News & Information

Rss Feed

CIA Director's Remarks at the INSA Dinner

Remarks of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,
Gen. Michael V. Hayden
at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Dinner,
Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the National Security Act of 1947

(as prepared for delivery)

September 18, 2007

Thanks for inviting me to speak here tonight. I admire all the good work INSA does to inform the public on issues of intelligence and national security—and on what CIA and other agencies are doing to protect the American people.

A better public understanding of the foreign threats we face and of CIA’s role in meeting those challenges is vital to my Agency. Ultimately, we work for our fellow citizens, and—like anyone else—we want the boss to be comfortable with what we do—in secrecy, but in their name. In a public setting, though, it’s difficult for us to clarify, explain, or defend our actions in detail without potentially harming sources and methods.

That’s why INSA makes such a positive difference in framing issues of critical importance to the safety of our Republic. The value you add to the public debate derives from your unique experience, insight, and judgment. And I can tell you that your efforts are very much appreciated at CIA.

I was asked to speak tonight about the National Security Act of 1947, which was enacted sixty years ago to the day. On a personal and professional level, it’s extremely significant to me—it created the two organizations I currently represent: the Air Force and CIA. Today is a double anniversary, so I’ve been invited to a lot more celebrations than usual.

On Friday night, I attended an Air Force birthday party at Ft. Meade hosted by the 70th Intelligence Wing. I know the 70th very well—they’re a terrific group of Air Force SIGINTers attached to NSA, another organization that’s very important to me. Not a direct creation of the National Security Act, but a certainly a close descendant some five years later, in 1952.

On Saturday morning, we kicked off CIA’s 60th anniversary celebration as part of our annual Family Day out in Langley. Everyone knows CIA is a unique place, but once in a while you see a stark reminder of what sets us apart.

If you were to visit this week and drive past the North Lot, you’d see the usual rows of compacts, sedans, and SUVs parked there—along with a very large A-12 OXCART reconnaissance aircraft. If OXCART doesn’t ring a bell, you might be more familiar with the Air Force version, the SR-71 Blackbird. Tomorrow we’re going to host a reunion of the pilots, Lockheed Skunkworks guys, Air Force people, and some of our Directorate of Science and Technology officers who had a hand in creating the most remarkable plane built since the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Tonight, I’d like to talk about the Act that set in motion a decades-long mobilization of America’s boundless energy, creativity, and technological prowess—all on behalf of our national security. To this day, it defines how a democracy can respond decisively to a serious, long-term, foreign threat, fulfill global military responsibilities previously attributed only to empires, and still remain faithful to its identity and principles. I’ll also talk a bit about how it’s evolved to meet our changing threats, and finish up with the important role our society must play in sustaining that mobilization. Then I’ll be happy to take your questions.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of addressing the Council on Foreign Relations up in New York. I talked about my Agency’s contributions to the war on terrorism, the extraordinary work of our officers, and about CIA’s operating space…the space we’re given in a free society to do our vital work.

I said that CIA operates only within the space defined by the policymakers we elect and the laws our representatives pass. But once the laws are passed and the boundaries set, the American people expect us to use every inch we’re given to protect them.

The National Security Act of 1947 was the big bang that created not only CIA and the rest of the modern national security galaxy, but that initial pocket of space in which a civilian intelligence service could function in peacetime. Our Agency’s founding was part of a huge decision for this country—one that was not taken lightly.

Theodore White called 1947 the “Year of Divergence.” It forms the clearest divide between our past reluctance as a nation to engage in the affairs of great powers, and our assumption of the responsibilities that come with being a superpower. In 1947, thanks to the vision of gifted leaders, America made the tough decisions it had to. Those actions might seem obvious or even easy in hindsight. But for a war-weary nation that longed to return to something approaching pre-war normality, they were anything but.

