10/19/2004

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket
The agency is withholding a damning report that points at senior officials.

It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on
9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the
report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in
June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence
committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were
not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being
suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me,
adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the
administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in
terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government
responsible afterward."

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), ranking
Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and
committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter 14 days ago
asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told
not to distribute the report," she said. "We are very concerned."

According to the intelligence official, who spoke to me on condition of
anonymity, release of the report, which represents an exhaustive
17-month investigation by an 11-member team within the agency, has been
"stalled." First by acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and now by
Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the
Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by
President Bush.

The official stressed that the report was more blunt and more specific
than the earlier bipartisan reports produced by the Bush-appointed Sept.
11 commission and Congress.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-scheer19oct19,1,6762967.column?coll=la-util-op-ed

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at
individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This
report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found
very senior-level officials responsible."

By law, the only legitimate reason the CIA director has for holding back
such a report is national security. Yet neither Goss nor McLaughlin has
invoked national security as an explanation for not delivering the
report to Congress.

"It surely does not involve issues of national security," said the
intelligence official.

"The agency directorate is basically sitting on the report until after
the election," the official continued. "No previous director of CIA has
ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the
Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress."

None of this should surprise us given the Bush administration's great
determination since 9/11 to resist any serious investigation into how
the security of this nation was so easily breached. In Bush's much
ballyhooed war on terror, ignorance has been bliss.

The president fought against the creation of the Sept. 11 commission,
for example, agreeing only after enormous political pressure was applied
by a grass-roots movement led by the families of those slain.

And then Bush refused to testify to the commission under oath, or on the
record. Instead he deigned only to chat with the commission members,
with Vice President Dick Cheney present, in a White House meeting in
which commission members were not allowed to take notes. All in all,
strange behavior for a man who seeks reelection to the top office in the
land based on his handling of the so-called war on terror.

In September, the New York Times reported that several family members
met with Goss privately to demand the release of the CIA inspector
general's report. "Three thousand people were killed on 9/11, and no one
has been held accountable," 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser told the paper.

The failure to furnish the report to Congress, said Harman, "fuels the
perception that no one is being held accountable. It is unacceptable
that we don't have [the report]; it not only disrespects Congress but it
disrespects the American people."

The stonewalling by the Bush administration and the failure of Congress
to gain release of the report have, said the intelligence source, "led
the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with
impunity. Unless the public demands an accounting, the administration
and CIA's leadership will have won and the nation will have lost."

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