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Who is behind the 9/11 Terrorists? The Saudis or the Bush Administration
The 9/11 Joint Inquiry Cover-up
by Michel Chossudovsky
The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO308A.html
The chairmen of the Joint Inquiry on 9/11 are in obvious "conflict of interest".
They have dubious links to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which is acknowledged to have not only supported Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but according to intelligence sources, including the FBI, to have financed to the 9/11 terrorists.
The two committee chairmen were fully cognizant of the "Pakistani ISI connection", and the role played by its former head General Mahmoud Ahmad. Yet the role of the ISI and the links between the ISI and the CIA are not mentioned in the 840 page report. While hinting to "Saudi support and involvement in the 9/11 including support by the Saudi government, the report fails to mention the fact that the Pakistani government (its militayr and intelligence) have explicltly supported and financed a number of Islamic terrorist organizations, with the full support of Washington.
In the two weeks prior to 9/11, Sen Bob Graham and Rep Porter Goss, respectively chairmen of the Senate and House Select Committee on intelligence met the head of Pakistan's ISI General Mahmoud Ahmad on at least two occasions. The first meeting was held barely two weeks before 9/11 in Islamabad. The second was held on the morning of September 11, at the time of the attacks.
The two chairman of the Joint Inquiry Sen Bob Graham (Democrat) and Rep Porter Goss (Republican), are in "conflict of interest."
They have close links to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which is known to have played a behind the scenes role in supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (See Council on Foreign Relations)
In late August 2001, barely a couple of weeks before 9/11, Senator Bob Graham, Representative Porter Goss and Senator Jon Kyl were on a top level mission in Islamabad, which was barely mentioned by the US media.
Meetings were held with President Musharraf and with Pakistan's military and intelligence brass including the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) General Mahmoud Ahmad. Amply documented, the ISI is known to support a number of Islamic terrorist organizations.
Confirmed by the FBI, Indian Intelligence sources and several press reports, the ISI was providing financial support to the 9/11 terrorists. General Mahmoud Ahmad had allegedly ordered money transfers to the presumed 9/11 ring-leader Mohamed Atta.
On the morning of September 11, the three lawmakers Bob Graham, Porter Goss and Jon Kyl (who were part of the Congressional delegation to Pakistan) were having breakfast on Capitol Hill with General Ahmad, the alleged "money-man" (to use the FBI expression) behind the 9-11 hijackers. Also present at this meeting were Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. Maleeha Lodhi and several members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees. This meeting was described by one press report as a "follow-up meeting" to that held in Pakistan in late August.
When the twin towers were attacked, General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, was, in Senator Graham's own words, "very empathetic, sympathetic to the people of the United States," (Stuart News Company Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL), September 12, 2001).
Bob Graham's description of the General, contrasts with that of the Washington Post:
"On the morning of Sept. 11, Goss and Graham were having breakfast with a Pakistani general named Mahmud Ahmed — the soon-to-be-sacked head of Pakistan’s intelligence service. Ahmed ran a spy agency notoriously close to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban." (Washington Post, 18 May 2002).
For further details see: Michel Chossudovsky, Mysterious September 11 Breakfast Meeting on Capitol Hill, Global Outlook, No. 3, Winter 2003, Centre for Research on Globalization, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO308B.html
The Joint Inquiry has centered its attention on FBI lapses and intelligence failures, while failing to acknowledge the support provided by successive US administrations to terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. This support was channeled by the CIA using Pakistan's ISI as a go-between. Nowhere in the report is the role of the ISI mentioned. The Iran Contra scandal which uncovered the US government's role in support of terrorist organizations including the Islamic brigades is not mentioned. More generally, the Report focusses on the role of the agencies. Nowhere does it examine the responsibility of members of the Bush administration's inner cabinet.
Al Qaeda is presented as an outside enemy, when in fact Al Qaeda is an "intelligence asset", created by the CIA. The report presents these intelligence failures as a technical issue, which can be resolved by allocating more resources to the intelligence community.
The Report points to a lack of coordination and information sharing between the CIA on the one hand and the the FBI and the INS on the other.
"Perhaps the most fundamental problem illustrated by the findings of the Joint Inquiry Staff (JIS) in connection with the intelligence failures leading up to September 11 relates to the problem of persuading U.S. Intelligence Community agencies to share information efficiently and effectively." (p. 523)
While the report points to the issue of sponsorship of terrorism by foreign governments, the covert support channeled by the CIA to the Islamic brigades, since the Soviet-Afghan is simply not mentioned. While they acknowledge the issue of terrorist training in Afghanistan, they fail to mention that the training camps were set up by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war.
The report centers on "individuals" belonging to individual cells, it does not examine the intelligence framework behind the terrorist attacks and the institutional support provided to the terrorists, by Pakistan's ISI and the CIA. The report conveys the impression that the lack of funds prevented the CIa from waging the war on terrorism. "
By the late 1990s, Intelligence Community coverage of many issues was exceptionally slim, and staffing was skeletal." (p 279)
A portion of the report: 28 mysterious pages remain classified.
These pages, according to Senator Graham, in a statement to the Senate (July 24) point to the role of foreign governments in 9/11.
"That information, Graham complained, "is contained in the censured portions of this report, which are being denied to the American people."
Senator Graham in remarks to the Senate on July 24 deplored the fact that parts of the report remain classified. "leaving Americans without knowledge of "the specific sources of that foreign support."
Said the Florida Democrat, "This obsession with excessive secrecy is deeply troubling."
The 28 pages constitute an obvious red-herring, which is intended to trigger media attention on the role of the Saudis, while at the same time distracting public attention from the role of US government, which has supported the Islamic terrorist network since the early 1980s. .
As expected, the media response to the classified 28 pages was almost immediate: in the words of the BBC:
"Leaks to the US media have left little doubt that the missing pages relate to allegations about Saudi support and involvement in the 11 September plot." (03 August 2003)
The resulting controversy creates the impression that the Saudis are behind the terrorists, that 9/11 was sponsored by a foreign government. According to a U.S. official who according to the NYT (08/02/03) "has read the classified section", there are "very direct, very specific links" between Saudi officials and two of the San Diego-based hijackers. The classified pages however states that while "not only Saudi entities or nationals [were] implicated in 9/11, but the [Saudi] government" was also involved, while also acknowledging that. "congressional investigators found no specific evidence proving that top Saudi officials — notably members of the royal family — conspired in any purposeful way to fund the Sept. 11 plot or other acts of terrorism."
And they concede that senior leaders of the CIA, FBI, Treasury Department and other agencies involved in the U.S. counter-terrorism effort have begun to raise strenuous behind-the-scenes objections to some of the assertions made in the classified section of the report.
