Pentagon Spokesman's Regular Briefing, Oct. 26

DoD News Briefing

Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 2:45 EDT

Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA

Q: And on to some other questions. Yesterday on the Hill, some
interesting things came out at the House Armed Services Committee
hearing. Walt Slocombe said that there are - in talking about the NSA
[National Security Agency] report that the Washington Times had
reported on, he talked about a separate intelligence report that came
out about 12 yours before the bombing. He said at the time that it
didn't mention Yemen specifically. But since then, an intelligence
official has confirmed to me that in fact it did include Yemen and
several other countries.

What more can you tell us about that? How specific was it? And how was
that disseminated?

And then I have another question.

Bacon: Okay. First, on those two reports, I'm probably going to give
you less detail than you would like for the simple reason that
obviously, this - every time is a sensitive time to talk about
intelligence. This is a particularly sensitive time to talk about
intelligence. We not only have the FBI working to trace down every
single lead as to who performed the dastardly bombing of the Cole, but
we also have troops throughout the Middle East on heightened alert,
certainly in parts of the Middle East. And so we want to be as careful
as possible not to say anything that would compromise our ability to
collect intelligence from the widest number of sources.

There were two reports. One appeared the day before the bombing of the
Cole, the other appeared about 12 hours after the bombing of the Cole.
These reports were similar to dozens of other reports that are
received in the course of an average week or an average month, in that
they contained some information that lacked specificity. There was
nothing specific in these reports that would lead anybody to assume
that, one, an attack was imminent, and two, the target of the attack.
Both reports did mention the word "Yemen", but they mentioned many
other places as well. At least the first one mentioned several other
places. The reason a country - there are many reasons why a country
name may appear in a report that are separate from where a - a
prediction as to where a terrorist act may take place.

The second question had to do with dissemination. Reports - these
reports were both disseminated to NavCent, which is the Central
Command's naval forces in Bahrain. Typically the NavCent people, if
they receive a report that is highly specific or contains any element
of urgency to it, immediately will pass that report on to every
operating unit that might have an interest in knowing that
information. I do not know whether these reports were passed on to the
Cole. That's one of the issues that will be determined.

But the reports did not provide enough specificity to allow any
skipper or military commander to make a decision to change behavior
based on these reports. I think I can say that without fear of

In general, skippers in the Gulf will receive a daily intelligence
report, and they will receive a daily terrorist warning report. That
is a distillation of what the CentCom intelligence officials believe
is the most relevant information to them. In addition - and this is a
daily digest that they would receive, a daily report. In addition,
there can be other reports, depending on the urgency and specificity
of those reports. If anything comes up in the course of the day that
people in Washington determine or people in the unit - in the area
determine is useful to a particular commander, whether he's a naval
commander or a land-component commander, that is passed on as quickly
as possible.

Q: Did you say they receive two different reports, one on
intelligence, one on the terrorist threat?

Bacon: The discussion yesterday was on - about two reports, one of
which was a - the second of which was a distillation of the first.
And that's frequently the case that what you'll see is that
intelligence information is presented in many different forms as it
goes through a process of analysis, going from raw intelligence to
highly refined intelligence, where it's combined with more
intelligence. What determines what commanders get is the urgency of
the intelligence.

Q: But in terms of the daily reports, you said there were - that
commanders in the Gulf receive a daily intelligence report and a daily
terrorism threat report.

Bacon: That is my understanding, yes.

Q: Ken, at that hearing yesterday, they also learned that a Defense --
an analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency resigned apparently
because he felt his input or analysis wasn't being used properly. Is
there - I know you issued a statement on this yesterday, but can you
just explain whether there was any information developed by this
analyst that would have helped prevent or anticipate this attack on
the Cole?

Bacon: Well, first of all, let me say that he was a good analyst.

His analysis was published frequently by the Defense Intelligence
Agency. The agency had enough confidence in him to send him earlier
this year to a force protection conference in the Middle East to
report on the agency's views and the way it contributes to force
protection determinations and calculations. So, he was a good analyst.

He also, in a discussion with Admiral Wilson yesterday - Admiral
Wilson is the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency - said that
he had no intelligence which would have led him or anybody else to
predict the attack against the Cole. He had nothing of that precision
that would have allowed him or anybody else to make a prediction of
what happened to the Cole.

Admiral Wilson, as I think all of you know because he's appeared here
many times behind this podium with slides and videos and commentary,
is a straight-talker. And he is also completely committed to getting
intelligence - useful intelligence - out to the troops as quickly as
possible. That's his job and he does it extraordinarily well. He has
absolutely no interest in preventing useful intelligence from getting
to the right people in time. And he is - will meet with this analyst
in the next few days to review with him exactly what the analyst's
concerns were, and take any appropriate action that he determines is
worthwhile after this discussion.

