Congressional Record: March 12, 2004 (Senate)
Page S2771-S2773

                           TERRORIST ATTACKS

  Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, yesterday, March 11, 2004, was 
a solemn day.
  Two and a half years ago to the day, 19 terrorists hijacked four 
airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, 
and a field in rural Pennsylvania.
  It is fitting that we pause today to remember the nearly 3,000 
innocent people who lost their lives that day. It is also fitting that 
we take a moment to remember the responsibilities that we undertook in 
the aftermath of those horrible events. We in public office undertook a 
particularly important obligation, as we vowed to take action to 
prevent terrorist attacks of that magnitude from happening again.
  In his speech delivered before a joint session of Congress on 
September 20, 2001, President Bush put it this way: ``Americans are 
asking, How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every 
resource at our command--every means of diplomacy, every tool of 
intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial 
influence, and every necessary weapon of war--to the disruption and to 
the defeat of the global terror network.
  Unfortunately, we have not met that commitment.
  We now know that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were the 
result of a sophisticated plot that developed over many months and 
required coordination among a number of individuals. If our national 
intelligence agencies had been better organized and more focused on the 
problem of international terrorism, this tragedy would have been 
  Incredibly, it is now 30 months later, and the basic problems in our 
national intelligence community that contributed to our vulnerability 
on 9/11 have not yet been seriously considered, much less resolved.
  These problems are not a mystery, they are known weaknesses that 
simply have yet to be fixed. If we in the Congress do not take action 
to remedy these weaknesses, we will not be able to avoid accountability 
for the next attack.
  A series of independent commissions and the Joint Inquiry conducted 
by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in 2002 have identified 
a variety of issues that we must address. They fall into four 
  One, setting priority targets for intelligence collection and 
  Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet declared war on al-
Qaida in 1998, but few in the CIA--and almost no one in the other 
agencies that make up our Intelligence Community--responded to his 
clarion call.
  Our national intelligence agencies continued to focus on states, such 
as Russia, China, Iran and Iraq. Despite Mr. Tenet's call for action, 
Osama bin Laden al-Qaida was not even near the top of our intelligence 
priority list on September 11, 2001. It was not until September 12 that 
they moved to the top of the list.
  Part of the problem was that our intelligence community had no formal 
process for regularly reviewing and updating intelligence priorities to 
ensure that they accurately reflected the current security environment.
  Furthermore, it does not appear that the heads of other intelligence 
agencies looked to the Director of Central Intelligence for leadership 
and priority-setting.
  Even though George Tenet may have realized that non-state actors like 
al-Qaida needed more attention, the importance of these groups was not 
clear to other members of the intelligence community. The head of the 
National Security Agency, our Nation's electronic eavesdropping agency, 
was asked if he knew about Mr. Tenet's declaration of war with al-
  The director of the NSA said that yes, he was aware of Mr. 
Tenet's statement, but he did not think it applied to him or his 

  Two, providing strong new leadership for the intelligence community.
  Examples like this make it clear that we need to provide strong new 
leadership for the intelligence community.
9/11 exposed historic tensions within the Intelligence Community, and 
between intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
  We need to empower a Cabinet-level official with the authority to end 
bureaucratic in-fighting and competition

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for resources, as well as ensuring the sharing of information among all 
of those charged with protecting our homeland security--including first 
responders at the State and local level.
  In many ways, our national intelligence community has resembled, and 
still resembles, a collection of independently operating actors, rather 
than a unified team that works together on counterterrorism and other 
  Before 9/11, there were a number of barriers that prevented 
information from being shared among various agencies, and while many 
formal barriers have been removed, many informal ones remain in place.
  Our joint, bipartisan congressional inquiry revealed that in the 
months before the September 11 attacks, our national intelligence 
agencies collected pieces of information that, taken as a whole, could 
have been used to disrupt al-Qaida's hijacking plot.
  Unforunately, this information was not shared with all of the right 
people, and helpful actions were not taken.
  The CIA was aware that two terrorists associated with al-Qaida had 
obtained visas for travel to the United States, but it did not share 
this information with border protection agencies, or with the FBI, 
which could have kept an eye on these men once they were in the 
  The FBI was aware that a man arrested in Minnesota might have been 
planning a suicide hijacking, but it did not share this information 
with the Federal Aviation Administration, which could have increased 
security precautions on domestic flights.
  Better information sharing between the FBI and CIA, as well as other 
intelligence agencies, could have increased the intelligence 
community's overall awareness of terrorist activities. And better 
information sharing between the intelligence community and all the 
various agencies who contribute to our homeland security could have 
helped these agencies move to an appropriate level of alertness. We 
have an obligation to make sure that better information sharing takes 
place, and the consequences of failure could be very high.
  Three, setting priorities for limited resources.
  A Cabinet-level official with authority over intelligence could also 
set priorities for limited intelligence resources.
  The Intelligence Community did not adapt quickly enough after the end 
of the Cold War, during which we had come to rely more on satellites 
than on human assets--spies. There was no collective sense of 
importance within the Intelligence Community, including the Department 
of Defense, and as a result, investments in research and development--
which were once a priority--suffered slippage.
  Nearly all intelligence agencies faced significant staff shortages 
prior to 9/11, and this had a serious impact on their effectiveness. At 
the Central Intelligence Agency, for example, many critical 
counterterrorism personnel were required to work long hours without 
relief. This obviously made these personnel less effective, and had a 
very negative effect on their morale.
  Other intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency and 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, faced similar staffing problems. 
In particular, these agencies lacked sufficient numbers of analysts and 
language specialists to support agents working in the field.
  When agency directors tried to create solutions to these personnel 
problems, they were often unable to implement them.
  The lack of clear counterterrorism priorities made it difficult for 
managers to reassign personnel from other areas. Moving money was 
almost as difficult as moving people, since intelligence community 
managers have limited budget authority.

