CIA official: Stop picking on us

Published July 22, 2004 5:32PM (EDT)

A CIA official resents the 9/11 commissioners findings that the intelligence community failed both Presidents Clinton and Bush, anonymously fighting back in this Reuters article.

"The CIA defended itself against criticism in the Sept. 11 commission report on Thursday and said it had warned of the possibility of terrorists using hijacked planes before the 2001 attacks took place. 'CIA regularly reported on threats to civil aviation including hijacking,' a CIA official said on condition of anonymity to a group of reporters before the report's release."

"The report criticized the spy agency, already under fire for its flawed intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons before last year's invasion, for failing to properly understand the threat of the al Qaeda movement that carried out the attacks. It slammed the agency's methods as Cold War and bemoaned the lack of any expansion in the CIA's paramilitary operations in the face of potential terrorist attacks."

"The strong defense by CIA appeared intended to forestall further criticism of the agency, whose director, George Tenet, resigned in the face of a barrage of complaints about intelligence failures in Iraq and over Sept. 11. The official said the CIA in 1999 had provided the Federal Aviation Administration with language to use in briefing U.S. airline officials that read: 'Osama bin Laden remains interested in targeting U.S. interests including on U.S. territory. He is well prepared to consider kidnappings and hijackings as well as bombings.'"

"'All of those warnings plus other intelligence reports of a similar nature through that period were provided in time to do something about it. It wasn't too late. The industry could have taken countermeasures and so forth. So we were on time and on target with that,' he said."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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