Warum die CIA
vor dem 11.9. keine Arabisch-Übersetzer eingestellt hat
Der amerikanische Journalist
Miniter ist bei den Recherchen für sein Buch Losing bin Laden:
How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror unter anderem der
Frage nachgegangen, warum die CIA in den Jahren vor den Anschlägen
vom 11.9.2001 keine Arabisch-Übersetzer eingestellt hat. Diese wurden
zur Auswertung von Hinweisen auf terroristische Aktivitäten dringend
sieht die Ursache in einer Privatfehde zwischen dem damaligen CIA-Chef
Woolsey und dem demokratischen Senator
Dennis DeConcini sowie
der Gleichgültigkeit des Weißen Hauses unter Bill Clinton.
Der Präsident wurde von Woolsey auf den Übersetzernotstand und
die daraus resultierenden Gefahren aufmerksam gemacht, sah aber keinen
ein Auszug aus dem Buch:
Miniter schreibt für zahlreiche Zeitungen in den USA und Großbritannien,
früher vor allem für das Wall Street Journal. Er lebt
zurzeit in Brüssel.
Woolsey was fighting other bureaucratic battles — instead of [Osama]
bin Laden. The CIA was critically short of translators who spoke or read
Arabic, Farsi, Pashto and the other languages of the great "terrorist belt."
That belt begins on the dirty beaches of Somalia, arcs up the river valleys
of Sudan and Egypt, across the desert flats of Saudi Arabia and the Persian
Gulf states, over the dry plateaus of Syria and Iraq, past the wastes of
Iran, through the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ends in the
cold steppes of Central Asia. In the world's most terror-prone region,
the CIA was essentially blind, deaf, and dumb.
as a result, the intelligence community was able to decipher and translate
less than ten percent of the volume of telephone and other intercepts gained
from its extensive networks of spy satellites and listening stations. Indeed,
throughout the Islamic world, even many radio and television news reports
went untranslated. While state-run broadcasts from the Communist bloc were
a prime source of intelligence during the Cold War, in the Clinton years
the CIA did not have the same capability against militant Islamists. And
that deficiency was largely Clinton's fault.
hoped to fix these dangerous deficiencies, but he ran into congressional
roadblocks. Sen. Dennis DeConcini, Arizona Democrat, repeatedly
blocked any attempts to boost the CIA's budget for Arabic translators.
and Mr. DeConcini came to viscerally dislike each other. The senator told
the author that he lost faith in Woolsey when he defended the secret construction
of a $300 million National Reconnaissance Office headquarters in Northern
When Woolsey privately warned the senator against speaking publicly about
sensitive intelligence information, Mr. DeConcini was outraged. He said
he phoned both Clinton and [National Security Advisor Tony] Lake, threatening
to demand Woolsey's resignation on the floor of the U.S. Senate unless
Woolsey apologized. Mr. Woolsey never apologized, and Mr. DeConcini never
forgave him. As a result, Mr. Woolsey estimates that two-thirds of all
his meetings on Capitol Hill were about undoing spending cuts proposed
by DeConcini, then a key Senate Appropriations Subcommittee chairman. Woolsey
had made a powerful enemy and America's security would pay the price.
Mr. Woolsey suggested spending a few million dollars to hire Arabic-language
translators in 1994, the feud with Mr. DeConcini intensified. Mr. DeConcini
said he would only approve the request if it was a presidential priority.
"I wanted to be sure," Mr. DeConcini told the author, "that Woolsey was
not out on his own, like a cowboy." If Mr. Woolsey did have Clinton's ear,
it is unlikely DeConcini would have blocked the CIA's efforts to hire more
the senator have given the CIA the money if Mr. Clinton wanted it? Mr.
DeConcini did not hesitate. "Absolutely."
might be tempted to blame Mr. DeConcini alone. To be sure, without congressional
approval, it would be illegal for the CIA to shift even one dollar from
one part of its estimated $30 billion budget to hire translators. But DeConcini
called the president at least once and National Security Advisor Tony
Lake many times, and never received a definitive response on whether
hiring Arabic translators for the CIA was a presidential priority. With
no such assurance, DeConcini felt confident in rejecting it. A Democratic
senator does not lightly defy a Democratic president over a relatively
small spending measure needed for national security, DeConcini insisted.
But if Clinton wasn't interested, DeConcini would not be defying the president.
The senator would have a free hand to thwart Woolsey.Without absolving
DeConcini, Woolsey seems to acknowledge this point: "This was DeConcini's
way of using the fact that I had no particular access to the president
to turn down my request."
Clinton's ostracism of Mr. Woolsey had weakened his hand in Congress and
weakened the CIA at a critical time. Then the fecklessness of Mr. Clinton
and his White House would only make matters worse. Over the next few months,
the senator said that he called the president at least once and could not
get a clear answer on the translator appropriation. He also phoned Lake
many times, but never received a definitive response. Apparently the White
House did not think hiring CIA translators to monitor terrorist states
was very important.
day that the appropriations subcommittee was voting on the CIA budget,
Lake finally called DeConcini back about the translators. "It wasn't the
eleventh hour," Mr. DeConcini said, "it was the twelfth hour." Did the
White House want the funds? As Mr. DeConcini recalls, Lake responded tentatively,
"Well, we want some of that."
it's too late," DeConcini said. Lake, he recalls, did not object or argue.
There would be no funding for the translators. "I don't bear him [Woolsey]
any ill feeling," DeConcini said. "He just wasn't in a position to get
what he wanted. I guess the term would be 'screwed by the White House.'
bureaucratic feud and President Clinton's indifference kept America blind
and deaf as bin Laden plotted.
[Text: Richard Schneider.
Quelle: Washington Times, 2003-09-03. Bild: Archiv.]