Congressional Record: July 24, 2003 (Senate)
Page S9887-S9888


  Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, earlier this afternoon a 
declassified version of the report of the House and Senate Intelligence 
Committees on the events of September 11, 2001, were released to the 
public. I will take a few minutes to recognize those who performed a 
great public service in producing this report and to commend it to my 
colleagues and those who are watching. The public version of this 
report is available at the Web site of the Government Printing Office,
  This report fulfills the commitment that was made to the American 
people and particularly to the families of those who perished in this 
tragedy. The commitment was to conduct a thorough search for the truth 
about what our intelligence agencies knew or should have known about 
al-Qaida and its intentions prior to September 11. It was then to apply 
the lessons learned from that experience to reform the intelligence 
community in such a way as to mitigate the likelihood of a repetition 
of September 11.
  This was a historic first-of-a-kind effort. For the first time in the 
history of the Congress, two standing committees, the House and the 
Senate, joined together to conduct a special inquiry with its own 
staff. That staff was led by the very capable Ms. Eleanor Hill. The 
staff reviewed nearly 1 million documents and conducted some 500 
interviews. The joint inquiry committee held 22 hearings last year, 9 
of which were open to the public. The result of this effort was 
released today.
  This document includes both findings of fact and 19 recommendations 
for reform. I am extremely proud of the commitment that the Members of 
the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have given to this review. 
I would especially like to recognize the vice chairman of the Senate 
committee, Senator Shelby, and the chairman and vice chairman of the 
House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Porter Goss and Congresswoman 
Nancy Pelosi.
  The report's findings are grouped in 24 subject areas, but they have 
a single bottom line: The attacks of September 11 could have been 
prevented if the right combination of skill, coordination, creativity, 
and some good luck had been brought to the task.
  There is an abundance of important information in this report that 
suggests, for example, institutional resistance to making 
counterterrorism a high national priority prior to September 11. This 
resistance took many forms. It included a lack of information sharing 
among key agencies. It included budget cuts at the Department of 
Justice for the FBI's counterterrorism program. Simply put, those 
problems contributed to the Government's inability to successfully 
launch an offensive against al-Qaida.
  As an example of this difficulty, a previously classified finding, 
No. 14 in the report, 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 
directly towards al-Qaida prior to September 11.
  In part, this reluctance was driven by the military's view that the 
intelligence community was unable to provide the intelligence necessary 
to support military operations. For example, the report confirms that 
between 1999 and 2001, U.S. Navy ships and submarines armed with cruise 
missiles were positioned in the north Arabian Sea. Their mission was to 
attack Osama bin Laden, but it was a mission frustrated because they 
were not able to get the actionable intelligence which only could have 
come by our ability to place spies close enough to al-Qaida to tell us 
what that organization would be doing and where Osama bin Laden might 
be on any given day.

  The report makes it clear we should have known that potential 
terrorists were living among us. Indeed, two of the terrorist-turned-
hijackers lived with an FBI informant in San Diego, CA, for 6 months or 
more in the year 2001. A resourceful FBI agent in Phoenix wanted to 
follow up on suspicions about foreign-born students who were honing 
their skills at American flight schools. Officials at FBI central 
headquarters shut him down.
  To assure the American people that we take such actions seriously, we 
included a recommendation, No. 16, that calls for the Director of 
Central Intelligence to implement new accountability standards 
throughout the intelligence community. These standards would identify 
poor performance and affix responsibility for it. It would also set a 
standard to recognize and reward excellent performance.
  Had such standards been in place 2 years ago, we might have been able 
to hold those whose performance fell short of what our country deserves 
accountable for their errors, omissions and commissions, particularly 
in the critical period immediately before September 11.
  Had these standards been implemented last year, it is possible the 
Nation could have avoided the embarrassment and damage to our 
Government's credibility that has occurred because of the use of 
discredited intelligence information in the President's State of the 
Union Address. So far, we have seen no one suffer more than the 
indignity of a newspaper headline in either incident.
  With the release of the joint inquiry report, it is time to look 
ahead and continue to implement the important reforms of the 
intelligence community that are necessary 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, 
by the agencies, and by this Congress, we should be able to make great 
strides in improving the security of the American people.
  It is my intention to introduce legislation soon, with cosponsorship 
of members of the joint inquiry, that would implement the reforms which 
require legislative action. I hope it will move expeditiously to 
passage with the full support of the administration. I will also begin 
that effort with a sense of outrage because we have lost valuable time.
  It took 7 months, almost as long as it took to conduct the inquiry, 
for the intelligence agencies to declassify the portions of the report 
that we are releasing today.
  What are the consequences of that 7 months' delay? One is that the 
momentum for reform, which was at a high tide in the weeks and months 
immediately after 9/11, has begun to diminish despite the scope of the 
tragedy. We will learn shortly whether we can reinvigorate that reform 
movement. This Senate will face the test of its will to do so. I, for 
one, am committed to see this report is not forgotten or overlooked.

