Transcript: 9/11 Commission Hearings for June 16, 2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004; 3:25 PM
The 9/11 Commission met on Wednesday to discuss U.S. counterterrorism policy. Witnesses included FBI and CIA special agents. A transcript of the morning session follows.
THOMAS H. KEAN,
LEE H. HAMILTON,
COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN
FRED F. FIELDING,
JAMIE S. GORELICK,
JOHN F. LEHMAN,
TIMOTHY J. ROEMER,
JAMES R. THOMPSON,
COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
COMMISSION DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
MARY DEBORAH DORAN,
FBI SPECIAL AGENT
JOHN PISTOLE, FBI, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR,
COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERTERRORISM
U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DR. K, SPECIAL ADVISER TO CIA
TED DAVIS, CIA OFFICIAL
KEAN: Our first panel today includes Deborah Mary Doran, a special agent for the FBI. And she has pursued al Qaeda worldwide. She is accompanied by Mr. John Pistole, the executive assistant director of the FBI for counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
In addition, we have Patrick J. FITZGERALD, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who has prosecuted many of the terrorism cases related to al Qaeda; and "Dr. K" of the Central Intelligence Agency, who has extensively tracked and analyzed the global terrorist threat to the U.S., particularly al Qaeda.
Would you please rise and raise your right hands?
Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Please be seated.
"Dr. K" is also being accompanied -- these people need to be accompanied -- by Mr. Ted Davis of the CIA.
Ms. Doran, would you please begin?
DORAN: Good morning.
My name is Debbie Doran and since 1996 I've been a special agent of the FBI assigned to the New York division's Counterterrorism Division, where I focused on Osama bin laden and al Qaeda investigations.
As a street agent, I'm removed from the policy and administrative decision-making processes that have defined the scope and conduct of the FBI's investigation into al Qaeda, both historically and currently, and therefore cannot speak to those issues.
What I can speak to is how we at the street agent level pursued al Qaeda and some of what we have learned.
Let me begin by telling you that I am proud to be an agent of the FBI and I am particularly proud of the work done by the Counterterrorism Division in New York. I have been privileged and honored to work with and learn from my colleagues in the FBI, as well as those in other government agencies.
Prior to 9/11, it was primarily the New York office together with the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, supported by dedicated analysts at FBI headquarters and in conjunction with our colleagues at CTC that constituted the majority of the United States government's institutional knowledge about al Qaeda and the threat it posed to the United States.
The dedication and sacrifices made in this cause by these people is incalculable. I hope today that we who sit before you can do justice to their efforts, which since 9/11 have been supplemented with literally thousands of additional people in both civilian and military capacities. Clearly this is indicative of the responsibility with which we were charged prior to 9/11.
The FBI is and has been an integral part of the United States intelligence community working to prevent acts of terrorism.
Most emphatically, the FBI is not new to countering terrorism against United States interests, whether here or abroad. Included in the FBI's mission has always been the proactive identification and disruption of potential terrorism threats.
Our first joint terrorism task force was formed in New York over 20 years ago, and we have long understood that a successful prosecution after an attack is only second best.
The FBI is extremely effective in putting together both criminal and intelligence cases all built upon information obtained through detailed and thorough investigations that are factually substantiated and corroborated.
The fundamental objective of our investigations, both criminal and intelligence, is to reach to the highest level of truth about that which we investigate.
It is our training under the rule of law that has led to the FBI's successes in such cases.
FBI investigators seek to pursue all leads to their logical end and to follow these leads wherever they may take us.
While leads can undoubtedly be difficult in the wake of terrorist attacks, the real goal is to develop them through proactive investigation so as to be able to disrupt potential attacks before they occur.
In numerous instances, our investigations have disrupted planned attacks against the United States and have contributed to the disruption of planned attacks abroad.
Beyond merely disrupting specific plots, intelligence generated has significantly contributed to the identification of al Qaeda's leadership, its organizational structure, methods, training, finances, geographical region and intent.
The early development of operational sources and cooperators, dogged pursuit of leads and the factual substantiation of information all exemplify the ways that we were proactive in the fight against terrorism long before 9/11.
Through the use of sources, the FBI identified the first seeds of Islamically justified terrorism in the U.S. in the late 1980s.
Through these investigations in the early 1990s the name Osama bin Laden first surfaced. Initially he was identified as an organizer and financier of military training camps in Afghanistan.
The fact that his name first surfaced through FBI New York investigations were the reasons that the OBL investigation was assigned to the FBI's New York office.
This early era yielded yet another important name, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. all of these investigations contributed greatly to the FBI's then new but growing knowledge of OBL and his network.
The FBI's intelligence investigation into Osama bin Laden was opened in February of '96, and the criminal investigation was opened in September of '96. Perhaps the most significant factor in the progress of these investigations from our perspective came with the arrival of an al Qaeda defector, Jamal al Fadl, nicknamed Junior.
Junior had offered his information to a number of different countries before being brought in by the CIA in '96. Subsequently the CIA allowed him to meet with the Fbi.
In December '96, Junior was established as an FBI cooperating witness against al Qaeda. Information developed by Junior spurred a continuing effort to target and apprehend al Qaeda associates wherever they might be found, including those willing to act as informants.
Junior was only one of a series of cooperators developed by the FBI. Like him, they continue to be debriefed to this day and continue to provide the FBI with new and relevant information. Through these sources, the FBI gained valuable insights into al Qaeda.
Utilizing sources like Junior and others, Osama bin Laden was identified as the head of al Qaida.
Information provided by the sources also allowed for the identification of his top lieutenants and the structure of the al Qaeda organization. al Qaeda can be likened to the organization of a corporation, headed by a CEO, with a number of subsidiaries, the directors of which all sit upon the corporate board. In al Qaeda's case, OBL is the CEO, and his board of directors is called the Majlis al-Shura, or consultative council, which forms a core of the group's command and control structure.
This council discussed and approved major undertakings, including the terrorist operations of al Qaeda. Each member of the Majlis al- Shura headed a committee, and each committee had its own responsibilities and specific purposes, such as those for information, propaganda, Islamic law, finance and military operations.
Through these sources the FBI also gained a more comprehensive picture of the training camps, methods, tradecraft and intent of al Qaeda.
Throughout the '90s, thousands of men were recruited to come and fight on behalf of the Taliban against the Northern alliance in order to establish an Islamic state in Afghanistan. Those who came were sent to basic training camps. Those who excelled were approached about the possibility of joining the larger jihad against the United States and its allies. Those who accepted that offer were sent on for advanced training and sometimes for specialized training such as in explosives.
It also became clear that OBL was more than simply a financier. Rather, he was the spiritual leader of a virulently anti-Western interpretation of Islam, who was adored by those who followed him.
By early '96 and continuing to today, the FBI and CIA have been working together in the targeting of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. The FBI has contributed significantly to this joint effort and continue to examine al Qaeda's presence across the United States and around the globe.
Long before 9/11, FBI agents opened up a number of OBL-related investigations in the United States and briefed countless foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Eventually the amount of factually substantiated information developed was such that in June '98 Osama bin Laden was indicted in the Southern District of New York under seal. This was a significant legal tool to have in hand in the event an opportunity to capture bin Laden arose.
This indictment was unsealed and superseded after the attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in August of '98.
This commission has been provided unprecedented access to FBI personnel, FBI information and records in order to inform yourself about our roles in counterterrorism efforts, past and present.
The fact that this commission was able to draft the statement it has for this panel is, in and of itself, a small testament to the work done by this dedicated band of public servants, including those in the FBI in the years prior to 9/11.
On behalf of the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, and Executive Assistant Director of the FBI John Pistole, we thank the commission for inviting us to these proceedings and providing the opportunity in some small way to contribute to history.
We understand the responsibility with which you have been charged and will do our best to answer your questions.
KEAN: Thank you, Ms. Doran.
FITZGERALD: Thank you. Good morning.
In light of the comprehensive statement of the commission staff and Agent Doran, I would just like to emphasize three points.
The first point is that I think we sometimes fail to appreciate how well trained the al Qaeda network is and how they go about their intelligence gathering. And I think a couple of examples illustrate the point.
Many of us might think of terrorists as some sort of -- almost like a street gang. Not that street gangs aren't very dangerous, but I think we have to appreciate that many of the people in the al Qaeda network have very sophisticated educations.
When you see bin Laden on the videotapes next to Ayman al- Zawahiri, we forget that the man sitting next to him is a medical surgeon. Many people in the al Qaeda network are doctors, lawyers, advanced military officials from foreign countries who have great experience.
The second thing we forget is how well trained they are. They have formal training over in Afghanistan and had it for years where they trained people in surveillance techniques, countersurveillance techniques, assassinations, kidnappings, bomb building, all sorts of religious indoctrination, and taught them how to use ciphers and codes.
And so, we look at people who are studying this very, very carefully. What we saw in the embassy bombing case is that they used explicitly a cell structure. We found documents seized from an al Qaeda-located residence that showed that they followed a cell structure that had a surveillance cell, or intelligence-gathering cell that would gather information. They would then go to the headquarters cell by their methodology and get approval for an operation. They would then use a logistics cell to help carry out the operation, then an execution cell would come in and do the job.
We heard that same technique when we interviewed one of the bombers who was caught, who described the four cells, and we saw it in place. In that particular case, the man who was part of the intelligence cell that did the surveillance was a U.S. citizen named ali Mohammed, with 17 years experience in the Egyptian military prior to that. He went and joined the U.S. Army for three years, was in the United States, helped train some of the people who later carried out the World Trade Center bombing, went back to Afghanistan and helped train a lot of the top leadership in al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in these various techniques.