  Incredibly, these problems are still with us today. While all of our 
intelligence agencies have increased in hiring and training of 
counterterrorism personnel, many of them continue to face resource and 
personnel problems. Even relatively small shifts of resources still 
must go through a lengthy approval process, and it is not always 
possible to assign enough people to important areas.
  Prior to 2001, many CIA officials knew that more agents were needed 
in Afghanistan, but they were unable to move resources away from other 
priorities. By giving our intelligence agencies more budget 
flexibility, we can empower them to address problems further in 
advance, and begin thinking about solutions, instead of waiting for a 
crisis to occur before taking any action.
  Long term planning is also constrained by the process we use for 
funding our intelligence agencies. Instead of providing them with a 
sustained, stable source of funding, we insist on giving them 
relatively small budget allocations, and then increasing this through 
the use of supplemental appropriations bills. Counterterrorism programs 
have relied heavily on these supplemental appropriations for several 
years, and this continues today in spite of repeated claims that we 
have increased our focus on counterterrorism.
  If we wish to get the most out of our investment in counterterrorism, 
we must make it possible for Intelligence Community directors and 
managers to engage in long term planning, rather than simply jumping 
from one crisis to the next.
  Of course, increased flexibility must be accompanied by increased 
oversight. As hard as it is for most Americans to believe, the 
Intelligence Community has only a vague idea of how much money it 
spends on counterterrorism.
  Most agencies do not regularly examine how much they spend on 
counterterrorism, and those that do use inconsistent accounting 
methods--and often base their data on rough estimates.
  If we do not know how much we are spending on counterterrorism 
priorities, it will obviously be very hard for us to see if our 
investment is being spent wisely. A cost-benefit analysis from an 
independent agency would be very helpful in this regard, but so far 
there have been no serious efforts to undertake such an effort.
  Four, establishing a competent domestic counterterrorism capability.
  Finally, we must begin establishing a competent domestic 
counterterrorism capability.
  The FBI has looked at its intelligence-gathering role through the 
prism of a law-enforcement agency. If asked how many suspected 
terrorists or terrorist sympathizers are estimated to live in any given 
major American city, the FBI would respond with the number of open 
investigative files its field office had there.
  Americans have to decide what we expect of our domestic intelligence-
gathering capability--and how much intrusion into our personal lives we 
are willing to accept.
  Then we must make a choice: Can we accomplish our goal with an agency 
that has a mixed law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering mission, or 
should we create a separate domestic intelligence-gathering unit such 
as Great Britain's MI5?
  For the immediate future, our national security interests are best 
served by acting to make the FBI as effective as it can be. However, we 
must also consider our other options and decide if we can do better.
  The FBI continues to perform its intelligence mission in a 
commendable fashion, but detecting and disrupting terrorist plots 
before they can be executed requires a very different approach than 
apprehending perpetrators of crimes that have already taken place.
  If we look around the world, we can see that there are many different 
models for domestic intelligence gathering, and many different models 
for domestic law enforcement. Here in America we must decide what sort 
of institution best fit our needs and circumstances, and as these 
circumstances change, we should not be afraid to make our institutions 
change as well.
  This must first begin with a debate over the best possible structure 
for our domestic intelligence and law enforcement programs. I am sorry 
to say this debate has not yet taken place.
  The problems that I have discussed today need to be fixed as soon as 
possible. Ignoring them will not make them go away. Old habits, 
differences in agency culture, and bureaucratic inertia are not 
acceptable excuses for procrastination and delay.
  If we do not address them quickly and effectively, we will be blind 
to emerging threats, and we will leave ourselves vulnerable to future 
  On the other hand, if we can repair these weaknesses then we can give 

[[Page S2773]]

hard-working men and women of our Intelligence Community the tools they 
need to help prevent such attacks from taking place.
  As we reflect on the horrific events that stunned our Nation two and 
a half years ago, and pay tribute to those who lost their lives, we 
must recommit ourselves to our responsibility to do everything we can 
to prevent such events from happening again.
  If there is another terrorist attack in our country, the American 
people will look to their elected leaders and ask us what we learned 
from September 11, and how that information was used to protect them.
  We must be able to tell both those who lived--and those who died--
that we did everything we could.