  In my view, the delay reflects the excessive secrecy with which this 
administration appears to be obsessed and which is keeping important 
findings of our work from the American people. Such censorship also 
saps the urgency of reform and precludes the American peoples' ability 
to hold its leaders accountable.
  The most serious omission, in my view, is part 4 of the report which 
is entitled "Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain 
Sensitive National Security Matters." That section of the report 
contained 27 pages between pages 396 through 422. Those 27 pages have 
almost been entirely censured. This is the equivalent of ripping out a 
chapter in the middle of a history book before giving it to your child 
or grandchild and then telling her "good luck on the test."
  The declassified version of this finding tells the American people 
that our investigation developed "information suggesting specific 
sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while 
they were in the United States."
  In other words, officials of a foreign government are alleged to have 
aided and abetted the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11 
which took over 3,000 lives.
  I would like to be able to identify for you the specific sources of 
that foreign support but that information is contained in the censured 
portions of this

[[Page S9888]]

report which are being denied to the American people.
  What are the consequences of this? It significantly reduces the 
information available to the public about some of the Government's most 
important actions, or more accurately, inactions prior to September 11. 
Second, it precludes the American people from asking their Government 
legitimate questions such as, How was the information that our 
Government might have had prior to September 11 utilized after 
September 11 to enhance the security of our homeland and American 
interests abroad? Third, almost 2 years after the tragedy of September 
11, the administration and the Congress, in the main, have not 
initiated reforms which would reduce the chances of another September 
  For example, we are allowed to report that the estimates of the CIA's 
counterterrorism center is that between 70,000 and 120,000 recruits 
went through al-Qaida's training camps in Afghanistan before those 
troops were attacked in late 2001. The important questions as to the 
significance of that statement, to the security of the American people, 
are not available.
  This obsession with excessive secrecy is deeply troubling. The 
recognition of the evils of secrecy in a free society date back to the 
beginnings of our Nation. Patrick Henry declared: The liberties of a 
people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of 
their rulers may be concealed from them.
  President John F. Kennedy observed in the first year of his 
Presidency: "the very word secret is repugnant in a free and open 
society, and we are, as people, inherently and historically opposed to 
secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings. We 
decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted 
concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers, which are 
cited to justify." These are traditional American values that are 
being trampled.
  So the joint committee included our report with this recommendation, 
recommendation No. 15. "The President should review and consider 
amendments to the Executive Orders, policies, and procedures that 
govern the national security classification of intelligence information 
in an effort to expand access to relevant information for Federal 
agencies outside the intelligence community and for State and local 
authorities which are critical to the fight against terrorism and for 
the American public".
  In addition, the President and heads of Federal agencies should 
assure that the policies and procedures to protect against unauthorized 
disclosure of classified intelligence information are well understood, 
fully implemented, and vigorously enforced.
  It is my observation that because classification is used so 
excessively, the corollary is only a minimal effort to enforce 
classification of materials that truly do deserve to be classified.
  Again, I remind my colleagues that these recommendations were written 
late in 2002 before the current crisis developed over the use and 
possible misuse of intelligence leading us to war in Iraq. But that 
crisis has given this recommendation even greater urgency for the 
Government's credibility with the American people and our credibility 
with the rest of the world.
  These qualities have been severely eroded in large part because of 
excessive secrecy. To regain the people's trust we must bring new 
transparency to our decisionmakers. We must bring new transparency to 
our decisionmaking. We must move decisions and governmental information 
into the sunshine. We owe that and much more to the 3,000 victims of 
September 11.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. ENZI). The majority leader.


