C.I.A. Is Accused of Delaying Internal Report

By DOUGLAS JEHL

New York Times

October 27, 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 - The Central Intelligence Agency has blocked, at least temporarily, the distribution of a draft internal report that identifies individual officers by name in discussing whether anyone should be held accountable for intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of Congress from both parties said.

The delays began in July, at the direction of John E. McLaughlin, then the acting director of central intelligence, and have continued since Porter J. Goss took over as the intelligence chief last month, members of Congress said. The delays have postponed the next step in the process, which calls for the draft report to be reviewed by affected individuals.

It is not known who is named in the report, conducted by the C.I.A.'s inspector general, an independent internal investigator. The review was sought in December 2002 by the joint Congressional committee that investigated intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. The purpose, that panel said, should be to determine "whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable'' for any mistakes that contributed to the failure to disrupt the attacks.

In a Sept. 23 letter to Mr. McLaughlin, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representatives Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Jane Harman of California, said they were "concerned that the C.I.A. is unwilling to hold its officers accountable for failures to meet the professional standards we know C.I.A stands for.'' On Tuesday, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, wrote separately to Mr. Goss, expressing concern "about the appearance that the inspector general's independence is being infringed.''

Neither letter has been made public, but copies were obtained Tuesday by The New York Times. In both letters, the members of Congress cited as evidence of the delays identical letters sent to the intelligence committees on Aug. 31 by John Helgerson, the C.I.A. inspector general. The members of Congress described the delays as a departure from normal procedure.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment about the status of the report. An intelligence official said that Mr. Goss had asked to review the draft himself before it was distributed further. The official would not address the question of who might be named in the document but said, "No C.I.A. official, current or former, has been found accountable, because we're talking about a draft.''

Senator Pat Roberts, af Kansas Republican who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, did not sign the letter that Mr. Rockefeller sent. A Republican Congressional official said that Mr. Roberts did not yet believe that the postponement of the report was a matter for concern and said the delay was "uncommon but not abnormal.''

Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for Mr. Roberts, said: "Senator Roberts is closely monitoring the progress of the C.I.A. inspector general's report on 9/11. Senator Roberts has already made it clear to the agency that he expects to see the report upon its completion."

That Mr. Hoekstra and Ms. Harman had called on the C.I.A. to release the report had been previously disclosed, but not the contents of the letter. In it, Mr. Hoekstra and Ms. Harman said that Mr. Helgerson had indicated that Mr. McLaughlin had broken with normal practice and directed him "not to distribute the sections of the report that identify individual officers by name.''

A spokesman for George J. Tenet, who stepped down in July after seven years as director of central intelligence, said that Mr. Tenet had not been interviewed for the draft report, had not been briefed on its contents and had not been asked to respond to it.

James L. Pavitt, who retired in August as the C.I.A.'s deputy director of operations, also said he had not seen the report and had not been asked to respond to it. Mr. Pavitt said in an e-mail message: "We failed to stop the 11 September attacks. It surely was not for lack of effort, lack of focus or lack of courage.''

"Given what we now know, in all the hindsight of the year 2004, I still do not believe we could have stopped the attacks,'' Mr. Pavitt added. "If there is to be blame, it belongs with me, not with the remarkable folks who worked the counterterrorism issue day in and day out."