Some U.S. officials disagree sharply over whether key members of the Saudi royal family knowingly took action to support terrorist activity or simply showed a pattern of what one official called "willful ignorance." (ibid)
The hidden agenda is to weaken the Saudi ruling elites and eventually enforce regime change in Saudi Arabia, using 9/11 as a pretext. The 28 classified pages constitute a "trigger mechanism".
The issue is not whether the Saudis have or have not supported Al Qaeda. The issue is that the Saudis have always acted as proxies, on behalf of the CIA and US foreign policy interests. They were never prime movers. They were instruments of US foreign policy.
Various Saudi organizations have integrated US sponsored intelligence operations since the Soviet-Afghan war. Approved by Washington, Saudi charities were used as "intelligence assets" to finance the Islamic brigades in Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans.
The Wahhabi sects from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states were used by Washington to set up the madrassas in Afghanistan, which served as a base for the training and recruitment of the Mujahideen. The creation of the religious schools from which Al Qaeda and the Taliban emerged, was an initiative of the CIA. In this endeavour, Washington had enlisted the support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) funded out of Saudi Arabia, which is part of the Al Qaeda network (according to US Congressional sources). collaborated directly with officials of the US military during the civil war in Bosnia:
The Clinton Administration's "hands-on" involvement with the Islamic network's arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials... the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization ... has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. ... TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. (Republican Party Committee of the US Congress, Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base Congressional Press Release, US Congress, 16 January 1997, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/DCH109A.html )
Similarly, in Chechnya and Dagestan, Wahhabi groups, generously financed and equipped out of Saudi Arabia, played a key role in the demise of secular institutions. These sects were largely operating in a political. They were being used as part of a covert intelligence operation. The groups involved had little to do with the substance and teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab's, the spiritual founder of the Wahhabi movement.
These well funded Wahhabi groups were not only attempting to over-run civilian State institutions in Dagestan and Chechnya, they were also seeking to displace the traditional Sufi Muslim leaders. The hidden agenda was to to ultimately weaken the Russian federation in the strategic corridor of Russia's oil pipelines through Chechnya and Dagestan.
In fact the resistance to the US-Saudi supported Islamic rebels in Dagestan was based on the alliance of the (secular) local governments with the Sufi sheiks:
"These [Wahhabi] groups consist of a very tiny but well-financed and well-armed minority. They propose with these attacks the creation of terror in the hearts of the masses... By creating anarchy and lawlessness, these groups can enforce their own harsh, intolerant brand of Islam... Such groups do not represent the common view of Islam, held by the vast majority of Muslims and Islamic scholars, for whom Islam exemplifies the paragon of civilization and perfected morality. They represent what is nothing less than a movement to anarchy, under an Islamic label... Their intention is not so much to create an Islamic state, but to create a state of confusion in which they are able to thrive (Mateen Siddiqui, Differentiating Islam from Militant "Islamists", The Muslim Magazine,)
In 2000, Moscow accused the US of supporting the Wahhabi rebels following talks in Washington between the US State Department and Ilyas Akhmadov, the self-styled foreign minister of the separatist government of Chechnya. In other words, while Washington was supporting Chechnya's Islamist separatist forces, the latter were also being supported by Al Qaeda, with funding provided out of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi financiers identified in the one trillion dollar law suit were business partners of the Bush family. They were part of the CIA's ploy to channel support to the Islamic brigades from the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war. Needless to say, the major Saudi financial figures including Khalid bin Mahfouz and M. Al Amoudi, have links not only to members of the Bush family, they are also partners of several US-UK oil companies. The Texas Bath family, which generously financed G. W. Bush's election campaigns (to Governor of Texas and subseuqnetly President) was a close business partner of the bin Ladens.
According to Wayne Madsen, in a carefully documented study:
"[James Bath had] extensive ties, both to the bin Laden family and major players in the scandal-ridden Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) who have gone on to fund Osama bin Laden. BCCI defrauded depositors of $ 10 billion in the '80s in what has been called the "largest bank fraud in world financial history" by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During the '80s, BCCI also acted as a main conduit for laundering money intended for clandestine CIA activities, ranging from financial support to the Afghan mujahedin to paying intermediaries in the Iran-Contra affair.
When Salem bin Laden died in 1988, powerful Saudi Arabian banker and BCCI principal Khalid bin Mahfouz inherited his interests in Houston. Bath ran a business for bin Mahfouz in Houston and joined a partnership with bin Mahfouz and Gaith Pharaon, BCCI's frontman in Houston's Main Bank.
The Arbusto deal [ in which Georoge W was personally involved] wasn't the last time Bush looked to highly questionable sources to invest in his oil dealings. After several incarnations, Arbusto emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation. When Harken ran into trouble a year later, Saudi Sheik Abdullah Taha Bakhsh purchased a 17.6 percent stake in the company. Bakhsh was a business partner with Pharaon in Saudi Arabia; his banker there just happened to be bin Mahfouz.
Though Bush told the Wall Street Journal he had "no idea" BCCI was involved in Harken's financial dealings, the network of connections between Bush and BCCI is so extensive that the Journal concluded their investigation of the matter in 1991 by stating: "The number of BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken -- all since George W. Bush came on board -- raises the question of whether they mask an effort to cozy up to a presidential son." Or even the president: Bath finally came under investigation by the FBI in 1992 for his Saudi business relationships, accused of funneling Saudi money through Houston in order to influence the foreign policies of the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
Khalid bin Mahfouz, who according to the CIA [unconfirmed] is Osama's brother in law, was a business partner of former governor Thomas Kean, who heads the 9/11 Commission.
What the Joint Inquiry fails to mention
While the Joint Inquiry points to Saudi involvement and foreign sponsorship, the issue of US state sponsorship of terrorist organizations is not mentioned.
From Iran-Contra to September 11
Both Colin Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, who casually accuse Baghdad and other foreign governments of "harboring" Al Qaeda, played a direct role, at different points in their careers, in supporting terrorist organizations.
Both men were implicated --operating behind the scenes-- in the Irangate Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration, which involved the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contra paramilitary army.
