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Kate Snow: Blame game takes center stage

CNN's Kate Snow  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a joint, closed-door inquiry Tuesday at the Capitol, Senate and House intelligence committee members will begin to look at whether the FBI and CIA had information that might have prevented the September 11 attacks.

Most of the finger-pointing on intelligence missteps has focused on the FBI, but attention has shifted recently to the CIA.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Kate Snow spoke Tuesday with CNN anchor Paula Zahn.

Hearings to examine 9/11 intelligence lapses 

SNOW: We're expecting these hearings to get under way [Tuesday] afternoon. You're not going to see a whole lot. That's because, to start with, these won't be public hearings. They'll be behind closed doors. The main committee looking into the intelligence failures or problems revolving around 9/11 is a joint inquiry, a joint effort between the House and the Senate.

Now, the key questions that they want answered, obviously No. 1 -- were there missed clues about 9/11, and if so, how many missed clues? What kind of lack of communication was there between agencies -- for example, the FBI and the CIA? Did they not share information? And then, finally, obviously, what needs to change and is that a congressional role? Does there need to be new legislation to try to change the way these agencies operate?

This committee is not just looking at 9/11, and not just looking at the FBI and the CIA; they're also looking at 12 other intelligence agencies. There are 14 total that cover some form of intelligence or look at national security here in Washington.

And they're going back not just to look at 9/11 but going back all the way to 1986 when the CIA first formed its counterterrorism task force. So they'll actually look at some other terrorist incidents, like the bombing of the USS Cole, for example.

And we're told that the committee wants to open things up to the public just as soon as they can. But as I mentioned, for now it's going to be very private.

... Right under the Capitol dome up on the fourth floor of the U.S. Capitol there is this little room that they built. That wing was added on in 1960. It is one of the most secure rooms, as you might imagine, in the United States Capitol. It is completely soundproof. It's routinely checked for listening devices to make sure nobody can eavesdrop inside the room.

... Obviously, they are only going to let people with high-level security clearances inside there [Tuesday].

They used that same room incidentally back during the Watergate investigation. They interviewed a number of the Nixon administration officials inside that same room.




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