Inspector general at CIA harsh about 9/11

By Warren P. Strobel
Thu, Jun. 23, 2005


WASHINGTON - The CIA's inspector general has completed a report harshly criticizing the performance of the agency's leaders in confronting terrorism before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

The long-delayed report, a lightning rod for controversy over the Bush administration's pre-Sept. 11 performance, is expected to be sent to CIA Director Porter Goss within a few weeks, then to the congressional intelligence committees.

However, it's unclear whether the classified work will be made public, as relatives of 9-11 victims demand. The report by Inspector General John Helgerson was prepared early this year, but its completion was delayed to incorporate comments from those taken to task.

Officials who've read the most recent version say the report is sharply critical of then-CIA chief George Tenet; James Pavitt, his deputy director for operations; Cofer Black, who was head of the agency's Counter-Terrorism Center; and others for failing to adequately alert policy-makers about the terrorist threat and for devoting insufficient resources to countering it.

Tenet, Pavitt and their allies have disputed that conclusion.

Bill Harlow, a Tenet spokes-man, declined to comment yesterday because the report isn't final.

Pavitt, a former head of the clandestine service, declined comment, but said the report shouldn't be used as an excuse to punish working-level intelligence officers.