Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Ooooooh, Such a Toughie 

On Monday, sacked FBI translator and all-around hellraiser Sibel Edmonds pulled together a group of 25 former federal employees from the fields of counterterrorism and counterintelligence to tell the world just how swell a job the Bush administration has been doing in the war on terror:
Diane Kleiman, a former Customs agent at JFK who was fired in 1999, scoffed at the idea that airport security has been improved. Emphasis on checking passengers coming into the airport hides the real problems in the back of the airport, she said, where literally anybody can board a parked plane. She outlined a scenario, for instance, in which, say, 10 terrorists could apply to be cargo handlers (a job with high turnover), get hired and work, but then quit, retaining their passes, which give them access to ramps and the unlocked aircraft. They then could enter the airports with backpacks full of explosives, get on the planes, stash the bags in the cargo holds, and leave. In this way, 10 planes with all their passengers could be blown up.

Holding up a special government security-clearance pass, she described how lax airport security remains. Her pass gave her entrance to every nook and cranny of the airport, from ramps to runways to planes to cargo-handling entrances. Such a pass is worth thousands of dollars to any would-be terrorist. When she was fired, nobody took this valuable passport from her. "The leadership and management at JFK are terrible," she said.
The gang of 25 signed a letter to Congress citing "intentional actions or inaction by individuals responsible for our national security, actions or inaction dictated by motives other than the security of the people of the United States" and blasting the 9/11 Commission for its failure to assign culpability.

From our esteemed colleague and religious adviser Paperwight we learn that, one day later, at the Goss confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein read another letter to Congress -- this one from working spook and Imperial Hubris author Michael Scheuer, better known by his pen name "Anonymous":
Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks, despite repeated pleas from the unit's leaders for reinforcements, a senior C.I.A. officer with extensive counterterrorism experience has told Congress.

The bin Laden unit is stretched so thin that it relies on inexperienced officers rotated in and out every 60 to 90 days, and they leave before they know enough to be able to perform any meaningful work . . . "There has been no systematic effort to groom Al Qaeda expertise" among C.I.A. officers since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the letter, written by Michael F. Scheuer, the former chief of the agency's bin Laden unit and the author of a best-selling book that is critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror . . . .

A senior intelligence official who asked not to be identified strenuously disputed Mr. Scheuer's criticism about the resources assigned to the war against Al Qaeda. "The assertions are off the mark," the official said. "There are far more D.O. officers working against the Al Qaeda target both at C.I.A. headquarters and overseas than there were before Sept. 11," the official said, using the abbreviation for the Directorate of Operations, the C.I.A.'s clandestine arm. "Our knowledge of and substantive expertise on Al Qaeda has increased enormously since 9/11. The overall size of the counterterrorism center has more than doubled, and its analytic capabilities have increased dramatically."

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