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Transcript of Press Conference with DCI John Deutch

May 15, 1995

DCI Holds Press Conference:

DCI: Let me say in conclusion that with this team, I feel absolutely certain that this Agency, and this Community, are going to move forward in a prompt and thorough way to perform their intelligence missions to support the national security of this country. I think they are going to -- in a very brief period of time -- work exceedingly well with the professionals here. I have been astounded at the quality of the staff work -- only in the three or four days that I have been here -- the high quality of the staff work. I think the people are going to get along fabulously. And I would very much hope that in a brief period of time, this particular Agency, and the Intelligence Community more broadly, will have developed a reputation of being an enormously effective, accountable, and responsible intelligence service. And I am very pleased both with the set of people I have managed to bring together and the way they have been welcomed by the CIA and others in the Intelligence Community. I could not be more pleased with the progress that has taken place up until now. With that, I will stop and I will take any questions.

Q: When Director Woolsey was here, he promoted Paul R. to special assistant for counterintelligence to emphasize the importance of that function in the wake of the Ames case. Could you tell us if you have an adviser in that capacity, or will Mr. Paul R. be staying on?

DDCI Studeman: Right now, Mr. David H. is performing in that capacity. Paul R. is pending reassignment to another operational position. That will continue on until such time that the Director has had a chance to take a look at the functioning of that particular position. And then it will be up to him to decide whether he wants a special assistant for that job, or whether he wants to organize the counterintelligence and security focus in some other way.

Q: As a follow-up, have you received the damage assessment yet on the Ames case?

DCI: I have not yet received the damage assessment on the Ames case. I do expect to get that in the next month or so. Everybody here has done an outstanding job in putting it together, and it will certainly require a good deal of attention. I think it is going to be a very good piece of work.

Q: In a speech at CSIS last year, former Director Woolsey laid out the problems facing the Agency, including the "old boys" network. Do you feel that these personnel changes you have made take care of them, or what more has to be done?

DCI: I certainly don't think that this set of appointments solves any problems. What it does is it sets the basis for teamwork and a gradual assessment of where we want to go in the priority areas of importance to this Agency and the Community. I think it is a first step. They are the kind of people who -- working with professionals here -- are going to make a difference. So I would not say that there is any change here except the prompt announcement of a team of people who will be able to give leadership to this Community and this Agency, very talented people who I think are going to make a very real difference. And it has been done with harmony with the existing people here, and that's why I am so pleased about it.

Q: More than one previous Director has found that the DO is the only aspect of the Agency that can really get you in trouble when things go wrong. Can you tell us what you are looking for in a new DDO, and how that person can best help you bring about a change in the culture of the DO?

DCI: There is no question about the fact that I am going to be spending a lot of time on the Directorate of Operations. And I think that this group I have formed is going to be an important way of gathering from a widespread number of people in the Directorate where they think there future should be, and how they think their future should be organized, as well as give me wise counsel about an area which, frankly speaking, I know less well than, for example, the satellite business or the science and technology business, or even the Directorate of Intelligence. I believe that the committee will gather up a broad sense of what is important to the workforce and also will give me access to wisdom about the kind of appointments that make sense. Fundamentally, the leadership here is going to consist of deciphering where this community thinks it is going and what is important to do, as well as reaffirming that we are going to have to have accountability in the way the DO operates. I think that the process to be put in place by this group will be very good at pulling out of the DO what changes need to be made.

Q: So they are not only searching for a candidate [for DDO], they will be searching for a common sense of where to go.

DCI: A lot of work has been done on this, but I want to make sure that I understand where that committee thinks it is important to go.

Q: Can you describe or define what the "old boy network" was, and how it thrived? And what do you want to change?

DCI: Let me try to give you an analogy... When you are a dean or a provost, you find that there is a department that has a tremendous tradition. And in some sense, a rift has developed between senior faculty and junior faculty. But it is never really quite clear what can be done to bring it back to the beginning, what the cause of that rift is, why it is that things aren't working as well as they could. I have seen some of that. I believe that in the resolution of that kind of problem can only come a change in the culture within that community itself. So we want to establish some understanding that things aren't going to take place, in which perhaps there were excesses in the past. It really has to come from the community understanding where it wants to go itself. I do believe that there is some change there, and the DO knows it itself. What I have seen in these first three or four days is that it is going to take some work with that community.

Q: Can you define what it was in that culture that needs changing?

