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Congress Will Grill FBI and CIA About 9-11

Friday, 24 May 2002 12:00 AM

"We are committed to giving to the American people a thorough and complete report of what happened on that date, and a set of recommendations as to what reforms will be necessary to reduce the likelihood of such an event occurring in the future," Graham said. "We owe it to the American people, to the innocent victims, and the families of those who died."

Goss agrees it is wise to reveal as much information as possible.

"The way to do this, to follow the path to truth, is to follow the breadcrumbs of fact rather than the breadcrumbs of opinion," Goss said. "We want to share as much as we can with the public."

What Goss calls a "very ambitious schedule" of hearings will begin June 4, with testimony from FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director George Tenet, and continue through July and into August. Graham says the hearings will be closed, at first, while classified information that could reveal intelligence "sources and methods of operation" is discussed.

According to Graham, he wants to "have as many open sessions as we can.

"Part of our responsibility is to the American people and their understanding of what transpired," he said.

Graham responded to the lingering question of whether the attacks could have been prevented.

"No one can answer that question," Graham said. "There was no single piece of information that, on its own, would have led you to a further investigation that might have avoided September the 11th.

"But, the fact is, there was not a single piece of information, there was a series of pieces of information," he added.

Graham says some of the information uncovered by the special staff has shown that there were clues to the form of the attacks and even references to specific targets, but no one agency or department within an agency apparently had access to all of the information in the same place at the same time.

The investigation has already revealed "issues that illustrate broader systemic weaknesses," Graham said.

"Why has it taken so long for the intelligence agencies to make the transition from their Cold War mentality to the much more complex world in which we live today?" asked Graham. "Why has there been this lack of imagination to see what appears to be neon lights of problems?"

Goss added that an examination focused only on the failings of intelligence personnel would come up short.

"It isn't just failure of human beings, if there are failures, that we're worried about. It's questions of our systems and our laws," he explained. "Are they adequate to deal with these situations?"

Both chairmen seemed puzzled by reporters' questions about the investigation "just getting started."

"We began this back almost three months ago," Graham noted.

"The agencies were put on alert a long time ago, after 9-11, and told, 'We'll be talking to you. Keep materials. Start thinking about what's coming down the road,'" Goss added.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter distributed late Thursday, Graham and Goss – along with the ranking members on their respective committees, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – described their progress to date.

"The staff has thus far collected over 30,000 pages of relevant documents, culled from reviews of over 100,000 documents," the letter stated. "Interviews and discussions have been conducted with almost 175 individuals, resulting in almost 60 interview reports and additional memoranda."

Both men say the various calls for an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks are not detracting from their probe. They do believe that their committees, which routinely deal with intelligence matters, are best suited to investigate any potential failures in that arena.

"We are not in any way being deflected from our main mission," Goss said, "and our main mission is our joint, bicameral, bipartisan inquiry that is well under way and going fine."

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We are committed to giving to the American people a thorough and complete report of what happened on that date, and a set of recommendations as to what reforms will be necessary to reduce the likelihood of such an event occurring in the future, Graham said. We owe it to...
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Friday, 24 May 2002 12:00 AM
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