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SLUG: 6-13022 9/11 Congressional Report










INTRO: A congressional report on United States intelligence activities prior to the devastating September 11th [2001] terrorism attacks is the focus of many editorials. The report is highly critical of both the Central Intelligence Agency [C-I-A] and the Federal Bureau of Investigation [F-B-I], especially in the analyzing of raw intelligence.

The study indicates that a good deal of information had been gathered on people associated with the hijackers, and their flight training. But it concludes that little of the various bits of valuable information were connected to show the overall potential for danger. The American press has been quick to comment, and we get a sampling now from V-O-A's _____________in today's U-S Opinion Roundup.

TEXT: The New York Times front page story says: "The report concluded that in the months before the [airline] hijackings, the F-B-I and C-I-A did not comprehend the gravity and imminent nature of the threat . and failed to assess all of the available information about the risk of an attack." Newspaper editorials reflect frustration at the shortcomings, as in this Washington Post comment.

VOICE: The intelligence agencies were not well positioned to respond to the growth of al-Qaida in the years preceding 9/11, and their flaws led to specific operational failures that proved devastating as the attacks were prepared. Many of these operational failures were previously known in general terms, but when laid out comprehensively and supplemented with the wealth of new details the report discloses, they are especially disturbing.

TEXT: With almost identical words, Charleston's [S-C] Post and Courier complains:

VOICE: It convincingly shows that the intelligence community did not appreciate and think deeply enough about the threat posed by al-Qaida, failing to make good use of available information on the hijackers and their methods. Had they done so, it is possible - - though not certain - - that they might have discovered enough about the plotters' identities, purpose and timing to prevent the tragedy.

TEXT: Georgia's Augustus Chronicle says that some of the conclusions were already well known, but it complains, as do two of the study's authors:

VOICE: . the [publicly released] report is incomplete. . it was [not] necessary for the Bush administration to insist that 28 pages . be kept under wraps because it might embarrass Saudi Arabia. Even so, the report still manages to raise new questions about the Saudi role in the commercial airline hijackings that killed 3-thousand people.

TEXT: In Louisiana, The Times-Picayune is mindful of the old adage about "hindsight being always 20-20 [i.e. perfect] but adds:

VOICE: Nevertheless, the C-I-A, F-B-I and military intelligence bear the responsibility for identifying and gathering information about threats to the United States. . the . report . leads one to an alarming conclusion about those agencies' work. Even after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and after numerous bombings at U-S embassies and military installations overseas, the inability to conceive of the dangers that international terrorism posed to the United States was still widespread - - both in the intelligence community and among top federal officials.

TEXT: New York's Wall Street Journal is of a similar mind, as it says the report should remind us:

VOICE: . Presidents responsible for protecting American life and liberty must often act on imprecise information. . U-S intelligence [operated under] . mindset that viewed terrorism as a painful but endurable risk that could be punished after the face. The real importance of this report is that is makes the case for pre-emption.

TEXT: What bothers Oklahoma's Tulsa World even more than the report's conclusions about intelligence gathering before the attacks, is how things have not changed appropriately since.

VOICE: Placing blame at this point would not be constructive. But it is important to know what went on in an effort to avoid another catastrophe. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the almost two years since the attacks.

TEXT: Lastly, we hear this lament from Georgia's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

VOICE: The report is worthy, but it is just the beginning. Implementing its recommendations will require much more intensive oversight than the executive branch and Congress have exerted in the past. That's hardly the stuff of headlines, but essential to preventing another September 11 [Th.]

TEXT: On that ominous note from Atlanta's Journal and Constitution, we conclude this editorial sampling on the just-released, pre 9/11-intelligence review by Congress.


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