There was not a particular failure that would have enabled the U.S. intelligence community to predict or prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a report released Tuesday by the CIA's internal review office.
But the report from the CIA's Office of the Inspector General faulted the CIA and its officers for not discharging their duties satisfactorily, citing instances in which the agency did not share intelligence with other agencies.
"The (OIG) team found neither a "single point of failure" nor "silver bullet" that would have enabled the intelligence community to predict or prevent the 9/11 attacks," the report stated. "The team did find, however, failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data."
The review team noted that if the intelligence community had been able to analyze the full range of information available before Sept. 11 they would have been better able to assess the threat reports from the spring and summer of 2001.
The executive summary on the investigation by the CIA's Office of the Inspector General was completed in June 2005, but was just declassified. The OIG was asked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to review the findings of the committees' own joint report.
The OIG also said that many CIA officers performed their duties in an exemplary fashion, but laid much blame on the agency and its officers. "The team concluded that the agency and its officers did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner," the report concludes.
The OIG team recommended formation of an accountability board made up of non-CIA employees to review the performance of some individuals.
The summary also said that former CIA Director George Tenet signed a memorandum in which he declared, "We are at war" as far back as 1998, promising to formulate a plan to counter the work of terrorist Osama Bin Laden. However, the report states that Tenet and his deputies did not follow up by creating a plan to guide the counterterrorism effort by the intelligence community.
In a statement, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the decision to release the report was not his preference, but that he was making it available as required by Congress in a law signed by President Bush earlier this month.
"I thought the release of this report would distract officers serving their country on the front lines of a global conflict," Hayden said. "It will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed."
Despite the negative findings, the review team led by Inspector General John Helgerson found no missteps that rose to the level of misconduct.
"The team found no instance in which an employee violated the law, and none of the errors discussed herein involves misconduct," the report states.
In a statement, Tenet said the inspector general is "flatwrong" about the lack of plan.
"There was in fact a robust plan, marked by extraordinary effort and dedication to fighting terrorism, dating back to long
before 9/11," he said. "Without such an effort, we would not have been able to give the president a plan on Sept. 15, 2001, that led to the routing of the Taliban, chasing al-Qaida from its Afghan sanctuary and combating terrorists across 92 countries."
The inspector general did take exception to findings of Congress' joint inquiry into 9/11. For instance, the congressional
inquiry found that the CIA was reluctant to seek authority to assassinate bin Laden. Instead, the inspector general believed the problem was the agency's limited covert-action capabilities.
The CIA's reliance on a group of sources with questionable reliablity "proved insufficient to mount a credible operation
against bin Laden," the report said. "Efforts to develop other options had limited potential prior to 9/11."
From NPR reports and The Associated Press