Written Statement for the Record of the
Director of Central Intelligence
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
April 14, 2004
I welcome the opportunity to appear before the Commission and
the American people to address the performance of the Intelligence
Community in the period leading up to
September 11, 2001. First, some context.
By the mid-1990s the Intelligence Community was operating with
significant erosion in resources and people and was unable to
keep pace with technological change. When I became DCI, I found
a Community and a CIA whose dollars were declining and whose
expertise was ebbing.
- We lost close to 25 percent of our people and billions of
dollars in capital investment.
- The pace
of technological change and a $3 trillion telecommunications
the National Security Agencys ability
to keep up with the increasing volume and velocity of modern
- The infrastructure
to recruit, train, and sustain officers for our clandestine
servicesthe nations human intelligence
capabilitywas in disarray.
- We were not hiring new analysts, emphasizing the importance
of expertise, or giving analysts the tools they needed.
I also found that the threats to the nation had not declined
or even stabilized, but had grown more complex and dangerous.
The rebuilding of the Intelligence Community across the board
became my highest priority.
- We had to invest in the transformation and rebuilding of
NSA to attack the modern communications technology that the
terrorists and other high priority targets were using.
- We had to invest in a future imagery architecture to replace
- We had to overhaul our recruitment, training, and deployment
strategy to rebuild our human intelligence critical to penetrating
- We had to invest in our people by recruiting, training, and
equipping the best analytical talent we could find.
- And while we were rebuilding across the board, we ensured
that investments in counterterrorism continued to grow while
other priorities either stayed flat or were reduced.
Finally, we knew that our information systems were becoming
obsolescent during the greatest information technology change
in our lifetimes. We were missing opportunities to gather and
fuse data. We recognized the technical problem well before 9/11
and took steps to solve it.
- I challenged
the Intelligence Community to do better in my 1999 Strategic Intent for the Intelligence Community. A
cornerstone of this strategy was information sharing.
- The Intelligence Community Chief Information Officer began
immediately to build a Community information infrastructure
integrated across agencies and with systems that are interoperable.
While we were doing all this, terrorism was not the only national
security issue we had to worry about. At no point during this
period did we have the luxury to put all our resources against
terrorism alone. As you know well, there was intense interest
in such threats as:
military buildup and the threat to Taiwan,
- The prospect for war between India and Pakistan, and
- Our support to combat operations in the Balkans.
our overall capabilities would be instrumental in how we positioned
against al-Qaida and its terrorist
organizations that represented a worldwide network in 68 countries
and operated out of a sanctuary in Afghanistan.
We also needed
an integrated operations and collection plan against al-Qaida. We had one. I have previously testified
about the 1999 strategy that we called simply, The Plan. The
Plan required that collection disciplines be integrated to support
worldwide collection and disruption and penetration operations
inside Afghanistan and other terrorist sanctuaries. CIAs
Counterterrorist Center, CTC, was our operational focus.
after the East Africa bombings, I directed the Assistant Director
Central Intelligence for Collection to ensure that
all elements of the Intelligence Community had the right assets
focused on the right problem with respect to al-Qaida and
Bin Ladin. He convened frequent meetings of the most senior collection
specialists in the Community to develop a comprehensive approach
to support the Counterterrorist Centers operations against
He told me
that despite progress, we needed a sustained, longer-term effort
Community was to penetrate deeply into the Afghanistan
sanctuary. We established an integrated Community collection
cell focused on tracking al-Qaida leaders and on identifying
al-Qaida facilities and activities in Afghanistan. The
cell, which met daily, included analysts and operations officers
from CIA, imagery officers from NGA, and SIGINT officers from
We used these
sessions to drive signals and imagery collection against al-Qaida and to build innovative capabilities to
target Bin Ladin and the al-Qaida organization.
- We moved
a satellite to increase our coverage of Afghanistan. CIA
and NSA designed
and deployed a clandestine collection
system inside Afghanistan. NGA intensified its efforts across
Afghanistan and more imagery analysts were moved to cover al-Qaida.
NGA gave the highest priority to al-Qaida targets in
the intense daily competition for overhead imagery resources.
