The Future of US Intelligence
Charting a Course for Change
September 12, 1995
Thank you very much for that introduction.
There are two challenges facing the Intelligence Community today:
First, we must be effective. We must deploy our considerable resources against the most pressing security threats of the post-Cold War era.
Second, we must be accountable. We must carry out our intelligence operations in an efficient and responsible manner. At the same time we must maintain an effective espionage service.
When President Clinton asked me to be the Director of Central Intelligence, he instructed me to make whatever changes were necessary to assure that our nation has the best intelligence service in the world and that we carry out our duties with integrity.
Today I will outline five broad changes underway to make the Intelligence Community -- and the CIA in particular -- more effective and more accountable. They are not quick fixes. They do not involve massive new legislation or reorganization. These are measures that lay a foundation for fundamental changes in the way we do our business. They will strengthen our intelligence capability, they will not tear it down. There are many things that the Intelligence Community does well. We intend to build on these strengths, but we are determined to address the problems that have damaged the reputation and diminished the effectiveness of the Intelligence Community.
These changes are going to require a great deal of work on the part of members of the Community and extensive consultation with the policy makers and military commanders who use our intelligence on a day-to-day basis. I look forward to working with these changes with Members of Congress and others who have the responsibility to review our nation's intelligence programs.
I also want the public to understand what we are doing so that they will have confidence that our intelligence activities are carried out in a manner consistent with this nation's interests and values. Accordingly, our process of reform and change will be open for discussion.
Our success in strengthening the Intelligence Community is of critical importance to all Americans. The nation faces a multitude of challenges that will test our leadership and influence in post-Cold War world:
- the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction
- the activities of hostile countries like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea,
- the growing threat of international crime, terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
- And we must maintain the economic security of our nation.
We must also keep an eye on the larger, longer term developments. Will an emergent China redraw the political and economic landscape of Asia? Will Russia abandon its steps toward democracy and return to authoritarian rule?
When President Clinton visited CIA in July he spoke to the importance of intelligence in addressing these challenges and these questions. President Clinton said:
"The intelligence I receive informs just about every foreign policy decision we make. It's easy to take it for granted. But we couldn't do without it. Unique intelligence makes it less likely that our forces will be sent into battle, less likely that American lives will have to be put at risk. It gives us the chance to prevent crises rather than forcing us to manage them."
1. Customer Focus
Customer focus is the first change I want to discuss.
Our primary mission in intelligence is to provide the President and other senior leaders with the information they need to make and implement foreign policy.
When the Intelligence Community focuses closely on what intelligence customers need, when we make the policy makers deadlines and requirements our own, we provide superb support. That means getting the right information to the right person at the right time -- that goal hasn't changed. But we are changing significantly the way we get the job accomplished.
Interagency intelligence teams have been particularly effective in providing critical, round-the-clock support, from detailed maps of remote areas to human intelligence and amazingly vivid pictures taken from space. For example, both policy makers and military commanders give high marks to Intelligence Community support to humanitarian and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia.
Permanent interdisciplinary centers that bring together collectors and analysts from the CIA and other intelligence agencies have also been the most successful approach to the complex transnational issues of weapons proliferation, terrorism, organized crime and narcotics trafficking.
Making sure that our information is the most thorough, most objective available on a day-to-day basis requires discipline on our part, and it requires close and continuous contact with our intelligence customers.
Here I would note that giving policy makers the information that they need is not the same as giving them the intelligence judgments that they would like to see. If we want our products to be used, we also have to maintain an unassailable reputation for objectivity. Any effort to tailor our analysis to policy would quickly destroy our credibility.
Closer contact with our customers begins, but does not end, with the DCI. I am meeting more often with our key intelligence consumers -- at least once a week with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Advisor, and, at least monthly with the Attorney General, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and those officials involved with economic security and trade. And, of course, I meet with the President and Vice President whenever necessary.
This contact and awareness of consumer needs must extend to all working levels of the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, we are assigning more intelligence officers on rotation to policymaking offices and to work on site with military units.
At a time of tight budgets and a proliferation of intelligence challenges, we cannot afford to collect for the sake of collection or pursue every promising technology. Guided by customer needs, the Intelligence Community must exercise discipline in pursuing only those systems that offer significant promise for meeting customer needs better and more cheaply.
For example, we will not buy expensive new satellites unless there is a significant demand from our national security customers. I have already taken several steps to improve efficiency in the management of our satellite systems.
Defense Secretary Bill Perry and I are putting into place a new decisionmaking process -- the new Joint Space Management Board -- to assure that both intelligence and military satellite acquisition decisions are made efficiently and meet user needs.