Then he went as a U.S. citizen and surveilled a dozen targets in Nairobi in December 1993.
The headquarters cell was then bin Laden and others sitting in Khartoum in the Sudan.
They actually looked at files and photographs and approved the operation.
The surveillance itself was first done in December 1993, five years before the attack, which shows a level of patience and planning that we don't expect from a non-nation state.
The logistic cell was carried out by people who were in Kenya for years. Some were fisherman. Some were in the gem stone business. A critical person was a U.S. citizen running a charity in Kenya.
And one of the things I think we sometimes don't appreciate is that when we deal with criminals in the United States when we see a front organization that's usually a pretty thin front. I remember a mob case in New York where someone went into a cafe to order a cup of coffee, and they said, "We don't serve coffee here." And it was pretty obvious that the cafe wasn't a cafe.
But the concern you have is with al Qaeda, when they operate a charity, they actually believe in the charity work. Their ideology is such that they equate helping the poor and downtrodden, which is a good thing, with killing the people that they hate, including civilians.
And the people actually do lots of charity work, so if someone went to inspect a charity, they would see records. They would see orphans being treated. They'd be seeing medicine being shipped, and that's what gave it great, great cover.
And finally, they used an execution cell where they brought people who were trained in Afghanistan who had fought with the Taliban and brought them in at the last minute and told them what to do.
So I think when we think about the nature of the threat posed by al Qaeda, we have to recognize that we're dealing with very intelligent people, very well trained and very patient.
And the other thing we need to do is recognize that they recognize who we are and what our strength and weaknesses are. And one of the things they plan and train to do is to exploit our weaknesses.
They know the immigration system. They know it's better to have U.S. citizenship or Western citizenship. They know it's important to have a passport and a good cover story, and that's how they get in our country.
And the other thing they appreciate is what they can learn from the media, in terms of gathering information, both publicized or leaked, that shows how we got about doing our business. And they know how to manipulate the media, both in terms of propaganda and terrorizing our population.
So it's a very serious problem. We all obviously know that from the tragic lesson of September 11th, and I'll be happy to answer any questions.
KEAN: Thank you very much, Mr. FITZGERALD.
KAY: Good morning.
I want to thank the commission for the opportunity to discuss the nature of the enemy that carried out the September 11 attacks.
The commission staff statement that was read this morning paints an accurate picture of al Qaeda's history and evolution, and how this organization came to pose such a serious threat to the United States.
What I would like to do over the next few minutes is to provide some context for the staff statement by examining the role that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda played in the broader Sunni jihadist movement.
Bin Laden, to be sure, is the key part of that movement, but the movement goes beyond just him and al Qaeda. And just as their place in it and the role that they play have evolved, our understanding has also evolved. That understanding helped to shape our response to the attack that took place on 9/11, because we knew about the people and the organization, as well as the role and importance of the Afghan sanctuary.
As we continue to learn about the enemy, that additional knowledge will help to shape how we respond in the future.
It is also critically important to understand the role bin Laden and his organization play in the broader jihadist movement so we can better understand the nature of the future threats and how to deal with them.
The story that's told in the staff statement describes a very deliberate, patient adversary driven by a utopian ideology, possessing a comprehensive strategy; an enemy that is independent, an enemy that is disciplined.
Keep in mind, however, that in the early days of al Qaeda it was just one part of the emerging global jihadist movement.
The mujahedeen who had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan returned home and brought with them the terrorist skills they had learned in the fight against the Soviets, the belief that they could beat anyone if they were willing to die for their cause, and contacts with other individuals and terrorist groups that had been forged in Afghanistan.
That confidence and capability was directed at those who were perceived to be a threat to their vision of Islam, whether it was their own government, the United States or Israel.
Several factors allowed al Qaeda to emerge out of this environment as the preeminent organization and serve in many ways as the ideological and practical force unifying these individuals and groups.
First of all, bin Laden and his followers possessed a utopian ideology based on a vision of the old notion of a single caliphate. This vision, while extreme, resonated among many Muslims and was attractive because it was built on a foundation of deeply ingrained cultural and religious norms and sought to redress deeply felt historical wrongs.
Muslims who felt victimized by their governments, had some claim to being victims of colonialism or felt their societies drifting into corruption could identify with bin Laden and his vision.
al Qaeda and others cultivated an image of bin Laden as the voice for this vision. He was portrayed as the pious son of a pious but wealthy man who shunned the comforts of home and spent his wealth and risked his life for others.
Bin Laden himself increased his credibility by laying out his program and sticking to it. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.
This allowed the group to operate anywhere and attract support and members everywhere.
all of this would have come to nothing without a comprehensive strategy, but al Qaeda had that too. al Qaeda was created to serve as the base or foundation for a new global movement; what one former member has called an Islamic army.
When you look at al Qaeda's internal documents, you can see that they thought through what this would take. They knew they would need to build relations with groups in every part of the world and build the conditions for Islamic militant groups to arise where none then existed.
al Qaeda encouraged, supported and inspired the terrorist activities of others, all while planning its own operations. although some al Qaeda members may have been involved in several early attacks in the 1990s against U.S. interests, the East Africa bombings in August of '98 are the first attacks that were exclusively al Qaeda operations.
As al Qaeda grew and evolved, it not only conducted operations that were centrally planned, it also approved operations initiated by members dispersed in other countries.
And it continued to support and inspire other associated or independent groups to attack as well.
We see more of these semi-autonomous operations today, not because al Qaeda is weak, even though it has been weakened, but because al Qaeda succeeded in building the capacity of other groups and individuals in the broader network.
al Qaeda put a premium on its ability to operate as an independent organization, independent from states as well as from donors and other groups. This is an integral part of its operating directive. al Qaeda sought independence in every facet of its work: organization, strategy, funding and supplies.
It sought to dictate the terms of its relations with states rather than the other way around. al Qaeda's relationship with states was symbiotic, especially with those states that granted it safe haven. And this left al Qaeda free to pursue its own strategy in its own time.
Rather than give up this flexibility, bin Laden defied states, including the Taliban when it directed him not to launch attacks.
In general, the Taliban offered al Qaeda a safe environment to do its thing, including building up its own funding network within the larger global network so that they would never be dependent upon anyone's source of funds or territory; building its own network of sympathetic imams, to provide religious directions and legitimacy; building their own training camps and weapons factories; and operated their own recruitment network.
all of this required patience and discipline...
KEAN: "Dr. K", if you could start to wrap up your statements.
KAY: I will in one second, please -- which al Qaeda showed from the first. Bin Laden built his organization methodically, gradually as a dissident organization within the global network. He patiently created ties to other extremists around the world and laid the seeds for a more effective worldwide jihadist movement.
And finally, patience is ultimately significant for our understanding of the nature of the threat posed today by bin Laden and like-minded extremists. al Qaeda, to be sure, is the vanguard of the global Sunni jihadist struggle against the United States. It has by no means been defeated and though weakened it continues to patiently plan its next attacks. It may strike next week, next month or next year, but it will strike.
And finally, last point, even after bin Laden and al Qaeda are defeated, the global jihadist movement will continue to exist. That movement may again produce another bin Laden or al Qaeda as long as there are individuals who are willing to use violence to redress perceived wrongs.
Thank you, and now I'll be happy to answer any questions.
KEAN: Our questioning today will be led by Senator Kerrey, followed by Governor Thompson.
KERREY: Well, first of all, "Dr. K", let me also provide some context perhaps for the entire panel.
all through the readings and the witnesses and the contact that I have had with this story, I oftentimes find myself asking myself what was going on in my life at the time that various things that we're now looking at were going on.
Specifically, I was campaigning for the United States Senate for the first time in 1988 when al Qaeda was being formed, and the dominant national security issue in that campaign -- I remember it very well -- which was should we build and deploy the MX missile system?
And it wasn't even a year into my first term when the absolutely unimaginable began to happen, which is East Bloc nations began to be liberated. The Berlin Wall came down in the fall of 1989, and by '91 the Soviet Union was over. The Cold War had ended much more rapidly than anybody had predicted.
And one of the observations that's been made externally to this commission that I think is correct is that in a very real way we were so busy celebrating that victory that we failed to pay attention to a number of problems that were going to occur as a consequence of the Cold War's end.
We got into the Balkans immediately and one of the ones that we missed was al Qaeda and the rise of their capacity as a consequence of the Cold War struggle inside of Afghanistan that ended in 1989. I think that history shows rather painfully we abandoned Afghanistan and took no interest in it all the way through the 1990s.
And that one I remember as well, because there happened to be a gentlemen from Nebraska with a great deal of interest in Afghanistan and he was encouraging me to seek some USAID funding -- some very, very small amounts of USAID funding. He was simply unable to get even the smallest amounts of funding to try to do something inside of Afghanistan, because the Cold War was over, the Soviet Union was gone and they were no longer important to us.
Let me ask you if there is any disagreement with the staff statement that was presented. I heard "Dr. K" said it was a good staff statement. And if there's any comment about that staff statement, I'd like to hear it. Any disagreement, any fundamental disagreement with the staff statement as it was prepared?
FITZGERALD: I thought it was fundamentally great.
KERREY: Well, let me also note that our staff director, Phil Zelikow, made a comment that was not in the staff statement referencing that we need to be clear, you know, some of the stuff we've learned later.
But the thing that concerns me the most is that an awful lot of this was known at critical times and not delivered to key policy- makers. I mean, for example, the whole connection between al Qaeda and the battle for Mogadishu on October 3rd and 4th, 1993, that connection is enormous.
