- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2002

A House panel will investigate whether worries about "racial profiling" hampered the FBI's probe of a terrorism suspect before September 11.
House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Porter J. Goss said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he was troubled that key facts were removed from the Minneapolis FBI office's application for a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's computer.
"Because that basically is hampering an investigative tool which we need very badly right now," said Mr. Goss, Florida Republican.
The Minneapolis office, after arresting Moussaoui at a Minnesota flight school in August, was concerned that he was seeking to hurt Americans and wanted to gather more information.
Mr. Goss referred to a letter Minneapolis FBI counsel Coleen Rowley wrote May 21 to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III about the Moussaoui case.
The letter contended that terrorism supervisors at FBI headquarters rewrote the Minnesota office's warrant applications and affidavit and removed key information about Moussaoui before sending them to a legal office that then rejected the paperwork as insufficient.
Miss Rowley wrote that some of the revisions "downplayed" the significance of intelligence linking Moussaoui to Islamic extremists.She blamed the changes on a flawed communication process.
Mr. Goss said problems with the warrant application worried him most, adding that if the letter is accurate, "that people were reluctant there was a culture in Washington that said, 'No, we don't want to rock the boat. We want to we're too worried about profiling, those kind of things.' We've got to know about that and figure out as a society how we are going to react."
Asked if he believed that concerns about racial profiling may have been one reason the FBI rejected a warrant request, the Florida Republican replied: "I don't know the answer to that. But I'm surely going to ask the question, because it has been suggested."
The FBI declined to comment.
The first House-Senate intelligence committee hearing about the attacks will take place on June 4, but it will be closed to the public since classified information will be discussed.
The FBI director, meanwhile, is preparing to announce an overhaul of the agency to better fight terrorism. Mr. Mueller plans to create a new team in Washington to centralize anti-terrorism efforts and ensure all intelligence is evaluated thoroughly, officials have said.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said yesterday that more than two dozen CIA analysts and at least one senior manager from the agency's Directorate of Intelligence will assist Mr. Mueller's reorganization.
In addition, CIA analysts will be sent to several major U.S. cities to review FBI terrorism cases to look at information in the larger context of international terrorism, Mr. Harlow said.
"The FBI's focus in the past has been on fighting crime. Analysts at the CIA have probably got a broader experience in dealing with international terrorism," he said.
Mr. Goss, speaking earlier on "Fox News Sunday,"said he thinks the FBI at this point isn't capable of doing the intelligence work needed to fight domestic terrorism.
"I think they've got to go through a big learning curve, a lot of readjustment," Mr. Goss said.


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