Jeffrey H. Smith
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
Friday, February 14, 2003
Thank you, Madam Chair, for inviting me to appear this morning to discuss the President’s new proposal to create a Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). This is a very important initiative and I am pleased that the Committee is looking carefully at it.
Because this is such an important issue and because there have been so many recent changes with respect to the collection and analysis of intelligence relating to domestic threats, I thought it might be useful to begin the discussion this morning by listing a few principles that should be kept in mind as we think about the President’s proposal and other proposals that have been made. Different people will have different principles, of course. But here’s my list:
First, there must be unity of effort and unity of command.
Second, there must be clear channels among collectors, analysts, operators, and consumers. It must be a two-way channel with information flowing up and down.
Third, there must also be a smooth flow of information among other sources of information, both within and without the Government. The analysts must have access to all relevant information, but there must also be counterintelligence and security checks in place. For example, we must be able to determine if somebody is trying to acquire information for which they have no legitimate need.
Fourth, we should avoid overlap between intelligence agencies. The boundaries should be clear but not impervious or rigid. Some competition between intelligence analytical organizations is healthy. For example, when national intelligence estimates, or NIE’s, are prepared the views of different intelligence agencies are solicited. If they dissent from the overall consensus, those views are separately reported so policymakers will know that there is a dissenting view on a given point.
Fifth, intelligence analysts must be independent. Indeed, that is why CIA was created in the first place. It is imperative that any intelligence analytical organization – even if it is part of a Department – must be independent and able to speak unvarnished truth to its customers.
Sixth, the intelligence analysts, and all intelligence activities, must be accountable to the political leadership of this country and to the Congress.
Seventh, any intelligence agency, whether it is a collection or analysis agency, must take all measures to protect the civil liberties of American citizens. Those who guard our liberties must respect our laws in letter and in spirit.
Eighth, any organizational structure can be made to work, even if it looks dysfunctional on paper. The keys to success, in my judgment, are good people, strong leadership, and stability. In that regard, the recent organizational turmoil reminds me of Norm Augustine’s wisdom that too frequently we check on the health of a plant by pulling it out of the ground to look at the roots.
Finally, an analytical organization is only as good as the information it has available to analyze. There was much criticism after 9/11 that we had not “connected the dots.” The major problem is that we just don’t have enough “dots.” Therefore, a great deal of attention must be paid not only to the structure of our analytical organizations but also great effort must be made to collect more intelligence, especially human intelligence.
Now let me turn to the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
I believe the President’s proposal is a good idea and I support both the concept and the proposed implementation of it. You may recall, Madam Chair, that when I last appeared before this Committee, I testified in favor of an enhanced counterterrorist center under the direction of the DCI to perform this function. I am therefore pleased that the President has proposed the creation of TTIC.
However, as I will discuss later, I believe this is only a first step toward what we ultimately need – a viable domestic intelligence service.
The Department of Homeland Security clearly needs an intelligence function. The legislation that created DHS assigned to the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection broad responsibilities to “access, receive, and analyze law enforcement information, intelligence information, and other informations from agencies of the Federal Government, State and local government agencies (including law enforcement agencies), and private sector entities.” DHS was also to “integrate such information in order to … identify and assess the nature and scope of terrorist threats to the homeland, detect and identify threats of terrorism against the United States, and understand such threats in light of actual and potential vulnerabilities.”
As such, many people believed that the primary responsibility within the Government to conduct intelligence analysis for homeland security would be lodged within this Directorate of DHS. At the same time, the FBI was trying hard to improve its own analytical ability. The DCI had, for example, assigned 25 analysts to the FBI to assist them in this process.
It now appears that the President has determined that the principle responsibility should rest neither in the Homeland Security nor the FBI. He is determined, correctly in my view, that it should be housed in a fusion center under the direction of the DCI. I believe that is a good idea because it satisfies the elements that I outlined above.
