U.S. intelligence cut work force by 25 percent since demise of USSR

Thursday, April 15, 2004

More than two years after the suicide strikes against New York and Washington, the United States has failed to develop the intelligence capability required to battle Al Qaida.

CIA director George Tenet said the intelligence community must make up for years of budget shortfalls and manpower cuts in the 1990s. He said that in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. intelligence community lost about 25 percent of manpower and billions of dollars in funding.

Tenet acknowledged that the CIA was not hiring analysts in the 1990s and failed to cooperate with other agencies, Middle East Newsline reported. He cited at least four separate terrorist identity databases at the State Department, Defense Department, CIA, and the FBI, none of which was interoperable.

"There were dozens of watch lists, many haphazardly maintained," Tenet said. "There were legal impediments to cooperation across the continuum of criminal intelligence operations."

"Most profoundly, we lacked a government-wide capability to integrate foreign and domestic knowledge, data, operations and analysis," Tenet added.

"We were not hiring new analysts, emphasizing the importance of expertise, or giving the analysts the tools they needed."

Tenet said the U.S. intelligence community needs at least another five years to develop effective counter-insurgency capabilities. Tenet said the community continues to fall short of requirements in both intelligence-gathering and analysis regarding Islamic insurgency groups.

"It will take us another five years of work to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs," Tenet said in testimony on Wednesday to a federal commission. "The same can be said for the National Security Agency, our imagery agency and our analytic community. You can't build this community in fits and starts."

"We all understood [Osama] Bin Laden's attempt to strike the homeland," Tenet told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

"We never translated this knowledge into an effective defense of the country. No matter how hard we worked, or how desperately we tried, it was not enough. The victims and the families of 9/11 deserved better."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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