- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2002

The Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence says findings from the joint investigation by the House and Senate intelligence panels will not be the "last word" on pre-September 11 intelligence failures, and he left the door open for follow-up by an independent commission.

Interviewed yesterday on CNNs "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Rep. Porter J. Goss of Florida was asked if he would object to a "blue-ribbon investigation" after the joint bipartisan probe of the intelligence committees is completed.

"I have no problem with whatever is going to come next. I dont know what a blue-ribbon investigation is. But I think there will be follow-onCQ to what we do. In fact, I would be disappointed if there werent," Mr. Goss said.

Many Democrats in Congress have called for such an investigation. Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, has said he would entertain the idea of an investigation by a blue-ribbon commission, once the current joint inquiry is wrapped up. Mr. Graham has until Feb. 28 to write the joint panels report.

For months, the Bush administration has argued against an independent commission, fearing members might leak classified information. But sensitive information has already been leaked, infuriating the White House. The FBI is trying to find out if someone on the intelligence committee was the culprit.

On CNN, Mr. Goss was asked about remarks made by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat and a member of the intelligence committee, who has said the current investigation is "understaffed" and "overwhelmed."

Mr. Goss replied by saying: "It would be no surprise to say that in the time we have and with the amount of people we have, we are not going to exhaust every possible lead that should be exhausted. What we are going to do is, I think, [lay] a very excellent foundation of what actually happened and where we should be asking other questions and what fixes we should be making now."

"I dont think anybodys pretended that this would be the final and last word on what happened on 9/11," said Mr. Goss, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and former clandestine services officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Asked if the investigation has shown him that intelligence failures were worse or not as bad as he believed immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Goss said: "What Ive learned is we have to define exactly what we mean by intelligence failure, because the failure was much broader than just our foreign intelligence capability."

"It went to the interrelationship of that foreign intelligence capability with our law enforcement mechanisms and our regulatory agencies in the United States: the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport people, the customs people, the immigration people and so forth," the Florida Republican said, adding:

"What we have found is there is a frightening lack of coordination, of integration between the capabilities and the rule-making and, frankly, just the communication, just the daily business that should be going on among federal agencies. This has not been happening. And that clearly let down the gates in some places they shouldnt have been down."

Mr. Goss also said there was a "psychological factor" involved in the intelligence breakdown. "In the 90s, we enjoyed wonderful blue-sky prosperity, a peace dividend. We werent concerned about threats," he said.

The congressman said the intelligence community was "issuing warnings," but "people werent listening, and the warnings werent specific enough."

The Independent, a London newspaper, reported yesterday that the United States ignored a clear warning from the emissary of a Taliban leader that the al Qaeda network was planning a major attack on American soil.

The newspaper said an emissary acting for Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, who was then the Talibans foreign minister, warned both the U.S. consul-general in Pakistan, David Katz, and the United Nations in Kabul of the impending attack. But he was ignored.A State Department official told the Reuters news agency yesterday: "We took all the warnings seriously" and issued travel advisories and other public announcements. "But we had no specific information," the official said.

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