CIA publishes pre-9/11 intelligence errors

We’ve long known that the left hand of the Bush Administration (if there is one) has seldom known what the right hand is doing, and that both hands can’t grasp reality but it is shocking to learn how pervasive this is in the key area of Intelligence gathering.

A 19-page CIA report on known intelligence, pre-9/11, written in 2005 and just now made public, claims that “to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States. But none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure,” according to the New York Times.

The inspector general (author of the report) recommended that several top agency officials, including former director George J. Tenet, be held accountable for their failure to put in place a strategy to dismantle Al Qaeda in the years before Sept. 11, 2001. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the current C.I.A. director, and his predecessor, Porter J. Goss, have declined to seek disciplinary action against Mr. Tenet and others named in the report.

Instead, of course, Bush awarded Tenant the Medal of Freedom, the highest civil medal of merit in the land.

The outlines of the report have been known since shortly after it was completed in 2005, but it had never been made public, and its release reignited a debate about whether the C.I.A. should have done more before the attacks and whether Mr. Tenet and other officials should be held accountable.

Many of the report’s findings about bureaucratic breakdowns that allowed the 19 hijackers to elude the authorities and carry out the attacks have been documented elsewhere, principally by the Sept. 11 commission, but this report by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A. inspector, was the first to recommend that top agency officials face a disciplinary review.

The full report by the inspector general, totaling several hundred pages, remains classified