Friday, July 28, 2006

House report criticizes US intelligence on threats

House report criticizes US intelligence on threats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence has a poor understanding of threats against the United States, nearly five years after the September 11 attacks prompted the U.S. war on terrorism, according to a report released on Thursday.

The unclassified report on intelligence reform, issued by a House of Representatives intelligence oversight subcommittee, cited continued weakness in America's spying ability and warned that poor management had placed high-altitude espionage such as spy satellites at risk.

"Poor understanding of the threats and the changing environment in which our officers have to operate has resulted in an insufficient human intelligence capability that does not and will not meet the nation's needs," said the 38-page bipartisan report.

The office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte, who oversees 16 agencies that comprise the intelligence community, issued a statement that cited successes at reform but acknowledged there was more work to do.

"We recognize that change does not come easily to large enterprises and that we must continue to aggressively work to fulfill the mandate of the intelligence reform legislation," the statement said, referring to congressionally mandated reforms that created Negroponte's job in late 2004.

Negroponte's office also issued its own unclassified report on reform on Thursday, saying a classified version of the document was sent to President George W. Bush this month.

The House report said intelligence analysis was largely ignoring efforts to discover unknown adversaries such as home-grown cells or new information about known enemies including al Qaeda and other militant groups.

"Today, analysis largely is still clustered around reporting on the same 10 percent of the data," it said.

The House report was the latest independent assessment of the Bush administration's failures and successes at implementing a range of reforms intended to prevent another September 11 attack. That attack killed about 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania in 2001.

The report appeared at a time when authorities in the United States and Europe have stepped up vigilance against Hizbollah and other militant groups, amid concern Middle East violence could spill over in the West.

Earlier on Thursday, al Qaeda second in command Ayman al-Zawahri in a videotape called on Muslims to wage holy war against Israel and all countries in the "crusader alliance" that supports the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.