March 5, 2004
HARMAN TO DELIVER KEYNOTE ADDRESS TO
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE SECURITY SEMINAR
- Congresswoman Will Lay Out 5-Point Plan for Intelligence Community Reform -
Washington, D.C. - At a forum today on “Serious Intelligence Reform” sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute(1:00p.m. ET), Congresswoman Jane Harman (CA-36), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, will discuss the importance of bipartisan approaches and solutions to national security problems and lay out a five-point plan for immediate Intelligence Community reform.
Harman is “convinced that the strongest policies to enhance national security emerge when tough issues are debated and dealt with in a bipartisan way.” However, if the Bush Administration is unwilling to fix the problems plaguing American intelligence in an election year and “has kicked the can down the road until March 2005.…That is like the auto-mechanic who says, ‘I’m sorry I can’t fix your brakes this week, but don’t worry because I made your horn louder.’ ”
While acknowledging the complexity of the task and applauding preliminary actions by the CIA, Harman called on President Bush to take the following five steps to make the country safer right now:
· Direct the intelligence agencies to scrub WMD intelligence estimates worldwide and release updates on all areas of serious concern.
· Direct the Intelligence Community to improve collection and vetting of weapons of mass destruction information.
· Require the Intelligence Community to improve the way it analyzes intelligence and conveys that information to policymakers.
· Direct a review of the activities of various Defense Department offices, including the Office of Special Plans, and their roles in providing a separate channel of intelligence information to DOD policymakers and the Office of the Vice President.
· Take immediate steps to strengthen and reinvigorate the role of international inspectors from organizations like the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Iraq Action Team.
In addition to these action items, the Congresswoman also called for debate in Congress this year on longer-term changes to the leadership, organization and business methods of the Intelligence Community, including consideration of creation of a Director of National Intelligence separate from the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
EMBARGOED UNTIL 1:00PM ET March 5, 2004
Congresswoman Jane Harman
House Permanent Select Committee Intelligence
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
For as long as I have been in Congress, the intelligence committees have been islands of sanity. Two years ago, we undertook the most significant intelligence investigation of recent history - the bicameral, bipartisan Joint 9-11 Inquiry - with 37 members working together to explore the failure to "connect the dots" and make recommendations to improve America's intelligence capabilities.
That bipartisan effort is a model for how leaders of both parties can come together on issues of national security. Indeed, I think of myself as a passionate bipartisan - someone convinced that the strongest policies to enhance national security emerge when tough issues are debated and dealt with in a bipartisan way. As Scoop Jackson used to say, "In matters of national security, the best politics is no politics."
It is in that tradition that I have purposely come here today - to AEI - to offer a set of crucial reforms to fix what's wrong with our intelligence.
Let's start on some common ground, where we can all agree.
First, the problems with America's intelligence capabilities are not attributable to any one Administration.
In the first Bush Administration, we believed - incorrectly - that the fall of the Soviet bear would result in a less dangerous world. In anticipation of a "peace dividend," we cut defense and intelligence budgets.
In the Clinton Administration, we increased those budgets, but we failed to foresee major events, like the India nuclear test in 1998. We missed North Korea's long-range missile launch over Japan and mistook a cavernous excavation in Kumchangri, North Korea for a plutonium reprocessing center. We failed to anticipate the African embassy bombings and the attack on the USS Cole. And under the current Administration, we failed to anticipate the attacks of 9-11, and we have misread in critical ways the nuclear programs of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. These are serious failures, and they have occurred when Democrats and Republicans were on watch.
Second, there is much that this Administration has done well - very well. We made the right decision in going aggressively into Afghanistan. We have made significant strides in recognizing the global threat posed by al Qaeda and in rounding up its leadership. We have hardened the homeland by creating the Homeland Security Department, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, and the Terrorist Screening Center - though adequate funding and a national threat and vulnerability assessment are still missing.
And we have strengthened some of our nonproliferation efforts. Libya - where I just visited - could be a real success story and intelligence played a key role in persuading Libya to dismantle its WMD programs. And as you have undoubtedly read, the Intelligence Community has helped unravel the A.Q. Khan proliferation network.
Third, we have a brave and dedicated cadre of people serving our country as intelligence officers - many of whom are overseas at this very hour, risking their lives for our freedom. And so, we know we have the tools to succeed … but only if we are honest about acknowledging past mistakes and moving quickly to fix them.
Fourth, after studying this issue as a member of the Intelligence Committee, after listening to hours of testimony, after sitting down with dozens of intelligence officials, it is clear to me that our senior leaders are in a deep state of denial.