DCI: It is all kinds of things -- professional development, it is purpose, it is all sorts of things.

Q: You made a big point during your confirmation hearings about a new generation of managers. Is there something you have sensed in the new generation that is different? Is it their assumptions, or is it their training, or is it their entrance into the professional management levels in the aftermath of the Cold War? What is it?

DCI: I think the appointments that I have announced here today suggest some of these changes. That is, greater participation of people who have had experience with Congress. I think the issue of keeping Congress currently and fully informed has got to be looked at with even greater rigor than has been true in the past. I think that bringing in Nora Slatkin, a trained professional, to be a senior manager is important. You will find a lot more concern with the translation of intelligence collection to useful intelligence product for military leaders, for policymakers, and the like. So while the set of people who have been brought in are knowledgeable about intelligence, they have not spent a lifetime in the Intelligence Community. The proportions have changed here quite a bit. The set of appointments at the Deputy Director level that will be made here -- Operations, Intelligence, and Science and Technology -- will, I think, continue to show that trend.

Q: Both today and in your comments at the Town Meeting last week, you indicated that you would not directly fire anybody, and you seem to be intent on restoring the morale of an Agency that has been badly shaken, much like George Bush did when he became Director. Could you elaborate on that?

DCI: If you were to ask me, as I have looked over some of the history, which of the Directors that I have in my mind, there are two: One is John McCone and the other is George Bush. I do think that the kinds of problems, in very broad terms, are more or less the same. You have put your finger on it exactly. What I have tried to do is make some changes, bring in a new set of people, and at the same time recognize that these people should be seen as raising the morale and bringing leadership to the Intelligence Community broadly, not just the Agency.

Q: As a follow-up, is there any cultural problem which you are still intent on fixing?

DCI: What I am having a problem with is that if I say "yes," you will ask, "What do you mean by the cultural problem?" I think we are going to make some progress. I have got to learn more about this community before I can give you my normal, fully certain assessment. I am just not sure yet, but I do think that we are going to have to make it work. We have to make it a more effective and happier operation -- I think that's important.

Q: Some of the harshest criticism that you hear about the DO comes from within the DO itself. People have not only lost faith in DO management; they have lost faith in the IG [Inspector General] process. Have you worked out in your own mind a way to talk to those people -- around top management, if you will -- to actually talk to people in the DO? And second, one area where you haven't made a change is the IG. Is that an area where you contemplate some changes to reinforce the accountability that you talked about?

DCI: I have no intention at this time of recommending to the President a change in the IG. I have known Fred Hitz for 20 years. I have had very close working relationships with him in the past -- very close working relationships with the IG in the Department of Defense. I think he [the IG] is an important management tool. Getting to know people in the DO around the formal chain structure is certainly something that I am in the process of doing as we speak, and I am encouraging a lot more communication with me in a variety of different ways. It is a team-building process; it is not something that can be done easily.

Q: Following up on the question about Ames, one of Jim Woolsey's parting comments in his last testimony was that there was no guarantee that there wasn't another mole out there.

DCI: I think that was a very wise comment, as most of Jim Woolsey's comments are. And it is very wise for every head of an intelligence service to remember that.

Q: What can you do to make sure that not only that it doesn't happen again, but that counterintelligence problems can be identified quicker? And can you say anything about the assessment so far? We have seen numbers such as 100 operations compromised and 36 victims, including 10 who were killed. Do those numbers comport with what you know?

DCI: I don't recognize the numbers. I think that what I can do about counterintelligence during my time as Director of Central Intelligence is a little bit like asking Van Gogh, "How do you paint a great picture?" I hope to be able to do it. Counterintelligence is a very important subject for this Agency. In my testimony before the Congress, it is one of the things that I emphasized.

Q: This gets back to the question of morale. Even though the Agency just settled a class action suit with female case officers, there is still a good bit of grumbling among female case officers that they are still being channeled into career tracks that don't move them up -- they still face a glass ceiling. Is this still a problem? Do you have anything in mind to correct it? And as a follow-up, do you think "Jane Doe Thompson" was treated fairly by this Agency when she raised personnel problems?

