Cabinet to oversee domestic security
WASHINGTON — Stung by intelligence failures, President Bush called on Congress Thursday night to remake the government with a terrorist-fighting Department of Homeland Security, warning that “thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us.”
Congress welcomed the proposal, even as it intensified its inquiry into lapses before the Sept. 11 attacks, hearing from an FBI whistle-blower as well as the agency’s director.
In a nationally broadcast address, Bush acknowledged that “suspicions and insights of some of our front-line agents did not get enough attention.”
“We need to know when warnings were missed or signs unheeded — not to point the finger of blame, but to make sure we correct any problems, and prevent them from happening again,” the president said. Bush spoke to a national TV audience from a lectern placed in the threshold of the White House’s Blue Room, with Washington’s stormy evening sky visible through the window over his shoulder. On his lapel, was the small American flag pin he has worn since Sept. 11.
FBI whistle-blower criticizes
says it impedes
WASHINGTON — The FBI is weighed down by bureaucracy, “make-work paperwork” and a culture that discourages risk-taking, an agency whistle-blower told Congress on Thursday, venting frustration with an organization she said could have done more to prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Seven to nine levels (of bureaucracy) is really ridiculous,” Coleen Rowley, a lawyer in the FBI’s Minneapolis office, told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and a nationwide television audience.
Rowley appeared after FBI Director Robert S. Mueller suggested that Congress expand surveillance powers that were put into law only seven months ago, and said his storied agency needs to be “more flexible, agile and mobile” if it is to prevent future terrorist attacks.