Remarks of Central Intelligence Agency Director
Gen. Michael V.
Hayden, USAF at the
Senior Intelligence Service Promotion
July 31, 2006
Good morning. I'm really happy to be here this morning and be able to welcome and congratulate some of the most talented people here at the Agency. And at this Agency, that is not light or small praise. I'm glad to be here to witness your entering this new chapter of service and look forward to working with each and every one of you in your new capacities as executive managers and experts.
May I also welcome families and friends. Thanks for coming here to cheer on those who mean so much to you and those that mean so much to our Agency as well. I'm glad you feel part of this because you do have a real and unshakable stake, ownership in what we are celebrating here today.
Now, whenever we take on a new responsibility like this, it's particularly gratifying to have the support of those close to us. Their encouragement is important enough, but sometimes, and I think I need to underscore this, sometimes they can just put things in perspective too. And so for the family members here today we are doubly grateful.
We bear certain and heavy responsibilities in our profession. Let me share with you something I said during my confirmation hearings for a position one or two positions ago. The day after I'd been nominated to be Ambassador Negroponte's deputy, I got an e-mail from a boyhood friend. We had been inseparable until he moved away from the neighborhood about fourth or fifth grade. We lived in Pittsburgh, on that flood plain of the Allegheny River on the north side, a district called The Ward, right, you know, is where Heinz Field and PNC Park today. But at that time it was just known as the Ward. My friend wrote to me in his e-mail, and now I'm quoting him:
"The Ward, the street parties, the picnics, Clark candy bars and Teaberry gum thrown out the fifth floor windows to kids cheering on the street, (those factories were in the neighborhood) and the damp train trestle on the way to and from school are the things that you are made of. You will never get too far from them. It's those things that you'll be protecting."
When I read that to the panel for my confirmation, I told them it would be tough for the Committee to put any more pressure on me than Jimmy Heffley already had by his e-mail.
But Jimmy's note is what it's all about: protecting the people and the country we love. Our jobs carry a heavy responsibility, and there's only a single metric for our success: have we defended the Republic today?
Now, today you're stepping forward to join the Senior Intelligence Service and to help lead our Agency. You will assume ever-larger responsibilities as an SIS officer.
Whether you're here at CIA or serving elsewhere in the Community, whether you're a manager or a substantive expert, you've earned a place at the top of a unique community of talent. Your background, your experience, your training, your skills complement those of your colleagues and enable us, the Agency as a whole, to deliver on our pledge, our obligation, to defend the country and to protect its interests worldwide.
* You are the case officers of the National Clandestine Service who possess the valor, agility, and tradecraft to steal secrets critical to our national security.
* You are the analysts who work at that critical nexus between the world as it is and the world we are working to create. Your candid assessments give the President and our senior policymakers a clear picture of both the threats and the opportunities our country faces.
* You are the mission support officers whose dedication, expertise, and resourcefulness create the conditions for our success.
* And you are the scientists and engineers who apply technological genius to our profession and give us, at this Agency, an insurmountable technological edge.
Now, every one of you here, based on your past performance, that you've actually been selected not on your past performance, but on your potential for the future. You've been chosen not so much as a reward, as it is our belief that you can do more. And that more, at this particular point of your careers, that more is just, is more than just a minor pivot. It's a major change. All of you have gotten to where you are by doing things right. By achieving. By working that in-box. By solving that problem. As you move into the Senior Intelligence Service, your success will be measured not so much by doing things right (you've already gotten that), but by doing the right things. And this is more than just responding to what shows up in the in-box. This is more about creating the conditions for success for the Agency as a whole. In essence, you'll be far more proactive than reactive. You'll be far more creative than merely responsible.
