From: Otis Willie
Subject: FBI, CIA Defend Pre-9/11 Efforts
Organization: The American War Library
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 17:27:30 EDT
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 21:27:30 GMT
FBI, CIA Defend Pre-9/11 Efforts
(EXCERPT) Fri Sep 27,10:44 AM ET, by KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - They came to Capitol Hill following reports with how
their agencies kept missing clues and warning signs ahead of the Sept.
But Cofer Black and Dale Watson, who oversaw counterterrorism efforts
of the CIA ( news - web sites) and FBI ( news - web sites),
respectively, offered no apologies.
They said their agencies did the best they could with inadequate
staffing, tight budgets and legal restrictions.
"Our people fought with what was provided them," Black told the House
and Senate intelligence committees Thursday.
The committees are conducting an inquiry into the attacks.
The difficulties of stopping the attacks were described in written
testimony by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who said there's no evidence
anyone outside the 19 hijackers knew of the plot.
His testimony was offered in closed session in June and released
Mueller offered the caveat that he wasn't discussing the case of
Zacarias Moussaoui, the suspicious student pilot who faces charges of
conspiring in the attacks.
"Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them
what they were about. They came lawfully. They lived lawfully. They
trained lawfully. They boarded the aircraft lawfully," he said.
Among the details in his report:
_There was a third, previously undisclosed financier of the attacks.
Ali Abdul Aziz Ali allegedly shifted thousands of dollars from the
United Arab Emirates to hijackers Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and
Nawaf al-Hazmi. His whereabouts are unknown.
Two other chief financiers have previously been named: Mustafa Ahmed
al-Hisawi, believed to be bin Laden's financial chief Shaikh Saiid
al-Sharif, and Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be hijacker who was
captured in Pakistan on Sept. 11, 2002.
_Hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar apparently coordinated the travel to the
United States of the 13 hijackers who were described as the "muscle"
on the flights, responsible for keeping passengers under control.
The committees previously reported that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, had
been linked to al-Qaida in January 2000, but little was done to keep
them out of the United States or monitor their movements.
_Atta and hijacker al-Hazmi met monthly in the summer of 2001 to plan
_Three days after hijacker al-Hazmi was put on a State Department
watchlist because of suspected terrorist connections, he used a debit
card in his own name to buy tickets for the plane that crashed into
the Pentagon ( news - web sites).
_Al-Hazmi also had reported an attempted street robbery to police in
Fairfax, Va., on May 1, 2001, but later declined to press charges.
In reports over the last two weeks, Eleanor Hill, the inquiry staff
director, outlined many missed opportunities which, if connected,
might have caused the Sept. 11 plot to unravel.
They include a rise in intelligence reports about a possible attack, a
memo by a Phoenix FBI agent warning that al-Qaida may be sending
terrorists to U.S. flight schools, the arrest of Moussaoui in
Minnesota, and the disclosures about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar being
linked to al-Qaida in 2000.
The officials said these clues were among thousands of others offering
a variety of scenarios for possible attacks at home and abroad.
Watson, retiring from his post as chief of the counterterrorism
division official, compared it to a maze.
"If you know where the end point of a maze is, it's certainly easier
to work your way back to the starting point," he said.
He said counterterrorism will never be perfect.
"We're like a soccer goalkeeper," he said. "We can block 99 shots and
no one wants to talk about any of those and the only thing anyone
wants to talk about is the one that gets through."
In his testimony, Black stressed CIA successes in fighting terrorism.
He said intelligence officials foiled a 1998 attack on the U.S.
embassy in Albania, a millennium plot in Jordan and uncovered threats
to U.S. embassies in Yemen and France last year.
Black noted that he had rejected an offer to appear anonymously behind
the screen at the hearing.
"When I speak, I think the American people need to look into my face,
and I want to look the American people in the eye," he said.
Lawmakers were largely deferential to the officials, praising the
dedication of intelligence personnel. Some said that Congress shares
any blame for the attacks, By not providing enough resources or
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