We are also moving toward consolidating the eight agencies now involved in imagery intelligence into a single National Imagery Agency, organized to serve better the joint military commander in wartime and top policy makers in peacetime. The new National Imagery Agency will put together all aspects of collection, analysis, and distribution of imagery. The goal will be to provide the military commander near real time, all source intelligence that will give our forces a unique "dominant battlefield awareness."
Both these management initiatives will provide better service to our customers and will save money. 2. Human Intelligence: Assuring Integrity
The second area I would like to discuss is major change in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, or DO. The DO manages our spies. Even in this day of highly sophisticated satellites and technical collection systems, there are some types of information that can only be collected by people.
Espionage is the core mission of the Central Intelligence Agency. Despite set backs, we must continue to take risks that result in the collection of information that is available by no other means. If we do not take such risks because we are afraid to fail or we are afraid of controversy, then we will fail as an intelligence service in protecting the national security interests of the United States. Therefore we shall not slacken our efforts to recruit informants in hostile governments, terrorist groups or drug trafficking organizations.
Let me be clear, we will continue to need to work with unsavory people. We will actively seek out any individual who can provide important intelligence from within a terrorist cell or a factory supplying arms to a rogue state. Why are we doing this? Because such human intelligence can save American lives or avert conflict.
What will be different is that we will not do these things blindly, without thorough vetting and established procedures for accountability. We will not fool ourselves or fool or our customers about the risks we have taken.
The new Deputy Director for Operations has ordered a complete "scrub" of all DO "assets," as the Intelligence Community refers to human agents. This is a rigorous evaluation of each one of the agents that we recruit to give us information. If the information these assets provide is no longer relevant, if we can get the same information elsewhere, if questions of human rights violations or criminal involvement outweigh the value of the information to our national interest, then we will end the relationship with the asset.
We are developing new guidelines to ensure that concerns about human rights and criminal activity are taken into account in recruiting, evaluating and managing assets. The guidelines will also include mandatory steps to provide accurate and timely information to Congressional Oversight Committees and law enforcement agencies.
Thus these new guidelines will allow us to make informed decisions on asset recruitment and retention; this does not mean that we will slacken our efforts to recruit informants in hostile governments, terrorist organizations, or international crime and drug trafficking organizations. To do so would be to deny our government information that leads to actions that better protect our citizens and their interests.
I would like to say a word about covert action-- those activities CIA undertakes to influence events overseas that are intended not to be attributable to this country. Since the public controversies of the eighties over Iran-Contra and activities in Central America, we have greatly reduced our capability to engage in covert action. I believe that the US needs to maintain, and perhaps even expand, covert action as a policy tool. But here again, we will not undertake covert action to support policy objectives, unless it is approved at the highest level of government and only if the President authorizes such action after a scrupulous review process, including timely notification of the appropriate Congressional oversight bodies.
Finally, the Ames case has taught us that counter intelligence -- guarding against penetration of our intelligence or national security agencies by agents of a foreign government -- requires constant vigilance. I recently created the position of Associate Deputy Director of Operations for Counterintelligence to assure permanent, high level attention to counter intelligence issues. 3. Law Enforcement and Intelligence
The third area of change is to greatly increase our cooperation with the law enforcement community. In the past, we used the borders of the United States as a convenient dividing line between the responsibilities of intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies. The CIA handled everything that involved foreign intelligence outside the US. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency handled law enforcement within the US. Unfortunately international criminals, drug traffickers, and terrorists do not respect these neat distinctions that were introduced over a half century ago.
Cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement can produce fantastic success -- the arrest of the leaders of the Cali drug cartel in recent months is a tremendous example-- but this cooperation has yet to be as effective, extensive, and routine as it needs to be.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore are not satisfied, and correctly so, that we have in place the interagency mechanisms that we need to address these threats adequately. We cannot waste any more time worrying about bureaucratic rivalries that go back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover and Allen Dulles.
It's time for a fresh approach: a new division of responsibility that realistically reflects the pattern of international activity that exists today in terrorism, crime and drugs. The Intelligence Community must learn that in these areas, the law enforcement community -- the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and US Customs -- is the customer for intelligence, just as the Departments of State and Defense are the customer for intelligence in the national security arena.
And the law enforcement community must accept that it is not necessary or efficient to establish an elaborate new and separate foreign collection system for intelligence.
Intelligence and law enforcement professionals need to develop new procedures that will result in more effective cooperation. For example, intelligence and law enforcement must modify some of their most strongly held beliefs about not sharing information about their sources with each other.
