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JOINT COMMITTEE HEARING ON THE INTEL
LIGENCE COMMUNITY'S RESPONSE TO PAST TERRORIST ATTACKS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FROM FEBRUARY 1993 TO SEPTEMBER 2001 IN REVIEW OF THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2002
U.S. SENATE, SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, AND
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PERMANENT SELECT
Washington, DC. The Committees met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in Room 216, Hart Senate Office Building, the Honorable Porter Goss, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, presiding.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Members Present: Senators Graham, Shelby, Feinstein, Roberts, Rockefeller, DeWine and Thompson
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Members Present: Representatives Goss, Pelosi, LaHood, Roemer, Bereuter, Castle, Boehlert, Burr, Chambliss, Harman, Condit, Reyes, Boswell, Peterson and Cramer.
Chairman Goss. I call to order the Joint Inquiry of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Welcome to this hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. This is the eighth public hearing by our committees as they conduct their joint inquiry into the Intelligence Community's performance regarding the September 11, 2001, attacks. The committee has held 11 closed hearings.
Our objective today is to provide a broader context for understanding the events of September 11 and, to that end, today's hearing will focus on lessons that the Intelligence Community learned or should have learned from the terrorist attacks against the United States that preceded September 11, 2001.
Although the September 11 attacks were unprecedented in magnitude and devastation, terrorism is not a new problem for the United States. We are seeking to learn what steps were taken in response to past attacks and what problems hindered a more effective response to terrorism.
Today's hearing will be in two parts. First, we will hear from Eleanor Hill, the Staff Director, who will present a staff statement that reviews the Intelligence Community's response to past attacks. We will then hear from a panel of distinguished witnesses, our former Senate colleague, Warren Rudman, Judge Louis Freeh, Mary Jo White and Dr. Paul Pillar, whom I will introduce more fully after Ms. Hill's presentation.
I will now ask my colleagues—Chairman Graham, Ranking Member Pelosi and Vice Chairman Shelby-should they have any introductory remarks today.
Chairman GRAHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do have an opening statement.
I would like to take a moment to discuss what I hope will be a primary focus of today's discussion, what I believe to be one of the major challenges facing our national security infrastructure, including the Intelligence Community. That is, what steps should be taken to increase domestic security against terrorist operatives who are inside our country, having been recruited, trained and placed to await instructions to strike.
I, for one, am deeply concerned that at a recent hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, at which we had representatives from the FBI, the CIA and other agencies, there was an alarming lack of information on this subject. The committee was unable to secure satisfactory answers to questions such as the number of foreign terrorists who are in our homeland, their training and capabilities, their support systems, both financial and strategic, including possible support from foreign governments and the command and control systems that might be in place behind them. By that I mean their linkages to their organization's headquarters, generally in the Middle East or Central Asia.
All of those questions are central to our government's ability to disrupt and deter terrorist plots, yet the Intelligence Community seems to be unable to give satisfactory answers. For example, when asked how many so-called "sleepers” of one prominent terrorist organization are operating within the United States, we were given two widely different estimates. One number, from the CIA, was described as an "intelligence estimate"; the other, from the FBI, was said to be "based on active law enforcement cases." There was a chasm between them, an unacceptable chasm in my opinion.
I am especially concerned because we are entering a period during which our President's policies in the Middle East are creating heightened tensions and heightened anti-American sentiment. At last Thursday's hearing of the Joint Inquiry Committee there were various suggestions for the creation of a separate agency within the Intelligence Community to conduct domestic surveillance. There were parallels drawn to the domestic intelligence structure in Great Britain and other foreign countries.
I would like to hear from today's witnesses what approach they would recommend in this critical period, both near-term and longterm solutions. Should we look towards devoting additional attention and resources to this problem within our existing intelligence infrastructure, or should we be creating a new entity for this purpose?
Our ultimate concern and our ultimate goal is to assure the greatest possible security for the American people.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. PELOSI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will not have an opening statement except to associate myself with the welcome that you and our distinguished Chairman Graham presented to the witnesses. We look forward to their testimony today.
