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Ex-Pentagon IG to head intelligence probe

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A joint congressional committee investigating intelligence failures surrounding the September 11 terrorist attacks Wednesday named a former inspector general at the Pentagon to be the new staff director.

Eleanor Hill, a lawyer for the Washington firm King & Spalding, is taking over the position nearly a month after her predecessor was abruptly fired.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Eleanor Hill leading this investigation," said Rep. Porter J. Goss, R-Florida, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"Her thorough understanding of the intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracies, combined with her extensive investigative experience, will help ensure an extensive, professional oversight review."

While at the Pentagon, Hill managed a wide-range of audits and both criminal and administrative investigations. She has also served as a federal prosecutor, and was the counsel to Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Georgia, on the Iran-Contra investigative committee.

Earlier this month, Britt Snider, the original staff director for the select committee, was fired after senators learned he hired someone onto the committee from the CIA who was under investigation for failing lie detector tests. That staffer, too, was forced to resign from the committee.

Staff shakeups, as well as difficulty getting information from the FBI and CIA, have plagued the joint intelligence committee investigation, which was formed in February.

But last week, Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham, D-Florida, and Goss released a letter to colleagues that their investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies since 1986 has produced more than 30,000 pages of documents and nearly 175 interviews.

The lawmakers said the first closed hearing will be June 4, and expect open hearings to begin at the end of the month with FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director George Tenet, among the first key witnesses.

Congressional aides say the first round of closed hearings is likely to be staff presentations to lawmakers on what they have found and how they recommend the information and inquiry should be prioritized.

"As we launch our series of hearings next month, we have promised the American people a complete and candid account of the activities of the intelligence community surrounding the events of September 11th. Eleanor Hill will help those of us who serve on the House and Senate committees deliver on that pledge," Graham said.




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