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GlobalSecurity.org In the News

MSNBC June 10, 2005

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 10


OLBERMANN: For a reality check on how much intelligence-gathering has really improved since the 9/11 attacks, a guest with first-hand experience preventing acts of terrorism on American soil, having successfully infiltrated white supremacist groups in L.A. that were engaging in a bombing campaign against racial minorities in the early ‘90s, and also gone undercover against right-wing militia groups after the Oklahoma City bombing, former FBI special agent Mike German, now a senior fellow with GlobalSecurity.org.

Mr. German, good evening. Thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: Is everything in the intelligence community as rosy as those comments from the president and the attorney general may have made it sound?

GERMAN: Well, I think they should read some of their own commission reports that are coming out. The Silverman-Roth (ph) Commission report came out last month, investigating intelligence failures prior to the Iraq war. And I have written what they found. And what they found is that the FBI has not constructed its intelligence program in a way that will promote integrated intelligence efforts, and that its ambitions have led it into unnecessary new turf battles with the CIA.

OLBERMANN: So today, we got the virtual tour of this new National Counterterrorism Center that one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 commission to emphasize that. But the commissioners are saying that lots of their recommendations still have not been addressed relative to information sharing, relative to the entire picture. Which of those 9/11 commission suggestions needs the most urgent attention?

GERMAN: Well, intelligence sharing is obviously one of the most important points, and the 9/11 Commission Discourse Project that‘s going on right now had a hearing on Monday in which they said there‘s still a failure to share intelligence within the intelligence agencies. And if you look at a lot of the PATRIOT Act and a lot of the legislation that‘s coming out, it enforces more secrecy in the government, rather than opening up avenues for people to discuss what‘s happening within the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: Is the opaqueness of—or the cloudiness of all of these channels and all of these rules and in the PATRIOT Act itself, is that part of the problem now?

GERMAN: I think it‘s a great part of the problem, and I think it‘s preventing Congress from performing its constitutional function of having oversight of the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: About the inspector general‘s report, presumably that was not released now because the president needed a sales tool for the PATRIOT Act‘s renewal. But it had been held up because of Zacarias Moussaoui‘s attorneys. They‘d argued that releasing it would compromise his sentencing, so they simply pulled out 115 pages that were about Moussaoui.

So this was not intended as a sales tool. But does it turn out to have been one for the president regarding the PATRIOT Act?

GERMAN: Well, I hope not, because if you look at the real problems that were found, the problems don‘t really have a lot to do with the PATRIOT Act. If you look at the 9/11 commission report, when they talk about the intelligence wall, what they talk about is how it was misapplied, and that if the midlevel managers that were involved in those investigations had applied the rules correctly, even as they existed at the time, the agents on the street, who were doing a great job and had actually found the intelligence that might have prevented 9/11, could have done their job.

OLBERMANN: My original point regarding this one and the other postmortems, are we still in the useful-analysis stage regarding 9/11, or are we in danger of slipping, as we often have in our history, toward scapegoating?

GERMAN: Well, certainly, I think, it‘s more important to look at what‘s happening now. And that‘s why it‘s important to look at the Silverman-Roth Commission report, and also the 9/11 Discourse Project. And, you know, the 9/11 commission put a lot on Congress‘s plate and said, you know, We‘re going to make some small changes in what the intelligence community is made up of. But we‘re going to want you to oversee it and make sure it happens.

And unfortunately, Congress has not stepped up to the plate and really started doing oversight of the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: The former FBI agent Mike German, now of GlobalSecurity.org. Many thanks for your time.

GERMAN: Thank you.


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