Remarks by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Goss to CIA Employees
September 22, 2005
It is important—especially at a time of change—to meet and talk about the
direction of our Agency, and the great things you have done, and the next steps
that we need to take together. I have been looking forward to this opportunity
actually now for several weeks, and I want to take your questions—because I
believe strongly in two-way communications. But first, I want to make some
As you know, the single greatest change that the Agency has embraced as the leader in the Intelligence Community is the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The President studied the results of the 9-11 Commission and took the opportunity to reorganize the Intelligence Community, as we all know. This was long overdue, because as the last DCI, I can say that the job had become frankly too big for one person. Especially, given that the DCI had limited capabilities and authority to manage anything but the CIA. And the DCI job had simply changed since its inception, which actually was more than a half century ago, as you know. The DNI was established to:
Gain coherence from an ever-larger Intelligence Community; we all know the Community is bigger.
Get some control of the budget process, which we all know is far from perfect.
And most critically, increase the sharing of intelligence so we can hopefully avoid the kinds of problems upon which the 9-11 Commission, and the other commissions, have reported.
So thus, I became the first Director to be responsible for the direction of the CIA, without Community responsibilities attached. Ironically, in this new design, among the first things the DNI is doing is assigning to the DCIA, the community role as the National HUMINT Manager. And the reason for this is actually quite simple. CIA is the gold standard when it comes to human intelligence collection. CIA will have the authority to set standards for the entire Intelligence Community on things relating to HUMINT. Thus, CIA remains the flagship of the IC for HUMINT. I expect we will be making an announcement about the particulars of this very soon. Meanwhile, I want to recognize my deputy, Admiral Bert Calland, for his smart leadership in representing the Agency on this matter. And I am grateful to him. Thank you, Bert. Do you want to stand?
This is a time of great opportunity for the Agency. I am excited about the years ahead. We are rebuilding our human resources—not just in sheer numbers, but we've also addressing things like our language shortfalls. That applies to the way that we train our newcomers, our middle management, and even our senior management. In short, more quantity, more quality are in our future.
Now, in order to accomplish our core mission, we access plans and intentions of our enemies and then we analyze those secrets, identifying and gaining access to the mischief makers and the leaders of the future; providing our customers with a product that they can rely on to make the very tough decisions they have to make. There is no question in my mind as to my priority for this Agency. Improving our global capabilities is our main job. After all, how can you disrupt terrorist actions without first knowing their plans and intentions?
And, you're dealing with the explosion of information endlessly circling our globe in today's technological society. How to filter the nuggets is not an easy job.
So, the bottom line is: The CIA is being asked to do better what it has always done—to provide objective, unbiased, and independent intelligence to policymakers without being policy prescriptive. The President expects the CIA to be able to do well what the Agency does uniquely. We are seekers of truth, not owners, and it is an endless task.
And now I want to give you my sense of how we are proceeding when it comes to transformation. And, an understanding of where I see things going next.
We have been making real progress in all the areas that have called out for improvement. Such as:
We've been having substantial, but quiet success in our efforts in the Global War on Terror. We have provided intelligence support that has resulted in the capture or killings of dozens of high-level Al Qa'ida operatives, and our efforts have unquestionably saved American lives at home and abroad.
We have gotten more unilateral, though still not as much as I'd like. It's getting the right kind of people trained in the right places under the right cover against the right targets with the understanding that there is the right kind of political will and leadership to give them the time and the backing to do the jobs they need to do. This is breaking some molds.
We have been having great success recruiting agents on all the target sets. We have continued various initiatives to stock our asset pool for future anticipated needs and challenges. We continue to look for ways to increase both the analyst's and the case officer's time on target, and this includes revising old guidelines that limit artificially an officer's tour, and expanding our expert base around the globe.
We are getting more and more global. We opened new stations and bases and we've reopened some old ones. We are developing new and creative ways to get more and more of our officers out of Washington.
The exceptional work of the DS & T is one of the Agency's and America's best kept secrets, a critical pillar of our success in human operations and an often unacknowledged catalyst for some of the IC's most important technical intelligence. This is another directorate in which we are having success in pushing more of its technology, its infrastructure, and its most valuable resource—its people—to the field to bring its unique blend of technology, tradecraft, and innovation to bear against our adversaries.
We have been reducing Headquarters bureaucracy. There is no better example of this than the Directorate of Support. We continue to look for ways to get Headquarters out of the way of field activities and back where it belongs. Headquarters’ operational primacy is an outmoded philosophy.
We are incentivizing language skills and cultural awareness. We recognize the need for diversity in all our disciplines throughout the Agency. Having the knowledge base and these skill sets enhances all of our capabilities and improves our work product. To understand the world around us, we've got to reflect that world in house more faithfully than we do now. We are bringing in new case officers into the inner core of our Agency family. They are going to include more recent arrivals to the United States and those with a lot of foreign travel and exposure to different kinds of experiences. That's a good thing for CIA, for its mission, and for this workforce as a whole. This makes a lot of sense, but it is a huge divergence from the way we have always done things—and, it is critical that we do it without neglecting counterintelligence, of course.