[Coronel Oliver] North set up a team including [Richard] Secord; Noel Koch [Armitage's deputy] , then assistant secretary at the Pentagon responsible for special operations; George Cave, a former CIA station chief in Tehran, and Colin Powell, military assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger...(The Guardian, December 10, 1986)
Although Colin Powell was not directly involved in the arms' transfer negotiations, which had been entrusted to Oliver North, he was among "at least five men within the Pentagon who knew arms were being transferred to the CIA." (The Record, 29 December 1986). Lieutenant General Powell was directly instrumental in giving the "green light" to lower-level Irangate officials in blatant violation of Congressional procedures. According to the New York Times, Colin Powell took the decision (at the level of military procurement), to allow the delivery of weapons to Iran:
Hurriedly, one of the men closest to Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Maj. Gen. Colin Powell, bypassed the written ''focal point system'' procedures and ordered the Defense Logistics Agency [responsible for procurement] to turn over the first of 2,008 TOW missiles to the C.I.A., which acted as cutout for delivery to Iran" (New York Times, 16 February 1987)
Richard Armitage held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration. He was in charge of coordinating covert military operations including the Iran-Contra operation. He was in close liaison with Coronel Oliver North. His deputy and chief anti-terrorist official .Noel Koch was part of the team set up by Oliver North. Following the delivery of the TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran, the proceeds of these sales were deposited in numbered bank accounts and the money was used to finance the Nicaraguan Contras. (UPI. 27 November 1987). A classified Israeli report provided to the Iran- contra panels of the Congressional enquiry confirms that Armitage ''was in the picture on the Iranian issue.'' (New York Times, 26 May 1989):
"With a Pentagon position that placed him over the military's covert operations branch, Armitage was a party to the secret arms dealing from the outset. He also was associated with former national security aide Oliver L. North in a White House counterterrorism group, another area that would also have been a likely focus of congressional inquiry" (Washington Post, 26 May 1989)
CIA Director William Casey with the collaboration of Richard Armitage in the Pentagon "ran the Mujahideen covert war against the Soviet Union…" (quoted in Domestic Terrorism: The Big Lie The "War") "Contragate was also an off-the-shelf drug-financed operation run by Casey." (Ibid ).
The Iran Contra procedure was similar to that used in Afghanistan, where secret aid was channeled to the militant Islamic brigade (US News and World Report, 15 December 1986). In fact part of the proceeds of the weapons sales to Iran had been channeled to finance the Mujahideen. :
(U.S. News & World Report, 15 December 1986)
":The Washington Post reported that profits from the Iran arms sales were deposited in one CIA-managed account into which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had placed $250 million apiece. That money was disbursed not only to the contras in Central America but to the rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan."
Reagan's National Security Adviser Rear Admiral John Pointdexter, who was later indicted on conspiracy charges and lying to Congress was replaced by Frank Carlucci as National Security Adviser. And Maj. General Colin Powell was appointed deputy to Frank Carlucci, namely "'number two" on the National Security team.
"Both came to the White House after the Iran contra revelations and the NSC housecleaning [i.e. coverup] that followed [the Irangate scandal]" (The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 16 June 1987).
Needless to say, this housecleaning was a cover-up: Colin Powell was in on the Irangate affair
While several Irangate officials including John Pointdexter and Oliver North were accused of criminal wrongdoing, the main actors in the CIA and the Pentagon, namely Armitage and Casey, were never indicted, neither was Lieutenant General Colin Powell who authorized the procurement of TOW missiles from the Defense Logistics Agency .
Moreover, while weapons were being sold covertly to Iran, Washington was also supplying weapons through official channels to Baghdad. In other words, Washington was arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. And who was in charge of negotiating those weapons sales to Baghdad? Donald Rumsfeld
These historical links to terrorist organisations are but the tip of the iceberg: Recent evidence suggests that Colin Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage were involved in the political cover-up of the September 11 attacks In fact the evidence points to political complicity at the highest echelons of the Bush Administration.
It is the Bush Administration rather than the Iraqi government which has links to Islamic terrorism. But none of this information has trickled down to the broader public and the media considers the links of successive US administrations to the militant Islamic network as largely irrelevant. (For details and analysis see the extensive bibliographic references indicated below)
There are documented links between Al Qaeda and senior Bush Administration officials including Sec. Colin Powell and Deputy Sec. Richard Armitage. Documented by the US Congress, there are links record between President Clinton and Al Qaeda .
The Chairman of the 9/11 Investigation Commission Thomas Kean appointed by President Bush was a business partner of a powerful member of the bin Laden family.(See Fortune Magazine, January 22, 2003 ; Xymphora, December 2002 See also Global Outlook, No. 4, 2003 ) .
There is evidence of dubious links involving members of the US Congress, including Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, chairmen of the Senate and House committees on Intelligence.. Colin Powell and Richard Armitage had high level talks with the former ISI Chief General Mahmoud Ahmad in the immediate wake of 9/11. Now it just so happens that according to the FBI and Indian intelligence, General Mahmoud, the head of Pakistan's military intelligence and the alleged "money-man" behind the 9/11 attacks, had transferred funds to 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta. There is also extensive evidence of business links between the Bush and bin Laden families (See George W. Bush Financial Scams: CRG selection of articles ).
Tabulated below are a number of documented "links" of senior US officials and elected politicians to the Islamic terrorist network. The sources of the information and the URL (where available) are indicated in the right hand column.
"Links" of US Officials to Al Qaeda and other Terrorist Organizations (partial list)
Table 1, Historical Background:
|Official||Circumstances||Document or Source|
Signed first directive for covert support to the Islamic militant network in Afghanistan in July 1979
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Carter
As National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, Brzezinski was the architect of covert support to the Islamic militant network in the Soviet Afghan war.
Washington Post, July 19, 1992
George H. W. Bush
Continued the covert support to the Islamic militant network initiated under Carter and the Reagan presidencies.
Provided support to Iran Contra officials during his term as Vie Presdient
Business ties to the bin Laden family through the Carlyle Group.
The New York Times, February 12, 1989Salon.com, 19 November 2001
Ordered collaboration of the US military with Al Qaeda operatives during the Civil war in Bosnia. Supported the KLA, which was also being supported by Al Qaeda.
Anthony Lake, National Security Adviser to President Clinton
Ordered covert support to the Islamic terrorist organizations fighting in Bosnia (1993-95)
Table 2: Bush Administration Officials: Links to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 Terrorists (partial list)
Name of Official
Nature of Link
Source of Information
George W. Bush
Business links in the 1980s when he was in the Texas oil business to the Bin Laden family including Salem bin Laden (Osama’s brother) and Khalid bin Mahfouz (Osama’s brother in law). identified in the 9/11 victims families’ lawsuit as the financier of 9/11.
|Bush Watch 2001 , In these Times, 12 November 2001|
Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Negotiated the terms of Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terrorism with the alleged "moneyman" behind 9/11, General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan Military Intelligence (ISI). The General was according to several reports, including the FBI is alleged to have transferred $100.000 to the ringleader of 9/11 Mohammed Atta.
Colin Powell was also involved behind the scenes in the Iran Contra affair. Maj. General Powell authorized the illegal transfer of weapons to Iran.
Miami Herald, 16 September 2001,
ABC News 30 September 2001,
AFP, 10 October, 2001,
Times of India, 9 October 2001
Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
Involved in the covert plan to support the militant Islamic base from its inception during the Reagan Administration. Also involved in the Iran Contra scandal which consisted in the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contras.
