The Justice Department last week released a highly critical Inspector General's report identifying missed opportunities by the FBI to catch two hijackers before the 9/11 attacks. But one of the most serious lapses was laid at the doorstep of the CIA Counterterrorist Center, which, the report states, blocked a key cable (reporting that one of the two hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, had obtained a visa to enter the United States) from being forwarded to the FBI in January 2000. The report says the Justice I.G. was "unable to determine" why the cable was not sent and who should be held responsible; that is the job of the CIA's inspector general, which has been conducting its own congressionally mandated "accountability" review of 9/11 matters for more than two years. In a new disclosure, the report also states that a copy of the potentially critical Almihdhar visa cable was not turned over to any 9/11 investigators until February 2004--when it was belatedly discovered in the files of the CIA by Justice I.G. investigators. A U.S. official familiar with the CIA's internal review of pre-9/11 events (who declined to be identified because of the confidential material involved) said agency officials believed info about Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been passed to the FBI in other forms, and that a CIA official held up the cable's release because it had inaccuracies.

The release of the Justice report raises new questions about the fate of the CIA's own internal inquiry and whether it will ever be made public. Kristen Breitweiser, a leader of the 9/11 families, told NEWSWEEK she and other family members were assured last September by Porter Goss, then CIA director-designate, that a declassified version of the report would be made public when complete. "I'd like to know why they're not releasing it--and what they're trying to hide," Breitweiser told NEWSWEEK, adding that "all hell is going to break loose" if the report is eventually not released. A CIA spokesman told NEWSWEEK in writing that the report is "not yet in final form." Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have been told they can expect their own classified copy soon. The CIA spokesman declined to say whether there will be a public version, writing: "The Agency is legally obligated to protect sources and methods, but the Director certainly understands the desire for transparency with respect to this murderous attack."