L. Britt Snider, a former CIA inspector general, has worked closely with CIA Director George J. Tenet in the past.

At least two members of Congress have opposed Mr. Snider's appointment because he is considered too close to Mr. Tenet, according to congressional aides.

Other members of Congress have questioned whether Mr. Snider is the right person to lead the inquiry because his actions as inspector general at the CIA could be part of the inquiry and would create a conflict of interest.

Mr. Snider left the agency's chief oversight position last year.

For his part, Mr. Tenet welcomed the inquiry. "It's important we have a record. It is a record of discipline, strategy, focus and action," he said.

The joint inquiry will include the memberships of both the House and Senate intelligence committees.

"We must leave no stone unturned," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and vice chairman of the Senate panel. "We've got to turn them all up."

Hearings are expected to begin in April, Mr. Graham said last weekend. Some will be public; others will be closed to protect classified information. The inquiry will have subpoena powers.

U.S. officials say they have found no missed piece of intelligence that would have provided specific warning of the attacks. But the inquiry will look at whether the intelligence community is structured, funded and led in such a way that leaves the United States open to further major terrorist attacks.

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