Tenet Describes 5-Year Plan for U.S. Intelligence; 9/11 Panel Reports CIA Did Not Respond to Moussaoui Warning
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
CIA Director George J. Tenet yesterday said it will take five more years before U.S. intelligence agencies are in good shape, but members of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks said they may force a midcourse correction.
"It will take us another five years of work to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs," Mr. Tenet told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. "There is a creative, innovative strategy to get us there that requires sustained commitment, leadership and funding."
He said the services suffered years of neglect following the end of the Cold War through the mid-1990s and have since begun a rebuilding program across all agencies, including intelligence analysis, imaging intelligence, and the National Security Agency.
Commission members, during a second straight day of testimony from FBI, CIA and other intelligence officials, said they believe they will make broad recommendations to fundamentally change the relationships between the various agencies and bureaus that play a part in intelligence gathering.
"There is a train coming down the track. There are going to be very real changes made," said Commissioner John F. Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy.
He and other commissioners used the appearances by Mr. Tenet and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday to bounce around their reform ideas.Mr. Lehman peppered both men with questions about whether it would be better to create a director of central intelligence with the power to hire and fire directors of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence bureaus, and the power to propose budgets for intelligence operations.
Other commissioners mulled whether to separate the job of domestic intelligence collection from the FBI - something opposed by both Mr. Tenet and Mr. Mueller, who called that "a grave mistake."
"Splitting the law enforcement and the intelligence functions would leave both agencies fighting the war on terrorism with one hand tied behind their backs," Mr. Mueller said.
Both Mr. Mueller and Mr. Tenet told the commission they have made giant strides to change both their agencies' structures and culture, something the commission acknowledged.
But Commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean said the panel will have to decide in the end whether the status quo, including those changes, is good enough, or whether the problem is inherent in the way intelligence gathering and analysis is divided among U.S. agencies.
"I think it's too early to judge that," he told reporters after the hearings.
He and commission Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton said they were taken aback by Mr. Tenet's prediction it would take five more years to get the intelligence agencies in shape, though they said they accept his time estimate.
"I was personally kind of discouraged with that statement," Mr. Hamilton said. "This is not a new problem. We've been talking about the difficulty of developing human intelligence for 10 or 15 years. …