Statement by Lieutenant General John A. Gordon, USAF
Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Confirmation Hearing on the Selection of
The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
October 1, 1997
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity
to meet with you as you consider my nomination to serve as the next
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. And I thank Senator Ashcroft
for introducing me to the Committee.
It is an honor to be nominated by the President for this important position, and I am grateful for the trust and confidence shown by the President and by George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, in recommending me.
This is an exciting time--we have just celebrated the founding of the Central Intelligence Agency 50 years ago. During that celebration, we honored those who founded the Agency, the many retirees who contributed so much of their lives to America's security, and those who carry on today. Although we paused to look back, we are also looking forward, and I would like very much to help set the course of the Intelligence Community and the CIA for the next 50 years.
I have worked closely with Mr. Tenet for more than a year now in my position as Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. I am confident that, if confirmed as Deputy Director, we will be a strong leadership team for the Intelligence Community and for the Central Intelligence Agency. My strengths and experiences complement Director Tenet's. We have great confidence in each other, yet are willing to challenge and test each other on important issues.
Mr. Chairman, while I did not "grow up" in the Intelligence Community, my 29 years of military service--in a broad range of technology, operations, and policy positions--have given me skills and understanding that have prepared me to serve as DDCI. In every position I have held--in the field and in policy agencies--I have been an avid consumer of intelligence. For the past year, I have immersed myself in the business of intelligence, working a host of issues. This has been a very concentrated education program.
In the Committee's questionnaire I described in detail my assignments and the skills they have helped me develop. In addition to my overall military experience, I would simply emphasize my technical background with experience in space launch and satellite operations, an understanding of the needs of national policy makers, and a demonstrated ability to lead large, complex organizations. I know what intelligence our diplomats, policymakers, and military commanders need, and I know how they use it. I would bring an important perspective to the DDCI job--that of a demanding intelligence consumer.
* * * * * *
Mr. Chairman, I would like to offer the Committee my assessment of the Community after one year of work from the "inside."
Each agency, with its unique mission, is led by superb professionals, committed to work together to provide the best possible intelligence for the nation. Each agency is marked by high-quality people who are well trained and highly motivated. They are innovative, flexible and creative. They work long hours, sometimes under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They are doing a wonderful job everyday and, despite anecdotal stories to the contrary, their morale is good.
Outstanding technology supports our mission. Signals and imagery systems provide huge quantities of intelligence of incredible quality. Dissemination of intelligence product has improved significantly--to the point where we have to be careful not to overwhelm a user with quantity.
Within the Community the various agencies are working together better than ever, with joint production programs, Community approaches to the toughest problems and the hardest targets, and exchanges of personnel, many in leadership positions.
In short, Mr. Chairman, the United States Intelligence Community is in good shape. We meet today's challenges extraordinarily well, perhaps surprisingly so considering the many changes and disruptions of the past several years.
Despite this positive assessment, there is much work to be done. Above all, we must better position ourselves to meet the challenges of the future. We must drive innovation and modernization. We must find the right balance of resources to attack new hard targets, while maintaining needed capabilities against the old. We must adapt our organizations and processes to take on new tasks efficiently and effectively--there are efficiencies to harvest and there are better ways to work together.
Of particular importance, we are on the leading edge of huge modernization programs that must succeed. In many cases we have launched or are about to launch the last of a generation of satellites with the next generation still in development. If we are to meet the needs of the nation with these new systems, we must get the designs and architectures right and we must deploy on time and on budget. This, in turn, calls for stability in system design and funding.
One element of the intelligence enterprise that requires concerted attention is our people. We dare not forget that intelligence is first and foremost a human endeavor. As important as our high-technology collection systems are, they are designed and operated by people. Before the output of these systems becomes usable intelligence, people must analyze and make sense of the raw information. Some of the most critical intelligence is collected in dangerous conditions--by people. The hard work of covert action begins and ends with people.
Support for our people must be our top priority. We owe them proper training and the resources to do their jobs efficiently and safely. We owe them vision, honesty and strong leadership. I am convinced that if we take care of our people, in all dimensions, the incredibly difficult challenges we face will prove tractable. If we do not, those challenges will be impossible to meet.
The last issue I want to note today is a concern that confidence in the Intelligence Community and the CIA has been eroded. Questions about our need for intelligence after the Cold War, combined with sensational reports of past mistakes, have eroded public support for intelligence and diverted leadership attention from building for the future. Such questions affect the recruitment and the retention of the quality people we must have, and the pride they want to have in their operations and their organizations.