I don't want to prejudice this discussion; the discussion will be
private, and I don't anticipate I'll report to you on it. But Admiral
Wilson wants to find out exactly what was on the analyst's mind and
that involves going considerably beyond the letter that he sent to
Admiral Wilson a week or so ago.

Q: Senator Roberts yesterday didn't say that the analyst's information
specified the Cole. What he said what that the analyst felt that if
his analysis had been included in the DIA report, that perhaps the
threat condition would have been higher, and therefore the precautions
against such an attack would have greater.

Bacon: I can't comment on that, and I don't believe Admiral Wilson can
comment on it until he's gone over exactly what the analyst meant by
that. All I can tell you is there is no percentage in making an
inaccurate or overly-loose prediction about threats.

Everybody wants to use intelligence to the best possible effect to
protect troops. And this is not an issue of trying to withhold
information. Everybody is devoted to trying to get the information out
as quickly as possible, and in the most useful form. Now this requires
judgments - analysis requires judgments, whether you're analyzing
facts to put together a story, or you're analyzing facts to write a
book, or analyzing facts to put together intelligence. It requires
judgments, and it requires editing.

So, there are probably room for differences on what matters and what
doesn't matter, but these differences I think would be narrow because
everybody in these jobs is devoted to trying to get intelligence out
as quickly and as usefully as possible.


Q: Was this analyst associated with the report on the 11th that was
also under discussion yesterday? Was he in any way involved in the
production of that report?

Bacon: That report wasn't produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
So the answer is no.

Q: The answer's no. Is there any thought on Admiral Wilson's part of
trying to bring him back into DIA? He's resigned --

Bacon: Well, I don't think Admiral Wilson - first of all, he
resigned, and so he made the decision to go. Presumably if he made the
decision to come back, because he was a good analyst, Admiral Wilson
would consider that very thoughtfully. I don't want to speak for
Admiral Wilson, but I don't think - I know that there was nothing in
this analyst's performance that would preclude his coming back.

Q: And one follow-up on the - the stuff on Yemen. There was frequent
mention here and yesterday that - of the lack of specificity in these
intelligence reports that - the report that came out 12 hours ahead
of time. But Yemen - I mean, there really aren't that many U.S.
assets in Yemen. It is essentially, as I understand it, an embassy and
visiting ships. So any report that mentioned a threat in Yemen would
by nature be fairly specific as to the target, not --

Bacon: I think you're presupposing more than you should about this

Q: In terms of the context in which Yemen was mentioned?

Bacon: I can't get into the details of the report. But all I can tell
you is that there was a lack of specificity in this report.


Q: Getting back to those two reports, is it fair to say that the first
one was just included in a digest or compendium of a variety of
threats, and then the second one was sort of a highlighting, a
refinement of that same information?

Bacon: That's not fair to say.

Q: It's not fair to say.

Bacon: No.

Q: Ken, did either of these reports make any recommendations to
commanders in the field as to what they should do about this
intelligence? Or was it simply information?

Bacon: They did not make recommendations.

Q: And a follow-up. When the commanders get these daily digests, or
these briefings, do they have any ability to inquire behind that and
to get more information? If they are uncomfortable with what they've
been told or want to know more, are there channels where they can
quickly do that?

Bacon: Yes. And what's more, they - if the reports raise in their
minds any doubts about what they're doing, they have the ability to
call up through the chain of command and to say, "I've just read a
report which raises in my mind questions, and I'd like to discuss with
you the possibility of changing our plans."

And that commander - any commander has that right.

Q: But they have to do it that way, as opposed to sitting at some
computer terminal and getting the raw information at the push of a

Bacon: It's a difficult question to answer. There is a large amount of
intelligence information available to any commander at any time. The
intelligence agencies work very hard to digest, analyze this
information in a way that makes it useful, just as news reporters do.
You have a large number of facts you deal with every day, most of
which never get into your stories. So it is a question of making
judgments. Obviously, these judgments are always easier to make in
retrospect than they are ahead of an event.


Q: Ken, just to follow up. Can I ask you a little bit about the
security procedures that were in effect for the Cole, because we
learned also at yesterday's hearing, Senator Levin called our
attention to the standard operating procedure or the standard
terrorist prevention measures under various threat conditions, and
under the threat condition - actually, it was under Threat Condition
Alpha, which is included in Bravo, if you go to Bravo, it specifically
says that unauthorized craft should be kept away from a ship. It says
that the ship should identify and inspect work boats.

Do you know if - was any of that done? Was there any effort to keep
any unauthorized craft - was there any way --

Bacon: I - Jamie, I can't comment on that now. That's exactly why we
have an inquiry going on now. General Crouch and Admiral Gehman are on
their way to the region to look for themselves at the situation.
There's a Navy inquiry going on at the same time. We will get the
answers to all these questions at the appropriate time. But rather
than comment in an ad hoc way, I think we should wait until these
inquiries are complete.