The Commission met, pursuant to notice, at 9:01 a.m., HON. HAROLD BROWN, Chairman, presiding.
Commission Members present:
CHAIRMAN BROWN: Good morning. This is a hearing of the Commission on Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community. To refresh the recollections of anyone who needs it, the Commission was established by Congress in October 1994 to review the effectiveness and appropriateness of U.S. intelligence activities after the Cold War.
The Commission's statutory mandate sets forth 19 specific questions for the Commission to consider. The Commission is required to submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and to the President no later than March 1. We expect to meet that deadline on time, and without overrunning our budget, barring last minute insurrections within the Commission.
In creating the Commission, Congress was responding to suggestions expressed by Members and by the public that the United States might not need any longer to maintain as large and costly an intelligence apparatus as it had during the Cold War.
Congress was also troubled by allegations that intelligence agencies were still focusing on Cold War targets and significant duplication and inefficiency was said to exist in the intelligence community. Not unique within the Government, of course.
Finally, Congress was concerned by several incidents that raised questions about competence and reliability of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Ames affair at CIA, cost overruns by the National Reconnaissance Office, and allegations of fraud or politicized analysis.
Against this backdrop, Congress intended this Commission to take an independent look in some depth at what kind of intelligence capability is still needed by the United States, and how that capability could be made more efficient and effective. Of course, there have been several previous commissions and studies that have dealt with such issues. And other studies continue.
We think that this Commission and its inquiry is probably the most comprehensive in looking at the organization and operation of the intelligence community as a whole, but I would emphasize that the Commission is not an oversight or investigating body.
The Commission was certainly aware of the charges of wrongdoing and intelligence failures by various intelligence agencies, including new ones that arose during last year. We didn't conduct independent inquiries into those incidents or attempt to identify others. Other people are still doing that. We did examine whether systemic changes are necessary in order to decrease the number of such episodes.
The original chairman of this Commission was Les Aspin. He led its efforts from its first meeting in February 1995 until his untimely death on May 21. Les brought tremendous energy and vision to this undertaking, and the Commission's work since his death bears his imprint in many important ways.
I also want to indicate how highly we value the work of the Commission's staff, led by Britt Snider, John Moseman, and John Bellinger. I want to point out that Britt Snider was in the office every day last week. He may be unique among Washington Government employees in braving the snowy weather!
The Commission has held regular monthly meetings of two or three days in length from March through December of last year, and has continued this year to do the same thing. We have received formal testimony from over 60 witnesses, including current and former intelligence, defense, State Department and law enforcement officials, academics, business people, and journalists.
The Commission staff has interviewed well over 200 additional individuals about strengths and weaknesses of the existing intelligence system and how various aspects of the intelligence business might be changed. It will come as no surprise that the conduct of intelligence is something about which nearly everyone has strong views, and those views are widely, indeed wildly differing among individuals.
Members of the Commission have also visited several foreign countries to examine, as required by the Commission's mandate, how the intelligence capabilities of other countries compare with those of the United States, and whether collaborative arrangements with those other countries should be maintained.
As the Commission's work has progressed, while we've tried to address all of the 19 specific issues that we were mandated to do by the legislation, we've tried to focus on the issues that strike us as especially significant.
For example, what are the appropriate targets for intelligence in the post-Cold War world? Should intelligence agencies collect and analyze -- their two primary functions -- information only on the traditional military and foreign policy topics?, or should they be used to collect economic, environmental, and humanitarian intelligence?, and should they support law enforcement and regulatory agencies?, and can intelligence be better used to combat increasing external threats, new kinds of threats to our national security from terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime? And a related issue, how to incorporate information from open sources into the process of collecting and analyzing secret information.
Indeed, should the intelligence community do analysis of subjects in which the great preponderance of information is not secret?
We spent a major part of our deliberations discussing whether and how the Nation's disparate intelligence activities can be better organized and managed. Should they, the various agencies, CIA, NSA, NRO, DIA and others, continue to be managed as a loose confederation by the Director of Central Intelligence? Should the DCI exercise greater control over these agencies? If so, how, and what should be the relationship between the DCI and the Secretary of Defense, to whom all of the largest intelligence agencies, except CIA, report?
The Commission also examined the organization of military intelligence within the Department of Defense and within the individual military services. We are considering also how intelligence products can be made more useful to consumers, looking at ways to improve the guidance that policymakers and other consumers provide to the intelligence community about what they need and want, and ways to strengthen the analysis that intelligence agencies provide in return.
Finally, the Commission is considering the appropriate magnitude of U.S. expenditures on intelligence after the Cold War and how the intelligence community can be made more efficient through improvements in the current budgeting process and the various personnel and procurement systems.
Because of the classified nature of most U.S. intelligence activities, this hearing will be the Commission's only public session.
What we're going to try to do today is to explore in greater detail several of the more important subjects of the Commission's inquiry. We're privileged to have as witnesses six distinguished individuals with broad knowledge and experience in U.S. intelligence matters, either as providers or consumers or both. Their experience includes service in the State Department, Defense Department, Justice, National Security Council staff, the intelligence community, ambassadorial service, and a lot of experience in the private sector.
We welcome all of them today. Before we begin with testimony, I'd like to ask our Vice Chairman, Senator Warren Rudman, to say a few words, thanking him, as I do, for his stalwart partnership in leading the Commission, and especially for his service as Acting Chairman from Les Aspin's death until my appointment. Then I'll give our fellow commissioners an opportunity to offer any comments they have, with the admonition that the time they use for that purpose will be subtracted from the time they get to use in questions.
