Release of Key 9/11 Memo is Postponed

Report asks whether anyone should be held accountable, names individuals

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ed. Note:The Cover-up Grinds On: Porter Goss slams shutters on CIA accountability (and no doubt further demoralizes any remaining honest underling spooks)

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has blocked, at least temporarily, the distribution of a draft internal report that identifies individual officers by name in discussing whether anyone should be held accountable for intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of Congress from both parties said.

The delays began in July, at the direction of John McLaughlin, then the acting director of central intelligence, and have continued since Porter Goss took over as the intelligence chief last month, members of Congress said. The delays have postponed the next step in the process, which calls for the draft report to be reviewed by affected individuals.

It is not known who is named in the report, conducted by the CIA’s inspector general, an independent internal investigator.

The review was sought in December 2002 by the joint congressional committee that investigated intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. The purpose, that panel said, should be to determine “whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable” for any mistakes that contributed to the failure to disrupt the attacks.

In a Sept. 23 letter to McLaughlin, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Jane Harman of California respectively, said they were “concerned that the CIA is unwilling to hold its officers accountable for failures to meet the professional standards we know CIA stands for.”

Yesterday, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, wrote separately to Goss, expressing concern “about the appearance that the Inspector General’s independence is being infringed.”

Neither letter has been made public, but copies were obtained yesterday by The New York Times. In both letters, the members of Congress cited as evidence of the delays identical letters sent to the intelligence committees on Aug. 31 by John Helgerson, the CIA inspector general. The members of Congress described the delays as a departure from normal procedure.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment about the status of the report. An intelligence official said that Goss had asked to review the draft himself before it is distributed further. The official would not address the question of who might be named in the document, but said: “No CIA official, current or former, has been found accountable, because we’re talking about a draft.”

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, did not sign the letter that Rockefeller sent to Goss. A Republican congressional official said Roberts did not believe the postponement of the report was a matter for concern, calling it “uncommon but not abnormal.”

A spokesman for George Tenet, who stepped down in July after seven years as CIA director, said that Tenet had not been interviewed for the draft report, had not been briefed on its contents, and had not been asked to respond to it.