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9/11 Commission Report Released

July 26, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 30

The long-awaited 9/11 Commission report offers a sweeping indictment of government antiterrorism efforts prior to the al Qaeda attack that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001. The nearly 600-page report catalogs at least 10 missed "operational opportunities"--including bungled attempts to kill or capture al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden--that might have averted the attack. But the report places no blame on former president Bill Clinton or President George W. Bush for failing to prevent it. Rather, the report cites a governmentwide, institutionalized "failure of imagination," not government neglect. Fault is spread broadly: The intelligence community is harshly chastised, but so is Congress for poor oversight of intelligence collection. The report calls on Congress to overhaul its committee structure on homeland security and to strengthen oversight of the intelligence community. And it recommends creation of a national counterterrorism center headed by a national director of intelligence who would report to the President. This director would have authority--including budgetary control--over the CIA, FBI, and 13 other government intelligence agencies. In addition, the report calls for the creation of a domestic intelligence agency within the FBI whose personnel would have expertise in intelligence and national security. For various reasons, the report's recommendations are not expected to be implemented this year.


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