- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

The September 11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people reflected a "massive intelligence failure" in intelligence management, information gathering and dissemination, House lawmakers said in hearings yesterday.
"There is no way to get around the fact that this was a massive intelligence failure," said Rep. Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican who chairs the terrorism and homeland security panel of the House intelligence committee.
Many of those problems still plague key agencies such as the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA), he said, although agency directors were moving to resolve the inefficiencies.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III "has been cracking heads at the FBI and moving forward," Mr. Chambliss said. But "we've got to do a better job."
Mr. Chambliss and his Democratic counterpart Jane Harman, of California, led a House oversight team, which examined the terrorist threat to the United States and the counterterrorism capabilities of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.
Their conclusions were made public in July, though 90 percent of the document remained classified. Yesterday was the first time they were publicly questioned on the report.
Mr. Chambliss, in testimony to lawmakers, said that in the years before the attacks, "some people in the CIA hierarchy had their priorities mixed up and the counterterrorism mission along with human intelligence and analysis missions suffered."
The CIA's counterterrorism capabilities had "significantly" eroded over the last decade, due to a lack or misplacement of resources, the absence of any language training and an over-reliance on foreign intelligence services, he said.
"What we discovered after [September 11] about the way al Qaeda operatives were functioning freely in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia clearly demonstrates the pitfalls of a strategy that relied too much on others in the spying game."
The CIA continues to rely on "liaison for CT [counterterrorism] operations," he added.
Mr. Chambliss said though there had been "a lot of dropping of the ball by a number of individuals and agencies," he acknowledged there was no guarantee that plans for attacks such as those occurred September 11 could have been thwarted or tracked down.
"Things are changing so fast. The terrorist community is now spread out all over the world. The September 11 plot looks like it was hatched in Hamburg [Germany]. The next plot could be hatched" anywhere, he said.
But the worldwide reach of terrorist networks only heightens the need for swift and significant improvement of U.S. human intelligence capability to infiltrate such organizations, he stressed.

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