|CIA Report: Former Director Tenet Ultimately Responsible For 9/11||
Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2007.
Source: Washington Post – Glenn Kessler
Former CIA Director George Tenet did not marshal his agency’s resources to respond to the recognized threat posed by al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency’s inspector general concluded in a long-classified report released today.
The report, which Congress ordered released under a law signed by President Bush this month, also faulted the intelligence community for failing to have “a documented, comprehensive approach” to battling al-Qaeda.
Tenet, now a professor at Georgetown University, heavily criticized the report as “flat wrong” in a lengthy statement, saying the judgments are contradicted by a report issued by the agency watchdog just a month before the 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. CIA Director Michael Hayden also said he did not want to release the report, saying it “would distract officers serving their country on the front lines of a global conflict. It will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed.”
A 19-page executive summary of the report, completed in June 2005, said it could not find a “single point of failure nor a silver bullet” that would have prevented the attacks, but went on to fault the senior management of the CIA for failing to deal with the al-Qaeda threat. “The agency and its officers did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner,” a team led by CIA inspector general John Helgerson found.
The report, which in part sought to determine whether any intelligence officials should be held accountable for pre-Sept. 11 failures, said that as early as December 1998, Tenet signed a counterterrorism memorandum declaring, “We are at war.” But neither Tenet nor his deputy “followed up these warnings and admonitions by creating a documented, comprehensive plan to guide the counterterrorism effort,” the report said. Tenet’s deputy chaired at least one related meeting, “but the forum soon devolved into one of tactical and operational, rather than strategic discussions.”
Moreover, the Counterterrorist Center (CTC) “was not used effectively as a strategic coordinator of the [intelligence community's] counterterrorism efforts,” the report added.
The executive summary noted that the spy community’s understanding of al-Qaeda “was hampered by insufficient analytic focus,” which resulted in important issues being “covered insufficiently or not at all.” For instance, the report said, the CIA had made no comprehensive report on Osama bin Laden since 1993, had not examined the potential for terrorists to use aircraft as weapons, and had done only limited analysis on the potential of the United States as a target.
Tenet, in his statement, said “there was in fact a robust plan, marked by extraordinary effort and dedication to fighting terrorism, dating back to long before 9/11″ and the report “vastly under appreciates the challenges faced and heroic performance of the hard working men and women of the CIA in general and CTC in specific.”