Even with more resources, his managers repeatedly moved funds from counterterrorism programs to other needs, without ever raiding other programs to fund counterterrorism, according to the IG report. What could be more important than counterterrorism? Analytic resources were poured into addressing more pressing matters like the Balkans and the environment.
After 9/11, Clinton officials and Tenet argued whether the CIA had been granted the authority to kill Osama bin Laden, with the Clintonites, in a bout of retrospective bloodlust, insisting that it had. The IG report finds that restrictions on the CIA killing bin Laden had been "arguably, although ambiguously, relaxed" for a brief period in late 1998 and early 1999 (how Clintonian). But CIA managers refused "to take advantage of the ambiguities," and even if they had, the agency didn't have the covert-action capability to kill bin Laden. Such was life during history's holiday.
What's more scandalous is how the CIA has escaped serious reform even today. Two CIA directors in a row have resisted the IG report's recommendation for an accountability board to evaluate the pre-9/11 performance of CIA officials. That word -- not "board," but "accountability" -- raises hackles at Langley, where everyone is above-average at fighting al-Qaida. Even though as many as 60 CIA employees knew that two of the hijackers were in the U.S. before 9/11 and no one managed to get the word to the FBI, CIA Director Michael Hayden thinks holding anyone accountable for that or other failures would be "distracting."
And so the band plays on.
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