WASHINGTON (AP) —The legal wall that for years
divided FBI intelligence and criminal agents is blamed largely for
the government’s failure to grasp the threat posed by
al-Qaida inside the United States before the 2001 attacks.

One FBI agent, frustrated at his inability to track two
soon-to-be hijackers known to be in the United States, wrote in an
August 2001 e-mail that “someday someone will die, and wall
or not, the public will not understand why we were not more
effective and throwing every resource at certain
problems.”

The Sept. 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

The problem, since resolved, is expected to be among the topics
when current and former Justice Department and FBI officials
testify tomorrow and Wednesday before the independent commission
investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Attorney General Janet
Reno, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert
Mueller are among those scheduled to appear.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the wall was
dismantled by the Patriot Act and a court ruling allowing the FBI
to seek special warrants allowing agents to wiretap phones and
conduct other secret surveillance inside the United States of
suspected foreign terrorists, government agents and spies.

Former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), a commission member, said
yesterday the FBI’s lack of internal communication, not just
the intelligence-criminal wall, will be the principal topic of this
week’s hearings.

Exhibit A will be President Bush’s daily briefing of Aug.
6, 2001, which the White House declassified and made public
Saturday night, he said.

“The most important feature of the PDB … is the
line that the FBI is conducting 70 full field
investigations,” Gorton said on “Fox News
Sunday.” “I don’t know where those 70 full field
investigations were.”

Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, talked
about such investigations Thursday in her appearance before the
commission. She came under fire from commissioner Tim Roemer, a
former Democratic congressman from Indiana.

“We have done thousands of interviews here at the 9-11
commission. We’ve gone through literally millions of pieces
of paper. To date, we have found nobody, nobody at the FBI, who
knows anything about a tasking of field offices,” Roemer
said.

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