Mr. Vice Chairman.
VICE CHAIRMAN RUDMAN: Mr. Chairman, you'll never make it as chairman of a congressional committee! That just wouldn't work.
CHAIRMAN BROWN: Thank you.
VICE CHAIRMAN RUDMAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your remarks.
This Commission comprises an exceptional group of citizens, each of whom is taking most seriously the important and difficult work of evaluating the future of United States intelligence. Having served on a number of important congressional committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Joint Committee to Investigate Iran-Contra, I can say from experience that members of this Commission, despite never-ending demands on their schedules, have done their homework. They have devoted the time needed to learn a very difficult subject.
Beyond attending our monthly meetings, many commissioners have made a special effort to visit agencies in and around Washington, D.C. Others have traveled overseas, and still others have traveled to four of the five so- called war-fighting military commands to learn first-hand about the military's growing appetite for national intelligence. They also learned first-hand how military intelligence has been shaped from the lessons of Desert Storm to meet the needs of our combat troops.
This has not been an academic exercise. All commissioners are deeply aware that intelligence played a key role in rescuing a United States airman in Bosnia, and intelligence must continue to meet the real needs of our men and women in that troubled area of the world. Lives, in fact, depend on it.
The substance of our work is daunting. Congress asked us to examine 19 specific questions, but as we looked at one question, others naturally arose. The lengthy paper we issued in June sets forth the scope of our mission. In working through some of the more difficult subjects, we established task forces of commissioners.
For example, Zoe Baird headed the group that examined in depth the relationship between law enforcement and intelligence. Steve Friedman, one of our most active commissioners from the private sector, worked with a task force to evaluate the organization and management of the intelligence community.
Bob Hermann and General Lou Allen, with their remarkable backgrounds, worked on issues relating to technical collection systems, particularly relating to our so-called black world satellites.
Ann Caracristi took on questions relating to intelligence analysis, the end result of all the expensive collection efforts and the product that is either read or ignored by policymakers.
General Bob Pursley brought special perspective to our study of military intelligence, as did our chairman, and Paul Wolfowitz. Paul has also helped us to review the kinds of national security issues that future policy officials may face.
David Dewhurst and Porter Goss, both of whom worked as case officers for the CIA, added real-life insights to our review of the clandestine service.
We have also had commissioners' task forces look at cost and budget issues. While questions of resource allocation may not attract headline writers, some of our most important work relates to the management of very expensive programs and how the resource decisions are made.
This examination necessarily relates to the role of the Director of Central Intelligence and his relationships with the Secretary of Defense and other key officials of the intelligence community.
Our congressional members, including John Warner, Norm Dicks, and Porter Goss, regularly provide us weather reports on the temperature on Capitol Hill as we address key issues, particularly those relating to funding and budgets. And our former congressional members, including Wyche Fowler and Tony Coelho, have added to our understanding of issues and controversies they faced when they served in the House and Senate.
We are now in the midst of deliberations. The views of our witnesses today will provide important perspectives as we fashion our recommendations to the President and the Congress on the future of United States intelligence. Each witness has had a most distinguished career in Government, and each has had the opportunity over the last few years to step back from that experience and reflect on fundamental questions affecting Government, including the need for, and the responsiveness of, intelligence in the post Cold War era.
Mr. Chairman, a final thought on the work of the Commission. We come to this work from vastly different experiences. Some of us have held elective office. Others have been senior officials in the intelligence community. Others have had successful business careers, and examined the subject of intelligence with fresh eyes.
Regardless of our backgrounds, however, I want you to know that our work has been utterly nonpartisan. This may seem odd at a time of high political tension in Washington, but it's true.
In fact, I was asked to serve as Acting Chairman of this Commission after Les Aspin's tragic death, and without hesitation, Tony Harrington, who also serves as Chairman of the Intelligence Oversight Board, agreed to serve as Acting Vice Chairman of this Commission. Tony and I are, of course, from different political parties. But I can say that we worked in harmony and true partnership to continue the work that Les so ably began.
In the same vein, commissioners understand that we will not have the final word on our recommendations. The President and the Congress will. We have confidence that they will approach this superb work as we have done, through lenses not clouded with the partisan passions of the moment. This is too important for that. Those who depend on sound intelligence in making important decisions, or for their very safety, can expect no less.
Mr. Chairman, finally, I wanted to make just two acknowledgements. I wanted to acknowledge Maurice Sonnenberg, who is in the audience today. Maurice is a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and a member of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy. He served as an advisor to the Commission and was faithful in his attendance, and took on missions that we asked him to take on.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, I want to make this public acknowledgement of your contribution. You came in at a difficult time -- the Commission was well into its work and the structure had been established by Les Aspin and the staff. But I must say it has been a pleasure to work with you. You have brought your enormous background and experience to the work of the Commission. Having not known you before, it has been a delight to work with you.
CHAIRMAN BROWN: Thank you very much, Senator Rudman. I enjoy our partnership very much as well.
I will offer a chance at this point to any other member of the Commission who wants to make a statement.
CHAIRMAN BROWN: Seeing none --
MR. DEWHURST: Mr. Chairman, I just want to say I want to take this opportunity to compliment the staff. We have an excellent staff. They have really done a lot of work which has benefitted not only the Commission, but I think the final product.
I wanted to take this public opportunity say that I wouldn't have learned as much about non-HUMINT activities without their fine and able help.
CHAIRMAN BROWN: Thank you. That praise is well-deserved