DCI: First of all, I think that improving the diversity of the top management of any organization is an important part of management's responsibility. I have already met with the Diversity Council here at the CIA, and I am committed to work with the women and minority members to assure that we have a fair workplace -- one where every individual gets fair treatment and advances to the maximum of his or her potential. That is a big deal for me. My record at the Department of Defense, along with Bill Perry, speaks to it. It is very important to do, and there is a significant amount to be done here at the CIA and in the Intelligence Community. I will be pushing that -- continuing the push what has taken place in the past. But I will be pushing that very hard.

Q: How about the second question?

DCI: I don't know about the Jane Doe Thompson case. I'm just not informed on it.

Q: You have spoken several times about the problems associated with imagery. Could you clarify whether you are thinking about starting a separate imagery agency?

DCI: Yes.

Q: And that means totally separate but within the Community -- totally separate from the CIA or the Pentagon?

DCI: No. It would be managed by the Department of Defense. It would be in the Department of Defense. It would be similar to the scope of the National Security Agency, and it would be given principal responsibility for bringing together all of our exploitation and distribution imagery to the users, whether they are national users or military users. This is a very high priority for me. I think that there is efficiency to be gained here, and I also think that we can provide better intelligence to the users. I will very shortly, along with my buddy Bill Perry, bring together a group of people to study this -- to understand how such an agency would be created, what its precise responsibilities would be, and how much amalgamation of existing activities would take place.

Q: Are you talking about putting it under NRO or CIO?

DCI: No. I believe the Director of the National Security Agency reports to the Secretary of Defense. The director of the national imagery agency would report directly to the Secretary of Defense and would have important responsibilities to support the Joint Chiefs of Staff and important responsibilities to the Director of Central Intelligence to provide national intelligence.

Q: Are you talking operational, or are you talking requirements?

DCI: I am talking about everything, just like the NSA.

DDCI: The office that they will probably replace is the Central Imagery Office that stands right now. There was a recommendation made at an earlier time, and when the Central Imagery Office was established, it was not fully vested with all of the responsibilities. It appears more appropriate to do that now.

Q: Does that also include DARO [the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office]?

DCI: It might, but DARO is really a collector; who actually builds the stuff and acquires it is different. Certainly the products from DARO, and the ways in which they are exploited and distributed, would be covered by this. This is something in which to make it concrete, you have to get the participation of the various involved users and different parts of the imagery community to define this in great care, to determine exactly how extensive it will be, and the pace at which the transition will take place. In my judgment, this is something that will lead to greater responsiveness, and better distribution and exploitation of imagery products.

Q: Is the CIA going to give up UAVs?

DCI: CIA doesn't give up anything. ((laughter)) My issue here is, "How do you provide the user with needed intelligence?" That is really what we are after -- exploitation and distribution of imagery. Who actually drives the satellites, the UAVs, or the airplanes is a different matter altogether. This is not a bureaucratic deal. This is a way of getting greater efficiency in producing intelligence.

Q: [What are] some of the strengths and weaknesses of CIA as you come in, how you see them -- in human intelligence gathering, in satellite intelligence gathering, gathering information, analyzing it, and disseminating it. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses?

DCI: I must say that I think that there are enormous strengths. As an Intelligence Community -- I don't really think in terms of all the component agencies -- the technical intelligence capabilities are premier and have many important opportunities, both satellite and airborne. I think the production of intelligence, when you are talking about the National Intelligence Council, the Directorate of Intelligence, or the DIA, is also of very good quality. The technology opportunities are vast; it's only a question of how much money one has to invest. The area which certainly requires the greatest amount of strengthening is in operations -- human intelligence. That is basically an area in which there is not an absence of capable or dedicated people. It is the issue of making sure that the human intelligence systems are devoted to the priority intelligence needs -- getting back to basics, if you will. And that we very carefully keep track of accountability and the need to review and report to Congress and others in the executive branch that we are conducting our clandestine service activities by the rules. But I think it is a very strong intelligence service. It is quite clear to me that it is the best intelligence service in the world.

Q: Your former academic colleague Les Aspin is heading a commission that is reviewing the CIA. The House Intelligence Committee is pursuing its own review. How do you see yourself working with the Aspin Commission? And as you introduce changes within the Agency, what steps might you take that perhaps would make what Les Aspin comes up with obsolete?

DCI: I have spoken to Les several times about this. I am confident that we will work out a way of assuring that the products which come from the changes that I am proposing to make -- and the review that this independent commission is undertaking -- are in harmony. I would hope that within a period of time Les Aspin will be able to talk to some of you about how we plan to manage that. But I have not the slightest concern about our ability to carry out these changes in harmony. Indeed, I find that the set of advisers that he has, both on his commission and as Chairman of PFIAB, can be a great help to us as we go through this period of change. I regard that as being a very positive matter, and not a matter of concern to me.

