- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2005

The intelligence community lacks a coherent vision in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks while the FBI has moved too slowly on key reforms, according to a panel looking into how the September 11 commission’s recommendations have been followed.

One of the former commissioners said the FBI’s recent performance raises questions about whether the commission should have recommended creating a separate domestic intelligence agency outside of the FBI. That proposal was supported by many lawmakers, but rejected by the commission in its report last summer.

“We have been taken aback,” said Jamie S. Gorelick, who had been deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and is one the 10 former members of the September 11 commission. The ex-commissioners are now operating as privately as the 9-11 Public Discourse Project, which met for the first time yesterday.

Miss Gorelick said the commissioners were worried about reports that the FBI continued to spend money on a computer system for two years after warnings were raised about that system’s viability and by other reports on the agency’s performance over the past few years.

She and other panelists said the legal wall between intelligence gathering and investigations that existed from the 1980s up until the terrorist attack has been dismantled, but said the FBI culture remains a problem.

John Gannon, a CIA veteran who once served as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told the new panel yesterday that the FBI still treats intelligence analysts as second-class citizens.

“If you are not an agent, you are furniture,” Mr. Gannon said.

He also said there is no goal tying the new changes and directives from Congress together.

“There is no clear strategic vision for how all of this is supposed to work,” he said, adding that the intelligence community is producing more, but it’s not clear that it’s doing any good.

“We have gotten ourselves into a position where we are producing a lot more — everybody’s producing — but I think there is less qualitative analysis,” Mr. Gannon said.

Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, who is leading a review of the FBI as chairman of a National Academy for Public Administration panel, also was part of the discussion and said the FBI is being hurt by frequent changes in upper-level leadership.

He and Mr. Gannon disagreed over who should be responsible for domestic-threat assessment. Mr. Gannon said the law gives that task to the Department of Homeland Security, but the FBI has claimed the authority itself, and Mr. Thornburgh said that makes sense because it’s the only one that can do the job right now.

“For the time being the bureau, whatever its shortcomings might be, is the logical repository,” Mr. Thornburgh said.

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