- We established
an integrated Community collection cell that focused on tracking
al-Qaida leaders and on identifying
and characterizing al-Qaida facilities and activities
- When Predator began flying in the summer of 2000, we operated
it in a fused, all source environment within the Counterterrorist
All of this
collection recognized the primacy of human and technical penetration
al-Qaidas leadership and network and
the necessity to get inside its sanctuary in Afghanistan. This
integration was the context of the plan we put into place in
- Between 1999 and 2001, our human agent base against the terrorist
target grew by over 50 percent. We ran over 70 sources and
sub-sources, 25 of whom operated inside Afghanistan.
- We received information from eight separate Afghan tribal
- We forged
strategic relationships, consistent with our plan, with liaison
that, because of their regional access
and profile, could enhance our reach. They ran their own agents
into Afghanistan and around the world in response to our al-Qaida-specific
- The terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan were critical targets for penetration.
Therefore CIA undertook unilateral
and liaison programs to identify individuals to insert directly
into the al-Qaida training program.
The period from early 2000 to September 2001 also was characterized
by an important increase in our unilateral capability. Almost
one half of the assets and programs in place in Afghanistan on
September 11 were developed in the preceding 18 months.
11, 2001, a map would show that these collection programs and
were operating throughout Afghanistan.
This array meant that when the military campaign to topple the
Taliban and destroy al-Qaida began that October, we were
already on the ground supporting it with a substantial body of
information and a large stable of assets.
Let me say
something about our analytical work. The record before 9/11
a large number of very specific reports that
represented significant strategic intelligence analysis on Bin
Ladin, al-Qaida, and Islamic extremism. Senior policymakers
were well informed of the terrorist threat by:
- National Intelligence Estimates on the foreign terrorist
threat in the United States,
of Bin Ladins quest for a WMD capability,
- Analysis of the role of Islamic financial institutions in
financing extremist movements,
- Analysis of the key shift in the Bin Ladin threat from one
aimed at US forces in Saudi Arabia to US interests worldwide,
of Bin Ladins command of a global terrorist
- Assessments of the critical role played by Afghanistan in
Our analysis got to the policymakers in many forms, including
daily current intelligence, medium-term assessments, Community
papers, and National Estimates. And it was available to the most
- The analysis
of the seriousness of the al-Qaida threat
was a feature of five major Memorandums of Notification that
underpinned covert action programs.
- Analysis was presented and discussed in the Counterterrorism
Security Group chaired by the NSC, which was the main point
of action for formulating policy responses to the terrorist
- In my annual public worldwide threat briefings here on Capitol
Hill, I identified terrorism as one of the top three challenges
facing the country every year since becoming DCI, and every
year since 1999 I have highlighted Bin Ladin as the chief threat
to US security.
Assessing Our Performance
we provided to our senior policymakers about the threat al-Qaida posed, its leadership, its operational
span across over 60 countries, and the use of Afghanistan as
a sanctuary was clear and direct. Warning was well understoodeven
if the timing and method of the attacks were not.
- The Intelligence
Community had the right strategy and was making the right
investments to position itself for the future
and against al-Qaida specifically.
- We made
good progress across intelligence disciplines in attacking
Disruptions, renditions, and sensitive collection activities
no doubt saved lives.
- However, we never penetrated the 9/11 plot. While we positioned
ourselves very well with extensive human and technical penetrations
to facilitate the takedown of the Afghan sanctuary, we did
not discern the specific 9/11 operational plot.
We made mistakes.
Our failure to watchlist al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in a timely
manneror the FBIs inability to find them
in the narrow window of time afforded themshowed systemic
weaknesses and the lack of redundancy.
- There were at least four separate terrorist identity databases
at State, CIA, Department of Defense, and FBI. None were interoperable
or broadly accessible.
- There were dozens of watchlists, many haphazardly maintained.
- There were legal impediments to cooperation across the continuum
of criminal and intelligence operations. It was not a secret,
we all understood it, but little action was taken by anyone
to create a common arena of criminal and intelligence data
that we all could access.
But most profoundly we lacked a government wide capability to
integrate foreign and domestic knowledge, data, operations, and
Warning is not good enough without the structure to put it into
- We all
understood Bin Ladins intent to strike the homeland
but were unable to translate this knowledge into an effective
defense of the country.