The year saw groundbreaking foreign policy initiatives that were decidedly activist in outlook. The Marshall Plan was a great and enduring act of foresight and statecraft, and there were others that helped chart a bold new course for our country. Foremost among these was President Truman’s decision to assist Greece and Turkey against Communist subversion. For our nation—and in peacetime—it was an unprecedented intervention in European affairs.

From that point on, America committed itself to project our strength—both soft power and hard power, to borrow from Joseph Nye—not just as a last resort, but consistently and as a matter of doctrine, to contain a dire threat to our interests and an affront to our founding principles. We no longer merely supported the cause of freedom—we championed it.

The National Security Act was the legislative cornerstone that laid out how our government should organize itself to deal with these new global responsibilities. It created a National Military Establishment—soon renamed the Department of Defense—that could more effectively manage a military whose mission was no longer confined to active war and preparations for it. It established a National Security Council that would assist the President with the foreign threats that would now occupy more of his attention. And it recognized, for the first time in America’s history, that a central intelligence agency—its staff civilian, its place in government central, and its judgments free of departmental influence—was an essential component of national security.

As visionary as the document was, its directives—especially those regarding CIA—were necessarily incomplete and largely a work in progress. At the threshold of a new era, nobody had a good feel for the full scope of authorities that would be needed—nor could they have.

And there was an acute understanding of the stakes involved that encouraged a careful, deliberate approach. President Truman’s writings at the time show that he was especially eager that no one ever be able to compare CIA to anything remotely resembling the services of the fascists we had just defeated—or of the Communists we faced. This Agency would be a servant of democracy.

The Act set a trajectory that has served my Agency and our nation well. It created an intelligence service focused on external threats, bound by law, and responsive to oversight. It also built a sufficiently flexible structure that would allow our Republic to adapt to new threats and new national security requirements as they emerged.

An early and critical modification of CIA’s authorities was the addition, in June 1948, of covert action to the Agency’s charter missions of espionage and analysis. I’d like to read an excerpt from National Security Council Directive 10/2 that not only reflects a crucial milestone in my Agency’s history, but conveys a sense of urgency and resolve that I think resonates in our own era:

The National Security Council, taking cognizance of the vicious covert activities of the USSR, its satellite countries and Communist groups to discredit and defeat the aims and activities of the United States and other Western powers, has determined that, in the interests of world peace and US national security, the overt foreign activities of the US Government must be supplemented by covert operations.

…It therefore seems desirable, for operational reasons, not to create a new agency for covert operations, but in time of peace to place the responsibility for them within the structure of the Central Intelligence Agency…under the overall control of the Director of Central Intelligence.

That drive to adopt new tools to fight new threats, to match capability to mission, and to organize ourselves for the battle ahead in the most effective and efficient way, continues in our own time. Since 9/11, we as a nation have reorganized the Intelligence Community to better address the challenges we face in the war on terrorism.

Most notably, we have sought to make it more collaborative and cohesive by creating a Director of National Intelligence with a total focus on managing our Community as a whole. But even as the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created our Community’s new architecture, it gave CIA the decisive part to play in supporting the DNI model. For while our Community is no longer directed from the seventh floor of our Headquarters Building—which gives me the time and the freedom to devote myself entirely to CIA—no other agency has more connective tissue to its colleagues than mine, which began building those relationships in 1947, and has never stopped.

We still manage the core missions originally assigned to us under the National Security Act. As the manager of HUMINT, the DNI Open Source Center, and covert action, CIA remains the leader in human intelligence. Our capabilities in all-source analysis, science and technology—as well as our global infrastructure and reach—keep us central to the work of the Intelligence Community. In coming years—perhaps as many as it took to contain the Soviet threat—our chief mission will be to help prosecute a new form of war, essentially an intelligence war, against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates worldwide.

An imperative in this war—and the clearest lesson learned in the wake of 9/11—is to better share intelligence both within the Community and with the military and law enforcement agencies. The US Government has taken many steps to do that, not just through legislation and Executive Order, but through the actions of thousands of officers, who each day see the benefits of smart sharing across organizational lines.

