Statement of U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States
January 28, 1998
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the National
Security Act, the legislation that created the Central Intelligence Agency
and established the national defense and intelligence structure for the
Cold War era.
This year, we approach an equally significant anniversary — November 1999
will mark the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning
of the end of the Cold War, and the beginning of the post-Cold War era.
Today, it is fitting that the Committee meet publicly, at the beginning
of a new session of Congress, to hear the Intelligence Community's views
regarding the nature and extent of the changing national security threats
to the U. S.
The identification and analysis of these threats are crucial to defining
and conducting our nation's foreign policy. Our intelligence on these threats
provides the basis for our defense strategy and planning, informs our budget
and procurement choices, and supports our military forces when they go
To be useful, intelligence must be timely and accurate.
Equally important, the Intelligence Community must "call it as it sees
it" — reporting the facts to policy makers without bias, even if the intelligence
findings do not support a particular policy or decision.
Every day, U.S. policy makers and military forces rely on Intelligence
Community reporting. By its very nature, most of this information must
be classified to protect the sources and methods from which it is derived.
Today we meet in open session so that, at a time of waning interest in
international affairs, the American people may learn about the very real
threats that we face in the post-Cold War era.
We look forward to hearing from Director Tenet and other witnesses on the
broad range of threats to U.S. national security.
Many of the issues we will discuss bear directly on critical policy choices
facing the administration and the Congress today and in the near future,
and raise a number of complex questions. For example:
Once again, Iraq is refusing to allow UN inspectors full access to its
How strong is Saddam Hussein within his own country that he can defy the
Is he, in fact, better off than he was before he instigated the current
crisis over weapons inspections? What is the status of the Iraqi weapons
programs? How quickly could these programs be expanded or revived if sanctions
Is it true, as has been suggested in the press, that Iraq tested biological
and/or chemical weapons on human beings? Will Saddam Hussein ever comply
with the UN resolutions?
And on the other side of the Shatt al Arab, we have Iran. Many of us saw
Iranian President Khatami's recent television interview. What do his remarks
then and subsequently -- and the response of his hardline opponents --
augur for U.S.-Iranian relations?
Most critically, has the Intelligence Community seen any reduction in Iranian
support for international terrorism, or slackening in Iran's pursuit of
weapons of mass destruction, since the election?
How soon will Iran deploy new ballistic missiles capable of threatening
Israel and other U.S. allies?
Iran of course is only one of a dozen or so countries which possess or
are developing ballistic missile systems, and one of over two dozen nations
that are developing these or other weapons of mass destruction.
I am extremely concerned of the potential that such weapons will be used,
or that someone somewhere will plausibly threaten to use such weapons,
against the United States, our troops, our allies or our interests in the
not too distant future.
After all, it has already happened — the single greatest loss of life by
American forces in the Persian Gulf War came when an Iraqi SCUD crashed
into a barracks in Saudi Arabia.
How does the Intelligence Community assess the global ballistic missile
threat to the United States -- the greatest single threat to our national
The Committee is looking forward to reviewing in the near future the updated
National Intelligence Estimate on this subject, but we hope the witnesses
will provide us with a preview today.
The 1995 National Intelligence Estimate of ballistic missile threats to
North America was the subject of extensive, and in my view largely justified,
What steps have been taken in the current intelligence estimation process
to address those criticisms? In particular, I would be interested to hear
how Iran's faster-than-expected progress in its missile program comports
with the assumptions underlying both the 1995 National Intelligence Estimate
and the planned update?
And of particular concern to this committee is the status of North Korea's
missile and nuclear programs. How does the Community view the unfolding
political, military and economic developments in North Korea?
On another front, I would like to commend the Intelligence Community for
its support for the arrest of a suspected war criminal in Bosnia last week.
Although that matter did not receive the attention it deserved, I know
that your efforts were critical to the success of that operation.
But the tough question remains: what are the prospects for a meaningful
peace in Bosnia? When, if ever, will conditions there permit the withdrawal
of U.S. forces? What is the potential for a terrorist attack on U.S. troops
deployed in Bosnia and the region?