We've heard from President Clinton through President Bush's representatives that one of the problems dealing with bin Laden was that the American people wouldn't give us permission to do what we had to do to end the sanctuary in Afghanistan until after 9/11.
KERREY: But I find in the open statements that could have been made in 1997, could have been made in 1999, could have been made in 2001, a very compelling case that I think the American people would have embraced much more aggressive action against bin Laden.
Let me ask, Mr. Fitzgerald, you a couple of questions in that regard. You say in your statement -- and I wish you had read your statement, because it's an excellent statement -- that we knew that al Qaeda were expert forgers, that they could produce quality visa stamps and other documents. You made that comment in that statement. When did we know that?
FITZGERALD: We certainly knew that in 1998. And I can tell you that in the indictment we filed publicly in the fall of 1998 we laid out the al Qaeda structure.
If you look at my statement, it's a digested version of what we put in a public indictment. And in fact in that same indictment that was filed in the fall of 1998 that was public, and later tried in 2001, we made clear that we believed al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the American forces in Somalia.
So that to the extent that there's any concern that that wasn't in the public domain, we put it in a court document and tried it. I don't think it got a lot of attention in the media, but it wasn't something that was hidden.
KERREY: Well, we found, though, that, public statements to the contrary by federal agencies, that all 19 individuals came through on forged documents.
Does it cause you some concern that, since we knew it in 1998, that neither INS or a consular office, there was no strategic plan on our part?
We heard "Dr. K" describe al Qaeda with a strategic plan, and we appeared not to have a strategic plan to deal with these kinds of vulnerabilities.
Knowing that they were capable of producing forged visas and passports, knowing that bin Laden by 1992 had identified the United States of America as the enemy that he was going to go after, do you not think that that information should have been delivered to the INS and our consular office so they could begin to develop some sort of defensive mechanism to make sure that we had the capacity to identify forged documents?
FITZGERALD: I don't know what we delivered, in what form, to the immigration officials. I can tell you that that was not a hidden secret. I mean, it was in open court, we had testimony to it in open court. It was in indictment.
I don't think anyone was under a misimpression that there were people around the world who didn't have access to counterfeit documents. We prosecuted people on passport charges related to the first World Trade Center bombing.
I recognize that you're in a difficult position when you run one of those agencies to have to ferret out what's been obtained by fraud, what's counterfeit, what's been altered, when there's been a photo substitution. But I'm not aware of anyone withholding information from anyone about the fact that that capability was there and that it had been acted upon.
KERREY: Well, I'm going to ask "Dr. K" I think you were in -- how long were you in the CTC?
KAY: I've been in it seven and a half years.
KERREY: I mean, we've been told that there was a comprehensive analysis of OBL that was done in January 1997.
KERREY: Were you part of that analysis?
KAY: Yes. I oversaw the completion of the project, correct.
KERREY: Were you disturbed that the results of that analysis was not disseminated, particularly since the national intelligence estimate was not updated?
By 1997, we were still presuming -- those of us who were being delivered information, we're still being told and presumed that Osama bin Laden was financing terrorism, that he was not the head of al Qaeda. We didn't even have the information that Ms. Doran talked about with Fadl, the Junior. We didn't have that information either.
Did you think it was a mistake not to disseminate the comprehensive analysis that was done in 1997?
KAY: I think it would have been better had we been able to get out as much of that story as possible, as quickly as possible. We were unable to -- the project that's mentioned at the time it was completed and completed means essentially it was in draft, was not in a form that was suitable for outside consumption and needed to be prepared in such a fashion that it would be manageable, easily digested, and understood by the policy-makers.
KERREY: Well, I'd like to, at some point, pursue that because the stuff that we were being given was, I think, too easy to digest. I mean, we had reached the wrong conclusions based upon the information that was being delivered to us.
Let me give you one of them that we've heard over and over and over from federal people all -- again, from President Clinton through President Bush. "We were focused on over there, not here." We heard that from FAA administrators to National Security Council. "We were focused over there, not here."
But Wadih al-Hage and ali Mohammed were arrested in the United States, members of al Qaeda in 1998. Do you think there was any basis for policy-makers to be reaching conclusion that we didn't have anything to fear from al Qaeda inside the United States; that we should focus our attention overseas, not inside the United States?
Mr. Fitzgerald, don't you think the arrest of those two individuals indicates that they had great capacity to get inside, to penetrate the United States, and that we might have vulnerabilities here, as well, again, given the public statements that bin Laden was making as early as '96 about wanting to attack the United States?
FITZGERALD: I think it was clear in public, from 1996 forward, that war had been declared upon the American military. And from February '98, bin Laden had declared war upon the American civilians who are in the world. And I think the arrest of Mr. al-Hage was public in September '98 and the arrest of ali Mohammed became public shortly thereafter.
And much of what, for example, Mr. al-Fadl, known as Junior -- his identity was kept secret until a trial, in (inaudible) leak, but the information he gave describing how al Qaeda operated and the various committees, the fatwa committee, the military affairs committee, the media committee, all that was laid out in very, very much detail in the indictment in many of the instruments and pleadings in that court. So it was public, only his name was withheld.
KERREY: But you said something that I think is very important, which is that we were relying upon secret information, and the better information was the public information.
In fact, the president, the very famous August 6th presidential daily briefing, it'd been better if you'd have gone and briefed him and delivered the public information that you had about the trial, because there was more content and there was more clear from the trial who Osama bin Laden was, what he intended to do than the briefing that the CIA prepared for the president trying to tell him the same thing.
So the open source information was more reliable than the secret information.
FITZGERALD: I think it's fair to say that there's a lot in open source that wasn't reported widely, even by the media. I've always been confused by way people don't pay attention to what becomes public. I think it's not exclusive, but...
KERREY: Well, I mean, the reason is that we get, I think, a false presumption oftentimes. We presume that the best source of information on national security comes from classified sources. And this case, I think it turned out to be incorrect. I don't think we were given a clear enough picture of who Osama bin Laden was and what his intents were.
I mean, can you describe what -- actually, I've got one very specific question, so that it came from the record of the trial that I'd like to ask you of the embassy bombing, that the United States at the time that we were -- in the trial documents now; this is not me giving any secret information -- that we were intercepting a telephone conversation of an al Qaeda operative in Nairobi. Which, by the way, I think does a little damage to this idea that, "Gee, this was a very hard target, and we couldn't penetrate it at all."
KERREY: We were penetrating. We were intercepting an al Qaeda operative's telephone conversations in the summer of 1996 and the fall of 1997.
Do you remember what insights were gained from that intercept?
FITZGERALD: To be perfectly honest, I do remember what we gained from those interceptions and I think what people thought we didn't know as much as we did when we did at the trial, because you have conversations like any wiretap where people talk cryptically, they harumph, they refer to this guy, they refer to that guy, that place over there.
It took us years to go back and look at those wiretaps, particularly with the benefit of witnesses, figure out what was going on, know the hindsight and piece together what was being said.
But there was that wiretap which we later used in court. When we thought -- I'll be honest, prior to the August 1998 embassy bombings, it was clear to us that there was an al Qaeda support and logistics cell in Kenya.
If someone had told me the day before the embassy bombings that al Qaeda would actually attack in Kenya the American embassy, which for all practical purposes would shut down their ability to operate there, I would have told them that didn't make sense because it was important for them to be able to move people.
So there were efforts made. There was a search done. The place where that telephone was being operated in August 1997, which yielded great intelligence information that was put to good use...
KERREY: As well as documents that I think the FBI and -- again, from the trial docket, didn't the FBI and the CIA go into the residence and get additional documents out of the residence?
But I think the one thing that the trial might distort is that the trial was in 2001 and what we put in from the wiretap and the documents and pieced together was a result of three years of work of agents such as Agent Doran and the agents seated behind me.
So there was good information coming off that wiretap and that search, but we knew a lot more with three years of studying it that was then put in the public record at the trial.
KERREY: Well, I mean, I say it again: The public record of the trial of 2001 brought to my attention at least things that were happening in 1998 that would have been a lot more useful to get in 1998.
I just for myself put together what we knew -- what the president could have told the American people in 1997 based upon what we knew if there was a briefing of the Congress and the American people: "Here's what we know about bin Laden and al Qaeda in February 1997. Here's what we know in February 1999. Here's what we know in February of 2001." And most of the information would come from open source documents because it would have to be delivered in a public fashion.
KERREY: And I think it obliterates this idea that we had to wait until 9/11 to be able to knock down sanctuaries, to be able to go to the world and get public opinion on our side. As well, that we're dealing with somebody who is not trying to attack the French, not trying to attack the Germans, not trying to attack anybody but Americans and had been very successful dating all the way back to 1992.
We heard in the staff statement something that, again, I think, we have to understand what was available at the time. But I would say 70 percent of it was available in February '97, 90 percent was available in 1999, and 100 percent was available in February, 2001.
So I turn to "Dr. K" and Ted Davis, here. You're there now. I mean what do we need to do to make certain that we get this open source information to us so that policy-makers are not heavily reliant upon classified information to a point that they're not able to get from open sources the very things that they may need in order to respond?
KAY: If I could just make one comment, I think -- and I'll go back to your original question to me about that comprehensive report on bin Laden -- that was only one piece of production that we in the counterterrorist center were producing on bin Laden.
We, as I think the commission has seen from the record of production from (inaudible), the message, I think about the threat posed by bin Laden was out there to the policy-makers based on both clandestine and overt sources. We did extensive analysis of the fatwas that came out publicly, and that information was provided to policy-makers.