- Doing so would have complicated the terrorists' calculation
of the difficulty in succeeding in a vast open society that
was, in effect, unprotected on September 11.
of heightened threat, we undertook smart, disciplined actions,
but ultimately all of us must acknowledge that we did
not have the data, the span of control, the redundancy, the fusion,
or the laws in place to give us the chance to compensate for
the mistakes that will be made in any human endeavor. This is
not a clinical excuse3,000 people died. In the end, one
thing is clear. No matter how hard we worked -- or how desperately
we tried -- it was not enough . The victims and the families
of 9/11 deserve better.
Let me now describe some of the changes we have made since the
On the terrorism issue, the crucial importance of sharing data
was greatly assisted by the Patriot Act. It also is being addressed
with the creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center,
TTIC. TTIC is capturing in one place data available in FBI and
CIA operational files and data from domestic agencies and the
foreign intelligence community. You will hear more about TTIC
later today from its Director. For the first time we are bringing
together in one place intelligence databases and other terrorist
threat-related information spanning the intelligence, law enforcement,
homeland security, diplomatic, and military communities.
Better warning will result from the integration of data from
domestic and foreign sources as envisioned in TTIC. Yet, warning
must be accompanied by action. The Department of Homeland Security
has been established to take action to protect the homeland.
This is an important and necessary initiative. But there must
be a national commitment to sustain and enhance the capabilities
We have taken major strides to achieve a Community that operates
more as a single corporate unit than is commonly understood:
- We have put in place an intelligence requirements system
that is reviewed every six months by the President and the
NSC to ensure that we have the most urgent priorities where
they should be. It is more flexible and precise than any previous
- We have
tied our requirements system into our budget building process
we can begin planning now to get the resources
we will need not only for todays issues but also for
those five years or more over the horizon.
- We now
have a means of connecting those priority decisions back
to our two most
precious resourcespeople and collection
systems. We regularly check our array of collectors and analysts
to ensure not only that we have covered our most urgent needs,
but also that we have the right collectors and analysts assigned.
We have a much better sense of where our gaps lie and where
we can find the resources to fill them.
- We also have instituted processes by which we can shift collection
and analytical resources on fairly short notice to areas where
they are most needed. We put a mechanism in place to work with
senior collection managers to ensure that we have integrated
collection strategies against the highest threats to our national
- We have a Collection Concepts Development Center to study
our toughest analytical issues in order to find innovative
ways to collect against them.
And on the important information technology front, we have in
place a roadmap for building a more information-integrated Intelligence
- Today, Intelligence Community officers around the world can
be connected electronically to each other and to their customers
at all security levels.
As for the future, proposals to reform or reorganize the Intelligence
Community should be considered in the broader context of the
mission of US intelligence. Terrorism, as important as it is
to our national well being, is not the only area of concern for
the country or the Intelligence Community. I would urge the Commission
to consider the following principles as you review management
or organization proposals.
We have spent enormous time and energy transforming our collection,
operational and analytic capabilities. The first thing I would
say to the Commission is that the care and nurturing of these
capabilities is absolutely essential.
It will take us another five years of work to have the kind
of clandestine service our country needs. There is a creative,
innovative strategy to get us there that requires sustained commitment
and funding. The same can be said for the National Security Agency,
our imagery agency, and our analytic community. The transformation
is well under way, but our investments in capability must be
have created an important paradigm in the way we have made
changes to the
foreign intelligence and law enforcement
communitiesbeginning with the Counterterrorist Center and
evolving through the creation of TTICwith the fusion of
all-source data in one place against a critical mission area.
- This approach could serve as a model for the intelligence
community to organize our most critical missions around centers
where there is an emphasis on fusion, the flow of data, and
full integration of analytic and operational capabilities.
Third, in the foreign intelligence arena, aside from the President,
the DCI's most important relationship is with the Secretary of
Defense. Rather than focus on a zero sum game of authorities,
the focus should be on ensuring that the DCI and the Secretary
of Defense work together to guide investments tied to mission.
- Together, these investments have enormous power when they
are synchronized. This is precisely what Don Rumsfeld and I
have been trying to do.
Fourth, the DCI has to have an operational and analytical span
of control that allows him or her to inform the President authoritatively
about covert action and other very sensitive activities.
Finally, our Oversight Committees should begin a systematic
series of hearings to examine the world we will face over the
next 20-30 years, the operational end state we want to achieve
in terms of structure, and the statutory changes that may need
to be made to achieve these objectives.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.