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
"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
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
"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."