KAY: And, now, again, what happens after that is somebody else's responsibility.
KERREY: I'm done here, but I think it was an enormous mistake not to update the NIE, and to presume that, "Well, gosh, we knew what was going on." I think it was a huge mistake. Because as far as I'm concerned, that's the gene code that determines how we judge what threats are out there. And it should have been updated in '96, '97 and '98, and it was an enormous mistake that it wasn't.
KEAN: Governor Thompson?
THOMPSON: Prefatory question directed to all three members of the panel, if I might.
From the beginning of our history as a nation, whenever the nation has been the subject of attack or the subject of threat or engaged in actual warfare, we have faced enemy forces from states, across fixed battle lines, in the United States or in other parts of the world, and we have protected ourselves.
Now we have an enemy, as I understand it, that can operate in any part of the world, which draws support of one kind or another from hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people, willing to die, and willing to be very patient and conduct operations perhaps for the rest of history.
We, at the same time, have a country that is big, open, free and in many respects unguardable, unprotectable. And our interests abroad are so far-flung that the same might be said of those facilities and forces as well.
How in the world do we ever expect to win this war? And if the war is not winnable in the traditional sense, how do we contain or checkmate this enemy?
Because I think when this is all over that's still the fundamental question. And I'd appreciate the views of all three of you on that.
PISTOLE: Governor, I think you raise a very interesting point, and I would add just one more element to what you described and that is that al Qaeda is a very innovative, creative organization. It is constantly refining its tactics to circumvent the security precautions that we put in place. And so it is constantly evolving. It is very agile tactically.
THOMPSON: President Clinton described them to us as entrepreneurial.
PISTOLE: I think that's probably an excellent description.
And it gets back to an issue that I think Senator Kerrey raised, which is as we gain greater understanding about al Qaeda's tactics and specific plots, and we try to illuminate the networks that are behind them so we can take them down -- which is ultimately the only way we can be sure we stop attacks -- it is very important to take that information that is gained in clandestine channels and to as rapidly as possible downgrade it so that it is discernible to law enforcement, nontraditional intelligence customers, people who can take it and act on it in order to secure the country.
And that is a major focus of CTC and the intelligence community, you know, now, day in and day out, to take classified information and push it to first line defenders both here and overseas.
KAY: If I understand the question correctly, you're, sort of, getting at how do we combat this broader jihadist movement?
KAY: There are two points I think I'd like to make. First of all, there are -- there is a segment of the Muslim community that support bin Laden, adhere to his vision, believe in what he stands for, who also believe that they have an individual duty to the Muslim community to pursue violent jihad.
Those folks I'm not sure there's much we can do to combat that type of sentiment, that type of belief. That is, I don't think we can bring them down from whatever cliff they're standing on with those beliefs.
I think what we ought to do is, I think that there's a better chance for success by focusing on those folks who have not made that transformation, who believe that there might be other ways to serve their communities, to improve their position, to achieve their objectives but not through violence.
And I think what would be useful for the United States would be -- is to work with governments in the Arab part of the world and Muslim governments to find ways for those segments of the population to find alternative means of channeling their sentiments, through constructive, nonviolent activities. What those might be I don't know. But I think that's the type of approach we need to pursue.
By doing that we would reduce, I think, the pool of potential recruits for future terrorists.
THOMPSON: But what's happening in Iraq today, doesn't that give you pause about how nonviolent Muslims will respond to the presence in their midst of people willing to fight and die and kill them? When Iraqi insurgents can blow up oil facilities at will, blow up electricity at well, car bomb at well, attack contractors and U.S. troops at will, what does that say about the ability of al Qaeda-like organizations to inflict damage within the Muslim community at large?
KAY: Well, if I were in their position, I would be concerned by what I would be seeing going on around me in a country like Iraq.
KAY: I don't know what I would say.
FITZGERALD: Good morning, Governor.
And I think the sad answer is that I think we all recognize there's no silver bullet. There's no single organizational fix that we could all walk out and say that we're now 100 percent safe.
So then we have to look at the short term and the long term, recognizing that the short term itself is a long process. When people surveil five years ahead of time or think about plans, you know, half a decade before they carry them out, the short term is a number of years.
And there we have to focus on making sure we do the best job to gather intelligence on what is being planned, by getting human source intelligence, working with our allies, but also recognizing the fundamental problem we have at our borders. Every time someone shows up at our border, even if they have a legitimate document, immigration people are asked to call upon to decide whether this person's coming here legitimately to try to make their life better or whether they're coming here to kill us.
And we can't keep drugs out of the country despite all our efforts. We still get drugs coming in here. And the contraband that people are bringing is their minds. They have decided they want to kill us and they're willing to die to do it. And we don't have a magic formula that stops them at the border and says, "This person goes through an X-ray machine," and we figure out why they're really coming here.
We can't turn everyone away. We want to make sure that we don't turn away the good people coming to our shores. We want to keep the bad people out.
And so we've got to deal with that vexing problem that I just don't know what the answer is, that we have someone making a decision in two minutes at a border as to what to do.
We have to look at that issue. We have to gather information about what people are doing about operations they're planning, work with human sources, work with other countries.
The long-term solution is to win the hearts and minds. But we're not going to win the hearts and minds of the people who are already sworn to kill us. They're lost to us. They want to kill us.
What we have to do is win the hearts and minds of people who could be allies and work with us. We would want to win the hearts and minds of people before they'd go over to al Qaeda's ideology. We want to win the hearts and minds of people who may be in the community who may see something that may alert to them and trust us enough to bring the information forward. But it's not easy. It's going to take a long time.
DORAN: Pat touched on some of the themes I was thinking about in response to your question.
In many ways what we need to do at the FBI street agent level is to continue what we've always done. And that is to pursue all the information that we do get, and pursue that information to its logical end; to corroborate what we get or wash out what washes out; to continue to develop sources, human sources, whether we can penetrate them into groups or whether they are people who are eyes and ears -- and that includes members of the public -- to continue to be a presence in our respective cities and towns, to be out there, to give someone pause if maybe they're thinking of doing something against us but they see a car that looks like a federal car drive by or they know that agents have been out in the neighborhood, that they might think twice; and then to continue to ensure that the information that we do develop is passed up and passed out.
DORAN: The sad reality for us is that we have to be 100 percent on the ball, no mistakes, and they only have to get by once, and that's the war we're up against.
THOMPSON: In our hearings and in the commentary of press and public officials, there is a quick and ready assumption sometimes that al Qaeda may be still fighting the last war trying to replicate September 11th in some analogous fashion; that New York City may be a special target to the exclusion of the rest of the country; that we need to guard our airlines; that the goal of al Qaeda is to aim for mass casualties.
Are you concerned that within this context law enforcement, the press, the public and the policy-makers are overlooking other avenues of attack which may bring as devastating or even more devastating results to the United States that would be fundamentally much easier?
Just, for example, if 10 al Qaeda operatives went into 10 different supermarkets across the country at the same time in 10 large cities, or even five large cities and five small towns, and walked over to the produce counter where food is open and uncovered and unprotected, and managed to insert poisons on the food, with a result that people in those 10 communities died all at the same time and then they took public credit for this; you wouldn't have mass casualties, but you'd have mass terror, because people would assume that nothing in the food supply outside of a can or a bottle was safe. And the enormous disruption to the American economy that would result would be staggering.
Are we contemplating the possibilities of attack like this? What are we doing to prevent them? And do you think there is a preoccupation with what al Qaeda has done in the past, or a preoccupation with things that are like what al Qaeda has done in the past to the detriment of thinking as creatively as these people can think?
PISTOLE: Sir, I think we have to think on both levels. Certainly I think the attorney general and Director Mueller and Secretary Ridge have outlined that America still does face a very serious threat of spectacular attack from al Qaeda in the coming months; that it's bin Laden and the few resources he may still have at his disposal in South Asia; that he is focusing on a spectacular attack here in the U.S.
But I think, as we've seen in other places around the world, as we harden certain targets, al Qaeda is willing to move down the food chain to go after softer targets.
I think it's very important -- one of the understandings I think we have come to is that when al Qaeda and bin Laden look at America, they are looking for targets that will be instantly recognizable in the Muslim world and that is why you saw a fascination with the Capitol and the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And I think that's an enduring fascination on their part when it comes to spectacular attacks.
But I think you also correctly point out that there are a number of other ways to create spectacular events, and I think that's why we remain so concerned about al Qaeda's fascination with CBRN weapons, because those types of weapons if used, no matter what the casualty count, could produce the ripple effects that would be spectacular.
THOMPSON: Well, see, it seems to me that the World Trade Towers in one sense -- this is not a pun -- was a twofer.
THOMPSON: It provided a spectacular, recognizable example to the Muslim community worldwide. But it also brought together American fears of a shared experience that may now be dangerous, like flying in an airplane, right?
So wouldn't al Qaeda logically try to think about things that bind Americans together so that, unlike, perhaps, what happened in New York, where the rest of the country felt a great tragic loss for the people of New York but didn't feel exactly a current physical danger, because New York was here and the rest of the country was here, and the effects clearly wore off after time, but if there was a common experience that Americans share, like buying food at a store, that was made to appear to be unsafe, you're create worse panic in the country than you would with a physical attack in one or two locations?
Am I correct about that?
PISTOLE: Yes, sir. And I believe there was an individual indicted just the other day -- or publicly discussed by the attorney general -- who was looking at shopping malls.