Miami Herald, 16 September 2001,
Washington Post, ABC News 30 September 2001, AFP, 10 October, 2001, Times of India, 9 October 2001,
Washington Post, ABC News 30 September 2001, AFP, 10 October, 2001, Times of India, 9 October 2001,
Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State
George Tenet, CIA Director
Sen. Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, Chairmen of the Select Committees on Intelligence of the Senate and House
Meetings with ISI Chief Mahmoud Ahmad, the moneyman behind the terrorists in Pakistan in late August 2001, Meeting with the ISI Chief on the morning of September 11.
Miami Herald, 16 September 2001, 16 Washington Post, 18 May 2002
John Pointdexter, Heads the Total Information Awareness Program (TIA)
Involved in conspiracy in the Irangate Contra scandal. Indicted of "conspiring to defraud the government by diverting funds from secret US arms sales to Iran" .
Numerous press reports. See UPI, 13 December 1988 New York Times 10 December 1988
John Negroponte, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations
John Negroponte, the US official involved in current negotiations in UN Security Council, was involved in supporting paramilitary death squadrons while he was US ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s.
The Contra were operating out of Honduras with military aid provided from the sale of weapons to Iran. "As the American Ambassador in Honduras from November 1981 to June 1985, Mr. Negroponte was instrumental in the military buildup of the Nicaraguan rebels [Contra]".
New York Times 13 December 1988, San Francisco Examiner
Thomas Kean,Chairman of the 9/11 Commission
Business partner of Khalid bin Mahfouz and Mohammed Al Ahmoudi in the Hess-Delta joint venture. Bin Mahfouz is according to the CIA, the brother in law of Osama bin Laden
July 24, 2003
Source: Federal News Service, Inc. Federal News Service
SENATOR ROBERT GRAHAM (D-FL): SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL); REPRESENTATIVE PORTER J. GOSS (R-FL); REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA)
SEN. GRAHAM: Good afternoon. Today we are releasing the report of the Joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry into the tragic events of September the 11th, 2001. This report fulfills the commitment that we made to the families of those who perished on that tragic day and to all Americans. The commitment was to conduct a thorough search for the truth about what our intelligence agencies knew or should have known about al Qaeda and its intentions prior to September the 11th. Our commitment continued to identify what lessons should have been learned from that thorough search, and finally, to recommend administrative and congressional reforms to reduce the chances of such a tragedy occurring in the future.
I need not remind you that this was an historic effort. For the first time in the history of the United States Congress, two standing committees joined to conduct a special inquiry. The joint effort had its own investigative staff, led by the extremely capable Ms. Eleanor Hill. The staff reviewed nearly one million documents, conducted approximately 500 interviews. We held 22 hearings last year, nine of them open to the public. The result is this document of nearly 900 pages, which includes both findings of fact and recommendations for reform.
I am immensely proud of the commitment and the hard work that the members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees gave to this review, especially our co-chairmen, Representative Porter Goss --
REP. GOSS: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thanks.
Our vice chairman, Senator Richard Shelby, and our then vice chairman -- chairwoman, and now the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
REP. PELOSI: Thank you.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thanks to you.
The report's findings are grouped into 24 subject areas. They all have a theme, a single bottom line: the attacks of September the 11th could have been prevented if the right combination of skill, cooperation, creativity and some good luck had been brought to task.
For example, there is an abundance of important information in this report that suggest institutional resistance to making the counterterrorism efforts necessary to have it be a high priority for the nation prior to September 11th. That resistance ranged from a lack of information sharing among key agencies, to proposed budget cuts at the Department of Justice for FBI's counterterrorism programs. Simply put, those problems contributed to the government's inability to mount a successful initiative against al Qaeda prior to September 11th.
Another example. A previously classified finding, Finding Number 14, states that senior military officials were reluctant to use military assets to conduct offensive counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan or to support or participate in CIA operations directed against al Qaeda prior to September the 11th. At least in part, this reluctance was driven by the military's view that the intelligence community was unable to provide the actionable intelligence to support military operations. The report confirms that between 1999 and 2001, U.S. naval ships and submarines, armed with cruise missiles, were positioned in the North Arabian Sea to attack Osama bin Laden, but we did not get spies close enough to him to tell us where he would be on any given day.
If people want to place blame, there's plenty of blame to go around. And we have a recommendation, number 16, that calls on the director of Central Intelligence to implement new accountability standards throughout the intelligence community. These standards would identify poor performance and affix responsibility. It would also recognize and reward excellence.
The report makes clear that we should have known that potential terrorists were living among us. Indeed, two of them had numerous substantial contacts with an FBI informant in San Diego, California, for six months or more in the year 2000. And a resourceful FBI agent in Phoenix, Arizona, wanted to follow up on suspicions about foreign- born students who were honing their schools at American flight schools, but officials at the FBI headquarters shut them down.
With this report, it is time to look ahead, to focus on our 19 recommendations, and to continue the implementation of the necessary and important reforms of the intelligence community, and to enhance the federal government's partnership with state and local law enforcement and other first responders. If the recommendations in this report are heeded by the White House, the agencies and the Congress, we should be able to make significant strides in improving our homeland security.
In my view, it is regrettable that it has taken more than seven months for the intelligence agencies to declassify the portions of the report that we are releasing today. I remain deeply disturbed by the amount of material that has been censored from this report. Our concerns about excessive secrecy, both during the joint inquiry and in the seven months since, is reflected in recommendation number 15. This recommendation calls upon the president, executive agencies and the Congress to review the current classification system and to make it more realistic, especially given the need of state and local first responders for real-time intelligence information.
The seven-month review that our report has undergone has delayed our ability to begin implementing many of these reforms. It has cost us considerable momentum for legislative reform. I am committed to seeing that this report is not forgotten, overlooked and filed on the shelf. With other members of the joint committee, I intend to file legislation to implement those recommendations that require action by Congress.
We must act to honor the victims of September 11.
I now recognize my friend and colleague, Congressman Porter Goss.
REP. GOSS: Thank you all for being here. This is indeed an important day. We've done an awful lot of work and spent a lot of time.
And in some ways, the irony of that strikes me. I was thinking on the way over here, as much as we've done and with as great a staff as we have had, led by Eleanor Hill, a staff that was originally pretty well made up by people picked by Britt Snyder from the community, and he did an excellent job of getting the staff up and running, and then Rick Cinquegrana made it work for a while till Eleanor came in, we've been very fortunate.
We've gone through all those documents and all those places and talked to all those people. And you couldn't have four better members of the United States Congress to work with, or three other colleagues to work with, as far as I'm concerned. We've had a great go at this. And it is historic that we've done it in a bicameral and bipartisan way.