Recent actions inside the CIA are encouraging, but there are no discernible signs from the Vice President or President acknowledging the obvious flaws in our intelligence systems. The White House is unwilling to fix the problems in an election year, and so it has kicked the can down the road until March 2005, when a new WMD Commission - our sixth such effort to review the Iraq problems - makes its recommendations. That will not make us safer. That is like the auto-mechanic who says, "I'm sorry I can't fix your brakes this week, but don't worry because I made your horn louder."
On this issue, I actually think the President put it best when he said, in a different context, that the terrorists will not wait for us. They will not wait until after November, and neither should we. We must act now to make our country safer.
I know this isn't easy. I know we'll never be perfect. But we won't succeed with small fixes. In the parlance of reality TV: This is a case where a single Botox injection won't help. Our intelligence community needs an extreme makeover.
The Imperative of Intelligence Community Reform
So, what should we do? Today, I am outlining five steps that President Bush should take right now.
First, the President should direct the intelligence agencies to scrub WMD intelligence estimates worldwide and release updates on all areas of serious concern.
If estimates of Iraq's WMD programs were so far off the mark, we must be concerned that systemic deficiencies in intelligence analysis on other WMD programs and activities exist, such as those in Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan.
Libya's stunning new initiative offers the best opportunity to do a detailed comparison of our intelligence products on Libya's WMD programs with the ground truth found by new inspections.
Second, the President should direct the Intelligence Community to improve collection and vetting of WMD information.
After UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998, we relied largely on "standoff" collection capabilities. We were told that satellite imagery showed chemical weapons storage facilities. But we had no human source or close-in collection capability to tell us what was really going on inside the buildings.
The human sources we did have were apparently less reliable than the IC thought, skewing our analysis - "garbage in, garbage out." And there are indications that other potential sources may have been dismissed because they were telling us something we didn't want to believe: that Iraq had no active WMD programs.
Improvement is needed in all our collection capabilities. It starts with dramatic changes in the way we spot, assess, and recruit spies. We've known for a long time that the old way of doing business at diplomatic cocktail parties does not get us access to today's key targets. Yet we still do not have anything close to effective alternatives on the scale required.
The President should also direct the DCI to implement an improved process for vetting sources, a more aggressive plan for diversifying the intelligence workforce with people who understand the cultures and speak the languages of targeted countries and groups, and a more vigorous research and development plan to develop better technology for detecting WMD programs.
Third, the President should require the Intelligence Community to improve the way it analyzes intelligence and conveys that information to policymakers.
The President should start by directing the DCI to issue guidance to every analyst that reinforces the admonitions in a speech delivered in 1992 by then-DCI Bob Gates. Gates wrote that analysts should highlight what they don't know and not try to exaggerate their certainty under the guise of "making the tough calls." They should constantly challenge fundamental assumptions and work to avoid "group-think."
Some analysts who wrote the October 2002 NIE told me they believed a decision to go to war had already been made, and that their mindset was to advise military commanders on whether their troops would face chemical and biological weapons when they came over the berm from Kuwait.
Our analysts felt they had to come down on one side or the other - did Saddam have chemical and biological weapons or didn't he? Would he use them on our troops? Yes or no? The analysts spoke of "making the tough calls" and "making the case." This led to categorical statements in the NIE like "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons," leaving the impression of hard facts rather than qualified judgments. Senior policymakers compounded the problem by using phrases like "without a doubt" and "there can be no question" in public statements.
The NIE should not paper over differences or force a consensus where one doesn't exist. It should accurately inform policy makers about the views - including the dissenting views - of our best intelligence experts.
We count on the intelligence community to be truth-tellers, no matter how inconvenient that truth may be for policymakers. If the distinction between those who provide intelligence and those who promote policies becomes blurred, we are all in trouble.
Another important lesson for improving WMD analysis comes from the report of Admiral David Jeremiah after the failure to predict the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998. Jeremiah reported that technical experts - who look for "technical signatures" of WMD programs - have typically dominated WMD intelligence. The Intelligence Community must more effectively integrate analysis of what I call "human signatures" - the attitudes and motivations of foreign leaders as well as social, cultural, and regional trends - into analyses of WMD programs.
Fourth, the President should direct a review of the activities of various DOD offices, particularly an early analytic unit that reported to Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, as well as the Office of Special Plans. Disclaimers notwithstanding, many in Congress and intelligence operatives in the field now believe these entities fed unreliable and unvetted intelligence to DOD policymakers and the Office of the Vice President.