This does not mean that intelligence agencies will spy on US citizens. Our collection activities will not infringe on the rights of US citizens. Nor will CIA or other intelligence agencies take on any law enforcement duties. Attorney General Reno and I are simply seeking to build a new relationship between intelligence and law enforcement that will improve the country's performance in curbing international crime, drugs, and terrorism. 4. Carrying out intelligence operations in an efficient fashion.
The fourth change that I want to address is the initiation of an integrated approach to resource planning and programming for all the agencies of the Intelligence Community.
In this era of tight budgets, the Intelligence Community has to undergo serious reexamination of its needs and its resources and, indeed, downsizing has been going on for some time -- for example, since 1990, the number of people in the Intelligence Community has been reduced by 17% and an additional 10% reduction is planned by the end of the century.
However, up to the present, the Intelligence Community has been relatively free from the systematic planning, programming, and budgeting process that is the hallmark of efficient government.
The reason for this absence of management scrutiny is not because the intelligence budget is "secret." The reason is that intelligence activities are carried out by different agencies -- NSA, DIA, CIA -- and are carried out under separate budgets. There is no mechanism to compare the budgets of the various intelligence agencies and assess how they contribute to the missions of US intelligence. The present system does not permit resource-saving trade-off analysis: for example, the possibility of substituting satellites for aircraft imagery or signals collection, or assigning intelligence analysis responsibilities among the different agencies, considering the capabilities of the entire community.
It is the responsibility of the Director of Central Intelligence to review the nation's intelligence budget as a whole and justify it to Congress. As the system now stands, the DCI does not have the tools to do this job properly.
In preparing the FY97 budget, I am insisting that all agencies present their intelligence budgets in a manner that will allow us to make more informed hard decisions on resource allocation.
Simply put, the problem is to make a "symphony" from the diverse instruments represented by the various agencies. We need to assure that all elements of the community work in harmony. A mission oriented Intelligence Community multi-year program period will identify the resources needed to carry out our activities and assess the value of individual programs. An added benefit of this approach is that it will provide a clear description of what the Intelligence Community is doing and what is the value to both President Clinton and to the Congress. 5. Improving the quality of the People
The most important element of success in the Intelligence Community is the quality of its people. Historically, we have attracted outstanding and highly motivated individuals. Unfortunately, some parts of the Intelligence Community are in danger of losing the ability to attract and retain the best people. This is particularly true of the Central Intelligence Agency and its Directorate of Operations. The fifth and last change I will discuss today is a new approach to personnel management.
We must replace CIA's personnel system with one that is better suited to the special nature of the work its employees must perform. We must reexamine the use of the polygraph in hiring and create a system that encourages employees to gain wider experience within the agency and discourages the development of barriers between the different directorates and cultures within CIA.
I have assigned CIA's Executive Director the task of reviewing past studies and designing a new system that will allow individuals to advance according to their accomplishments without regard to gender or race, a system that will be perceived as fair by employees throughout CIA. As intelligence officers, it is our job to understand and be able to operate in widely different cultures. A diverse workforce is absolutely essential to our ability to be an effective intelligence Agency in the next century.
This same emphasis on personnel management must extend to all other agencies of the Intelligence Community. All agencies need to recruit top people; all need career development programs; and all need to welcome diversity in the workplace. We need healthy promotion opportunities that are comparable across the Intelligence Community, and we need a retirement system that upholds the contract we have made with the good people who have dedicated their careers to our national security.
We will need to seek new authority to allow more flexible management of the very special Intelligence Community work force to assure, in a time of downsizing, that there is a reasonable prospect for advancement and provisions for early retirement within the Community.
I have presented five fundamental changes that are necessary to improve the performance of the Intelligence Community: a significantly sharper focus on the needs of the intelligence customer; more selective and effective human intelligence; a new cooperative relationship between law enforcement and the Intelligence Community; a more efficient system for allocating the resources of the Intelligence Community; and revitalizing the personnel system to better serve all of the employees of the Intelligence Community.
These changes will enable the Intelligence Community to efficiently and effectively address the intelligence challenges of the post-Cold War era. I will devote my energy and my influence to assuring that each of these changes is made -- thoroughly and promptly.
I hope that the media, Congress, and public opinion will give the Intelligence Community a chance to demonstrate what it can do. In a democracy, all the failures become public, the successes do not. It takes good will along with vigilant skepticism to give the intelligence enterprise a fair shake -- to balance accounts about past excesses with reporting that assesses current accomplishments.
Thank you very much.