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The New York Times 

October 6, 2005

Officials Won't Be Disciplined for Actions Before Sept. 11

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 - The C.I.A. will not discipline George J. Tenet, the former director, or any other current or former officials singled out by an inspector general for poor performance on counterterrorism before Sept. 11, 2001, the agency said Wednesday.

The decision by Porter J. Goss, the current director, ends nearly four years of inquiries into the agency's performance before the Sept. 11 attacks. It means that no current or former officer will be reprimanded despite what the inspector general, John L. Helgerson, concluded were serious shortcomings.

In a written statement, Mr. Goss said that as a "matter of judgment" he had decided not to heed a recommendation by Mr. Helgerson that he convene what the agency calls an "accountability review board" to assess the performance of individual officials, a step that would have come before any disciplinary action.

The inspector general's report remains classified. But people who have read the document have said that it singled out about 20 current and former officials, including Mr. Tenet; James L. Pavitt, the former deputy director for operations; and Cofer Black, the former head of the Counterterrorism Center.

"In no way does this report suggest that any one person or group of people could have prevented 9/11," Mr. Goss said of the internal review. In his statement, Mr. Goss said he had concluded that singling out individuals for disciplinary action "would send the wrong message to our junior officers about taking risks."

Of those named in the report, Mr. Goss said, "about half" have retired from the agency since Sept. 11, while "those who are still with us are amongst the finest we have."

Congressional leaders from both parties expressed reservations about Mr. Goss's decision. Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said he was concerned that Mr. Goss had decided to forgo any further internal review.

Mr. Roberts said he had invited Mr. Goss to appear before the Senate committee to explain his decision. Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Mr. Goss still needed to "persuade the public that he has dealt fairly with his agency's past mistakes."

The inspector general delivered his final report to Congress in August, more than two years after beginning the review. Congressional leaders from both parties have asked that it be made public, but in his statement, Mr. Goss signaled that the agency was unlikely to approve any such request, saying that the "extraordinary bulk" of the document bore delicate intelligence matters.

The internal report was said to have faulted Mr. Tenet in particular for focusing too little attention on combating the Qaeda terrorist organization as a whole in the years before Sept. 11, a period in which much of the agency's focus was aimed at the group's leader, Osama bin Laden. Mr. Tenet and others named in the document objected to that conclusion, and prepared rebuttals that the C.I.A. has shared with Congress.

The C.I.A. inspector general's report, ordered by Congress in December 2002, was the last in a series of inquiries by Congress, the independent Sept. 11 commission and others. A spokesman for Mr. Tenet, Bill Harlow, said the former director would not comment on Mr. Goss's decision. Mr. Tenet stepped down as director of central intelligence in July 2004.

Mr. Pavitt, who retired as head of the agency's directorate of operations in August 2004, said Wednesday that Mr. Goss had done "the right thing" by deciding not to seek disciplinary action against him and others named in the report.

"There has been a great deal of accountability; how many times can we go through it again?" Mr. Pavitt said. "How many times do we need to try to hold a G.S.-13 or, for that matter, a former director, responsible for 9/11? We've said, yes, mistakes were made, but there was an awful lot that was done that was good, that was positive, that was extraordinary." Mr. Pavitt was referring to a civil service grade that denotes a midlevel official.

John D. Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, said he would "fully support" Mr. Goss's decision not to proceed with any action against individuals named in the report.





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