Q: You referred to "excesses" in the DO's past. Can you say what you were referring to? Also, can you give us your thoughts about the CIA's activities in Guatemala?

DCI: With respect to excesses, it is probably the wrong word, but I am reading Allen Dulles' biography, Gentlemen Spy, which my friend Strobe Talbott gave me. Those were the excesses I was thinking about, back in the 1950s and early 1960s. I think Guatemala is a very important matter. The Directorate of Operations has completed its own factual assessment of it. The IG -- at CIA, at NSA, and in the Army -- are doing their studies. The independent Intelligence Oversight Board is doing a study. We will learn a lot from these studies. I am sure that we will find that there were some matters that were not handled properly. We will address those and repair them as quickly as they come forward. But I suspect that in the next month or so, we will know about the results of these different inquiries. Is that right, Bill?

DDCI: At the IG level. I think the Intelligence Oversight Board was given 90 days, and they just started about a month ago.

DCI: I anticipate serious questions coming from these [inquiries], and we will address them. We will address them forthrightly and promptly.

Q: Will you go along with Jennifer Harbury's request to declassify information so that she can proceed with her own investigation?

DCI: I haven't given any consideration to that, and I would have to talk to my General Counsel about it. My general view is that we should be declassifying as much as possible, without the slightest risk to our sources and methods. But I have no precise answer to that question.

Q: Was there any damage from the disclosures by Congressman Torricelli?

DCI: I think the actions Congressman Torricelli took were taken in good conscience. It is up to the Congress to deal with Congressman Torricelli's activities.

Q: You just touched on a subject I wanted to ask about -- declassification. Can you give us some of your ideas about openness at CIA?

DCI: We are going to work this out very carefully and slowly, but I am in favor of as much declassification and as much openness as possible. I am sure that you are all aware that when you are in an intelligence service, this is a difficult thing to do. But I think the more we can get our story told to the American people, the more support there will be for what we are doing. Under Dennis Boxx's wise hand, we will take this a step at a time. Bill Studeman today went to participate in what has been a highly successful environmental task force. Both we and the Russians are making available the results of what previously would have been unheard of technical intelligence collection schemes. For the scientific community, it is important to do more of this, and we will try to improve it and take it a step at a time.

Q: You talked about the probability that the national security budget will not increase; in fact, it will probably decrease. What will be the impact on CIA? Will there be continued downsizing? And how drastic will that downsizing be?

DCI: There is a plan in place for a drawdown of each one of the different components of the Intelligence Community, affected differently by the 5-year plan for the National Foreign Intelligence Program. I don't foresee that there will be a dramatic deviation from that plan here -- either sharper reductions or relief... I think that the plan that is in place, which of course I have been heavily involved with as Deputy Secretary, is a pretty good guide for what is likely to happen over the next several years. On downsizing, actually, CIA is a little bit ahead of their schedule on this, and they are adjusting -- it seems to me -- in a very professional manner. Every agency in the Intelligence Community -- NSA, DIA, NRO, etc. -- has to adjust to this plan in a different way.

Q: ((Words indistinct -- question about the relevance of CIA))

DCI: There is tremendous danger out there for democracies and for this country, whether you are talking about Iraq, Iran, North Korea, global drugs, terrorism, international crime, the spread of weapons of mass destruction. All of these are events which, I think, show us the enormous threat to the prosperity and the peace of the American people. Our leaders have got to have the best possible information of what is going on throughout the world, in the minds of those individuals who threaten peace and prosperity. That is the duty of the Intelligence Community, to provide to the leadership of the country -- the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense -- our best estimate of what is going on throughout the world, so that they can make decisions -- whether it's about negotiating with North Korea, whether it's about dealing with international terrorism, whether it's about dealing with Islamic extremism -- that will protect the American people. I think it is a very considerable agenda, and it is very important to maintaining security for our country.

Q: Could you talk more about your view of the Agency's role in counterterrorism and also about the proposal for a new counterterrorism center headed by the FBI?