The irony is this: I can tell you right now that I don't know exactly how the plot was hatched on 9/11. I don't know the where, the when, and the why and the who in every instance. I know a lot more than I did. But we still can't fill in a lot of the blanks. That's after two years of trying. And we will some day have the documents to exploit, we will have the people to interrogate, we will have ways to get more information to put the rest of the pieces of this puzzle on the table. But right now, we don't have it. Obviously, both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee are heavily engaged in these matters.
The fact is, we are fully engaged in a war on terror. And the war on terror has many, many faces and many places it seems to be. And one of those places happens to be the continental United States, which is a big shock to all of us, I know. I think that when you take a look at this document -- which as Bob properly held up, is a big, heavy document -- there's a lot of good material in here. There's some that isn't. You have to remember we are at war and there are some actionable items still being pursued by the appropriate authorities. And you also have to understand that there are people watching this press conference who are going to read this book, who are going to analyze what information we've put out and what we haven't put out. And the last thing we want to do in any way is create an opportunity for a terrorist to take advantage of us because of something we put in, in our good intentions to have our public know what exactly happened, but nevertheless, aiding and abetting a plan that would allow somebody to end-run our capabilities and do damage to Americans at home or abroad.
So, that's been a difficult task for us to handle and for the administration to handle. I think we've got the balance about right right now. You open the report, you will find there's a couple of blank pages. Those pages will not be blank forever. As soon as the actions that are necessary to deal with those issues are completed, those pages will be filled out. The record is not lost; it's in a classified section of our respective committees. It's a question of when is the proper time to release that information? So, I think we're going to get there.
This is an excellent snapshot. It's not a full anatomy. It doesn't tell you everything you want to know. But it tells you a lot and it tells us some places we have to go and it tells us some things we have to do differently.
Now, the good news is we did not wait until today to start taking those steps, nor did the United States government or the executive branch. The legislative hearings have already started on what I call sufficiency. Why didn't we have all the information we needed to have; where were the problems; what do we need to do different; how do we have to tailor our capabilities to fit the threat as it truly exists? All of those issues are ongoing.
They are in hand.
The agencies that are involved in this, our front-line agencies, have changed a great many things -- still have more to do, to be sure, and will require a lot of close oversight.
I think that challenge is understood. I think the United States Congress is up to that.
SEN. SHELBY: I think all of you, if you haven't, you will go through this report more than once, more than twice. And I recommend all of you do it.
There's a lot of stuff in here, but there's a lot of information that's not in here that should be, in my judgment. But we did the best we could. We tried to declassify more of it, bring it home to you, because you would take it to the American people and to the world, because we'll learn from this, I hope.
The joint committee task is finished, but the work to implement some of the recommendations, I hope, has only begun, because they're monumental feats to accomplish. The question is, will these recommendations be followed through? I hope so. But if it's like things in the past, not much will happen. But I believe now, since September 11th has been such a wake-up call in America, and for the right reason, that the American people are going to demand changes.
To sum up, my judgment, my personal judgment, is this, from what's in the report and what's not in the report that a lot of us have been privy to:
I believe, if all of the information had been put together before September the 11th in some type of central area, a fusion center, where it was analyzed and disseminated, coming from various parts of the world -- first the alert, a lot of signal traffic, and then the -- for example, the Phoenix memo, the San Diego reference that Senator Graham made, the Moussaoui case in Minnesota, the alert FBI agent -- and you put that together, and if it were fused and acted upon, maybe things would change -- would have changed. We don't know that. This is hindsight. But we learn from the past. And if we don't learn, it'll certainly be repeated. I hope this will be a learning lesson for all of our agencies.
But I think the basic tenet that we learned is the lack of coordination and sharing of information, different cultures, in the community of intelligence.
We've done our job, and now we've got to do more legislatively, and the people who run the intelligence community have got to do theirs.
REP. PELSOI: It was a privilege to join Chairman Goss, at the time Chairman Graham and now Chairman Shelby, and the members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees for the critical effort to improve our intelligence capabilities in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. I was pleased to work on the joint inquiry with people of such patriotism and such commitment.
I want to join my colleagues in thanking and recognizing the excellent work of Eleanor Hill, our staff director. She and Rick Cinquegrana gave tirelessly of themselves not only on the investigation, but on the declassification process that turned out to be a significant challenge in its own right. I, too, want to join Mr. Goss in thanking Britt Snider for the work he did in assembling the excellent staff.
Always on our minds during the inquiry was our responsibility to the families of those who lost -- who perished at 9/11. We are privileged to have some of the families here with us today. We have said over and over again during the inquiry that anything touching on the events of September 11th is hallowed ground, to be treated with the utmost respect.
This inquiry is not about assigning blame for 9/11; it is about better protecting the American people in the future. The inquiry was conducted with that uppermost in our minds. The report discharges our responsibilities as fully as we were able to do.
Our work started with the recognition of a sobering fact: al Qaeda was better at planning the attacks and keeping their plans secret than the United States government was in uncovering them.
The findings were released last December and they detailed deficiencies in the performance of our intelligence agencies: They failed to share information; they failed to ensure that techniques for collection and analysis were of the highest standard; and they failed to focus appropriately on the possibility that foreign-based terrorists would attack the United States.
The joint inquiry made recommendations last December that were intended to address these fundamental problems, and I trust that the intelligence committees are monitoring the implementation of those recommendations.
The unclassified report we are releasing today provides a better understanding of the basis for those judgments.
As good as the joint inquiry and the report are, they are not as complete as they could be. We repeatedly encountered obstacles in getting necessary information from the administration.
For example -- and I think this is very important -- we were never able to get much of the material we requested from the National Security Council, specifically the records of the Counterterrorism Working Group and written exchanges between the National Security Council and the intelligence community on counterterrorism proposals.
The nation was not well served by the administration's failure to provide this critical information to the committees. If the independent 9/11 Commission is not given access to these materials, its work will also be incomplete. Lack of access to the National Security Council information is not in our nation's interest.
In addition, the administration's failure to cooperate fully with a joint inquiry showed an unwillingness to exhaust every effort to discover information that might assist in better protecting the American people. Even the joint inquiry's success in uncovering information in the files of the FBI dealing with the activities of the hijackers in the United States that had been previously known by senior bureau officials did not encourage the administration to be more responsive to requests for access to records and other documents.
Equally disappointing was the process of declassifying the report. The joint inquiry took nine months to do its work. It took nearly that long, or over six months, to negotiate an unclassified version of the report with the administration. This was about six months too long. Much more of the report could have been declassified without any impact on national security. This is especially true with respect to references to sources of foreign support for hijackers.
And while I may have a difference in degree with Mr. Goss, I want to say without his leadership, we would not have had the declassification that we have. Thank you, Chairman Goss.
