Excerpts From Congressional Joint Intelligence Report on 9/11 Attacks

Excerpts from the findings and conclusions of the congressional joint intelligence inquiry into failures that led to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"For a variety of reasons, the intelligence community failed to capitalize on both the individual and collective significance of available information ... as a result, the community missed opportunities to disrupt the Sept. 11 plot by denying entry to or detaining would-be hijackers; to at least try to unravel the plot ... and finally, to generate a heightened state of alert and thus harden the homeland against attack."

"No one will ever know what might have happened had more connections been drawn between these disparate pieces of information. The important point is that the intelligence community, for a variety of reasons, did not bring together and fully appreciate a range of information that could have greatly enhanced its chances of uncovering and preventing Usama bin Laden's plan to attack these United States on Sept. 11, 2001."

"While the intelligence community had amassed a great deal of valuable intelligence regarding Usama bin Laden and his terrorist activities, none of it identified the time, place and specific nature of the attacks that were planned for Sept.11, 2001. Nonetheless, the community did have information that was clearly relevant to the Sept. 11 attacks, particularly when considered for its collective significance."

"Beginning in 1998 and continuing into the summer of 2001, the intelligence community received a modest, but relatively steady, stream of intelligence reporting that indicated the possibility of terrorist attacks within the United States. Nonetheless, testimony and interviews confirm that it was the general view of the intelligence community ... that the threatened bin Laden attacks would most likely occur against U.S. interests overseas."

"From at least 1994, and continuing into the summer of 2001, the intelligence community received information indicating that terrorists were contemplating, among other means of attack, the use of aircraft as weapons. This information did not stimulate any specific intelligence community assessment of, or collective government reaction to, this form of threat."

"Despite intelligence reporting from 1998 through the summer of 2001 indicating that Usama bin Laden's terrorist network intended to strike inside the United States, the United States government did not undertake a comprehensive effort to implement defensive measures in the United States."

"Between 1996 and Sept. 2001, the counterterrorism strategy adopted by the U.S. government did not succeed in eliminating Afghanistan as a sanctuary and training ground for Usama bin Laden's terrorist network ... Law enforcement efforts were not adequate by themselves ... The United States persisted in observing the rule of law and accepted norms of international behavior, but bin Laden and Al Qaeda recognized no rules and thrived in the safe haven provided by Afghanistan."

"Senior U.S. military officials were reluctant to use U.S. military assets to conduct offensive counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, or to support or participate in CIA operations directed against Al Qaeda prior to Sept. 11. At least part of this reluctance was driven by the military's view that the intelligence community was unable to provide the intelligence needed to support military operations."

"At least some of the hijackers were not as isolated during their time in the United States as has been previously suggested. Rather, they maintained a number of contacts both in the United States and abroad ... it is now clear that they did provide at least some of the hijackers with substantial assistance while they were living in this country."

"Prior to Sept. 11, there was no coordinated U.S. governmentwide strategy to track terrorist funding and close down their financial support networks. There was also reluctance in some parts of the U.S. government ... As a result, the U.S. government was unable to disrupt financial support for Usama bin Laden's terrorist activities effectively."

"Collection efforts were not targeted on information about KSM [Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, now in U.S. custody] that might have helped better understand Al Qaeda's plans and intentions, and KSM's role in the Sept. 11 attacks was a surprise to the intelligence community."

"Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, neither the U.S. government as a whole nor the intelligence community had a comprehensive counterterrorist strategy for combating the threat posed by Usama bin Laden. Furthermore, the director of central intelligence was either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of intelligence community resources necessary to combat the growing threat to the United States."

"Prior to Sept. 11, the intelligence community was not prepared to handle the challenge it faced in translating the volumes of foreign language counterterrorism intelligence it collected ... The intelligence community's ability to produce significant and timely signals intelligence on counterterrorism was limited by the [National Security Agency]'s failure to address modern communications technology aggressively ... and insufficient collaboration between NSA and FBI regarding the potential for terrorist attacks in the United States."

"The intelligence community did not effectively develop and use human sources to penetrate Al Qaeda's inner circle. This lack of reliable and knowledgeable human sources significantly limited the community's ability to acquire intelligence that could be acted upon before the Sept. 11 attacks."