DCI: When you talk about domestic counterterrorism and when you talk about law enforcement -- terrorism in the United States -- I think it is absolutely right for the Bureau to have principal responsibility. When you talk about collecting information abroad about what international groups may be doing to promote terrorism -- either here or elsewhere, or against our allies -- collecting that information is a central mission of the Intelligence Community. It is not part of law enforcement. We look at the FBI as being an important customer for foreign intelligence, which is our responsibility to collect. The FBI is one of our important customers because of [its] law enforcement responsibilities. In my view, this is going very much better in practice than it has gone in the past. We will continue to support the FBI in this way very strongly.

Q: Three of your key advisers here are Democratic political appointees or have worked on Democratic staffs in the Senate and House. I am talking about Mike O'Neil, George Tenet, and Nora Slatkin. This has raised questions in the minds of some critics that this may be an effort to politicize the Intelligence Community, which heretofore has been less of a political entity in the government. What is your response to that?

DCI: George [Tenet] first worked for Senator Heinz, as I recall, who was a Republican Senator. Let me tell you this. I don't believe in cataloguing people in this business according to their political backgrounds. Look at the list of the people I mentioned who I will be relying on for advice about the next DDO, which is terribly important. Nobody says, "Well, you got Brent Scowcroft on there, you got Jim Lilley on there, these were Republican appointees." I welcome them because they know a lot about the Directorate of Operations. That's the way I feel about Mike O'Neil and George, and Nora is just the most competent manager that I know. So I think that is just baloney -- to say that there is a political motivation. And more important, this Agency -- and it has been noted by me -- has not had stunning success in relating to Congress. Part of that, I think, is not because they don't try, but because there hasn't been enough knowledge within the Community itself about the best way to hook into the system, to keep them current. I think having some people who have had detailed experience -- like George Tenet has had as the former SSCI Staff Director -- will be very important in terms of keeping Congress currently and fully informed. Knowing how to do that in a way that works. That is my principal motivation -- first, the capacity of these people, as well as their knowledge about how to relate the Community's activities to Congress. Frankly, I think that to say that there is a partisan aspect to this is not right. What you should say it is, is that it is a way of assuring that the Agency and its management structure understand the congressional perspective. That, I think, is important. Anybody who knows these individuals knows that they do not have that kind of [partisan] background. They are very talented individuals.

Q: One of the things that became clear with the Guatemala episode, is that the station chief and the ambassador may not (?work well together). Sometimes the station chief may present two faces to the host country. ((Words indistinct)) Do you see this as a problem that needs addressing?

DCI: We talked earlier about a sort of gap within the DO between older and younger people. One thing that has startled me in my first four days here is quite contrary about the relationships between ambassadors and chiefs of station. I am not saying that there is happiness and light everywhere, but I have had more than one ambassador talk to me in the last month or so, describing how well the relationship works. And indeed, the kind of friction which inevitably occurs someplace, occurs much less frequently than I would have expected. One of the heartening things is how much support there has been from ambassadors out there in tough situations who are well informed and relate well to their chief of station. It is one of the heartening aspects of what I have seen so far. Over the years, CIA and the State Department have learned to work together well in the field. That is the general rule. There are exceptions, but in general the improvement here is dramatic in the last 10 or 20 years.

Q: How frequently will you meet one-on-one with the President? What will be the nature of that relationship?

DCI: I don't know until I do it, so we'll have to see.

Q: I think we all sort of understand the position you are in. But to some extent, there are two different messages here. One is that you want accountability and you want some changes in the culture; the other one is that no one is being fired, people are being moved to other senior positions, there have been problems relating to Congress because people here didn't really understand what they were required to do. That's a very generous way of looking at relations with some ambassadors, with relating to Congress in some cases. Are you going to be more or less tolerant in the future?

DCI: Less tolerant. Less tolerant. Less tolerant. But I'll tell you, it is hard for me to put this delicate point. It is really refreshing to see how this Community has taken to this process. It has not been acrimonious. It has happened quickly, smoothly, and with humor, and I am very pleased about it. But there is no question about the fact that change is coming, and change can only come when you have an involved and interested workforce. And that is what I'm working to do.

Q: I'm interested in the future. George Bush, of course, didn't have a long tenure here, and many people were sorry to see him go. Would you like to carry on through into the next administration, to see these changes through?

DCI: I'll give you updates on that, but right now I'm interested in getting through my first week. When I have done that, I will give you some projections about the next 10 years. Thank you very much.


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Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:50 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:17 PM