PISTOLE: So I think you're absolutely correct in terms, again, being innovative and adapting their tactics to hit us in new ways.
THOMPSON: Why do you suppose it is that we've not been attacked since September 11th in the U.S.? Any ideas?
Is this beyond public discussion? If so, just tell me and I'll go to another question.
PISTOLE: No, sir. I mean, it's a question we ask ourselves constantly. I think that when it comes to bin Laden and the plots that he's contemplating, al Qaeda's still comes down on: How can we do something spectacular like 9/11? And they are going to be patient, and they're going to wait until they believe they can be successful before they conduct that attack.
THOMPSON: Without talking about details, have we prevented any attacks within the United States since 9/11?
PISTOLE: Yes, sir. I think we've probably prevented a few aviation attacks against both the East and West Coasts.
That doesn't mean that we've totally stopped that particular threat. There are operatives involved in those plots that we still cannot account for. And it is only safe to assume that they are still out there, they are still thinking about ways to conduct those attacks, or that they might move on to some other al Qaeda plot against the homeland.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
KEAN: I've just got a couple of very brief questions.
Do you believe there are al Qaeda cells operating now in this country?
DAVIS (?): Governor, I'd be willing to address that.
There are clearly individuals who are currently under investigation by the FBI, the joint terrorism task forces, in the United States who we have great concern about, some of whom might be considered operatives. There are a much greater number of those who are facilitators in some respect, fund-raisers, recruiters, who we also assess as being potential operatives, but it's a question of when they cross that line. The details of which I think we've discussed in closed session with staff (inaudible) provide more information on that.
KEAN: I wasn't interested in classified information, just if you believed that there were cells operating in this country.
DAVIS (?): Absolutely.
KEAN: The rest of you?
DORAN: Through the investigations that we have done prior to 9/11, it was clear to us, at least traditionally, that any al Qaeda affiliates based in the United States, resident here, whether citizens or not, tended to be people who were looked to by the organization perhaps as a logistics assistance and not for operational purposes.
There was a fear that any U.S.-based al Qaeda affiliate would already have been discovered by security, by the FBI, by the CIA, and that to involve them in any operational plans would breach the operational security of whatever planned operation they might have.
And, in fact, after 9/11, when the photographs of the 19 hijackers were shown to one of these al Qaeda members, he said, "See, I knew. I knew I wouldn't recognize any of them because they would never send anyone over here who would know me." The threat is going to come from the outside, most likely.
KEAN: Mr. Fitzgerald?
FITZGERALD: I would also assume there were cells here until, and I don't know how we would ever prove otherwise. And I think the danger we have is we, obviously -- as Mr. Pistole said, you identify who you suspect might be cell or who you might know to be a cell, but we have to recognize that there are things that -- we can't assume that we know everything, and so, I think, we always have to operate in the assumption that there could be people out there that we don't know about.
KEAN: You would agree, "Dr. K"?
KAY: Yes, although I don't have a lot of intelligence to back it up with.
KEAN: all right, if...
(UNKNOWN): Governor, if I could just add to that the issue of whether there are al Qaeda sleeper cells, if you will, here and the issue of hardened targets which Ted mentioned.
I think the fact that last Friday at the National Cathedral, if there is not a better target in the United States or worldwide for al Qaeda to hit last Friday for the service where a number of you were present: world leaders, obviously U.S. government leaders -- the fact that al Qaeda did not attempt anything to our knowledge I think is indicative, one, of the fact that when you harden targets, al Qaeda will go elsewhere. And that there is a result of hardening targets that we have seen at least from information that we have obtained post-9/11.
The other aspect is it may indicate a diminished capacity within the United States for al Qaeda to hit substantially hardened targets. But that's something that we're still assessing.
KEAN: Would you suspect that there will be a major attack within the next year or two, just from your information and your work and what your knowledge of this organization and its capabilities?
(UNKNOWN): We are currently dealing with threat information that pertains to the next several months or the end of the year, if you will, based on several streams of reporting that the attorney general referred to in a press conference, where he had the "be on the lookout" notices for the seven individuals.
So we are clearly looking at that closely. There's indication that al Qaeda wants to hit the U.S. hard as the attorney general mentioned in the next several months. And we are doing -- taking a number of steps to address that.
KEAN: Just really one final question for you all. We're charged with trying to make recommendations to make the country safer. Would each of you have one recommendation that we should pursue, that we could make in our report, which since you're out there in the field really doing the work, you probably know better than anybody else, what could we recommend that would make your job easier and America safer?
FITZGERALD: Since you asked -- I was going to bite my tongue -- but I would strongly urge you to think very, very long and hard before you think about the MI5 option. My concern is, if you create another division in government, I'd be worried about tearing down a wall than digging a moat. Because if a wall is gone that the FBI can share information, but then the information is now put in a different agency, people have to decide what's intelligence versus what's evidence when it's information.
I'd be very concerned that we would think we're making things better, but we'd actually be making things worse in putting it back to the way it was.
KEAN: OK. That's a recommendation you don't want us to make.
What recommendation would you like us to make? Or anybody.
DORAN: Drawing on an idea presented by Senator Kerrey -- or touched on -- might do well to consider the intelligence community as an integrated body of a number of different agencies, and that in times of crisis or times of need for information, to consider the experts in those organizations, regardless of where they come from -- go to your best source.
KEAN: "Dr. K"?
KAY: The only recommendation that I would make is one which -- and purely parochial interest here -- but it's one where we continue to strengthen our intelligence agencies, to enable them to do the job that they are supposed to do, both from an analytical perspective, in terms of the CIA, as well as an operational perspective, that we have enough people and enough resources. I think that's what we need.
(UNKNOWN): I will make an affirmative recommendation. If I were to be an immigration inspector at the border, the one thing I'd like to know is if someone's been to a training camp. I don't know if we still ask the question whether or not anyone's ever been a member of a communist party when they immigrate to our shores, but that threat is gone.
And why not ask people when they come to our country to be visitors whether they've been to a military training camp, and whether they've been to one in Afghanistan?
Now, it wouldn't be disqualifying. They could explain why it is they went there, and we can make an informed decision whether to let them in. But if they identify themselves, we could decide to give them more attention and merit closer scrutiny as to when they went and who they went with. And if they should come in and lie, which is perfectly understandable that they might lie about that, that would give us a reason to throw them out of the country. If we could prove that in fact this person came in under false pretenses, we can get rid of them.
That, to me, might be one of the most important questions we'd want to know about someone coming into our country, so why not put it on the form?
KEAN: Secretary Lehman?
LEHMAN: Mr. Fitzgerald, since you raised the third rail of MI5, I'd like to ask you a related question to that.
LEHMAN: Actually, "Dr. K" and Mr. FITZGERALD and Ms. Doran, the reason you're here of course is because our staff thinks that you among all the professionals in the intelligence community understand al Qaeda better than anyone else.
We have been grappling with the issue that has been raised to us by two presidents, that they were unable to get a clear answer from FBI as to who did the Cole operation really definitively until the summer, almost 10 months later. When did each of you conclude after the October bombing of the Cole that al Qaeda did it?
KAY: Well, if you first approach it from the perspective of personal suspicions, I don't think there were many analysts at the time who doubted that al Qaeda was responsible.
And I think we were operating at the time, there were two concepts we had to deal with. One, responsibility in terms of -- you know, when you talk about command and control, who ordered it? Who directed it? And the other, which may or may not be related, was who carried it out, who did it, I mean, in terms of actually launched the boat, planted the bombs and bombed the ship.
And the message clearly that we relayed to the policy-makers within the first month after the Cole bombing was that individuals with varying degrees of association with al Qaeda carried out the bombing.
You heard that from Director Tenet, and that's exactly the message.
What we couldn't say from an intelligence perspective was who ordered the bombing, who directed the bombing.
KAY: That we did not have the information. And that -- as your, as the staff statement accurately tells, it wasn't -- we didn't have the smoking gun, so to speak, until two years later.
LEHMAN: Mr. Fitzpatrick?
FITZGERALD: Yes. Well, let me tell you how right we can be and how wrong we can be. The moment I heard about the August '98 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, simultaneously, when I heard on the radio I said, "bin Laden." When I saw the Kohl bombing and I saw that he had issued a video beforehand as I believe, with the Yemenese dagger in his belt, thought, "bin Laden."
On the other hand, when we had the Murrah Federal Building go up, up in Oklahoma City while we're on trial with the blind sheikh in New York, I think many people thought, "The blind sheikh." We never thought, "Timothy McVeigh."
So it was the initial reaction from the Cole bombing certainly that bin Laden did it, absolutely? Just like on September 11th there was no doubt in my mind. But that's what you think and then there's what you can prove.
I know that the people, my colleagues in New York who worked the Cole bombing case, when they knew they could prove it, they charged it. But an instant reaction that you think he's behind it because of the whole circumstances, what his M.O. is, because of the Yemeni dagger on his belt, because of his speech, but you recognize that you could be mistaken.
The first World Trade Center bombing they first looked at Bosnians and Serbs as to whether they carried it out. So you want to temper your instant reaction that, "I know the answer," because you recognize that you can be dead right or you can be dead wrong.
LEHMAN: And by November 25th, after the Khalid (ph) material was there any doubt in your mind who did it? You, personally, I'm asking.
FITZGERALD: I wasn't involved in that case. The November 25th, that date doesn't mean anything to me. I was involved in getting ready for the trial, and somebody else was working on it. So I can't fix in my mind what that material meant to me, so I can't give up a good answer to that.
LEHMAN: Ms. Doran?