The Patriot Act of 2001, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and again, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, were landmark acts of Congress that contained important provisions for greater information sharing. No less than three Executive Orders have reinforced this effort. And at my Agency, our Strategic Intent places a very high premium on improving the flow of intelligence with our colleagues throughout government and with our foreign liaison partners—all while ensuring that our sources and methods are secure.

Let me take a moment to underscore the key role CIA’s liaison relationships play in the war on terrorism. Counterterrorism, by definition, requires a team effort. Since 9/11, our global collaborative campaign has thwarted a number of al-Qa‘ida and al-Qa‘ida affiliated operations. I spoke first this morning with counterparts in Denmark and Germany, congratulating them on recent successes.

CIA has close partnerships with many services. That group includes our European allies, the Australians, and friends in this hemisphere. Pakistan also has been critical to global efforts against al-Qa’ida, rounding up a host of terrorists, among them the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. We are all aware of the challenge the tribal areas pose. And we continue to work with the Pakistanis to meet that challenge. But, while keeping our focus on what needs to be done, we cannot forget what has been done. We have to build on the successes we’ve had.

Our Middle Eastern partners too have been central to targeting the group’s operatives in the region. The Saudi security forces have dismantled the al-Qa’ida leadership in that country, responsible for a series of terrorist operations in recent years against Saudi and American targets—including the December 2004 strike against the Consulate in Jeddah. The Saudis are vital partners, countering regional threats, working against terrorist financial networks, and disrupting al-Qa’ida’s plotting against Western nations, including America. We appreciate the valor, hard work, and dedication of the nations that stand with us in facing what truly is a global threat.

As I said, we’re engaged in a long fight. I fully expect further evolution in the national security structure that came into being six decades ago. But some things can’t be ordered or legislated into existence. Our free society must respond to the requirements of this fight as it has done in others throughout our history. And that includes responses in industry, in academia, and elsewhere.

At the end of the day, we in government are a reflection of the nation we serve. Our country has the greatest universities in the world and the most accomplished scholars. The types of graduates available to CIA—and the skills and knowledge they possess—are determined by what we as a society decide best meet our needs. Maybe “decide” is too strong a term for our market-based culture, but the fact remains that the talent pool is set by forces larger than CIA’s recruitment office.

We can see the various points when a national emergency has roused our Republic to respond quickly by emphasizing certain research and certain academic fields, and America has followed through with the kind of intellectual firepower nobody else can match. But this time, so far at least, I don’t think that we as a nation have shifted our weight enough.

Let’s consider the era that produced the National Security Act. After the Soviets tested their first nuclear device in 1949, and Paul Nitze drafted NSC-68 a year later, any lingering doubt that we were locked into a long-term struggle with the Soviet Union had vanished. Run the clock forward six years, and America’s academic landscape is loaded with Soviet studies, Russian classes, and all the other liberal arts and technical programs that fed our Cold War effort.

Well, it’s been six years since our national epiphany. I don’t think we’ve come close to matching the academic mobilization we saw in the fifties.

We need a lot more Americans fluent not just in Arabic, but in Pashto, Urdu, Farsi, and a host of other hard languages. We need more experts in Islamic studies and in Middle Eastern politics, culture, and society. Add South Asia, too. That’s a tall order, and it’s going to take time.

What I’m suggesting is that if we as a country are really serious about this—if we as a people really believe we’re at war, and, from my vantage point, we most certainly are—we have to act accordingly. A big part of that effort is to know that we’re engaged in what is primarily a war of ideas. This war requires us to better understand cultures and societies that traditionally have not been as well represented as others in our immigrant nation.

But accomplishing that level of understanding—and the academic mobilization it requires—is well within our capacity as a people, and absolutely critical to our security as a nation.

Thank you for the important contributions your alliance makes to that national effort, and for all your good work on behalf of our Agency and the Intelligence Community.


Historical Document
Posted: Sep 20, 2007 09:04 AM
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2008 08:47 AM