Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The Progress Report

TERRORISM – BIN LADEN UNIT UNDERSTAFFED: According to a letter written by senior counterterrorism expert Michael Scheuer and read at a Senate hearing Tuesday, "Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks, despite repeated pleas from the unit's leaders for reinforcements." Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit, alleges the unit is currently "stretched so thin that it relies on inexperienced officers rotated in and out every 60 to 90 days, and they leave before they know enough to be able to perform any meaningful work." Sheuer's letter underscored wider problems with America's understaffed intelligence: asked about the CIA's current capacity to deal with terrorism, Porter Goss, the president's nominee for intelligence chief, admitted, "On a scale of 10, we're about 3."