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COLUMN SEVENTY-EIGHT, NOVEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
SENATOR SHELBY FAULTS AMERICA'S SLEEPING WATCHDOGS
"Peter Coyote" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Sen. Richard Shelby on Intelligence Failures. NYTimes
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 10:53:56 -0700
Shelby Faults the Intelligence Agencies
Sept. 9---After months of work on a joint Congressional committee investigating
the events of Sept. 11, Senator Richard C. Shelby said he feared that Congress
would adjourn before all the facts are unearthed. As a result, he said, he would
not oppose an outside investigating commission.
is not on our side," warned Mr. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican
on the Senate Intelligence Committee. As he ticked off the few remaining months
before Congress leaves for the year and the joint committee dissolves, he
stopped just short of accusing intelligence agencies of slowing the flow of
information to investigators as a way to beat the clock.
know," he said in an interview on Thursday, sitting at a conference table
in his Senate office, "we were told that there would be cooperation in this
investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that
our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted
piece by piece."
he accusing the agencies of a deliberate slowdown? "I'll have to let you
make that judgment call," he said, then added: "You're dealing with
smart people. No one likes to be investigated."
his nearly eight years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, some of them as its
chairman, the courtly but cunning Mr. Shelby, 68, has become known as one of the
most blistering critics of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. The Sept. 11 attacks have
only made him more outspoken.
recalled the hurried evacuation of Congress as smoke wafted from the Pentagon,
and said his instant belief was that this was a result of a monumental
felt so then; I know so now," he said. "It seems that every week,
every month, there are new revelations that support my basic conclusion that I
came to early on, on September the 11th."
Shelby said the failures started in 1993 after the bombing of the World Trade
Center. "That should have been, in my judgment, a wake-up call that
terrorists would hit us on our own soil with devastating effect," he said.
runs through other cases: the attack on the United States barracks in Saudi
Arabia in 1996, the explosions at the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
in 1998 and the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000.
then lists some recent revelations: the ignored memorandum from a Federal Bureau
of Investigation agent in Phoenix warning that Osama bin Laden's followers might
be training for terrorist operations at American flight schools; the refusal by
bureau headquarters to seek a search warrant that would have allowed Minneapolis
agents to search a laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, now charged with being
a conspirator in the Sept. 11 plot.
Mr. Shelby promised that the nation would someday learn of other lapses, which
he could not yet divulge.
are a lot of other things that I believe we don't know," he said. "As
a matter of fact I believe that there will be more =97 there will be more
information coming out of this joint inquiry. Some, I know, will be very, very
sensitive. Some should be brought to the attention of the American people."
suggested that the information would prove explosive. "I think there are
some more bombs out there," he said, adding, "I know that."
Shelby has ideas for what needs to be done to fortify intelligence agencies for
a long battle against terror. He says the director of central intelligence
should be elevated to a full cabinet post and be given more power to oversee the
entire sprawling intelligence apparatus.
says the government must do a better job at turning America's ethnic diversity
and immigrant heritage into an intelligence asset by recruiting into its ranks
Americans who speak Arabic and Farsi and can better meld into the byways of the
of the solutions is there has got to be again emphasis on human
intelligence," he said, "because we've got the people."
Mr. Shelby does shy away from one idea being promoted by some in Congress, the
creation of a new and powerful domestic intelligence agency to monitor potential
terrorists inside the United States. "I have certain reservations involving
the rights of the individual, constitutional rights," he said.
want the best security we can have for ourselves, our family, our
co-workers," he mused, "but we don't want to give up everything
because what's built this country, sustained us, I believe, is free markets,
free people, freedom of press, freedom of thought. We never had, ever in this
country, a police state."
is still withholding judgment of Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director who
was new to his job on Sept. 11. "I think the question is, will he actually
break with the past," he said. "And we will have the measure of that
in several years."
the senator does not try to hide his dismay that the director of central
intelligence, George J. Tenet, a holdover from the Clinton administration, has
not resigned or been replaced. "I've said all along that that was the
president's decision, you know," he demurred, "and I'm not the
pressed, he says he thinks that "you could get somebody stronger," and
adds, "I believe that you, that we need a strong, strong director of
central intelligence that will assert himself and will have the power and the
backing of the president to be the chief of staff, I mean, the C.E.O. of the
whole intelligence community."
still fumes that Mr. Tenet challenged the idea that there had been an
intelligence failure and defended the Central Intelligence Agency's record on
terrorism in a February appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee
after the attacks.
how he had become a critic of the C.I.A., Mr. Shelby said he had a "real
wake-up call" in May 1998 when India conducted three underground nuclear
tests. He said Mr. Tenet, in a phone call, had told him that the agency
"didn't have a clue" that such an event was on the horizon. The
senator said he had thought: "My gosh, I wonder what else is going on. They
had no clue on that."
acknowledges that months ago, when the intelligence panels were beginning their
investigation of Sept. 11, he believed that they would be able to carry out a
thorough inquiry. But the lawmakers ran into problems, from an early staffing
shakeup, to infighting, to an information leak. The joint panel has had long
negotiations with the administration over obtaining some information. Public
hearings have been delayed repeatedly.
Mr. Shelby insists that the committee must try to do a
think the failures in the intelligence are so widespread, so deep, that we owe
the American people a searching job," he said. ##
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