Press Release of Intelligence Committee


Senate and House Intelligence Committees Announce Joint Inquiry into the September 11th Terrorist Attacks

Created date

Thursday, February 14, 2002


WASHINGTON (February 14, 2002) - The Senate and House Intelligence Committees will conduct a joint inquiry into the Intelligence Community's activities before, during and since the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, the panels' leaders announced today.

Among the purposes of this joint effort is ascertaining why the Intelligence Community did not learn of the September 11th attacks in advance, and to identify what, if anything, might be done to better the position the Intelligence Community to warn of and prevent future terrorist attacks and other threats of the 21st Century. The Committees may seek to legislate changes to remedy any systemic deficiencies revealed by the joint inquiry.

The inquiry was announced by Senator Bob Graham, D-Florida, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI); Representative Porter Goss, R-Florida, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI); SSCI Vice Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Alabama; and HPSCI Ranking Democrat Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

The leaders said the committees are creating a separate, unified staff to support the joint inquiry, led by former CIA Inspector General L. Britt Snider. Mr. Snider retired from federal service last year after serving in a variety of positions in the intelligence field.

SSCI Chairman Graham stated: "The Intelligence Community is our nation's early warning system against threats to U.S. lives and property, both here and around the world. When the Intelligence Community fails to provide timely and accurate threat information, it is a grave matter. We are launching this inquiry without preconceived notions of what may have gone wrong in the Intelligence Community leading up to September 11th of last year. I have no interest in simply looking in the rear view mirror and playing the 'blame game' about what went wrong from an intelligence perspective. Rather, I wish to identify any systemic shortcomings in our intelligence community and fix these problems as soon as possible. We have a solemn obligation to the 3,000 people who died, their families and the rest of the American people to insure that any deficiencies in the organization and operation of the intelligence community are remedied to prevent a recurrence of September 11th. Both Chairman Goss and I are committed to a fair, non-partisan and thorough process."

HPSCI Chairman Goss said: "I concur with the comments made by Chairman Graham. Both committees have made the issue of terrorism a major priority for over the past eight years. In the case of the House, the Speaker also took steps to examine the terrorist threat by asking us to create a Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security at the beginning of the 107th Congress. This particular effort focuses on the broader issues of terrorism worldwide, our capacity to counter terrorist activities and our preparedness to protect the American people at home and abroad. The bicameral review that we are introducing today, unfortunately made necessary by the horrific events of September 11th, affords both Committees the opportunity to not only study the tragedy in more detail, but to determine whether previous concerns regarding the Intelligence Community's capabilities are viable. It will also help us to ascertain whether the Intelligence Community has all the necessary resources to meet the threats of the 21st Century."

SSCI Vice Chairman Shelby said: "We owe the American people an explanation. The purpose of this joint investigation is to explain why the Intelligence Community failed to warn us of the attacks on September 11th. Some have claimed there was no intelligence failure on September 11th, but the fact that nearly 3,000 Americans perished on that day strongly suggests otherwise. It is vital that this be a vigorous, thorough and credible inquiry. I believe that a thorough and unbiased investigation will reveal that the Intelligence Community is encumbered by ossified and entrenched bureaucracies which inhibit its ability to confront current and emerging threats. This is a record at which the investigation will need to look closely. Our Intelligence Community is structured and focused in ways that will inevitably lead to more failures. We can no longer assume that doing more of the same old things in the same old ways will ensure the safety of the American people. It will not. It is the duty of this joint investigation to help prevent a third Pearl Harbor."

HPSCI Ranking Democrat Pelosi said: "The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have a responsibility to ensure that Congress conducts a thorough assessment of the performance of the intelligence agencies leading up to and including September 11th. The Committees have decided that the best way to do that is to work cooperatively, in a bipartisan manner, on an inquiry conducted by the House and Senate. A joint investigation is an unusual step, but the events of September 11th call for unusual measures. The inquiry's purpose is not to assign fault, but to identify areas that could lessen the chances that another September 11th could happen."

Prior to his service at the CIA, in 1995-96, Snider was staff director of the Aspin-Brown Commission, which reviewed the roles and capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community. In 1987, Snider served as minority counsel for the SSCI for then Vice Chairman William Cohen, R-Maine, who later served as secretary of Defense. As counsel, Snider also served as Senator Cohen's staff liaison with the Iran-Contra Committee. In 1989, then SSCI Chairman David Boren, D-Oklahoma, appointed him as general counsel for the Committee, a position Snider held until 1995. Among his duties, Snider directed oversight investigations undertaken by the SSCI, such as the Aldrich Ames espionage case.

(Mr. Snider's resume is attached to this press release.)

HPSCI Chairman Goss said: "Having served myself as a member of the Aspin-Brown Commission, which Mr. Snider served as staff director, I can attest to his expertise in intelligence matters, his judgment and his independence. Later, when Mr. Snider was named Inspector General at the Agency, these same qualities were much in evidence. The critical reports produced by his office on the Deutch matter and on the CIA's role in the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade were first rate in every respect. When he left the IG's job, he also left behind a thoughtful commentary on the CIA's management structure, which I believe prompted a number of the changes that took place over the last year. I am very pleased that he has agreed to help us with this inquiry."