I wish to associate myself with your and Mr. Graham's opening remarks, especially the list of concerns put forth by Senator Graham. I have concerns about us except to the point of the separate entity; I have serious concerns about that. While it is true that our ultimate goal is to provide maximum security for the American people, I know our Chairs and ranking members share the view that we must do so while protecting our civil liberties.
With that, I welcome our distinguished witnesses and look forward to their comments.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Vice Chairman SHELBY. Mr. Chairman, I do not have an opening statement. I will be brief.
I do want to commend you and Senator Graham for having these open hearings. I believe, although we cannot talk about everything in open hearing—there are a lot of things we shouldn't talk about and will never discuss—there is a lot of information that will be brought out that the American people need to know about.
I want to commend our Staff Director, Ms. Hill, for bringing a story together, and this is a story that is a big challenge to our Intelligence Community and to us as Americans as far as security is concerned. Without these open hearings, I think a lot of Americans would not have any idea what was going on or what we were trying to do to make our Intelligence Community work together better, to make them stronger for the security of our Nation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
At this time I ask Ms. Hill to proceed with her prepared statement. The floor is yours, Ms. Hill.
Ms. Hill. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a longer-actually I have two longer versions of this statement for the record. One is a classified version, which I would ask be made part of the sealed record.
Chairman Goss. Without objection.
[The classified statement of Ms. Hill was made a part of the classified record.]
Ms. HILL. The other is an unclassified version, but longer than the summary I will read here this morning.
Chairman Goss. Without objection in both cases.
Joint Inquiry Staff Statement
Hearing on the Intelligence Community's Response to Past Terrorist Attacks
Against the United States from February 1993 to September 2001
Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff
October 8, 2002
Mr. Chairman, members of the two Committees, good morning. The purpose of today's hearing is to review past terrorist attacks – both successful and unsuccessful -- by al-Qa'ida and other groups against the United States. This review focuses not only on the attacks themselves, but also on how the Intelligence Community changed its posture in response and on broader themes that demand close scrutiny by the Committees. This review of past attacks and issues is not as deep or as thorough as our inquiry into the events of September 11. Instead, it represents a more general assessment of how well the Intelligence Community has adapted to the post-Cold War world, using counterterrorism as a vehicle.
In conjunction with the Joint Inquiry Staff's (JIS's) review of the September 11 attacks, we have reviewed documents related to past attacks and interviewed a range of individuals involved in counter-terrorism in the last decade. The documents include formal and informal "lessons leamed" studies undertaken by different components of the Intelligence Community and the U.S. military, briefings and reports prepared by individuals working the threat at the time, and journalistic and scholarly accounts of the attacks. Interviews included officials at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Defense (DoD), National Security Council (NSC), Department of State, outside experts, and other individuals who possess first-hand knowledge of the Intelligence Community's performance or who can offer broader insights into the challenge of counterterrorism.
This Staff Statement is intended to provide the two Committees with lines of inquiry that we believe are worth pursuing with the panelists who will appear before you today. It has four elements. First, we review briefly several major terrorist attacks or plots against the United States at home and abroad. Second, we note several characteristics of the terrorism challenge that became increasingly apparent in the 1990s. Third, we identify a number of important steps taken by U.S. intelligence and other agencies to combat terrorism more effectively - steps that almost certainly saved many lives. Fourth and finally, we describe in detail several problems or issues apparent from past attacks, noting how these hindered the overall U.S. response to terrorism. Several of these issues transcend the Intelligence Community and involve policy issues; others were recognized early on by the Intelligence Community but were not fully resolved.'
A Review of Past Attacks
The Joint Inquiry Staff has reviewed five past terrorist attacks or attempts against the United States as part of its inquiry into September 11: the 1993 bombing of the
This review is focused on issues that are not addressed fully in other open or closed joint Committee hearings. Thus, for example, important concems such as infomation sbaring and cover action are not addressed, even though they were important issues in how the latelligence Community responded to past attacks. This Joint Inqu Staff has prepared or will prepare assessments of these issues as separate documents.