As I understand it, the TTIC will be a “fusion center” that will ultimately combine the data banks of several agencies, including the FBI and CIA. The recent changes in the Patriot Act now permit wide exchange of information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This will allow officers from both FBI and CIA to work under the same roof with common databases. This should produce dramatically improved intelligence analysis. The President’s desire seems to be to build upon what’s already working. For example, I understand that the officers from the various agencies will be encouraged to maintain strong ties back to their parent agencies – including the ability to review operational traffic. This will assure maximum connectivity to the other agencies – something that has been lacking in the past.
At the same time, there will be much confusion as this Center is created. The President’s direction calls for elements of DHS, FBI, and CIA-CTC to be moved into this center. DoD will also support it. I know that each of these organizations have been working hard to improve their own capacity, but there has been considerable personal turmoil in some of the agencies. That is likely to be confounded by the creation of this new Center. But, under George Tenet’s strong leadership, I believe that this dislocation will only be temporary and they will quickly work out the kinks. Let us hope so.
There also appears to be confusion in the President’s budget that he has just submitted. It provides a considerable amount of money to DHS, some $829 million for DHS’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Directorate. Clearly, Congress should look at that money and see if it is properly allocated to DHS or whether some of it should be shifted to the new TTIC.
The intelligence element of the Department of Homeland Security, in my view, should report directly to the Secretary and should be patterned after the intelligence elements of the Departments of State and Energy. In those departments, there is a small intelligence organization that provides independent intelligence analysis directly to the Secretary and other senior officials that is immediately relevant to their needs. They also conduct liaison with the rest of the intelligence community with respect to tasking decisions and enable the smooth flow of information from their departments to the intelligence community and vice-versa.
DHS needs the same function – enhanced to do the unique duties assigned to it. In my view, the intelligence element of the Department of Homeland Security must have the following key functions:
1. Independent analysis to the Secretary and other senior officials relative to homeland security.
2. The interface with the intelligence community for purposes of collection, tasking, operational support, etc.
3. Providing guidance to the component parts of DHS, e.g., INS, Coast Guard, Customs, etc., with respect to the key intelligence concerns so that those agencies will know what to be looking for and where to report it.
4. A similar arrangement must be worked out with State and local governments. DHS must tell the State and local governments what to look for, what are the threats? Who are the individuals to be watching for? What kinds of activity raises concern? There must also be a smooth and efficient system for providing intelligence to local officials and for reporting those scraps of information up rapidly through the chain of command to DHS, and over to the TTIC so it can be analyzed and linked with other information. I believe this will be one of the most important, and perhaps most difficult tasks facing both the Department of Homeland Security and the TTIC.
Let me turn to some of the specific questions raised in the Committee’s letter inviting me to testify. The following points address only those issues that I do not believe I have already discussed.
1. I believe that the TTIC, under the DCI, should have the primary responsibility in the United States Government for performing intelligence analysis regarding the threat of international terrorism. I believe the Center should have access to all sources of intelligence, both foreign and domestic, and that, because it is under the DCI, it will have the advantage of the systems that the DCI and the intelligence community have worked out over the years. It will also have the independence that is a necessary element. I recognize that a strong case can also be made that it should be within DHS, but on balance I believe it should be under the DCI.
2. As to what agencies should be part of the TTIC, I believe the President has it right. It should include the analytical components of the FBI, some elements of the Department of Homeland Security, and the DCI’s Counterrorist Center. Other agencies including NSA, NIMA, NRO, DIA and so on should have liaison elements as part of TTIC but I would leave them otherwise largely intact.
3. I do not believe that there are any unique legal or privacy concerns raised merely because the DCI will now be responsible for the analysis of domestic intelligence.
