US Ignored Pending Terror Attack
Warnings Says Former FBI Official
By Carolyn Barta
The Dallas Morning News

Despite more than a dozen terrorist attacks around the world since 1992, the United States failed to recognize impending disaster because its federal law enforcement is a "dysfunctional montage," a retired FBI official said Tuesday.
"Why didn't we know about September 11? We were deaf, dumb, and blind. We were asleep at the switch," former deputy FBI director Oliver "Buck" Revell said at a Press Club of Dallas luncheon.

The bureau's former counterterrorism chief blames federal officials and the American public for not taking the terrorism threat seriously enough.

Though arrests were made in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, authorities failed to take out the bombers' supporting network. And he said Americans were too fixated on the O.J. Simpson trial to pay attention to the Trade Center trials, the most informative international terrorism trials in this country.

Mr. Revell said federal law enforcement should be restructured and refocused under a Cabinet-level homeland defense secretary who has authority to consolidate law enforcement activities currently conducted by 140 agencies under 14 Cabinet officials.

A former FBI special agent-in-charge in Dallas, Mr. Revell said terrorist dangers have been spelled out to Congress and various commissions during the Clinton administration.

"But nothing's been done to put together a coherent homeland defense," he said. "There is no strategic planning, shared mission, or coordination" among agencies dealing with global organized crime and terrorist activities.

President Bush tried to bring order to the disjointed operation when he appointed Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge as head of a new Office of Homeland Security.

"It doesn't matter how many homeland czars we have," Mr. Revell said. The question is: Does he have the authority to command law enforcement agencies?"

He noted that the United Kingdom, Canada, and France have officials in charge of such a homeland defense ministry.

The U.S. attorney general, he said, wears too many hats to deal only with homeland defense issues.

Other needs to counter terrorism threats include a greater emphasis on human instead of technological intelligence and an expedited process for deporting undocumented immigrants, Mr. Revell said.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service is hamstrung by regulations and a system that grants more due process rights to suspected undocumented immigrants than other countries, he said.

Now an international security consultant, Mr. Revell recently told a U.S. House International Relations Committee hearing that, to prevent terrorism, "we need the political will and we need public attention for more than 24 hours." .a4.110e.html


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