Former Law Officials Blast September 11 Report

WASHINGTON -- The official September 11 commission report is deeply flawed because it fails to fix blame for US intelligence shortcomings, a group of former CIA and FBI officials said Monday. The officials said there were "serious shortcomings" in the report made public in July. In a letter sent to Congress they called on legislators to "apply brakes to the race to implement the commission recommendations."

The letter was signed by 25 officials who formerly worked the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, US Customs, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the US military.

The report "deliberately ignores officials and civil servants who were, and still are, clearly negligent and/or derelict in their duties to the nation," they said.

"If these individuals are protected rather than held accountable, the mind-set that enabled September 11 will persist, no matter how many layers of bureaucracy are added, and no matter how much money is poured into agencies," it added.

Retired senior CIA analyst Melvin Goodman, one of the signatories, blasted the commission's recommendation to create an "intelligence czar" to centralize US intelligence efforts.

"I cannot think of a better way to politicize intelligence than to appoint an intelligence czar," he told a press conference.

The shortcomings of US security and intelligence were known well ahead of the September 11 attacks, Goodman said, and those responsible for not fixing the problems must be held accountable.

"People in the American government helped create this tragedy. Until we understand this the chances of another September 11 remains," he said.

Bogdan Dzakovic, who formerly led a mock terrorist squad known as Red Team for the FAA, said he had been pointing out security shortcomings for years before the September 11 attacks, to no avail.

"The US faces the biggest threat since the end of the Cold War, but it is from the government's own bureaucracy," said Dzakovic.

Another letter signatory, Diane Kleiman, a former US Customs agent who worked at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, said that while passengers are checked heavily, cargo handlers, maintenance and cleanup crews have easy access to the planes.

There is a high turnover rate among cargo handlers, Kleiman said, and security is extremely lax when it comes to keeping track of magnetic cards that allow access to back doors that open to the runway.

As proof she held up her own security clearance pass, which was never collected by airport authorities although she was fired in 1999.

One of the event organizers was Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI language specialist of Turkish descent fired in March 2002 for pointing out shortcomings at her former agency. Edmonds is forbidden to talk about her case due to a Justice Department gag order.