President Bush called on Congress Thursday night to create a Department of Homeland Security that he said is necessary to quash the “thousands of trained killers plotting to attack us.”
His proposal comes as Bush faces the first sustained scrutiny since the September 11th attacks. He and his aides have watched as revelations of FBI and CIA negligence have played out on the front pages of major newspapers. And he has protested as Congress has launched an investigation into the government’s handling of terrorist threats.
Bush’s well-timed address stole the top-headline slot from FBI agent Coleen Rowley, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The agent-turned-whistleblower assailed the FBI as a bureaucracy rife with careerism, “risk aversion,” and “endless, needless paperwork.” In a letter sent to FBI Chief Robert Mueller on May 21, Rowley bitterly criticized the performance of F.B.I. headquarters in handling the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. She complained that headquarters agents stifled attempts by Minneapolis agents to obtain a warrant to examine Moussaoui’s laptop computer. Moussaoui’s computer was not searched until after the attacks. It contained data about the cockpit layouts of large commercial aircraft and phone numbers like one in Germany for the roommate of Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the plot.
Bush said his Homeland Security Department proposal was the largest overhaul of the federal government since the 1940s. But the plan will not include the FBI and CIA. One of the divisions of the new department will review intelligence from the two agencies, but it will not have access to raw intelligence data, and it will not collect its own.
The White House unveiled the proposal as FBI Chief Robert Mueller took his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, to try to explain why the agency missed warning signals before the September attacks. Mueller faced fierce questioning on the stand from the Senate judiciary committee about clues agents say might have prevented the attacks. He answered that computer deficiencies and inadequate procedures, not human error, were to blame for the agency’s missteps
Well, today we are going to look at some of the other reasons the FBI may have overlooked the clues pointing to September 11th.
- Greg Palast, investigative reporter who writes for the BBC, the British Guardian and the British Observer. He is the author of ??The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
- Michael Springman, former head of the American visa section in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He spent six years in the State Department, from 1986-1992. He was assigned to embassies in Germany and India, as well as Saudi Arabia.
- Persona Non Gravitas–The Galerkin Method.
- “Not in Our Name” by Saul Williams