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EVERY ACT OF TERRORISM AROUND THE WORLD CANNOT BE PREVENTED
Terrorism has been waged against domestic, civil authority and invading armies for centuries. Its motivation and execution has unlimited variations over time and place. For that very reason and as a freedom loving people, we have to be careful about how we let terrorism be defined. It is inevitable that every act of terrorism cannot be prevented even under the best of circumstances. If reality was otherwise, some government or regime, using unlimited resources and unrestrained power, would have come up with a 100 percent preventive formula. America and other countries are fully capable of carrying out skillful, covert, highly compartmentalized and effective strikes against terrorists on the other side of the world. Our enemies from time-to-time are equally capable of such an attack against us, especially when they are anxious to die in the endeavor. No agency or country – particularly in a democracy where the Rule of Law is sacred - can be expected to foil and prevent every planned attack. Such a standard will never be met. Nevertheless, our law enforcement, our intelligence agencies, our political, economic, military and our diplomatic policies and efforts must strive to get as close to that 100 percent goal as humanly possible.
THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY AND THE FBI DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE HAD SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO PREVENT THE SEPTEMBER 11' ATTACKS
What has been stated recently to this Committee by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller Ill includes the following:
"The plans for the September 11th attacks were hatched and financed
"Each of the hijackers, apparently purposely selected to avoid notice,
"While here, the hijackers effectively operated without suspicion, triggering
"None of the nineteen suicide hijackers are known to have had computers,
used 133 different pre-paid calling cards to call from various pay phones,
"The nineteen suicide hijackers used U.S. checking accounts accessed
"Meetings and communications between the hijackers were done without
"In short, the terrorists had managed very effectively to exploit loopholes
We have read and heard much about the July 2001 memo by a Phoenix Special Agent, the Minnesota arrest and investigation of Moussaoui in August, and the information which the CIA obtained regarding two of the nineteen hijackers relating to a Kuala Lumpur meeting in 2000.
It is very important in hindsight to segregate this relevant information and put it into a dedicated timeline. However, the predictive value of these diverse facts at the time that they were being received must be evaluated. Analyzing intelligence information can be like trying to take a sip of water coming out of a fire hydrant. The several bits of information clearly connected and predictive after the fact need to be viewed in real time. The reality is that these unquestionably important bits have been plucked from a sea of thousands and thousands of such bits at the time. Additionally, as this Committee well knows, the difference between strategic and tactical intelligence is critically important to keep in mind.
Although not privy to all the relevant information known to this Committee, I am aware of nothing that to me demonstrates that the FBI and the intelligence community had the type of information or tactical intelligence which could have prevented September 11th. In terms of the FBI's capability to identify, investigate and prevent the nineteen hijackers from carrying out their attacks, the facts so far on the public record do not support the conclusion that these tragic events could have been prevented by the FBI and intelligence community acting by themselves. That is not to say things could not have been done better or that more resources or authorities would not have helped. It is only to say I have not seen a reporting of facts that leads to that conclusion, with one important caveat, however. Because of the narrow focus of this inquiry I leave aside any view of the larger but very relevant issues like foreign policy, military might, airline safety, national commitment, etc.
IDENTIFICATION, INVESTIGATION AND ARREST OF DANGEROUS TERRORISTS AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT THEM IS PREVENTION
For instance, the FBI's criminal investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing led directly to the discovery and prosecution of a terrorist plot to blow up New York City tunnels, buildings, and infrastructure which would have killed thousands of innocent people. The FBI's investigation led to evidence and witnesses whose cooperation directly prevented a major terrorist attack. In my experience, the identification, pursuit and arrest of terrorists are the primary means of preventing terrorism. The FBI and CIA have jointly been doing this successfully for many years. Our investigation and pursuit of Ramzi Yousef after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, let to the Philippines and helped to prevent his plot to blow up eleven United States airliners in the western Pacific. His arrest in Pakistan by FBI Agents certainly prevented him from carrying out further acts of terrorism against America. Bringing Yousef and the East Africa Embassy bombers back to the United States and convicting them in New York City without a doubt prevented them from carrying out more terrorism against America. As these Committees have known for several years, the FBI and the CIA have carried out joint operations around the world to disrupt, exploit and recover evidence on Al-Qaeda operatives who have targeted the United States. These operations, in part designed to obtain admissible evidence, also had the critical objectives of destroying the operational capability of terrorist organizations, collecting valuable intelligence and being able to support our military, should such a response be unleashed.
