The Friday dump of documents requested and available since March reveal a Clinton presidency that was not prioritizing the threat of terrorism. The complete report can be read here:
The Clinton administration had bankrupted the intelligence community and refused to let the CIA prioritize anti-terrorism over other major priorities in the late 1990s, leaving the agency stretched too thin in the days ahead of the 2001 terrorist attacks, former Director George J. Tenet said in a 2005 document declassified Friday.
Mr. Tenet, who was head of the agency at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks and has taken severe criticism for not anticipating and heading them off, said in the document that he took the threat of Osama bin Laden very seriously, and put major effort into trying to penetrate al Qaeda, beginning as far back as 1998.
In one revelation, Mr. Tenet says those efforts averted off an earlier “major attack” planned by al Qaeda for some time in 1999 or 2000. The document gives no other details.
The document was a response to an inspector general’s draft report that had accused Mr. Tenet of failing to give al Qaeda enough attention in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. But Mr. Tenet said he did take steps, amid all the other work CIA was also required to do.
“Your report does not adequately address the context of an intelligence community that had to respond to wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the prospect of war between India and Pakistan, China’s military buildup and threat to Taiwan, the requirements of policy makers, particularly in Congress, to pursue narco-traffickers in Central and South America, and numerous other such requirements,” Mr. Tenet wrote. “Despite all of these stresses, despite the fact that we had effectively been in Chapter 11 as an intelligence community, we continued on a path to methodically increase both CIA and intelligence community resources and our personnel base devoted to terrorism.”
In addition to Mr. Tenet’s response document, which had originally been classified “top secret/codeword sensitive,” the CIA released more full versions Friday of several other documents that had been released earlier.
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