Lawmakers Prod CIA for Pre-9/11 Accountability Report
The ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee have asked the CIA to turn over an internal report on whether agency employees should be held accountable for intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks, congressional officials said Tuesday.
The CIA has not responded to the request, raising concerns among some Democrats in Congress that the report is being withheld to avoid embarrassment for the Bush administration in the final weeks before the presidential election.
The report was drafted in response to a demand from Congress nearly two years ago for the CIA to conduct an internal inquiry into the performance of agency personnel before the attacks. The agency was asked “to determine whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable” for intelligence breakdowns cataloged in a joint congressional investigation of Sept. 11.
No agency employee has been fired or faced other disciplinary measures in connection with Sept. 11 inquiries, a fact that has frustrated critics of the CIA and relatives of those who were killed in the attacks.
A U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday that the document had not been provided to Congress because it was not complete. “The report is just a draft,” the official said. “It’s not yet finished, and the matter is still under review.” The official declined to elaborate.
But congressional officials voiced skepticism and said that mounting frustration with the agency had prompted the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), and the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman of Venice, to send a letter to the CIA two weeks ago directing the agency to deliver the report.
The existence of the letter was first reported Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times in an opinion column by Robert Scheer. The column quoted Harman as saying, “We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report. We are very concerned.”
Congressional officials said they were told that the CIA inspector general’s office had completed the report in the summer, but that it would not be turned over because of a request by then-acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin for additional information on the report’s contents.
“The concern here is that this [delay] has gone from days to weeks to months,” a senior congressional aide said on condition of anonymity. “We’re concerned that the work of the inspector general not be altered or censored or in any way precluded from coming over here.”
The ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), also have inquired about the report, but have not written a letter asking for it to be turned over, aides said.
The FBI conducted a similar inquiry and has provided a copy of its report to congressional committees, aides said. The FBI has not disciplined any of its employees in connection with Sept. 11, officials said.
The scuffle over the CIA report could pose a problem for the CIA’s new director, Porter J. Goss, who now is head of the agency he helped investigate when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Goss, a former Republican congressman from Florida, was a principal member of the joint congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures. The report was sharply critical of the CIA, and the request for an internal investigation of employee accountability was among the dozens of recommendations in that congressional probe.