LAW ENFORCEMENT'S ABILITY TO ACT AGAINST ENTRENCHED TERRORISTS IN OVERSEAS SANTUARIES IS VERY LIMITED
The FBI and CIA can devise and implement a very effective counterterrorism strategy both inside the United States and overseas. However, often a greater involvement of national resources is required. For example, General Noriega was investigated and indicted by the Department of Justice in 1988 operating out of what he thought was a safe, foreign haven. Noriega and his military-like organization were sending tons of deadly drugs into the United States, causing the deaths and devastation of countless Americans. The FBI and DEA built the case and executed the arrest warrant on Noriega in Panama only because our military can and did do what law enforcement and intelligence cannot. Usama Bin Laden was indicted in 1998, prior to Al-Qaeda's bombings of our two embassies in East Africa. Like Noriega, Usama Bin Laden remained secure and operational in his foreign, safe haven. Once the collective will to go in and get him was summoned, it happened with striking speed. The Pan Am 103 bombing is another such example of an FBI case where the Libyan intelligence service was the target of our investigation.
I certainly don't equate Noriega and Usama Bin Laden in terms of their destructiveness and evil. However, the comparison makes an obvious but often
overlooked point that our response to terrorism must be expansive, unmistakable, and unwavering across all levels of the United States Government
And I particularly want to commend George Tenet and the courageous men and women of the CIA for fighting bravely on the front lines of this war for many years. Under Mr. Tenet's sound leadership, dedication and vision, the CIA has achieved great successes in rolling-up major terrorist plots in Albania, Jordan, South East Asia and many other places. Importantly, the CIA and FBI have been fully cooperating and jointly carrying out America's counter-terrorism war for many years forming the first joint FBI-CIA group dedicated to Al-Qaeda/Usama Bin Laden a year prior to the August 1998 East African embassy attacks.
But the fact is that working at their best and highest levels of efficiency and cooperation, the FBI and CIA together will still fall short of war a total war against terrorism.
As these Committees well know, total war - as we have recently done it requires bold leadership supported by the will of Congress and the American people. Its success is ultimately dependent upon the united and unrelenting efforts of foreign policy, military assets, vast resources, legal authorities and international alliances and cooperation.
I realize that your Committees' efforts have publicly focused for the most part on the intelligence community and the FBI. And I'm confident that the upcoming Commission, should there be one, will more fully examine these broader issues with a global view. It should be obvious, for instance, that the FBI with about 3.5 percent of the country's counter-terrorism budget and the CIA with their share comprise but pieces of a mosaic of a total government commitment to the war on terrorism.
U.S. AIRLINES AND AVIATION HAVE LONG BEEN KNOWN AS A MAJOR TARGET FOR TERRORIST ATTACKS
Aviation and airplanes have long been known to be preferred targets of terrorist hijackers. Protecting civil aviation from a terrorist attack has for years been an urgent national issue. A September 1996 GAO Report concluded that "nearly every major aspect of the system ranging from the screening of passengers, checked and carry-on baggage, mail and cargo as well as access to secured areas within airports and aircraft – has weaknesses that terrorists could exploit."
In the aftermath of the tragedy of TWA Flight 800 in New York City, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security was formed. I along with New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bill Coleman, Franklin Raines, Jim Hall, and other distinguished Americans served as commissioners appointed by President Clinton. The Chairman of the Commission was Vice President Al Gore, who did an excellent job leading the effort and making much needed recommendations. Known as the Gore Commission, the panel made its final report and
recommendations on February 12, 1997. For example, Recommendation 3.19, entitled "Complement Technology with Automated Passenger Profiling", contemplated the development of a passenger profiling system wherein law enforcement and intelligence information on known or suspected terrorists would be used in passenger profiling.
The critical issue of terrorism directed against our aviation security was well known for many years prior to September 11th. As this Committee knows, the FBI conveyed repeated warnings to the FAA and the airline industry regarding terrorism, right up to September 11, 2001. Efforts by the government and the airline industry to implement these and other recommendations deserve intensive and careful study, and, most likely, massive resources.
This is not to criticize the FAA, which does a difficult job very well. Rather, the point is that while the CIA and the FBI should be intensely examined regarding September 11 - they should not be examined in a vacuum. The Executive and the Congress, the various government agencies with primary responsibility for public safety and national security, foreign policy, technologies, as well as the private sector and the international community are all components in whether or not terrorism is addressed with the vigor it so deserves.
You have asked me to talk about resource allocation and whether sufficient resources were allocated to and within the FBI for fighting terrorism. The short answer is that the allocations were insufficient to maintain the critical growth and priority of the FBI's counter-terrorism program. The Gore Commission agreed when it recommended we "significantly increase the number of FBI Agents assigned to counterterrorism investigations, to improve intelligence, and to crisis response."
In 1993, the FBI had under 600 Special Agents and 500 support positions funded for its entire counter-terrorism program, domestic and international alike. By 1999, that allocation had increased to around 1,300 Agents and a like amount of support positions. While at first blush that may sound like a lot, the FBI had requested significantly more counter-terrorism resources during this period. This was done because I had made the prevention, disruption and defeat of terrorism one of the FBI's highest priorities. We knew that many areas, like analysis and technology, needed huge influxes of new resources.
Let me read from the FBI's May 8, 1998 Strategic Plan, "The FBI has identified three general, functional areas that describe the threats which it must address to realize the goal of enhanced national and individual security:
• "TIER ONE: National and Economic Security - Foreign