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Congress To Open Hearings on Sept 11 Intelligence Snafus - 2002-06-03

Congress begins hearings Tuesday into whether American intelligence agencies could have done more to anticipate and prevent the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees will hold joint, closed-door hearings on intelligence failures before the September 11 attacks.

The hearings come as Newsweek magazine this week reports that the Central Intelligence Agency tracked two of the September 11 hijackers when they attended a meeting of terrorist suspects in Malaysia in January 2000. The magazine says the agency did not alert domestic authorities to watch for them until three weeks before the attacks, after the men had already entered the United States.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, spoke of "massive failures of intelligence at the CIA" on ABC television Monday.

"I believe that you are going to see a lot more instances like this, where, if they had acted upon the information they had and followed through, maybe things would be different," he said.

FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft said Sunday agencies do need to improve how they gather and share information. But they said better coordination still probably would not have prevented the September 11 attacks.