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Limited FBI aggressiveness at home: The FBI responded unevenly at home, with only some field offices devoting significant resources to al-Qa'ida. An overall assessment of the risk to America was not prepared, and much of the FBI's counterterrorism effort was concentrated abroad. This situation reflected a huge gap in the U.S. Government's counterterrorism structure, a lack of focus on how an international terrorist group might target the United States itself.
No agency appears to have been responsible for regularly assessing the threat to the homeland. In his testimony before the Joint Committees on September 19, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz opined that an attack against the United States had fallen between the cracks in the Intelligence Community's division of labor. He noted that, "There is a problem of where responsibility is assigned." The CIA and the NSA followed events overseas, and their employees saw their job as passing relevant threat information to the FBI. The FBI, on the other hand, did not have the strategic analytic capability independent of individual operations to prepare comprehensive assessments of U.S. vulnerability and relied heavily on the CIA for much of its analysis.
Attention to terrorist activity in the United States did, however, often increase after an attack when the links between the extremists in the United States and those overseas became better known. For example, former FBI Counterterrorism Chief Dale Watson said that he only knew of three al-Qa'ida suspects in the United States before the 1998 Africa embassy bombings, but some 200 FBI counterterrorism cases were opened after those bombings.
Lack of a coordinated Intelligence Community response: The main intelligence agencies often did not collaborate. They, at times, did not work together to target terrorists, and officers at one agency often unknowingly withheld information that was needed by another. Classification of data and legal restrictions magnified the problem. Even the CTC, the Intelligence Community's counterterrorism organization that was expressly designed to foster a Community-wide response, suffered from parochialism. Interviews at the NSA, the DIA, and the FBI indicate that many officials there saw the CTC primarily as a CIA rather than a Community organization.
Beyond the CTC, the JTTFs did not always include CIA officers. Of the 35 JTTFs active on September 11, only six had CIA officers on them.
At NSA, officials contended that the responsibility for collecting information concerning foreign radicals in the United States was the responsibility of the FBI. NSA maintained that this was true even when these individuals were communicating internationally. As a result, NSA did not use one sensitive collection technique that would have improved its chances of successful collection. NSA adopted this strategy even though its mission included the collection and exploitation of foreign communications that have one communicant in the United States, and such coverage would have been available under a FISA. NSA does not appear to have developed a systematic plan to ensure that the FBI would routinely pursue collection in cases where NSA would not do so.
The net effect of these collaboration problems was gaps in the collection and analysis of information about individuals and groups operating both in the United States and abroad.
The actions of those responsible for the attacks on September 11 demonstrate why effective integration of both domestic and foreign. collection is critical in understanding fully the operations of international terrorists. We know now that several hijackers communicated extensively abroad after arriving in the United States, and at least two entered, left, and returned to the United States. Effective tracking of their activities, which would have required coordination among the agencies, might have provided important additional information.
Difficulties in sharing law enforcement and intelligence information: The walls that had developed to separate intelligence and law enforcement often hindered efforts to investigate terrorist operations aggressively, as we saw in previous testimony about the CIA and FBI action regarding hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
In addition, misunderstandings, misperceptions and cultural differences led to other types of walls that often hindered the flow of information within the Community and between the Community and other parts of the U.S. Government.
Finally, limited changes in intelligence priorities: As certain threats, including terrorism, increased in the late 1990s, none of the lower level, Tier One national security priorities were downgraded so that resources, i.e., money and people, could be reallocated. As a result, to much of the Intelligence Community, everything was a priority. The U.S. wanted to know everything about everything all the time.
For example, NSA analysts acknowledged that they had far too many broad requirements, some 1,500 formal ones, that covered virtually every situation and every target. Within these 1,500 formal requirements, there were almost 20,000 essential elements of information that were mandated by customers.
Analysts understood the gross priorities and worked the requirements that were practicable on any given day. While counterterrorism became an increasingly important concern for senior Intelligence Community officials, collection and analytic ef forts did not keep pace.
In closing, as this review suggests, the Intelligence Community made several impressive advances in fighting terrorism since the end of the Cold War, but many fundamental steps were not taken. Individual components of the Community scored impressive successes or strengthened their effort against terrorism, but important gaps remained. These included many problems outside the control or the responsibility of the Intelligence Community, such as the sanctuary terrorists enjoyed in Afghanistan and the legal limits on information-sharing between intelligence and law enforcement offi
However, another major contributing factor was that the Community did not fully learn the lessons of past attacks. On September 11, 2001, al-Qa'ida was able to exploit the gaps in the U.S. counterterrorism structure to carry out its devastating attacks.