We will not excuse or cover up past errors and we will learn from them, but we also do not want the many intelligence successes of the past 50 years--or those of the next 50--to be overshadowed by problems of the past. We need the American people's support for the secret work of intelligence. I think this is an area where the Committee can help a great deal. I know that in the first instance this problem demands that we in the Community ensure operations are conducted with the highest degree of integrity and skill and that risks are carefully evaluated and vetted. At the same time, robust Congressional oversight can help rebuild public confidence. I will do my part to ensure the Congress has the information it needs to carry out their responsibilities.
The American people must understand that there is risk involved in much of what we do. Not every operation will be a success no matter how good the planning and the tradecraft. But we must not shy from risks. We will give those we ask to undertake risky actions the tools they need, and the confidence that they are supported by their leaders and, through the oversight process, the American public. They must know that they are supporting national policy and that the risks they take are worth it. We must reward them when they succeed, as they most often will. And when such efforts are not successful, we must not assign blame to individuals who have exercised sound judgment while acting in support of national policy.
* * * * * *
Mr. Chairman, the position and duties of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence are only broadly defined: "...act for, and exercise the powers of, the Director during the Director's absence or disability." Mr. Tenet and I have talked in detail about how we would work together. He has made it clear that he expects me to be his deputy in all matters--his alter ego. He expects that we will share all information and share in the major decisions. We will not artificially divide the work between us.
That said, a major focus of mine will, of course, be the military customer--continuing to expand the significant improvements we have made to military support. I also want to be deeply involved in the revitalization of our technical systems, from our technology base to new collection architectures to the high-tech support our operators and analysts need.
My own interests will also push me to make concerted efforts on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and on information warfare. These are two of the greatest threats this country will face in the future and every moment of leadership time that can be devoted to them will pay significant benefits in building our defenses.
Finally, I expect to devote a great deal of attention to the day-to-day work of the Community and the Agency. Perhaps the greatest contribution I can make to the DCI is to provide him time and space to drive us strategically toward the future by lifting the day-to-day burden where I can.
While I have defined some of my interests, I understand clearly that I am being considered by the Senate to be the Deputy Director, not the Director. I want the Committee to know what I have already pledged to Director Tenet, that I am 100% on board with the goals, values and commitments that he defined in his own confirmation statement. They are worth summarizing:
to give the President and other senior leaders the information they need when they need it--unassailably accurate and with the soundest judgment;
to turn our gaze from the past, fix our attention to the future, and target our investments on innovation;
to create an intelligence culture that challenges conventional wisdom and encourages creative, but responsible risk taking;
to be fully accountable while demanding the highest standards of personal integrity and professional performance from all our members;
to help the Intelligence Community become more closely knit together;
to strengthen our support to American diplomacy;
and to make flexibility the watchword of our business-- to be able to adjust our collection posture quickly and ensure we are not caught unaware in fast-breaking events, anywhere on the globe.
Mr. Chairman, I use this statement as a vehicle to renew my pledge to Director Tenet-- and to pledge to the Congress--that I take these goals, values and commitments as my own, and, if confirmed, will pursue them as vigorously as I can.
Mr. Chairman, intelligence can add value and save lives. Policymakers, military leaders, diplomats and law enforcement officials deserve the best possible support from their Intelligence Community. If the Senate confirms me, I will take as my mission to work with you and alongside the DCI to provide the best possible intelligence now, while positioning the Intelligence Community to enter the next century.
* * * * * *
Mr. Chairman, I would like to close this statement with a personal note of thanks to a number of very special people, most of whom cannot be here today.
First, my parents, Sid and Virginia Gordon, are no longer with us. My dad served as an enlisted man and as an officer in the US Army for 26 years. After his first retirement, he had an even longer career in public housing, serving the small community of West Plains, Missouri, with vision, hard work and commitment. I hope I can demonstrate that same ethic. My mother was by his side every step of the way for over 55 years. I wish they could be here today.
Next, my wife's parents, Leonard and Isabel Lang. They are from a small farming community in Missouri, fiercely independent and focused on family. Leonard is no longer with us, but he and Isabel raised and sent to college five children. He was a farmer who for 26 years also served the people of Cooper County as an elected county commissioner. He also taught me about public service and commitment to family.
My best friend is here. Marilyn is also my wife and has been for 30 years. She has supported me constantly, while maintaining her own career and putting up with the career diversions that come with many military moves.
Our daughter, Jennifer, is just beginning a semester abroad from Duke University. She is a young woman of great character and accomplishment. No dad could be prouder.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I am ready for your questions.