Policymakers have every right to seek information from a variety of sources. But there is an inherent danger in setting up a stovepipe that forwards raw intelligence to policymakers without sufficient peer review. When policymakers reach for information to support their policies and stifle contrary information - and they get it wrong - we should all learn lessons.
Fifth and finally, the President should take immediate steps to strengthen and reinvigorate international inspections. Earlier this week, UNMOVIC - the UN inspection team on Iraq's WMD - released its latest quarterly report on its activities. It's now increasingly clear that the multilateral inspection and verification organizations - the IAEA Iraq Action Team, UNSCOM and UNMOVIC - hampered Saddam's WMD pursuits. And, they provided the clearest insights into the nature of those programs. David Kay likened the Intelligence Community's reliance on inspectors to being addicted to crack cocaine - the point being the IC had grown dependent on the quality "ground truth" information the inspectors provided.
In reading the UNMOVIC report, I was shocked to learn that even now, they have no access to the Iraq Study Group's work or what the ISG is finding. Nor has the ISG requested any information from UNMOVIC, which has a decade's worth of databases - 30 million pages - on Iraq's WMD programs.
Meanwhile, as has been reported in the press, we continue to work with Ahmed Chalabi's network, whose information on WMD before the war appears to have been wrong. Continuing to work with Chalabi while refusing to work with UNMOVIC flies in the face of good judgment. This stubbornness about international inspectors - retaining questionable sources while refusing to work with proven, better sources - is a sad example of ideology overriding facts and contributing to poor policy decisions.
The President should direct that the results of the ISG be made available to UNMOVIC and the IAEA Iraq Action Team without delay, while protecting intelligence sources and methods.
Over the coming months, we need to draw upon our experiences with UN inspections and with sanctions and diplomacy to consider how we can strengthen intelligence, verification and disarmament in Libya, Iran, in Pakistan's nuclear complex, in Iraq after the political transition, and depending on how things go, in North Korea.
In addition to these five areas for immediate action, we must consider longer-term changes to the leadership, organization, and business methods of the IC. There are good ideas from both sides of the aisle that should be discussed and debated this year.
Leadership is key. As mentioned, serious work toward fixing the problems won't succeed until the President and senior Administration officials acknowledge that there were problems with the intelligence.
Overall leadership of the entire intelligence community is also needed. Both the Joint 9-11 Inquiry and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board recommended the establishment of a Director of National Intelligence, separate from the head of the CIA.
DCIs are supposed to direct the efforts of all 15 bodies in the intelligence community. Yet, they spend all of their time running CIA and are not really viewed as honest brokers in interagency disputes. We need a strong director to get the intelligence entities to truly operate as a community.
Creating a DNI does not have to mean creating a federal Department of Intelligence. Several distinguished groups, such as the Markle Foundation Task Force, have identified important steps that could be taken toward a "virtual reorganization," using today's business models and information technology tools.
We need to make it easier for analysts in different agencies to find each other, compare notes and collaborate in real time. We need to facilitate the capability to "surge" and create "task forces" by changing personnel policies and providing virtual workspaces. We should ensure intelligence gathering tools residing in different agencies will work seamlessly across agency boundaries while moving from a "need to know" culture to a "need to share" culture. We should create career incentives for community assignments. Some promising efforts are the DCI's Counterterrorist Center and the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. They must become the new organization - not just bandages on the old one.
For another model, we should look at how the Defense Department has been transformed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, and the "jointness" that it instilled across fiefdoms. If blue, green and khaki can be made "purple," the many elements of the intelligence community should be able to work more cohesively.
Finally, we need a new look at the budget process. The director of the community, whether a DCI or a new DNI, needs stronger authority and more detailed, timely information to control spending by the agencies and to ensure it meets the President's priorities. As part of the effort, we should have a budget that does a better job presenting resources along mission-based lines. The way the budget is presented today along agency and system stovepipes makes it difficult to track the dedication of resources to high priorities like combating terrorism and proliferation.
Conclusion: The Future Role of Intelligence
In the war on terror - where we see no armies on the march, but instead loosely connected horizontal structures planning and plotting in networked space - intelligence is our first, and often our only, line of defense.
It is too easy to throw our hands up and say that nothing will get done because it is an election year. With all respect, I disagree. As President Kennedy said more than 40 years ago: "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."
Our focus this year must be on making the needed investments and reforms now.
Someone once said that our past failures are like the rays of the setting sun behind us. If we stare into them, they will blind us. But if we turn around and face the future, those past failures will light our path forward.
I hope that together we can move forward in this most important task.
Thank you very much.