Chairman Goss. Thank you very much, Ms. Hill. As usual, that is very comprehensive.
I would draw Members to even more comprehensive versions of it that are in your books. There is a classified version, as well, which is worth reading.
Ms. HILL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Goss. Before introducing our witnesses, the committees have received statements for the record that will not be accompanied today by oral testimony, but I should note, one of these statements was submitted by Dr. Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation, who is an expert on terrorism; and the second was provided by Mr. Kie Fallis, a counterterrorism analyst formerly assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
I ask unanimous consent that Dr. Hoffman's and Mr. Fallis's statements be made part of the record of this hearing.
Without objection, so ordered.
[The statement of Dr. Hoffman follows:]
JOINT INQUIRY STAFF REQUEST
Dr. Bruce Hoffman
Vice President, External Affairs and
20 August 2002
It should be emphasized that the views and conclusions expressed herein are those of Dr. Bruce Hoffman only and do not represent those of any organizations or entities to which he is affiliated.
How has the threat terrorists pose to the United States changed since the end of the cold war?
Starting in the early 1990s, terrorism underwent a profound change. New adversaries, with new motivations and new rationales surfaced to challenge much of the conventional wisdom on both terrorists and terrorism. Critically, many analysts both inside and external to government were slow to recognize these changes or even worse dismissed them. Accordingly, throughout most of the 1990s our conceptions and policies remained largely the same, dating from terrorism's emergence as a global security problem more than thirty years before. These conceptions originated, and took hold, during the Cold War: when radical left-wing terrorist groups then active throughout the world were widely regarded as posing the most serious threat to Western security. The irrelevance of this thinking to various aspects of the "new terrorist" problem as it
Some observers argued that these groups were in fact part of a world-wide communist plot orchestrated by Moscow and implemented by its client states. See especially Claire Sterling, The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981).
crystallized during the 1990s is perhaps most clearly evidenced by the changes in our notions of the "stereotypical-type terrorist organization."
Terrorist groups, for example, were once recognizable mostly as a collection of individuals belonging to an organization with a well-defined command and control apparatus, who were engaged in conspiracy as a full-time avocation, living underground while constantly planning and plotting terrorist attacks and who at times were under the direct control, or operating at the express behest of, a foreign government.' These groups, moreover, had a defined set of political, social or economic objectives and often issued communiqués taking credit for and explaining their actions. Accordingly, however disagreeable or repugnant the terrorists and their tactics may have been, we at least knew who they were and what they wanted.
During the past decade, however, these more "traditional" and familiar types of ethnic/nationalist-separatist and ideological organizations' were joined by a variety of "entities" with arguably less comprehensible nationalist or ideological motivations. This "new generation" of terrorist groups embraced not only far more amorphous religious and sometimes millenarian aims but also were less cohesive organizational entities, with a more diffuse structure and membership. In this respect, the emergence of either obscure, idiosyncratic millenarian movements or zealously nationalist religious groups' represented a very different and potentially far more lethal threat than the more "traditional" terrorist adversaries.
For example, although the total volume of terrorist incidents world-wide declined in the 1990s, according to Department of State statistics presented in the annual Global Patterns of International Terrorism publications, the proportion of persons killed in terrorist incidents generally increased. Hence, while terrorists were arguably less active, they were nonetheless becoming more lethal. The reasons for terrorism's increasing lethality are complex and variegated, but can generally be attributed to the change in the
To cite the most obvious, and perhaps best known, example: In the late 1980s, Colonel Qaddafi reputedly commissioned the Japanese Red Army (JRA) to carry out attacks against American and British targets (in retaliation for the 1986 U.S. air strike against Libya). The JRA used the name "Anti-Imperialist International Brigades" in claiming responsibility for these operations.
'That is, the variety of aforementioned radical leftist (e.g., Marxist-Leninist/Maoist/Stalinist movements) organizations active in years past (such as Germany's Red Army Faction and Italy's Red Brigades) as well as the such stereotypical ethnic/nationalist and separatist terrorist groups like the PLO, PIRA, Basque ETA, etc.
*Such as the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo religious sect who committed the March 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
3 Such as Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Egyptian Islamic Organizations, the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria and, of course, al-Qa'ida.