From: Otis Willie
Subject: FBI terrorism assessment never finished
Organization: The American War Library
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2002 16:05:15 EDT
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2002 20:05:15 GMT
FBI terrorism assessment never finished
(EXCERPT) Wed Oct 2, 7:21 AM ET
Kevin Johnson USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -- The FBI ( news - web sites) never completed a written
assessment of the terrorist risk to the United States, despite
promising Congress more than a year before the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks that it would do so, a Justice Department ( news - web sites)
review said Tuesday., by September 2001, the FBI had a draft of its
''Terrorist Threat Report,'' which described terrorist organizations
and state sponsors of terror. But the draft did not address the risks
of an attack on U.S. soil, the Justice Department's inspector general
The FBI's draft also did not account for possible methods of attack,
potential targets, or the resources amassed by various terrorist
''Because the FBI has not completed a systematic written assessment of
the most likely terrorism scenarios,'' Justice said, ''it may not have
fully identified the specific nature of the threat so that it could
focus its attention and resources to prepare adequately and respond
The FBI acknowledged in the Justice review that it did not follow
through on its promise to conduct a formal threat assessment. But Dale
Watson, the FBI's executive assistant director for counterterrorism,
said he was ''fully aware of the threats, both before and after Sept.
11, 2001, based on the breadth of the FBI's counterterrorism cases and
his frequent discussions with FBI employees,'' the review said.
Watson, who retired last week, ''did not believe a formal, written
threat assessment would have improved the FBI's ability to understand
or address terrorist threats,'' the Justice review said.
The Justice Department review was initiated by Inspector General Glenn
Fine last year after Attorney General John Ashcroft ( news - web
sites) said counterterrorism -- specifically the prevention of future
attacks -- would be the primary mission of the FBI and the department.
Fine released only a summary of the Justice Department findings
Tuesday. The bulk of the 131-page review remains classified and was
submitted to House and Senate oversight committees.
According to the public portion of the Justice review, the FBI
indicated in a March 2000 letter to the House Appropriations Committee
that the bureau would ''develop scenarios for the highest threat
hazards . . . to determine deficiencies in response capabilities.'' In
the letter, bureau officials also promised they would ''rank a list of
chemical and biological agents based on the likelihood'' of their use.
Justice concluded that the FBI's draft assessment was
''unresponsive.'' Further, ''the FBI failed to follow through on its
promise that it would render a formal, authoritative intelligence
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a harsh critic of bureau operations,
blamed the failures on both the FBI and Congress. ''(FBI) headquarters
handled the issues of foreign terrorism by the seat of their pants,
always looking backwards instead of seriously thinking about attacks
on our soil,'' he said. ''At the same time, Congress kept pouring more
money into the FBI to use against terrorism and did little if anything
to make sure it was used in an effective way.''
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, a joint House-Senate committee
investigating intelligence lapses was told that information-sharing
among federal, state and local agencies remains inadequate more than a
year after the attacks.
There still is ''no single agency or database or computer network that
integrates all counterterrorism information nationwide,'' said Eleanor
Hill, the committee's staff director.
The American War Library