Every American can be proud of the caliber of people at every level of this Agency. We have some exceptionally smart kids on their way in. I'm reminded to recall the New York Times, the day after the confirmation, my confirmation, here, the swearing in, the President, it was a great, celebratory time for all of us, and the New York Times, of all newspapers, carried a color photo above the fold of my going along the rope line, not visible in the photo, but about ten meters behind the President. And I'm told by some Agency employees that there was actually a captioning contest for that photo of me working the rope line. I'm told the winner was "New Director visits CIA child care center." We have an awful lot of young people here at the Agency now. And they're eager to do the right thing. You have a special role in helping them do that. In you, we have a strong cohort of executives who will help guide this new generation in the coming years. In you, we have the substantive experts who will pass on to them the knowledge and the wisdom that has brought us to success in so many fields.
You are leaders. You are examples. You not only do great work, you inspire it in others.
One of our most fundamental duties as leaders is to unleash the potential of our workforce. I've said that it's my job as Director to focus on only those things a Director can do. To remove obstacles and provide resources at the Agency level. To offer top cover so that you never have to be looking over your shoulder. Basically, I want you to be comfortable in making the calls and taking the risks you need to be true to our Agency's charters, and I want you to provide that to those who work for you.
I hope that you will do the things that only you can do as a group chief, or a senior analyst, or whatever position you're assigned. Bring that same sense of unfettered initiative into the part of this Agency that has been entrusted to you. And make sure that those officers you manage or mentor appreciate the full degree of confidence and trust you have in them. You will find this new leadership team emphasizing only a few things, but we will emphasize them constantly. Decisions need to be made at the lowest possible level and at the earliest possible time. And it's your responsibility to see that that happens.
Now, as part of the deal, we'll make the Seventh Floor responsive too. I mean responsive to you, to our officers in the field, and to the workforce at large. We'll have a leadership structure that concentrates on the needs of the Agency in our overall Community. Michael is working on that plan now, and we'll have an action plan soon for your review.
Let me also touch upon an important subject that I mentioned on the day I arrived here: our social contract with the American people. Nothing is more critical to our Agency than to earn the public's trust.
Last week, I was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, talking to them about achieving the proper balance of security and liberty in our pursuit of foreign intelligence. And I said that that was an issue that we work with every day. Now I know that not every officer in this Agency grapples with this subject on a daily basis or frankly has a job description that requires it. But it's something that all of us need to think about.
We are a secret intelligence service in a free and open society, and that means it's inescapable that our Agency periodically faces sharp criticism in the course of our service to the American people. Some of that criticism is deserved. Much of it is not.
But the enduring truth is that we are not only compatible with our democratic system, we are indispensable to it. If we do our job and we do it well-if we keep our country safe-we not only save lives, we dispel fear. And fear has always been the element in our political discourse that can upset that delicate balance between liberty and security.
Getting back to the Jimmy Heffley e-mail: We not only want to protect the American people, we want them to be proud of us as well. All of which is well within our capacity as leaders and as an Agency.
I have boundless confidence in what we can achieve. As Allen Dulles wrote 43 years ago, talking about our place, CIA's place in American society, and I'm quoting him here now:
"...the most important safeguards lie in the character and self-discipline of the leadership of the intelligence service and of the people who work for it...[in] their integrity and in their respect for the democratic processes, and their sense of duty and devotion in carrying out their important and delicate tasks."
CIA is the Intelligence Community's flagship agency and it will continue to be so. And it's your commitment and dedication that are central to preserving our special abilities and accomplishing our mission.
Those of us who have made a career in this business are keenly aware of the value of morale-of esprit-to any group. It's amorphous, it's a very amorphous quality, but essentially it arises from the importance of our mission, and-maybe most of all-from knowing you're the very best at doing what you do. If anyone has it, we do here at CIA. Now as senior officers, you physically and emotionally embody that spirit. It's your charge to keep it strong. To cultivate it in those you lead. And to ensure that we as an Agency never lose that vital spark.
Thank you for all the hard work that has brought you here. But remember what I said earlier. This isn't a reward for that. This is a decision our senior leadership has made about your potential to do even more. I welcome you into executive service to our Agency. Well done, all of you.