Facts We Needed To Know

bob schieffer
I had mixed feelings about Congress investigating the FBI and CIA about what they knew or should have known before 9/11. Getting bogged down in a post-9/11 blame game didn't seem all that productive to me.

But as we've learned from the congressional hearings, this investigation produced information that wasn't always pleasant, but we got facts we needed to know.

The bureaucratic bungling was even worse than we had imagined. Clue after clue was missed. Signals were crossed. And it wasn't always the fault of agents in the field who had more work than they could handle and limited resources to do it.

Far worse was that too often when officials throughout the government recognized how serious this threat was, they lacked either the will or the skill to move the bureaucracy to fight it. Even as the threat was recognized as serious, not much happened. Budgets were not increased, personnel were not shifted, and the American people were kept in the dark.

And for all the current administration's effort to rearrange the rest of the federal bureaucracy, it is hard to come away from these hearings feeling much has changed within the CIA and the FBI, where the core problems were.

It's easy to criticize Congress for headline-hunting, but it has performed a constructive service this time. And what we now know is that these hearings are just the first step if we really want to fix this problem.