Time and time again, this administration keeps information classified rather than making it public. Classification certainly must protect sources and methods, but it should not be used to protect reputations. This is at odds with the enormity of the tragedy we suffered on September 11th and the necessity of doing everything we can to make it less likely that we would experience events like those again.
I am proud of the work of the joint inquiry. Better cooperation from the administration, however, would have enabled us to do a more thorough job for the American people.
Thank you. (Applause.)
(Off mike consultations.)
SEN. GRAHAM: Senator Shelby and I have been notified that there is a vote underway in the Senate. We are going to leave to make that vote, and return as quickly as possible. And I'll turn the podium over to Congressman Goss and Congresswoman Pelosi. We'll be right back.
REP. GOSS: Ms. Pelosi and I apparently also have eight votes on now, too. It's a busy day on the Hill.
I'd be very happy to take any questions you might have for either of us or anything about the report. I understand you had a walk- through from Eleanor Hill -- 11 pages of document. If you haven't looked at that, you should. It'll help you with --
Q Mr. Goss, do you agree that more of the report should have been released -- (off mike)?
REP. GOSS: I think that the decisions that were made were all rational decisions.
And I am satisfied that each decision to hold a fact back at this time was based on a reasonable presentation by the administration.
Q And will they be released sometime in the future?
REP. GOSS: I do think they will be released. I think that there is a timeliness about certain events that are going on. Certainly ongoing investigations would fall in that area. And I don't think that there is -- there is abuse of the classification process in this final report.
The question of the need to overhaul the declassification process is undeniable. I mean, Ms. Pelosi is exactly right. We found just layer after layer after layer of obstacle. There was not people trying to throw things in our way; it's the culture of not releasing information in the community. And you've got people at the working level whose instructions are "This is not to be released." Then you take it to the decision level and say "We think that the arguments are that this should be released." And we won a good number of those because of the very diligent persuasive powers of Ms. Hill, who basically was able to point out there were other ways to say things to protect sources and methods, protect investigations, and protect foreign relationships, which are the problems.
But we way over-classify in the government. We have for years. And that is one of the areas we clearly have to pay attention. And, in fact, we've already made some statements about following up on Senator Moynihan's good work to deal with the question of classification and declassification.
Q Mr. Chairman -- (off mike) -- talk to the cameras.
REP. GOSS: Okay. I'll talk to the cameras.
Q Would you --
REP. GOSS: This gentleman has the question.
REP. GOSS: I -- I'm going to do my best to be polite to you and polite to them and get my face in the right place and my answer in the right place! (Laughter).
Q How would you both like to see the 9/11 commission pick up where you left off?
REP. GOSS: Oh, absolutely. That's --
Q How would you --
REP. GOSS: Well, there are a lot of areas that we did not go. There are a whole lot of areas. We didn't get into non-intelligence areas. There are whole kinds of regulatory agencies that are now in DHS and in other organizations where they definitely need to go. And in addition, as I said, our work is a snapshot up to the time we finished our investigation. There have been more things happening since then; there will be more things happening in the future. I think we are going to be hand-holding the developments for a long time on this. This is a huge piece of our history. It is critical that we get it as right as we can. And I'd be willing to bet that we're going to be doing this for a couple of decades.
REP. PELOSI: I'd like to speak to the independent commission issue, because I was one of the people who initiated such a commission, even as this joint inquiry was getting started.
It is absolutely essential for us to have an independent 9/11 commission where innovative thinking was brought to bear where it was not within the institution, which was an important inquiry, that -- ours was significant and important and historic; this is now even more important because it will spring from the work of this commission.
And I hope that in the classified version, that the members of the commission will fully avail themselves of this information.
And I call upon the administration to cooperate fully with the 9/11 commission. One of the reasons I used fairly stern words about the National Security Council today is because I had not seen that cooperation coming forth. And I think that's very, very important. It's important for us to know what the communication is within our own government and what information was there; again, not to assign blame, but to figure out if we should revamp how we communicate with each other in order to protect the American people. And a lot of hopes are pinned on this 9/11 commission. It would never have come to be without the insistence of the families. They were the most effective and eloquent advocates for it. Their hopes are pinned on it as well, and the fact is it was still a struggle with the administration.
So I think that time is running out on the commission because of, you know, getting a late start for one reason or another, but I think the focus now has to be there and, as the distinguished chairman said, with a broader brief than what this commission had.
Q Senator Schumer says that the administration is coddling Saudi Arabia by keeping information on Saudi Arabia out of this report -- (off mike). Is that true?
REP. GOSS: I know that there is some mention in the press on certain countries, and I know that there is some treatment of the question of foreign support. The document will have to speak for itself on that. The classified material that we have is, I think, as complete as it can be on that. And the measure of the judgment of anybody who asks a question like that has to have both the classified and the unclassified to understand the whole story.
I believe this is an area that there will be more information coming in the future, but at the moment, I do not think the whole story is out there.
Now this gentleman over here.
Q (Off mike) -- leaks to the press, what have you. Could you sum up in a nutshell what each of you can tell us contained in this 900 pages today that -- (off mike)?
REP. PELOSI: I think that's a good question for Eleanor Hill because we've both had access to the classified and unclassified versions, and I think that probably is something safer to hear from her, as I know you were briefed by Ms. Hill earlier today.
REP. GOSS: Let me add one more thing in response to the previous question, if I could. I think it's helpful. We are -- the joint inquiry is turning over all its material, classified and unclassified.
The commission will have that material. That's not going to be a problem.
Additionally, I understand -- someone made reference earlier to some national security; I think it was Ms. Pelosi. My understanding -- I've been working with both Mr. Hamilton and Governor Kean, and my understanding is that they have gotten some of that national security information they have sought. I don't know if they have it all. But I think that the narrow parameters that we focused on have been broadened very definitively, and certainly everything we have as a foundation is available, and certainly that will lead to more questions, as will the stuff that is coming through the door today, because every day something new happens in this.
Q Ms. Pelosi, if you could respond to the question about Saudi Arabia. Chairman Goss responded to it; I don't believe you did.
REP. PELOSI: I associate myself with the remarks of Chairman Goss in that regard. We really can't speak to that issue.
But I do want to say one thing that I think -- I thought maybe you might ask about, and that is this. After 9/11, the American people had the impression, and I think that perhaps the intelligence agencies may have given this impression, that these were loners; people acting alone in different parts of our community, not communicating with other people. And then, when they got the signal, they all acted.
What we have learned in our investigation of the joint inquiry, and one of its great values, is that was simply not the case. There are people in this country giving help, comfort and financial support to the hijackers. And what's important for the future -- and Senator Graham has said this over and over again, where are those people? Are they still out there? We have to have the very best intelligence and the best communication among intelligence agencies. We have to have accountability internally in the intelligence agencies, and we have to have accountability up to higher authority in our government from those agencies as well. Because that impression at the start, of these loners and now they're gone, was in fact not the case, and it's still not the case.
