- 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
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
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
"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
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."