Statement of Senator Richard C. Shelby, Vice ChairmanFor many years, this Committee has been emphatic regarding the critical importance of our intelligence apparatus. It is our first line of defense in the war against terrorism and it could be our first line of offense.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
September 24, 2001
Granted, there are somec things that we can do in the short term to improve our ability to address this threat and we will do them. We have already provided additional funds and we may grant the executive branch new legal authorities through legislation that we are discussing today.
There is a more fundamental problem, however, that cannot be fixed by quickly drafted legislation or emergency funding.
Our current national security structure is a legacy of the Cold War. The Department of Defense and Intelligence Community were organized to counter the Soviet threat and they remain in essentially the same form today.
The failure of our national security institutions to transform and adapt is a direct result of nearly a decade of inaction and neglect in light of a dramatically changing world situation.
Changing circumstances demand a change in strategy. If we fail to develop a comprehensive national strategy to achieve clear objectives there is no chance of us organizing our government to defeat successfully the terrorist threat.
Our nation derives its guiding principles from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Our federal government, in accordance with our guiding principles, develops its objectives and strategic plans to achieve them in light of the current world situation.
After World War II, the United States faced an entirely new world situation. We went from a relatively isolated and disengaged player on the world stage to the central figure in a global clashi between freedom and communist tyranny.
Just as the growing Soviet menace and their developing nuclear capability gave rise to President Truman's reexamination of our national objectives and national security strategy, so must the attacks on New York and Washington give rise to same type of examination.
The result of Truman's reexamination was a document -- NSC-68 -- that formed the basis for our national security strategy and our plans to achieve it for nearly the next half century.
The Soviet Union subsequently collapsed not only because it was fundamentally corrupt, but because the United States had a clear purpose and vision of its place in the world and plan to achieve it.
We now need that same type of vision and a plan.
There have been many commissions, studies and reports on every aspect of our national security policies and structure. But, they all have operated in the same vacuum created by the lack of any clear statement of our nationalpu rpose in the post Cold War world.
The President has already begun the reexamination and taken some very important steps.
Now, I believe, he needs to memorialize his vision and assign responsibility and organize the federal government to achieve our national objectives.
Why is this important for the Intelligence Community?
We all know very well the debilitating effects that turf battles and parochialism can have on our ability to organize and accomplish anything at all.
These same maladies have often paralyzed the Intelligence Community.
The Intelligence Conununity is still organized in tightly controlled "stove-piped" organizations that often refuse or are unable to share information with each other for any number of reasons.
The new threats we face require an intelligence organization that is organized and managed in a manner that recognizes its fundamental purpose. That purpose is to collect, analyze and disseminate information. Our intelligence apparatus is first and foremost an information enterprise.
Any effective information enterprise by definition must be networked, interactive, agile, flexible and focused.
The agencies and elements of the Intelligence Community are everything but agile. They are often paralyzed by their bureaucratic structure.
Perhaps this rigid structure was appropriate for monitoring the Soviet threat. It is antithetical to meeting today's threats. It is particularly ill suited for using modern information technology.
The classic bureaucracy is designed to limit interaction between its people. We will never be able to defeat the terrorist threat without the ability to share rapidly all sources of information on terrorist activities and then take decisive action.
As we saw in the bombing of the USS Cole, we may not get specific tactical warning. But, we may be able to formulate a clearer picture of the threat if our analysts have access to every available piece of information and are allowed to synthesize and disseminate it.
This type of interactive and dynamic conununity is possible if we have strong leadership guided by a clear vision. But, it will take time, and we don't have time.
I believe, that we need to embrace an unconventional approach.
We need new thinking and new people looking at this problem. We need our country's most talented and capable people leading the effort.
The old ways have failed us time and again in this new threat environment. The examples continue to grow:
The attack on Khobar Towers;We have shed enough blood and squandered enough treasure. We need a rapid response. And, I'm afraid that the calcified bureaucracies of our national security institutions are not capable of rapid change.
The first attack on the World Trade Center;
The attack on the USS Cole;
The attacks on our embassies in Africa; and
The attacks of September 11th.
We need to start over with a national commitment of talent and resources much like President Kennedy's effort to take us to the moon, we need an action oriented approach where success is measured in the amount of terrorist cells destroyed or disabled not on how many reports are issued.
I don't know if this new approach will spawn a new organization, but we must begin to think outside the box.
The answers to this problem are out there and we need to bring them in, nurture and support them and let them flourish undeterred by the stranglehold of government bureaucracies.
Our Intelligence Community, as presently constituted, is virtually incapable of such an effort.
As we learned on September 11th, the threats are immediate as must be our response.
We can talk about legislative fixes and appropriating more money to feed our failed institutions. I've done both. What we cannot do, however, is continue to ignore our limitations and vulnerabilities.
If we fail to marshal our nation's collective talents and resources behind this effort, we are just waiting for the next attack.