DORAN: First off, as Pat mentioned, when it happened, when the Cole was attacked, I think all of us, our first reaction was, "Yes, this has got to be al Qaeda." And the deployment of FBI investigators to Yemen reflects our belief that it was al Qaeda in that, normally our Washington field office would have had responsible extra- territorial responsibility to respond to anything happening in the area, such as Yemen.
DORAN: But in this instance, the investigators were sent from the New York office, which was already the office of origin for the al Qaeda investigation. So they were the first teams sent immediately after the attack.
And my understanding from my colleagues in New York who worked the case was that by some time in November, early November, the investigations had led to the point where they believed they could show that it was al Qaeda.
LEHMAN: But that's the very heart of the issue we've been trying to get at: What is wrong with our intelligence community that the president of the United States was not given a definitive answer on whodunnit so that a retaliation decision could be made until August, 10 months later?
Now, there are two contending schools of thought that emerged from our witnesses. First, we found no witness that was involved that was not sure it was al Qaeda by the end of November. And so there are some that say they didn't want to box in the White House, whichever president was in charge. They didn't want to back him into a corner by forcing him to have to retaliate. So they kept a hedge on it.
Those who don't like that political answer say, "No, that it's a classic case of FBI and their obsession with making their criminal case. They had 300 agents and prosecutors building a case to prosecute and they did not and could not, until they reached the evidentiary standards of a trial, take that word 'preliminary finding' off until the summer."
Mr. Fitzgerald, which theory do you buy?
FITZGERALD: Well, maybe we should look back at what the question is.
If we're looking to see whether or not if someone decided whether it made sense to launch any, sort of, strike, we already conclusively established that al Qaeda had bombed the embassies in August of 1998. Part of that charge we had already laid out the attack in Somalia.
So by 1998, before the Cole ever happened, we already had established and had committed to it that there was proof beyond any reasonable doubt al Qaeda had already attacked Americans.
So I don't know why, if we focus properly, as we should, and as the team that investigated and prosecuted that case, to decide when you want to file a court charge that attributes the Cole bombing as being something that carried out operationally.
FITZGERALD: That's a different question than whatever policy- makers have to decide about how we deal with this threat. We have already established that al Qaeda had attacked Americans and attacked our embassies two years before the Cole ever happened.
LEHMAN: But both presidents told us that FBI would not tell them for sure that al Qaeda did it.
FITZGERALD: I wasn't part of the Cole investigation proper, and I wasn't part of what the FBI said, when they said, so I can't give you an intelligent answer as to, you know, why they said things or what people thought.
LEHMAN: Ms. Doran?
DORAN: all I can say is, I know the investigators were doing their job in putting together the case, and they would have passed that information up. And the things you're talking about happened at a higher, much higher level than where I am.
LEHMAN: Mr. Pistole, would you like to help us, which level the buck stopped?
PISTOLE: Be glad to attempt to, Mr. Secretary.
Obviously, the distinction between the criminal justice standard for proof beyond a reasonable doubt is different from the intelligence community standard of whether somebody was responsible for a particular act. And the standard of proof in a courtroom is not the requisite item for whether some type of retaliatory strike is made.
The issue was whether the information was made aware to both the law enforcement and intelligence community, and that clearly was the case. What the decision-makers did with that information, which I think is the gist of your question, was something that was decided within the National Security Council and...
LEHMAN: That's an important statement that we have not heard. It is your position that the White House was told that al Qaeda done it...
LEHMAN: ... quite apart from evidentiary...
PISTOLE: No. No, I didn't say that, Mr. Secretary.
What I said was that -- and what I'm trying to convey -- is that the information that was available through the law enforcement community, in particular the FBI, as to the standard of proof and the items of proof that would be used in any charging had already been outlined, as Pat mentioned, for the '98 embassy bombings.
PISTOLE: The intelligence community was aware of that information as well as the information that had been obtained, both overseas and domestically, on the Cole bombing, in terms of Nashiri's involvement, Galad's (ph) involvement. That information was where.
I don't know who specifically was briefed on what day. If that's your question, I don't have that information.
LEHMAN: Thank you.
My time's up, but it's a good little illustration of the MI5 debate. Thanks.
KEAN: Commissioner Ben-Veniste?
BEN-VENISTE: I may want to follow up on Commissioner Lehman's questions in a moment, but first I want to ask a question looking into the current moment.
We have heard from various sources that following our invasion of Iraq, recruitment for al Qaeda has increased substantially, such that al Qaeda is recruiting new members faster than we can kill the old ones. And I'd like to hear from "Dr. K" picking up on the observations made by Mr. FITZGERALD and Special Agent Doran, on the issue of hearts and minds, where we are in that respect.
KAY: If I may, I'm going to pass this, pass the buck here to Mr. Davis.
DAVIS: Sir, I think we have to look at it in terms of the al Qaeda leadership that we're focused on in South Asia, and are they able to actively recruit new members, bring them into a place where they can train and get them, indoctrinate them and then deploy and direct them in operations.
BEN-VENISTE: Well, let's stop with the first part of that, recruiting. Is it correct that there has been an infusion of willing recruits?
DAVIS: I believe that, as "Dr. K" talked about, the international jihad, there has certainly been an upsurge in radicalism and individuals willing to join that international jihad.
BEN-VENISTE: Can you quantify it?
DAVIS: No, sir. But we do see the evidence of increased individuals coming into Iraq. But it would be hard to say that that's the absolute limit on it.
BEN-VENISTE: And that's just Iraq. What about the rest of the world?
DAVIS: I think that you see, in terms of cells being taken down, for example, in Europe, that again, there is an uptick in the number of individuals willing to volunteer for jihad.
I think that is separate from the organization that existed in Afghanistan in terms of its ability to bring tens of thousands of recruits into a secure location, train them, vet them and bring the best and the brightest into an organization called al Qaeda, and then deploy and direct them. That is a very difficult task for al Qaeda to do today.
BEN-VENISTE: Now, with respect to Commissioner Lehman's questions about the Cole bombing, something that interests me as well, and tying it to other information which we now have about what was going on in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, we now know, as a result of debriefings from KSM and others, that in the summer there was a dispute between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden about the external terrorist activity of al Qaeda, and that Omar was trying to put the brakes on Osama bin Laden and, obviously, he didn't succeed, witnessing the terrible events of September 11th.
However, has there been an analysis made as to whether, if the United States had followed through on the warning which was made during the Clinton administration to the Taliban that unless they curtail or dislodge al Qaeda, that the United States would hold the Taliban responsible for activities of bin Laden and al Qaeda against the United States or its interests -- and so, putting together the question of whether, if the intelligence community had been more robust or accurate in communicating its conclusions about the responsibility of al Qaeda for the Cole bombing, and if that had been communicated without this preliminary assessment and other qualifications which we know had been communicated to both administrations, is there not a realistic possibility that, had there been a strike against the Taliban, holding it responsible for al Qaeda's actions against the Cole, that the plot might have been disrupted, that bin Laden might have been given the assessment in no uncertain terms by the leaders of the Taliban that, "You can do no more against the United States operating from Afghanistan"?
FITZGERALD: Well, let me point this out again.
BEN-VENISTE: Actually, I directed it to "Dr. K" since this is...
FITZGERALD: I'm glad to pass.
BEN-VENISTE: ... this is more, I think, up the CIA's alley. But I'd be pleased to hear from you, Pat.
KAY: Well, first of all, I don't think any such assessment was ever done, at least nothing that I'm aware of. And I can only speculate as to what might have been the consequences.
I suppose what the Taliban response would have been would have depended to some degree on exactly the nature of what the U.S. did. And, again, I don't know what that might have been.
But we also need to -- I think we need to keep in mind that the Taliban and bin Laden had a relationship going, and the Taliban was very much under the spell of al Qaeda and bin Laden at the time. It was willing to put up with international condemnation, sanctions, because of its support for international terrorism at the time.
KAY: And, I mean, if you look at even after 9/11, after we did indeed threaten retribution on the Taliban if they didn't turn over bin Laden, I think, you know, they were willing to suffer destruction rather than hand over bin Laden. So on the basis of that, I can only speculate that not much would have changed the Taliban's support.
BEN-VENISTE: Do you not credit Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's statement that both Mullah Omar and the Pakistanis were putting pressure on Osama bin Laden not after the Cole, probably recognizing his responsibility for the planning of the Cole.
KAY: Right. It's true that they were putting pressure on them. It's also true that bin Laden defied them and they did nothing.
BEN-VENISTE: My question was, had we responded robustly with an attack against Taliban interests, that they would have gotten the message: "No more toleration for Osama bin Laden"?
KAY: It's certainly possible. But we just will never know, I suppose.
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Vice Chairman Hamilton?
HAMILTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'm interested in al Qaeda today in the United States. And I'm particularly interested in what we know about their capabilities today.
I accept their intent, I accept the fact they're pursuing various weapons and all the rest. But what do we really know today about the capabilities, not the intent, the capabilities of al Qaeda today to attack?
(UNKNOWN): The short answer,...
HAMILTON: In the United States.
(UNKNOWN): Yes, the short answer is we know very little about their capability to attack. We know much more about their intent and know very little about their capability.
HAMILTON: Do we know anything about their funding in the United States?
(UNKNOWN): Yes, we have a number of ongoing investigations as well as some that have resulted in criminal prosecution of individuals who have been fund-raisers here in the U.S., who are supporting al Qaeda overseas. What we don't have is necessarily fund-raising which is supporting al Qaeda here in the U.S.