When I was in case officer training, I was advised to beware of recruiting in my own image—back then we were indeed a small old boys network—and that is changing, but we are still not where we need to be on that.
We are rewarding and promoting positive impact on mission, not just time spent at Headquarters. I have asked the Executive Director to begin the process to establish a more flexible track for the Senior Intelligence Service—the DI has done some innovative things in this regard worth noting. In other words, this would be an "Expert Track" so that experts in their field can be rewarded for their impact on mission without being forced to hold management positions.
We have focused our need for a first class and state of the art global infrastructure worthy of the global enterprise that is CIA. I have seen this first hand. Too much of our aging infrastructure has been run to ruin. And, it is not just headquarters—this includes our other area facilities and those that are elsewhere. There are too many critical nodes that are single points of failure for an Agency on which so much depends. We cannot allow ourselves to fall any further behind.
And we have put the spotlight on creativity and the exercise of one's ingenuity. The creation and establishment of the Director's Mission Innovation Center is quickly becoming the place where one's imagination is allowed to exercise and where the challenges of tomorrow are met and overcome. I will shortly announce a Director’s Group that will work in conjunction with this center, and to make permanent our transformation efforts—no backtracking here.
Intelligence is and always has been a people business. Knowing what makes people tick and exploiting that knowledge to our national security advantage is really how our craft is practiced.
And to that end, I have required that CIA's people be a priority issue for all members of my leadership team. We are renewing our commitment to our people by fostering a work environment that supports diverse and flexible career track, flexibility in assignments, empowers officers to build expertise, sparks innovation, and provides strong support and training initiatives and programs that will enhance their quality of life and the quality of their service to our nation.
To help our people go global, we are finding novel ways to integrate our key disciplines across directorates. We will work to reduce and remove bureaucratic obstacles. Again, breaking some molds.
I have placed a refreshed emphasis on the CIA as a global agency. We do not serve our policymakers if we are not in the places that they need us to be today, and are not reporting from places they don't expect us to be—but where they may need us to be tomorrow.
Our people being global enhances our capability to provide better intelligence and better insight. Through a focus on fundamentals of tradecraft, time on target, and the creation of innovative capabilities, approaches, and tools, the CIA will be better positioned to meet emerging challenges and deal with emerging threats and trends.
As many of you know, I have been very pleased to spend a lot of my time and attention on a multitude of liaison relationships. These are important opportunities and I will continue to do so. But, without ignoring our vital liaison relationships and partners, we will not rely solely on this stream of intelligence to inform our policymakers. Unilateral operations will return to be part of the governing paradigm for the CIA.
I have said this before, and I talk about it a lot when I am in the field, but I cannot say it enough. I expect and encourage calculated risk taking—and, it will be rewarded. I also expect it to go right, but I know it won’t go right all the time. And when it goes wrong, I will support you.
At a recent leadership off-site, we again reviewed and reaffirmed the priorities of our Agency directorate by directorate.
Let me start with the Directorate of Intelligence. Analysis is the engine that drives the CIA. In my view, it is analysis that must drive collection. Collection for collection's sake is exciting and interesting, but if it is not put into context and synthesized with the other available pieces of information on the topic, it's again interesting to policymakers, but it’s probably not of much utility. I know there are a few of you from the DI who may have this quote hanging above your desk:
"Casting aside the perceived—and I must admit the occasionally real—excitement of secret operations, the absolute essence of the intelligence profession rests in the production of [analysis] on which sound policy decisions can be made." So Richard Helms said, and I agree with him.
First, I want to commend the DI for its exemplary work in transitioning to much improved product and helping to support the DNI. It has mattered.
In the area of Improved Collection—We do need to get the analysts more information. Collection is job one in support of our analytic capabilities. Getting the right kind of collection, overt as well as secret, for our analysts is, and must be, a big part of the way forward for our agency.
Improved Training—It is something we need to talk about and I do feel some of our tradecraft was not what it could have been. Perhaps, it was because of the press of business; perhaps, because we had been thinned out so badly. A lot of reasons come to mind that could explain why it might have happened. But, the DI leadership is fully committed to making improvements. And their efforts have indeed been recognized.
Improved Integration with the DO—I expect a closer symbiosis between the DI and the DO. It makes for better taskings, better understanding, and better product.
Part of it is increasing our benchstrength, putting more of our DI people overseas, and giving our analysts the tools, the support, and the information they need to do their jobs.
Another part is fostering an environment that lends itself to competitive analysis. We are not afraid to publish opposing perspectives, if they exist. This gives policymakers more with which to work. When two groups of smart people come to different conclusions about what a set of facts means, this is—in my view—much more honest, less-biased, and true to our profession.