Congressional Record: July 24, 2003 (Senate)
Page S9897

                  JOINT INTELLIGENCE REPORT POST--9/11

  Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise tonight in response to the 
comments of my friend, the Senator from Florida, about the report that 
was issued today about September 11. There were a lot of innuendoes and 
direct statements by the Senator from Florida with respect to the 
administration, faults on the part of the administration leading up to 
September 11 and the connection of causation between the administration 
and some deficiencies with the administration and September 11. Nothing 
could be further from the truth.
  My friend from Florida made the comment that the lack of resources in 
our intelligence community played a big part in the intelligence 
deficiencies that allowed September 11 to happen. I agree with him 100 
percent. What he failed to say is that this administration had been in 
office less than 8 months when September 11 happened. This 
administration had not even been through an appropriations cycle. It is 
this body and the House that made the appropriations over the last 
several years that, in fact, did lead to a decline in resources, with 
the leadership of the previous administration, that caused the 
resources not to be put in the right place, that allowed the problems 
within the intelligence community to arise.
  The Senator mentioned certain declassification, or failure to 
declassify certain aspects of the September 11 report that were not 
included in the report that was released today. Again, he is exactly 
right. But there is a reason for that. The public does have a right to 
know everything we can tell them about the facts leading up to 
September 11. But the intelligence community does not have the right 
and should not release information relative to sources and methods.
  The intelligence community is a very complex community. The 
intelligence community has human assets in place all around the world, 
gathering information from an intelligence standpoint that is important 
to saving the lives of Americans.
  In addition to that, we have methods of gathering intelligence that 
we simply cannot disclose and divulge to people we are gathering that 
intelligence from, or it will reduce or significantly lessen, or maybe 
even not allow us to gather information from them. So it is very 
important that we not release sources and methods.
  Last, let me say my friend made the comment about secrecy on the part 
of this administration, this President. Again, nothing could be further 
from the truth. Secrecy is not the issue here, as set forth in that 
report that was released today.
  The real issue as set forth in that report is the protection of 
America and the protection of Americans. This administration had done 
everything within its power leading up to September 11 to make sure the 
intelligence community had the ability to gather intelligence and that 
the law enforcement community had the ability to interrupt and disrupt 
intelligence activity. Unfortunately, as was concluded in the report 
today--the Senator from Florida was the chairman of the Intelligence 
Committee that participated in that report--that report says that, in 
spite of everything, there is nothing that could have been done on the 
part of the intelligence community that would have prohibited September 
11 from happening.
  What we need to be aware of and what the American people need to be 
aware of is that the intelligence community has learned a lesson from 
September 11, and we are moving forward to make sure our children and 
our grandchildren live in a safe and secure America just like we have 
enjoyed. We have a lot of recommendations within that report that are 
being followed today to make sure America is a safer place.
  While I commend the men and women--and I was part of it--who worked 
very hard to get that report together, there is a lot of information in 
that report that was not declassified and which should not be 
declassified so that we can have a safer and more secure America.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, the Senator from New Mexico ought to be 
doing the thanking. I knew when the people of the Senator's State sent 
him up here--he thanked us, but we ought to be thanking him; we thank 
the people of his State for sending him here--we knew when the Senator 
came that he was going to be a stalwart and someone to whom we could 
look. We knew we would be getting the "straight scoop," so to speak. 
Tonight it didn't take the Senator very long to set this record 
  There is no use playing politics with things that do not need any 
politics added to them. There are already plenty of problems 
surrounding that big tragedy that came to America. We thank the Senator 
for telling us the way it is, the way it was, and the way we ought to 
understand it. This Senator thanks him for that. I wish he had more to 
say. I hope before it is over, he will have more to say about it.
  With all of the inferences and implications when things go wrong, 
there is a political campaign. Just wait, and somebody will find some 
reason to blame the person running for office. Regardless of how 
farfetched or how wild, or how irrelevant it is, it will be there.
  Frankly, we have a Senate with lots of privileges. I like the 
distinguished Senator from Florida. He had a big job when he had to put 
that report together. He doesn't have any more to say about it than a 
lot of other people. He just happens to be running for President. So he 
has a lot to say. But we thank the Senator very much for his few words 
which are excellent, as I understand it, and it is something we needed 
to hear.
  Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I will have a lot more to say about it 
  Mr. DOMENICI. I hope so.