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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 22:23 GMT
US panel 'calls for single spymaster'
World Trade Center's north tower after a plane was crashed into it
The panel held a six-month inquiry into the attacks
The United States congressional panel investigating intelligence failures in the run-up to last year's 11 September attacks is expected to recommend that all US intelligence agencies should report to a single leader.

The firewalls have to come down, and that will be very tough, given the culture within our own government

Senator Richard Lugar

The creation of an "intelligence czar" is the main recommendation of an inquiry by members of the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees, according to US media reports.

The legislators - who began a series of closed-door hearings in June - were due to produce their final report at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The panel's findings about the intelligence lapses will remain classified, but recommendations for future improvements are expected to be made public soon, and some have been leaked to the press.

The key suggestion involves the appointment of a single head for America's 13 different - and often rival - intelligence agencies.

"Short of that, we're going to continue to have a lot of principalities, a lot of dukedoms, and no one really in charge of the intelligence community," Richard Selby - the top Republican senator on the panel - said.

Culture shock

Experts have said turf battles and an inability of computer systems to work together have led to various agencies having pieces of the puzzle without anyone having the ability to fit those pieces together.

Senator Richard Lugar
Lugar: "No more turf wars"
At present, CIA Director George Tenet also heads all intelligence agencies - but in practice, like all his predecessors, he focuses on running the CIA.

But correspondents say the US Defence Department is fiercely opposed to relinquishing control over the National Security Agency, the main military intelligence agency.

Another member of the panel, Senator Richard Lugar, told CBS television: "The firewalls have to come down, and that will be very tough, given the culture within our own government."

The panel is also expected to recommend an investigation into whether a new domestic security agency may be needed.

The FBI - essentially a crime-fighting agency - has been accused of not placing sufficient emphasis on preventing terrorism acts.

Two months before the 11 September attacks, an FBI agent in Arizona warned that several Middle Eastern men had enrolled in pilot training programmes - but senior FBI officials paid little attention to his memo.

Foreign aid?

Other possible recommendations include:

  • Making individual intelligence employees accountable for missed clues and lack of communication

  • Expanding surveillance of terror suspects in the US

  • A thorough investigation into whether 11 September hijackers based in the US received help from foreign governments

US politicians and media have suggested that Saudi Arabia may have given financial help to two of the men who carried out the attacks.

The Riyadh government has strongly denied the reports.

The panel's investigation will be followed by an independent inquiry into the 11 September attacks, headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

He is expected to look at a range of issues beyond improving intelligence, such as immigration and aviation security.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

15 Nov 02 | Americas
18 Sep 02 | Americas
07 Jun 02 | Americas
18 May 02 | Americas
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