“The match begins tomorrow”

The US Congress continues hearing the case on the CIA and FBI activity. More and more details appear in the case. It is perfectly clear now that the CIA and FBI had been warned of terrorist attacks before September 11. The special services had enough information about coming attacks but failed to react adequately because of bureaucratic delays.

As it became clear during the hearings of the case, the US National Security Agency, which deals with space and electronic intelligence, had been also warned of coming terrorist attacks. On September 10, Agency officials intercepted two messages for al-Qaeda agents located in the USA. The first message said, “The match begins tomorrow.” And the second was, “Tomorrow is zero hour.” However, both messages were ignored, and they were translated on September 12 only when it was too late to do something.

CNN informs, that NSA Director Michael Hayden talked about the intercepts at the hearings and explained that NSA collects a lot of information every day and it is impossible to translate all of it in a timely manner. That is why no adequate reaction to the intercepts followed immediately on September 10.

However, the excuse is rather lame. The NSA staff makes up 20,000 people; only the FBI is bigger. It certain that the NSA has all the necessary technical facilities at their disposal to carry out important work, otherwise it would be of no use at all to maintain such a large special service. Therefore, the conclusion is rather obvious: NSA, quite like other departments, failed to cope with its work.

It is not ruled out that the directors of US special services are trying now to shift the blame for the Sept. 11 mistake onto each other. Indeed, until now, mostly the CIA and FBI have been mentioned in connection with the Sept.11 terrorism attack, and the NSA has not been mentioned at all. Now, it is time for Michael Hayden’s officials to justify themselves. Very likely, the Intelligence Department of the US Defense Ministry is to soon be summoned to the Congress as well. Leaders of the department will probably also admit that they had been warned of coming terrorist attacks, but “failed to adequately respond to the information because of large volumes of information.” In any case, senators and congressmen participating in the hearings say that the three special services made grave mistakes before September 11. In addition, Democrats and Republicans share the same opinion. This means that the special services are likely in for serious reshuffling.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/06/20/42919.html

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