(UNKNOWN): But we do have a number of individuals who have been in the public, in terms of operatives who KSM has tasked with casing, for example, the Brooklyn Bridge...
HAMILTON: Do we know anything about their recruitment in the United States?
HAMILTON: They clearly have an active campaign of recruitment.
HAMILTON: Is that fair?
(UNKNOWN): That's correct.
HAMILTON: Do we know anything about their command and control in the United States system?
(UNKNOWN): We have...
HAMILTON: Can we identify a leader or leaders of al Qaeda in the United States?
(UNKNOWN): We have limited information on that.
HAMILTON: So to sum up then, we have almost no information with regard to their capabilities in the United States. We know a little bit about their funding in the United States today. We know a little bit about their leadership today in the United States. We know very little, if anything, about their command and control. Do I sum it up correctly?
(UNKNOWN): That's fairly accurate. We know, I would say, a little bit more than what you've said. But without going into more detail, it's our duty to describe.
HAMILTON: Any other comments from the other panelists?
OK. Thank you.
KEAN: Commissioner Roemer?
ROEMER: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the panelists for their time here.
I know, Mr FITZGERALD, you're busy on a case of great importance to the country and to policy makers looking for a source of a leak. Is there anything you want to tell us here this morning?
No? I won't push the swearing in on you.
It is absolutely staggering to me the twisted cost-benefit ratio of what al Qaeda pulled off in September 11th and what happened to the United States.
They had 19 suicide hijackers. We lost 3,000 people; we're still mourning their deaths. It cost them slightly more than $400,000. Estimates indicate that it is probably going to cost us well over $100 billion. They continue to float and spread like mercury across the mirror, all over the world. We have many of our resources, intelligence, military resources going to two places, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We need to take this enemy on and defeat this enemy.
"Dr. K" we've put your boss in the hot seat a couple times asking him some tough questions about accountability.
ROEMER: I want to ask you some of those questions.
You were at the CTC in a very critical time during the last seven years, one when we had an opportunity to get some of these terrorists in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and we didn't get them.
I want to ask you specifically about two myths that have been out there in terms of my take on this: one, that we didn't have enough knowledge about a domestic attack, that we didn't think it was likely; and two, that al Qaeda had compartmentalized this information and held it very, very close.
In our Staff Statement 16, we say the following, and I want you to comment on it, "Dr. K", quote: "According to KSM, he was widely known within al Qaeda to be planning some kind of an operation against the United States. Many were even aware that he had been preparing operatives to go to the United States, as reported by a CIA source in June of 2001."
Operatives to the United States in June, this is KSM, top of the rendition list for the United States sending people to the United States.
You were at CTC. Did you get that information that KSM was sending operatives to the United States for a possible domestic attack?
KAY: Not that I recall.
ROEMER: Not that you recall.
So you are -- your title is -- and I'm trying to understand it -- is the chief of the Strategic Terrorism Assessments alternative Analysis Group, Office of Terrorism Analysis at the DCI Counterterrorism Center at CTC.
ROEMER: So CTC -- the chief here does not receive any type of information in June, a cable or information coming...
KAY: Well, first of all, I'm not the chief of CTC.
KAY: I'm one unit within...
ROEMER: Chief of the Strategic Terrorism Assessments alternative Analysis Group. OK.
KAY: And I can't comment on what other people within the center might have received, but I myself did not.
ROEMER: So you did not receive any kind of a cable or warning or message or anything else talking about KSM possibly sending in operatives to the United States?
KAY: That's correct.
ROEMER: And you're categorically saying you don't remember it, you don't recall it, or you didn't see it?
KAY: I don't recall ever receiving such information.
ROEMER: Well, we'll get more into this maybe with Mr. Davis on the next panel, as we drill down here a little bit more into what the CIA did know and maybe what should have been shared in different departments there.
Let me ask you a question about human intelligence. Mr. Tenet said to us about a month ago that we needed to rebuild human intelligence. I think he's absolutely right. He said it will take us five more years. We don't have five minutes, five days; we need to do it now.
Mr. Fitzgerald has pointed out in his statement very eloquently about a man by the name of ali Mohammed, who helped train the top leadership for al Qaeda on all kinds of security codes, ciphers, surveillance. He comes to the United States and applies for jobs as an FBI translator and at a Defense contractor.
Now, they seek to penetrate us. We have not done a very good job penetrating them.
Mr. Fitzgerald, and then Ms. Doran and "Dr. K" how do we rebuild this human intelligence that we vitally need in this country, with diversity and language skills and capabilities, so we are going after them and getting them?
FITZGERALD: That's not my area of expertise, but I'll tell you, the hard part is -- we need it badly, but the hard part for "Dr. K" and his folks is we have to watch out that the people who don't apply for the job as translators and don't walk in the door to be human sources aren't looking for al Qaeda. One of the classic intelligence techniques is the people that come in and pretend to work for you and gather information and feed it back. And we've seen indications that al Qaeda will do that.
So the hard part for us is to make sure that we build up our human source capability, but we have to choose human sources very wisely, so that they gather for us, that they don't walk in and by our questions learn from us what we're interested in, what we know and what we don't know.
And that's the real challenge that faces us.
ROEMER: Thank you.
KAY: I don't have much to say. I mean, I trust what the director said implicitly in terms of his assessment of how long it would take.
KAY: And I also believe that there is a program under way to accomplish that within the time frame that he's talked about. I, myself, am not privy to what that program entails, but I know it's under way.
(UNKNOWN): Congressman, if I could...
(UNKNOWN): If I could...
ROEMER: Ms. Doran?
DORAN: My level?
ROEMER: Sure. Maybe more important at your level.
DORAN: It's a fundamental part of our job, myself and my colleagues. We all try to develop sources. We all have sources. And most of those are targeted in the United States, but there are those that we work jointly with our partners in CIA and send overseas or work with overseas to continue to vet the information that they do have and to task them for the information we need.
ROEMER: And really to put you on the spot, do you have the kind of career track and incentives and capabilities within FBI to have more people like you come in there and spend a career doing this?
DORAN: I suppose there's always room for improvement, but so far so good.
ROEMER: That's why we asked you, too.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Commissioner Fielding?
FRED F. FIELDING, COMMISSION MEMBER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
For the panel, I really have very specific questions about a specific subject.
One of the hazy questions that surrounds Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is really its relationship, if any, with Iraq and with Saddam Hussein.
We've often heard that Osama bin Laden would not have been a natural ally, for religious reasons, for the composition and nature of Saddam Hussein's regime. And our staff report, as you just heard, basically says there's no credible evidence of any cooperation between the two. However, there seems to be some indicia that there may have been.
And, Mr. Fitzgerald, I'm delighted you're here, because this first question really I wanted to ask specifically to you, because it relates to the indictment of Osama bin Laden in the spring of 1998.
FIELDING: This is before the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the administration indicted Osama bin Laden. And the indictment, which was unsealed a few months later, reads, "al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government, and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."
So my question to you is what evidence was that indictment based upon and what was this understanding that's referenced in it?
FITZGERALD: And the question of relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda is an interesting one. I don't have information post-2001 when I got involved in a trial, and I don't have information post-September 11th. I can tell you what led to that inclusion in that sealed indictment in May and then when we superseded, which meant we broadened the charges in the Fall, we dropped that language.
We understood there was a very, very intimate relationship between al Qaeda and the Sudan. They worked hand in hand. We understood there was a working relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, and they shared training. We also understood that there had been antipathy between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein because Saddam Hussein was not viewed as being religious.
We did understand from people, including al-Fadl -- and my recollection is that he would have described this most likely in public at the trial that we had, but I can't tell you that for sure; that was a few years ago -- that at a certain point they decided that they wouldn't work against each other and that we believed a fellow in al Qaeda named Mondu Saleem (ph), Abu Harzai (ph) the Iraqi, tried to reach a, sort of, understanding where they wouldn't work against each other. Sort of, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
And that there were indications that within Sudan when al Qaeda was there -- which al Qaeda left in the summer of '96 or spring '96 -- there were efforts to work on joint -- you know, acquiring weapons.
FITZGERALD: Clearly, al Qaeda worked with the Sudan in getting those weapons in the national defense force there and the intelligence service. There were indications that al-Fadl had heard from others that Iran was involved. And they also had heard that Iraq was involved.
The clearest account from al-Fadl as a Sudanese was that he had dealt directly with the Sudanese intelligence service, so we had first-hand knowledge of that.
We corroborated the relationship with Iran to a lesser extent but to a solid extent. And then we had information from al-Fadl, who we believe was truthful, learning from others that there were also was efforts to try to work with Iraq. That was the basis for what we put in that indictment. Clearly, we put Sudan in the first order at that time as being the partner of al Qaeda.
We understood the relationship with Iran but Iraq, we understood, went from a position where they were working against each other to a standing down against each other. And we understood they were going to explore the possibility of working on weapons together.
That's my piece of what I know. I don't represent to know everything else, so I can't tell you, well, what we've learned since then. But there was that relationship that went from opposing each other to not opposing each other to possibly working with each other.
FIELDING: Thank you. That's very helpful.
Not unrelated, later in 1999, the Congressional Research Service published a report on the psychology of terrorism. I don't know if any of you are familiar with that report, but it's a 178-page document. But there was a passage about possible al Qaeda attack on Washington, D.C. And it said that, quote, "could take several forms." And it had various scenarios.
One of the scenarios is rather chilling because this, and I'm quoting again, "Suicide bombers belonging to al Qaeda's martyrdom battalion could crashland an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of CIA, or the White House," end of the quote.