SSCI Chairman Graham said: "Given the extraordinary depth and breadth of his experience in both Congress and the Executive Branch, Britt Snider is uniquely qualified to serve as the staff director for this vitally important effort. I can think of no one better in or out of government, who has Britt's knowledge of and experience with the law, investigations and the intelligence field combined with the necessary independence, dedication, integrity and professionalism to supervise our inquiry into the September 11th tragedy."

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Senator Graham - Paul Anderson, 202-224-7999

Senator Shelby - Andrea Andrews, 202-224-6518

Representative Goss - Julie Almacy, 202-225-2536

Representative Pelosi - Brendan Daly, 202-225-3130


Inspector General, Central Intelligence Agency (1998-2001). Appointed by President Clinton with the advice and consent of the Senate to serve as the CIA's second statutory Inspector General. Supervised a staff of 160 employees involved in investigations, audits, and inspections of the CIA's operations.

Special Counsel to the Director of Central Intelligence (1997-1998). Served as special advisor to George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence.

Visiting Mellon Scholar in American History, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England (1997). Under the auspices of the History Faculty, delivered eight lectures on intelligence and foreign policy in the 20th century and supervised students individually in the preparation of essays on the subject during the winter term, 1997.

Visiting Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, (1996-1997). Prepared a study entitled "Sharing Secrets with Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," published by the Center in February, 1997.

Staff Director, Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community, (1995-1996). Hired and supervised a staff of 20 in support of a 17-member presidential commission, chaired initially by former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, and later by former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, to review U.S. intelligence activities at the end of the Cold War. Organized and managed the work of the commission and served as principal drafter of its final report, "Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence," issued March 1, 1996.

General Counsel, Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate, (1989-1995). Served as principal legal adviser to the Committee under the chairmanship of Senators David Boren and Dennis DeConcini, respectively. Was the principal drafter of the annual authorization bills reported by the Committee as well as the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1991, the Intelligence Reorganization Act of 1991, the CIA Inspector General Act of 1990, and the Counterintelligence Improvements Act of 1994. Was responsible for handling the nominations referred to the Committee, including those of DCIs William Webster, Robert Gates, and James Woolsey. Directed oversight investigations of the Committee including the Ames espionage case and the Banco Nationale del Lavoro case.

Minority Counsel, Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate, (1987-1989). Acted as legal adviser to the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator William Cohen and carried out the duties of the General Counsel during this period. In addition, served as Senator Cohen's staff liaison with the Iran-Contra Committee (1987) and assisted in the editing of Senator Cohen's book about the Iran-Contra affair, Men of Zeal, co-authored with Senator George Mitchell.

Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Counterintelligence and Security), (1977-1987). Directed a staff of 38 involved in developing and monitoring compliance with Defense Department policy in the areas of counterintelligence, security classification, personnel security, industrial security, physical security, technology transfer, and the disclosure of classified information to foreign governments. Served as DoD representative for drafting of Executive Orders 12333 and 12356. Served as staff director of the Stilwell Commission which reviewed counterintelligence and security practices in the wake of the "year of the spy" (1985).

Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on Government Information, Government Operations Committee, U.S. House of Representatives (1977). Served under Chairman L. Richardson Preyer. Areas of responsibility included the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act.

Partner, Ketner & Snider, Attorneys-at-law, Salisbury, NC (1976-1977).

Counsel, Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee), United States Senate (1975-1976). Conducted investigations of Defense Department intelligence activities and prepared portions of the Committee's final report.

Counsel, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate (1972-1975). Served under Chairman Sam J. Ervin, Jr. Areas of responsibility included freedom of the press, church/state relations, civil rights, and military intelligence.

*In addition to the positions listed, I co-taught a writing seminar in the National Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in 1996 and have lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Duke University School of Law, Georgetown Law Center, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, the School for International Service at American University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.


Captain, United States Army (Signal Corps). Active duty from November, 1969 until October, 1971. Served as Adjutant, 41st Signal Battalion, Qhi Nhon, South Vietnam. (1970-1971).


Davidson College, Davidson, NC, B.A. (History), 1966. University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, VA, J.D., 1969. Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Program in National and International Security, 1980.


Omicron Delta Kappa, 1966. Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, 1966. Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, 1981. Department of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, 1987. Who's Who in America (1987-2001). National Security Agency Law Day Award (recognizing contributions to the law of intelligence), 1994. Central Intelligence Agency Seal Medallion Award (recognizing contributions as General Counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), 1997. Honorary Degree, Doctor of Legal Letters, awarded by the Trustees of Catawba College, Salisbury, NC, 2000. Director's Medal, presented by DCI Tenet in recognition of service as CIA Inspector General, 2001. Central Intelligence Agency Distinguished Intelligence Medal (recognizing service to the Agency), 2001.


Member, Virginia State Bar and District of Columbia Bar Associations. Member, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security (1992-1995). Member, Advisory Committee to the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security (1995-2000). Member, Steering Committee on Intelligence and Policy Project, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1993-2000). Member, Council on Foreign Relations, (1998-present).