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Cooper tells of 'unspeakable' intelligence problem
Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am
Congressman Jim Cooper expressed outrage Wednesday over what he called an "unspeakable problem" he learned of in a "secret" hearing of the Armed Services Committee involving one of America's 15 intelligence agencies.
"The American people would be outraged if they knew how badly this one agency has consistently failed us," Cooper told The Lebanon Democrat in an interview by telephone from his Washington, D.C., office Wednesday afternoon. " … I thought I knew government. I had no idea what was going on."
The typically low-key Cooper was coming off his second day of hearings with the Armed Services Committee and Pentagon officials over the 9/11 Commissions recommendations including the creation of a national intelligence director to lead all U.S. intelligence agencies.
Cooper's remarks Wednesday followed in the wake of a heated exchange between the 5th District congressman and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on Tuesday. Cooper asked Wolfowitz if the Pentagon was engaging in "sweet talkin' and slow walkin'" to thwart the Commission's recommendations.
Cooper said he could not reveal the details of the "secret" classified hearing of the Armed Services Committee on Wednesday afternoon, but said the testimony would have shocked the American people.
"Right now, no one is minding the store," Cooper said plainly. "There are 15 intelligence agencies, and no one is in charge."
Cooper said he was in favor of adopting the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in the absence of a better plan.
"Until I see something better, I think the 9/11 Commission recommendations are the best place to start," Cooper said. "I just want them (Pentagon) officials to tell the truth. They seem to be politically afraid to approve the Commission's report. Quietly and behind the scenes, they are doing just that. They are defending the status quo."
Associated Press reports contributed to this story.