On the terrorism front, I am pleased to note that the past year has yielded
some significant successes, including the rendition and conviction of Mir
Aimal Kasi, who killed two CIA employees outside CIA headquarters in 1993,
and the recent sentencing of Ramzi Yousef for his role in the World Trade
Center bombings and his plot to blow up U.S. airliners.
However, numerous other terrorist threats remain--in Bosnia, in the Middle
East, and around the world.
These include both traditional state-sponsored terrorist groups, and other
more independent actors such as Usama Bin-Laden. Furthermore, the murderers
of 19 U.S. servicemen in the Khobar Towers bombing have yet to be brought
to justice. I hope Director Tenet and Deputy Director Bryant will provide
us a status report on that investigation, including the cooperation of
the Saudi government, and any indications of whether the government of
Iran should be held responsible.
Turning now to one of our most significant foreign policy and intelligence
challenges of the 21st century: China.
I look forward to hearing the Community's assessment of the status of China's
proliferation of nuclear, missile, chemical, biological and advanced conventional
weapons technologies to Iran, Pakistan, and other countries.
We will also want to hear how China's extensive military modernization
is complicating our ability to carry out military missions in support of
key U.S. interests in the region, as well as the extent and purpose of
China's nuclear force modernization.
Nearly a decade after the end of the Cold War, the United States continues
to face a serious counterintelligence threat. We look forward to hearing
from Deputy Director Bryant on the extent and the sources of this threat.
In particular, we hope the FBI will be able to share with the American
public its findings to date with respect to allegations that the Chinese
government has attempted to illegally influence the American political
We are also interested in the recent revelation that a former U.S. government
physicist passed classified information to the Chinese government, and
in other Chinese government intelligence activities aimed at the United
While China poses new challenges for the U. S., Russia still remains the
only nation with the power to destroy the United States with intercontinental
ballistic missiles. The security of Russia's nuclear arsenal, and the integrity
of Russian nuclear command and control systems, are of vital importance.
So too are Russian sales of missile and other technologies of mass destruction
to Iran and elsewhere. We look forward to hearing your assessments of the
nature and extent of these programs.
In addition to the traditional threats of a massive nuclear attack, terrorism,
espoinage, and the proliferation of advanced weaponry, we face new threats
to our critical information infrastructure from hostile states, terrorist
groups, and organized crime.
Recall the enormous disruption to the northeastern United States and Canada
caused by recent power outages. These disruptions were caused by an ice
Imagine if a computer operator in Tehran or Pyongyang could create the
same havoc and confusion — or worse — with a few keystrokes.
We look forward to hearing the Intelligence Community's current assessment
of these threats.
U.S. businesses today also face an unprecedented level of industrial and
A recent report cited in the Los Angeles Times estimated that U.S. businesses
lost $300 BILLION worth of information in 1997 alone.
We look forward to hearing from Deputy Director Bryant on the extent of
this threat -- the countries involved, their methods, and what U.S. technologies
are most at risk.
I have spent enough time outlining my concerns and raising questions regarding
threats to the United States — it is time to hear from the real experts
— our witnesses.
Director Tenet will begin by giving his statement. After Director Tenet's
opening statement, he will be joined at the witness table by: FBI Deputy
Director Bob Bryant, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and
Research (INR) Phyllis Oakley, and Lt. General Patrick Hughes, Director
of the Defense Intelligence Agency. These witnesses will provide their
perspectives on the current and projected threats to U.S. national security.
At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon in the Committee's SH-219 hearing room, the
Committee will meet in closed session to discuss classified matters related
to threats posed to the national security of the United States.
Director Tenet, Deputy Director Bryant, Assistant Secretary Oakley, and
General Hughes -- thank you for appearing before us today.
Today's hearings mark the first time that the FBI has been asked to
participate in our annual threat hearings, and represent Mrs. Oakley's
first appearance before our Committee in her new capacity. We look forward
to hearing your perspectives on these important issues.