Q I'd like to follow up -- (off mike). In recommendation 19, you talked about the possibility of foreign governments providing assistance or involved in terrorist activity. Does that actually mean you've identified more than one country?
REP. GOSS: Let me put it this way. As Ms. Pelosi has just said, we are very concerned about any support for terrorists, whether they're abroad or in the domestic -- continental United States, Alaska or Hawaii. But our problem has been our intelligence capabilities have always been focused overseas on foreign intelligence. Turns out some of the problem has been right here in our homeland, and we have not had the capabilities we need, because Americans don't spy on Americans; it's a free, democratic, open society, thank the Lord. We're going to keep it that way. But we sometimes have to figure out, then, how to take care of people who are abusing our hospitality, taking advantage of us.
Now are those people being sponsored by other organizations that are terrorist organizations? The answer is yes. Senator Graham has been extremely diligent and extremely accurate on that subject. He has pointed out a number of times that there are other organizations and that there are specific activities unaccounted for. And they very well may be in the domestic United States, which is a very urgent threat for us, and one of the reasons why you have to stay in your seat on your airplane when you fly into National and one of the reasons why you have to -- through a magnetometer to come into this building and walk around through all the barricades and so forth. Those kinds of defensive steps are being taken, as well as the offensive steps, to get the information.
I can't tell you whether the next terrorist act in the United States is going to happen -- which I pray we frustrate and disrupt before it happens -- is going to be state-sponsored and run from afar, state-sponsored and run through an embassy, state-sponsored and run by a local front group, state-sponsored and run by a business, or an individual group of operations (sic) who just have an ideological desire to go out and make trouble today. I don't know that. But we have to protect against all of them.
So when you ask me the question, have we taken into account foreign-sponsored terrorism, the answer is yes, we have. Is there more to be done on that? The answer is clearly a great deal more, particularly as foreign-sponsored terrorism can be manifest in our country.
Q To follow up, is that specifically, then, why in recommendation 3, you mention Hezbollah and --
REP. GOSS: I'm sorry. I can't hear you. Is it what?
Q Is that why, specifically, in recommendation 3, you mention Hezbollah and Hamas? Is this linked?
REP. GOSS: I think that would be a fair conclusion for you to draw.
Q Mr. Chairman, the report spent a lot of time focusing on the activities in San Diego, and you came to the conclusion that if that effort had been put together more thoroughly, that was the best chance to have unraveled -- this investigation. (Off mike) -- on that? I mean, who dropped the ball in San Diego when there were so many people that seemed to be involved with al Qaeda connections and were supposedly known to the FBI and yet not were not tracked?
REP. GOSS: Well, let me first say that on September 10th the attitude on these things was a whole lot different than it was on September 12th. That's part of it. There is a cultural question here.
The second issue, I think, is a very important one, is we've already identified and the report is replete with a number of deficiencies in the community -- communications, coordination, stovepiping, all of those things we've talked about. They're all there in great -- greatly enumerated.
The problem that you have in asking me the question or the problem I have in answering your question is, if we put this all together, could we have stopped it? Was this our best chance? The answer is, right now, yeah, that would have been the best chance on what we know now. But I suspect that when we know more, that there will have been other places that we could have done a lot better.
And it may very well be the answer to your question is, "Oh, my gosh, there was a much simpler key to this. We didn't know that until just now." I couldn't rule that out.
Q Senator --
REP. PELOSI: If I may just respond to that as well, because being a Californian, I had special concerns about San Diego, because we proudly are base -- home base to many military installations, bases, ports, et cetera, and I thought that it would be important for there to be special attention paid to force protection of our men and women in uniform who are present in the San Diego area.
And so this dropping of the ball, this -- well, I think it was a mistake, because these were not cryptic things. These were a couple of things that should have been more apparent to the intelligence agency. These were leads that were not adequately pursued. And in one case -- and again, I hesitate, because I'm not sure what we're at liberty to talk about. In one case, the person -- the agent dropped the pursuit of the individual because he was from a country that was not considered an unfriendly country. So that was the end of that. Another case related to that was -- related to it, but not in San Diego, but calling out of San Diego, was a case where the person said he just didn't want to talk. And that was sort of the end of that.
So it wasn't just about not connecting the dots. It was about what was the caliber of investigation and pursuit of some of these people. And in some cases, it was a question of not connecting the dots. I think San Diego looms large as a place where we could use it as a case study on how our intelligence can be gathered, analyzed and disseminated more effectively to protect the American people.
REP. GOSS: I've got to clean up an answer I gave you. I'm advised by staff that an inference could be --
REP. PELOSI: Yeah, on Hamas and Hezbollah.
REP. GOSS: Yeah, on Hamas -- on Hezbollah and Hamas directly linking to 9/11, no, can't go there.
Q Based on the findings of the report -- a question for all the participants -- do you believe that the FBI, with the changes made by Director Mueller, is capable of doing the kind of domestic intelligence-collecting you're saying needs to be done better here? Or do you think a new agency needs to be -- that a new structure needs to be set up?
REP. GOSS: The answer I would give you is the answer that the committee made, which is we are going to take a run with the FBI for a year and see how they do.
Q Mr. Goss, over here --
SEN. SHELBY: Go ahead.
SEN. GRAHAM: Go ahead.
SEN. SHELBY: I spent a couple of hours at the bureau two days ago with the director and a lot of plans that they have in mind, a lot of things they're trying to do in the aftermath of September the 11th. At this point in time, I think we should give Director Mueller an opportunity to change a lot of things that need to be changed at the FBI. I think he's on the right road, but the road is only beginning, and we don't know where the journey will lead.
Q (Off mike) --
SEN. GRAHAM: Could I just add a few thoughts to that? I agree that we're in the midst of a process.
Step one was to give the FBI, as it is currently configured, those tools and procedures and personnel necessary for them to carry out intelligence in the domestic scene at a level of professionalism that Americans deserve.
We will be evaluating how well that reformed FBI functions with the question in mind -- Are the problems that this report identifies about the FBI the result of specific acts of inadequacy or are they more basic to the culture of the FBI and its ability to carry out domestic intelligence?
We also, as part of this step, call upon the administration and the Congress to answer this basic question: What do we want in terms of domestic intelligence? Are we prepared to go substantially beyond the current responsibilities of the FBI, or do we think those are too expansive?
While we do these two things concurrently -- challenge the FBI to function at a higher level with its current mission, at the same time we answer the question, is the current mission what we want the future mission to be -- then we'll be in a position to answer the final question: Should we retain the FBI or look or some other alternative either among an existing agency or among a newly created agency?