Another passage in that same report says, "If Iraq's Saddam Hussein decides to use terrorists to attack the continental United States, he would likely turn to bin Laden's al Qaeda. al Qaeda is among the Islamic groups recruiting increasingly skilled professionals including Iraqi chemical groups, weapons experts, and others capable of helping to develop weapons of mass destruction. al Qaeda poses the most serious terrorist threat to U.S. security interests, for al Qaeda's well-trained terrorists are engaged in a terrorist jihad against U.S. interests worldwide."
Now, I would appreciate brief comments -- and we're really very short on time -- of the panel as to is there validity to that report? And secondarily, in your view, in addition to what you've helped us with, Mr. Fitzgerald, is there any evidence or any indicia of cooperation and support on the side issue of whether it's Iraq?
FITZGERALD: Sir, I think we are in full agreement with the staff statement in terms of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship at this time. It is an issue that we aggressively pursue in tracking down all new leads to try and deepen our understanding of what that relationship might have been.
FITZGERALD: But I think the staff statement did an excellent job of representing what our current understanding of the relationship...
FIELDING: What your current understanding of the...
FITZGERALD: Yes, sir, but every day we are tracking down new leads that come out on this topic aggressively.
FIELDING: Mr. Pistole?
PISTOLE: I agree with the staff statement also. There is substantial information about new threats. But in relating back to the report that they referenced, that information has been out there -- I don't recall when I first became aware of that or when the FBI, I can't even speak on behalf of when somebody became aware of that information.
But clearly we've been aware of al Qaeda's interest in targeting specific areas, as was carried out on 9/11.
The issue of where we go from here is better described in a closed setting, which I'd be glad to provide any time.
FIELDING: Well, thank you. We would appreciate that.
Anyone else have any comments?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Thank you.
GORELICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Our staff statement concludes about al Qaeda now that it's a loose confederation of regional networks with greatly weakened central organization.
And so my question for the panel is this: Does that mean that it is less capable of harming us? Or is it more a multiheaded snake that is in fact more potent?
FITZGERALD (?): The one thing that I would have added to the staff statement, because it is true, al Qaeda is a much more decentralized organization today, but bin Laden, Zawahiri and the al Qaeda leadership that remains is in South Asia.
It is actively pooling whatever resources it has left at its disposal, and in a very centralized and methodical way, we believe that it is plotting an attack and moving an attack forward, using what capabilities it has left to attack the homeland in the next few months so that you face threats from multiple sources and multiple directions.
FITZGERALD: I think the challenge with the more decentralized al Qaeda is that it's probably a more clandestine, smaller threat. It's more difficult to find. And that's probably -- as we deal with al Qaeda, the decentralized organization, that's the challenge that we face in the future.
GORELICK: So it both has -- just to summarize, it both has some remnants, if you will, some potent remnants of its leadership maintaining some level of centralized control and planning and it also has a dispersed set of activities that may be more difficult to attack. Is that what you're saying?
FITZGERALD: They present a new challenge for all of us as we try to disrupt it.
GORELICK: Would anyone else like to comment on that? Because it goes to the vice chairman's question about capabilities today.
We've heard a lot about how we have systematically attacked and imprisoned and killed the leaders, and that is all to the good in many respects. But it does pose the question of whether the less centralized al Qaeda that we're left with is more or less harmful to us and my worry is that it's more harmful.
And I guess if there are other people who would like to comment, I'd be appreciative of your comments.
KAY: Well, I agree with the notion that our success against the leadership is a two-edged sword. I mean, al Qaeda is like a cancer that's metastasized and spread, and it's terrible.
And when they have central leadership, they're more effective at controlling operations and certainly doing the spectacular, but you don't want them to do it. But when they do have central leadership, my assumption is it provides law enforcement, intelligence and the national security people a better opportunity. Then if you make an inroad, you can know what's going on and have a better shot at preventing it.
When they spread out, and to the extent they're much more loosely connected -- they may do some freelancing -- it just makes everyone's job a lot harder.
So it's a positive thing that the leadership has been decimated in many respects, but it shouldn't give us great comfort in the sense that we still have just a different danger and maybe more far flung in some respects.
GORELICK: Thank you.
I'd like to follow up on the question posed by Commissioner Thompson in which members of the panel essentially said: You have to look at this enemy in two parts.
GORELICK: You've got the hard core. And I think, "Dr. K" you basically said: Look, they are hard core, and the only way to go at them is straight at them.
And then there is the broader community of support, and there it is a battle for the hearts and minds.
And I want to probe that a little bit, and I have a two-part question. One is, do we think that there is in the Muslim world, in the Arab world, broader public support for bin Laden personally, for al Qaeda generally? And two, if the answer to that is yes, how does that hurt us? What is the impact of that broader support? Why should we be worried about it?
Could you start with that, "Dr. K"?
First of all, I think it's important to emphasize that what bin Laden represents only reflects an extremist minority of the Muslim community. So we're not talking about the Muslim world as a whole, in general, that adheres to and supports his beliefs, his philosophies, his vision.
GORELICK: Can I just interrupt for a moment?
But as I understand it, there is considerable and broad support for him and for al Qaeda, or approval. Maybe I'm not using the right terminology from your point of view.
But could you expand on your answer a little bit?
KAY: Well, I think it varies by country.
In those countries which have a much more stricter interpretation of Islam, countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, for example, his popularity, his appeal is probably stronger. I mean, we don't have, obviously, good numbers here which we can judge. We're sort of working on the basis of anecdotal evidence.
In those countries which have more moderate interpretations and implementation of Islam in the countries -- Morocco, Turkey, for example -- the level of support is probably much less. And whether it's growing or not I think is very difficult to gauge.
And, yes, I think there is a -- even amongst the more moderate elements, which I alluded to earlier, I think you will find sympathy for what he's trying to do. Maybe not his tactics, but certainly for his vision of unifying all Muslims under one caliphate, I think would probably have a great deal of support for that vision. Less support for his tactics and certainly even less support for his indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
GORELICK: Did you want to answer the part of the question about the impact of that support? Should we worry if bin Laden and al Qaeda's support in the Muslim world is growing?
KAY: Well, I think definitely we should worry if that support is growing, because it means that we, the United States, as well as our allies, will face a greater potential pool of recruits out there, the terrorist recruits.
And it means that even if bin Laden and al Qaeda were to disappear tomorrow, that you still have enough remnants out there in terms of affiliated, like-minded -- we use the term "like-minded" -- groups or individuals who will carry on the banner because they believe in what he stood for.
GORELICK: Thank you.
KEAN: Our last questioner will be Senator Gorton.
GORTON: Mr. Fitzgerald, I think we on the commission and all Americans owe you a great debt of gratitude for your ability to deal within the law and the Constitution with terrorists after they have been captured and charged with all of the due process of the law.
I'd like to add to that admiration my admiration for the profound nature of your written statement here today on motivations and on causes. It's one of the best written statements I've seen during the entire life of this commission.
Very close to the beginning of that statement, you make the following observation: First and foremost, al Qaeda is driven by its ideology which fundamentally opposes our way of life and our system of laws, with no room for negotiation or accommodation.
GORTON: The belief in martyrdom, a glorious death in violent jihad that qualifies one for paradise pervades al Qaeda members' thinking.
And in the very next sentence you manage to connect that directly or indirectly with a 14th century Islam scholar.
My question to you is, is, in your view, that ideology fundamentally, religiously driven, however perverted those religious ideas may be?
FITZGERALD: I would agree with that.
It's driven by religion, but a warped version of Islam. There are a billion Muslims in the world who don't buy into that.
And then its view of history, of economy, of politics, all stems from that, what we could say, perverted religious point of view.
When we first talked to the fellow Junior, or al-Fadl, who was the al Qaeda defector, when he first sat down and talked to us he, at one point said, you know, you really don't have horns in your heads. And that's what they've been brainwashed in the camps to think. They thought we were all evil, and they've been brainwashed into this ideology, so that's the mind set they're coming from.
GORTON: And that particular ideology, when you deal with people with no room for negotiation or accommodation, is peculiarly difficult for Westerners from a completely different culture.
And is it your view that in many respects when we get to those basic causes it's only going to be met by other Muslims who profoundly disagree with it and feel that it is damaging to them and to the balance of their culture?
FITZGERALD: I think, as I think Commissioner Gorelick mentioned, we need to win the hearts and the minds of the other people so that they will stand up and call these people to account, that they will aid us in the fight against terrorism, and to the extent that we need to take military action, that countries will allow us to use their countries as bases of support or not oppose us. Because we need to win over the people to our side who are not in that extremist camp.
GORTON: Mr. Pistole, do you and the FBI agree with those general statements that Mr. Fitzgerald has set up?
PISTOLE: Yes, Senator.
We view this as a generational issue that is worldwide, that is something that is not a short-term fix, and it may even be tantamount to a hundred year war.
This is something that goes on and on until these hearts and minds, as had been mentioned, can be changed so we don't have young men and women who are brought up to learn to hate Americans, Jews, anybody who does not conform to their ideology.
GORTON: Mr. Davis and "Dr. K"?
KAY: I definitely agree with that portrayal. I think there is really no accommodation with what bin Laden represents.
Even -- I mean, you could go to the extreme of saying if the United States were to eliminate its support for Israel, get out of the Middle East and stop exporting all of our goods and culture to that part of the world, and would that make a difference?
Well, I don't know. But I just don't think it's any accommodation here.
GORTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Thank you very much.
That completes our questioning.
I want to thank the panel members very much for your service and for your help this morning to the panel.
Thank you very, very much.
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