CIA Releases Harsh Internal Report On 9/11 Failures

Under a direct order from Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency today released the executive summary of a top-secret report by its inspector general detailing the agency's shortcomings leading up to the September 11 attacks.

While the report concluded that there was "no single point of failure," it was otherwise very critical of the CIA leadership, from former CIA director George Tenet on down, for failing to work as "effectively and cooperatively" as possible on counterterrorism.

For example, the report found that while Tenet had signed a memo saying, "We are at war" against terrorists, he did not follow up on his warnings or create a comprehensive plan to guide counterterrorism efforts.

The CIA's Counterterrorist Center, the report added, was also "not used effectively as a strategic coordinator" of efforts across the intelligence community. And the report also documents "significant differences" between how the CIA and the eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency viewed their respective authorities to conduct counterterrorist surveillance.

Tenet quickly issued a statement criticizing the report and defending his performance. He noted that an earlier report by the inspector general's office in August 2001 praised the management of the Counterterrorist Center.

The CIA has long opposed the release of this report. CIA director Michael Hayden issued a statement noting his unhappiness with Congress's decision to require declassification.

"The long, grueling fight against terrorism, which depends in very real part on the quality of our intelligence, demands that we keep our focus on the present and the future," Hayden said. "We must draw lessons from our past--and we have--without becoming captive to it."

By Kevin Whitelaw