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Families press CIA to release Sept 11 report

June 25, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 24: Relatives of the Sept 11 victims on Thursday called on the CIA to release an internal report that scrutinizes the US spy agency’s counter-terrorism efforts prior to the 2001 attacks.

The report by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general, which is said to be in its final stages, is expected to be sent in classified form to CIA Director Porter Goss and then to the intelligence oversight committees in Congress later this summer, officials said.

But victims’ relatives, whose lobbying overcame President George Bush’s initial resistance to the creation of the Sept 11 commission, say they intend to step up public pressure on the CIA to release the report publicly.

“There’s information in there that’s supposed to really name some names and finally go for some accountability,” said widow Lorie Van Auken of the group known as the Sept 11 Advocates, a driving force behind creation of the bipartisan commission that investigated the attacks.

“Accountability would be fabulous because right now nobody’s being held accountable for anything anywhere in this entire government,” she said in an interview.

Another widow, Kristen Breitweiser, said Mr Goss assured relatives last August that there would be a public release of the document. Mr Goss, who was then the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made the promise on the day Mr Bush nominated him to be CIA director.

Sept 11 families received similar assurances from Republican Sen Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Ms Breitweiser added.

“While the agency is legally obligated to protect sources and methods, the director understands the desire for transparency. But the inspector general’s report is not yet complete,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said.

Two weeks ago, the Justice Department released a similar report criticizing the FBI’s counterterrorism role in the run-up to the Sept 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Ms Breitweiser believes the CIA report is even more important and could shed new light on evidence the spy agency blocked the FBI from receiving an important cable on one of the hijackers.

“My opinion is that it was the CIA who mainly dropped the ball,” she said. “Clearly they withheld information that, had it been given to the right people, would have prevented the attacks.” —Reuters