FBI Under Examination by 9/11 Commission
Last summer, it looked apparent that if someone was going to take the fall for the "16 words in the SOTU", it was going to be the CIA, although this was a very tricky move because there are some good bureaucratic fighters within that agency, including George Tenet. When investigating 9/11, the signs are that the FBI is in the hot seat and has a lot of explaining to do about what they did or didn't do in response to the warnings the summer of 2001. Already the sides are lining up and today's hearings should be interesting.
President Bush passed up an opportunity to throw his support behind the FBI on Monday and instead said that the nation's intelligence operations may need overhauling to prevent another terrorist attack against the United States.
Bush's remarks sent a shudder through the FBI on the eve of crucial testimony Tuesday before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General John Ashcroft are expected to face tough questioning about the bureau's failure to act more effectively against the al-Qaida terrorist assault.
Louis Freeh didn't wait to get in front of the commission before fighting back. This week he wrote an oped for the WSJ that said the FBI was starved of the funds they needed to develop an effective counterterrorism strategy.
Freeh, who served as FBI director from 1993 to 2001, said the FBI asked for 1,895 agents, analysts and translators in its counterterrorism budget in the fiscal years leading up to the attacks.
"We got 76 people for those critical years," he wrote.
The next two days, the commission will be exploring the issues relating to the FBI and among those questioned will be John Ashcroft, Louis Freeh, and Janet Reno.
How do these hearings compare to Watergate that most famous of all governmental investigations? According to John Dean, they are not nearly as gripping nor as revealing as the classic. You can listen to his analysis of the hearings from a fascinating On The Media segment where he was discussing this and Rice's testimony with NPR's Brooke Gladstone. It makes one wonder how Sam Dash would have been running this show.