Accessibility links

Breaking News

IN THE NEWS - July 26, 2003: Congressional Report on Sept. 11 Attacks - 2003-07-25

This is the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

This week, a joint congressional committee released its final report about the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, two-thousand-one. The report criticizes the way officials dealt with intelligence in the months before the attacks in New York and Washington. But the committee also found that intelligence agencies had no direct evidence of the plot.

Hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Center. A third hit the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Defense Department. A fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The September eleventh attacks killed three-thousand people.

The report is based on a ten-month investigation last year by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Some findings were announced when the committees completed their investigation in December. But most of the details remained secret.

Congressional members and intelligence agencies had been struggling over what information could be made public. A nine-hundred page version of the report was released Thursday.

The report says that before the attacks a number of agencies had a great deal of information about Osama bin Laden's al Qaida group and the future hijackers. These agencies included the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. But the report says none of the intelligence showed exactly how, when or where the attacks would take place.

Still, the report criticizes intelligence agencies for failing to share and act on information they had in the months before the attacks. It says they missed chances to deny entry to those involved in the plot, to observe their movements or to increase security in the United States.

The report says American intelligence agencies received information as early as nineteen-ninety-four that terrorists were considering using airplanes in attacks.

The document also says two of the September eleventh hijackers had many contacts with an F-B-I informant in California in two-thousand. It says the C-I-A knew the two men had ties to al-Qaida, but never shared the information with the F-B-I or put the men’s names on a terrorism watch list.

The report offers nineteen suggestions. These include better cooperation among intelligence agencies and more aggressive efforts to investigate threats.

Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis. But much of the report’s information that deals with the Saudi government was not made public.

The White House says information was withheld to protect national security interests. Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He say the White House did not want to make an important ally look bad. But other committee members, including some Democrats, say they have no evidence of that.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is _______.