SEN. SHELBY: I've got to add just a little to Senator Graham's answer there. We're asking the FBI, we're calling on them to change their mission, in a sense, a mission from where they were federal police, which in a sense they still are a hybrid situation down the street, to a domestic intelligence agency with the power of arrest, too, as you well know. We've got to see how it works. It's going to be telling and soon.
Q (Off mike.)
SEN. SHELBY: Well, I think you'll see throughout this report, and probably other things to come, that there were more than one or two instances that should have sent -- brought the bells ringing in our intelligence community -- the FBI, the CIA, the whole community -- but didn't. Maybe this was one of them that you reference.
SEN. GRAHAM: Our jurisdiction was the role of the intelligence community in the events leading up to September the 11th and thereafter. The national commission has a broader jurisdiction. They will start with this report as the beginnings of their review of the intelligence agencies; they will begin at ground zero in their review of the nonintelligence agencies, such as the FAA.
My own response to your question would be that if there was evidence that airplanes, which had previously been the subject of hijackings, but in the vast majority of the instances, were being hijacked for economic or political purposes, were now going to be used themselves as weapons of mass destruction. That information should have been communicated to the FAA. The FAA should have made judgments as to whether the standards by which airline crews were trained what to do in the event of a hijacking readjusted to reflect this new reality. But those --
Q (Off mike.)
SEN. GRAHAM: Those will all be questions to be asked by and for the national commission.
Q Senator -- (off mike) -- but rather of a September 11th victim at the World Trade Center. And one of the more offensive things that has occurred since 9/11 is the exploitation of this tragedy as an excuse, if you will, to invade other countries; to invade Iraq, to plan (on a ?) future invasion. And the reason that that happens, I believe, is because there is this vacuum where there isn't information. And when I look at all of these things that are crossed out or not involved in this, that sort of gives me pause and makes me think that there is still a vacuum where anything can be suggested about anyone. So my question is, do you think that this document will be enough to put an end to all of these unsupported allegations or suspicions about other countries that were responsible for 9/11, or is there still work to be done on this?
SEN. SHELBY: Well, I don't think this will put an end to a lot of things, because information, intelligence-gathering is ongoing. It's evolving as we stand here or sit here today. That's the nature of the (thing ?).
But I don't believe the -- just by itself, the events of September 11th caused us to invade Iraq. I personally think that's sound public policy, foreign policy, by the Bush administration. And I regret what happened deeply. I know a lot of the survivors, you know, of the -- and have worked with them and want to continue to work with them on the events of September the 11th; want to make sure that that doesn't happen again in the United States or perhaps anywhere.
Q Senator -- (off mike) -- come out before -- (off mike) -- can you say -- (off mike)?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think an item that I referred to in my opening comments, that we had for the better part of three years a standing capability in the vicinity of Afghanistan to take down Osama bin Laden, if we had ever had actionable intelligence that identified where he was or would be with sufficient lead time to be able to launch against him.
I was unaware of that fact until it was disclosed in the course of our hearing.
Q Senator, why weren't we ever able to get intelligence from the -- that's actionable from the CIA --
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, fundamentally, going back to the cold war, we substantially reduced our human intelligence. Part of the reason for that was that the Soviet Union was a very difficult place to penetrate, and when it was penetrated we lost a lot of people, a euphemism for meaning that they were executed. The -- and we substituted sophisticated technology, particularly satellite imagery and various forms of signal intelligence. Those worked reasonably well against a big target like the Soviet Union. They do not work very well against small, mobile targets like al Qaeda. So one of our recommendations -- and I might say that Senator Shelby was a particular advocate of this -- has been to build up our human intelligence so we can more equipped to get spies inside these organizations, precisely so we can better know their capabilities and intentions in time to do something about it.
Q Condoleezza Rice made a statement after the event that it was entirely outside the box to have expected a plane to be used as a weapon. And I'm wondering if within your investigation, you found indications that the -- that al Qaeda itself had used planes as weapons in the past? Did the intelligence agencies make preparations to protect the president at different points from this, and that -- and that there were exercises at the Pentagon, for instance. Did you unearth anything in terms of being able to anticipate that?
SEN. SHELBY: Well, I think -- I think most of us know that it was not totally outside the box. I guess it depends on how you're looking at it at the moment. It was unusual. But some of us have learned, and you have, too, that airplanes were discussed as weapons back in the '90s sometime, and so forth. So it shouldn't have been a shock to anybody that the people would take airplanes and make them weapons of mass destruction, or at least local destruction.
Q Do you know if any preparations were made in relation to it, intelligence or defense capabilities --
SEN. SHELBY: I -- I'll leave that. (Laughs.)
Q Could you talk a little bit about --
SEN. GRAHAM: Excuse me, I've got to be parochial and recognize Bill Adair (sp). Yeah.
Q Could -- Senator Shelby and Senator Graham, could you talk about whether you think the administration's unwillingness to declassify materials was an effort to protect the reputations of people in the administration?
SEN. GRAHAM: I think it had several motivations. One was to protect the country or countries cited in that section of the report that were providing direct assistance to some of the hijackers; second, internally to protect the reputation of agencies and individuals; and third, to preclude the American people from being able to ask a series of questions which started from the premise, "Here's what we know happened before September the 11th; what have we done since September the 11th with that information in order to reduce the chances of a repetition of September the 11th?"
SEN. SHELBY: If I can follow up on your question -- I have had the benefit of esteemed counsel here -- the answer is no.
Q What's next for Congress; for example, cutting aid off to certain governments, notably Saudi Arabia and other governments that (may seem to ?) sponsor terrorism?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I cannot --
Q (Off mike) -- relationship between America and those countries?
SEN. GRAHAM: I can't answer your hypothetical question. I am not in a position to take a detour to the federal penitentiary. I don't believe Senator Shelby is interested in doing that either.
SEN. SHELBY: We better get to the next question.
SEN. GRAHAM: But the next step is going to be to convert these recommendations which call for congressional action into legislation, to introduce it, advocate its adoption.
Senator Shelby has a committee hearing to chair at 3:00, so this will have to be the last question.
SEN. SHELBY: How about here?
Q There are going to be (demands ?) on the Hill for -- (off mike) -- appropriations season. You recommended that you have -- (off mike) -- on the ground. How much -- (off mike) -- and how much would it cost?
SEN. SHELBY: Well, since I'm an appropriator on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I'm going to tell you it's going to cost a lot of money, but we have put a lot of money, extra money -- and I won't say what -- into the intelligence community since September the 11th.
Senator Graham -- when I was chairman of the committee, he was vice chairman; when he was chairman and I was vice chairman, we pushed for a number of years the issue of human intelligence, which we both deeply believe in, in which there was a shortcoming. And I think we're going down the right road that way. But whatever it costs, it's cheap compared to what will happen if we don't do our job.
Folks, I got to go. Thank you very much.
Q Thank you.
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