I do believe we are on the right track with our intelligence product and getting it to a level where it is not just timely, but relevant to our policymakers’ concerns, and as accurate as we can make it, without assuming that it is the objective truth not to be forsaken. We must not lose sight of the notion that our policymakers are not obligated to accept at face value any intelligence estimate we put before them. And, they are not required to follow it.
Again, I will quote from DCI Helms:
[I]t is a serious mistake for any intelligence service ever to assume that it has achieved absolute wisdom.
This point is worth noting, because in my view, this is where many intelligence observers and pundits get lost. No one at CIA believes that it has cornered the market on objective truth. If they do, they're in the wrong business.
The Directorate of Operations . . . HUMINT, as we know, can be difficult, dangerous, time consuming work. And, the priority is to get back to the fundamentals. Patience. Persistence. Time on target. You’ve all heard me say that before.
I have talked much about Field forward. You cannot understand people overseas, much less influence them, from Langley. You cannot develop deep and trusting relationships with individuals and with governments overseas by flying in and flipping out a US passport. We are working to change the ratio so that we have more of our case officers out in the field under new kinds of cover in places where they can do what they need to do for us.
I’m not worried about having too few people at headquarters.
Global coverage. Our national interests, and our national security needs, are global. There is no doubting this anymore. "Surging" CIA officers instead of having an established presence, an expertise, and developed relationships at hand, is a poor formula, in my opinion. When I say we need to be global, this is an admission that we are not in all of the places we should be. We don't have this luxury anymore.
Aligning capabilities with the threats as they exist today and will be tomorrow cannot be understated. Operating around today’s troubled world requires different capabilities in different places. One size fits all doesn't work and neither does a lot of the old technology. We may need a case officer with a CPA to work in Europe against terrorist funding, we might need a pretty good engineer or physicist someplace to work proliferation issues. I'm still taken with the idea of our case officers riding across the terrain—the very harsh terrain—of Afghanistan on horseback, bringing in precision aircraft ordnance from our military on specific targets is an amazing sight. Hiring and deploying the right case officers, with the right capabilities—this is exactly what I have directed the DO leadership to do.
We are definitely going to be using new cover arrangements overseas, because we have to. That doesn't mean we're going to abandon our old ways. Pinstripes work in some places—and they'll still be fashionable there—but not everywhere. One thing about intelligence work is that things are seldom mutually exclusive. We are going to be in places people can’t even imagine.
As to unilateral operations, I have already mentioned we are doing better here. The CIA credo is that the US must always have the place of primacy among our interests.
Moving on to the Directorate of Science and Technology. The technical revolutions of the past 50 years have brought obstacles and opportunities equally revolutionary to the world of clandestine operations and all-source analysis. The breadth of DS&T capabilities ranges from the most personal of technologies, such as a disguise, to the most expansive collection technologies available today. Tubes, transistors, digitalization, the Internet—each technical advance used by our adversaries has been some mix of obstacle and opportunity for the bright minds in S&T who support our operations.
The DS&T has an equally long history—over 60 years—of innovative and comprehensive open source coverage. FBIS is our "global safety net." Their considerable contribution to mission will be magnified in the coming months through the creation of a National Open Source Center—a fitting acknowledgment to the critical role of Open Source activity.
And these are amazing folks. We must continue to encourage their efforts, because this is an area we have to succeed in and lead in, if we are going to continue to keep America safe. Staying current with technology is expensive, and anticipating the path of tomorrow's technology is to some extent quite speculative. But as Director, I have to ensure that S&T has the resources, training, and inspiration it needs to stay in the forefront.
Last, but certainly not least, our Directorate of Support is a revitalized support cadre, and a reenergized "Mission First" paradigm. There is nothing that CIA accomplishes, hopes to accomplish, or can even begin to accomplish, without our Directorate of Support being engaged and fully partnered with the action element involved.
The Mission centered zeal of the DS's leadership doesn't just trickle down, it flows down in waves—and Stephanie won’t let it be any other way—or allow us to have it any other way. They are forward deployed officers in some of our most dangerous places working alongside our ops officers, our analysts, our engineers and scientists, and our military colleagues. I have personally seen this with my own eyes.
This is also the directorate that I will be working closely with to tackle some of our biggest challenges: Strengthening our Infrastructure, our IT, and frankly our Hiring Practices.
In conclusion, when looking at the directorates, it is critical that we strengthen the relationships between the career services, and, recognize that there is but one mission at CIA. We all serve one flag. I find that when you get the conversation going between the directorates, where they're very proud of their good espirit, there is more understanding and a little light is shed back and forth. This is always helpful to do, because otherwise, though they might be using English, something always seems to get lost in translation if they are not working with each other.
So, these are my guiding principles and what I've asked my leadership team to focus on in the years ahead. People, Global Reach, and Capabilities—just as I’ve been saying since I arrived.
This is a major time of opportunity for the Central Intelligence Agency, and shame on us if we don't live up to what is expected of us. We have a legacy of some amazing work. We are being asked to do more amazing work, and we will get it done. And now, I'd be very happy to take your questions and then we will get back to our other jobs.