However, it is important to point out that under current law (50 USC 403-4(d)), the DCI, in “his capacity as head of the CIA shall…have no police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers or internal security functions.” The last clause of the provision “shall have no internal security functions” is worth a moment’s discussion. I have always understood it to mean that the CIA may not play any role in domestic law enforcement – other than the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence that may relate to law enforcement. CIA has done that since its establishment. For example, CIA collects information relating to espionage directed against the U.S. It collects information relating to narcotics trafficking. However, as this Center is established, it would be well to carefully understand the limits of what the DCI will do to be certain that we are comfortable with his role. The TTCI should not, for example, be used to analyze information on domestic political groups such as right wing militia or hate groups. I, for one, am comfortable with the President’s proposal, but I also believe the congressional oversight committees must be vigilant in monitoring the role of the CIA and the DCI as the TTCI is established.
There are existing safeguards, some in the law and some in Attorney General guidelines, that must be applied to the collection and dissemination of information involving U.S. persons and the use of intrusive techniques in the United States. Clearly those should continue to be applied to the TTIC. In that regard, I note recent press stories suggesting that the Department of Justice is seeking additional authority. That might be necessary but Congress should look very carefully at requests for additional authority particularly with respect to the rights of U.S. citizens. I have long believed that we must maintain current Constitutional protections for the rights of American citizens. However, I do believe we can be more aggressive with respect to aliens in the United States whether here legally or illegally.
4. The FBI should not have a supervisory role in the analysis of domestic intelligence. They do, however, have a need to conduct analysis that will support their collection efforts. They will also have an important voice in the TTIC. However, I believe the ultimate responsibility should rest with the DCI.
5. The TTIC should have a major role in the development of requirements for the collection of intelligence that are then passed, through the DCI’s process, to the collection agencies, e.g., CIA, FBI, NRO, NSA, etc. At the moment, the collection of domestic intelligence is scattered among a vast array of agencies, many of whom do not even realize they are collecting “intelligence.” As I noted earlier, one of the key challenges is to figure out how to collect the vast array of information from domestic and foreign sources and spot those key pieces of information that are critical to identifying the threat in advance. I believe the DCI, working closely with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the FBI, can devise efficient priorities for the collection of intelligence.
6. As I also noted above, I believe the single most important element of this new TTIC will be the quality of personnel who are assigned there. All agencies must send to the TTIC their best performers. In addition, a vigorous recruiting effort should be made to find the best and brightest from among recent university graduates, the military, private industry, and academia. The best minds must be brought together to help fight terrorism.
Finally, Madam Chair, although I support the President’s effort I believe it is only a first step. I believe the time has come to create a true domestic security service. In my mind, such a service would have the following responsibilities:
1. The first responsibility is to ask the question: What are the threats, whether generated from within the United States or outside, to the national security of the United States that will manifest themselves within the territorial confines of the United States? Thus the service would be responsible for counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and counterespionage. I would not include narcotics or ordinary domestic crime such as hate and racist groups.
2. The service would be responsible for the clandestine collection of intelligence within the United States, and to some limited extent overseas when it relates to the domestic security of the United States.
3. The service would also be responsible for preparing analysis associated with domestic threats – in other words the TTIC would ultimately become the analytical arm of this new agency.
4. Such an agency would, therefore, combine the national security division of the FBI, large portions of the domestic activities of the CIA that relate to counterterrorism and counterintelligence and certain elements of other departments and agencies.
5. They would also be responsible for working with State and local governments to provide intelligence and threat analysis to them and be the conduit through which information is provided to the Federal Government that is relevant to counterintelligence and counterterrorism. They would also collect information from the local agencies and feed it into the TTIC.
6. The service would not have arrest authority and, in part because of that, would present less of a threat to our civil liberties than a law enforcement agency that is also charged with collection and analysis of intelligence on domestic activities.
7. Rigorous oversight would have to be in place, including perhaps some additional legislation with respect to electronic surveillance and infiltration of domestic groups.
I note that yesterday Senator Edwards introduced a bill to create such an agency and I am very pleased that he has done so. It is my hope that Congress will quickly take up Senator Edwards’s bill and enact it.
Again, Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, thank you very much for the privilege of appearing before you, and I look forward to answering your questions.
Thank you very much.