Remarks by Deputy Director for Operations James L. Pavitt
at theForeign Policy Association
21 June 200
(as prepared for delivery)
Thank you very much. It is a privilege to be here this evening.
In the tradition of the men charged with keeping America's
most sensitive secrets, I rarely
speak in public. But I decided it was important to come to this city and
speak to this audience, to speak openly about the Directorate
clandestine servicethe most secret, yet, least understood part of the
Central Intelligence Agency.
I would like
to borrow the words of an Englishman from another time whobetter than any spy novelcaptured
the spirit and ethos of the clandestine service:
"From time to time, God causes men to be born who have a
lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover newstoday
it may be far off things, tomorrow, of some hidden mountain, and
the next day of some nearby men who have done a foolishness against
the state. These souls are very few; and of these few, not more
than ten are of the best."
For the most
secret part of the U.S. intelligence community, there has been
much buzz over the past few years on what it is
we do. My officers have been described as gun slinging cowboys
on the one hand and, risk-averse on the other and, worse yet, just
plain incompetent. In the media there has been a lot of talksome
complimentary, a great deal critical, but most of the commentary
is from sources who are far from informed. It seems a lot of people
with very short careers in the clandestine service or, more often,
people at the periphery of the intelligence profession consider
themselves qualified pundits. The title "intelligence expert" is
one all of us see with increasing regularity on television these
days. Yet, for all the experts and all the expert opinion, I fear
the American people don't get much real insight into my business
from these "experts."
So I thought
it perhaps worth your time to hear from methe
man who runs America's spy service. I will retire in August after
31 years of service at CIA. Despite a long tradition of silence,
a tradition of allowing the wildest statements about my business
to go unanswered, I feel both compelled and obligated as the leader
of the clandestine service to set the record straight about America's
let me tell you a little more about what I won't tell you. I
will not divulge
the names of officers, I will not divulge
ongoing operations, I will do nothing to compromise information
which is vital to our national security. But I will provide some
insider details. I will offer some real insight into the operations
and the people who make up the clandestine serviceone of
America's best, but least known, and least appreciated national
treasures. Hopefully, you will get some appreciation of the men
and women who fill the ranks of the clandestine service. These
are truly extraordinary Americans doing extraordinary thingswho
work in silence on the front lines of the intelligence war.
My good friend
George Tenet often says he has the greatest job in the world:
to differI think as Deputy Director for
Operations, I do. Every morning, I am briefed on an astounding
array of incredible secret operations, agent meetings, recruitments
of new agents, placement of technical devices, captures of terrorists,
near misses and harrowing escapes clandestine service officers
have carried out in the past 24 hours. Not a day goes by in which
I am not astounded by the imagination, the creativity and the bravery
the men and women of the Directorate use to keep our nation safe
and collect human intelligence of incalculable value.
been particularly challenging times for America and for our nation's
We are now nearly three years beyond
the devastation of September 11a day that indelibly scarred
this city and this nation. Like Pearl Harborthe event which
led to the creation of America's intelligence services9/11
redefined us, refocused us, and made our mission all the more critical.
It changed what we do and how we do it forever.
We are no strangers to criticism, and the events of the past few
years have generated a great deal of it. Some is very thoughtful,
and we welcome that.
We have learned,
adjusted and grown from thoughtful and honest critique. We are
for many changes made, and we are more
able. But some of the criticism is unwarranted and frankly, ill-informedfor
example, the charges that the CIA has lost its status as the gold
standard in intelligence or that our officers are unwilling to
go to the hardest, most dangerous places. I can tell you that is
simply not true!
Shallow uninformed criticism provides precious little insight
into what America's clandestine service is all about. What human
intelligence is and what it is not. Let me do that for you tonight.
For all the critique, for all the rhetoric about failure, no one
has ever asked me to stop recruiting spies and stop producing human
intelligence reports. Indeed, the demand grows and customers at
every level want more.
Many of those
who criticize us for not having enough spies, enough agents on
Iraq, on terrorism,
on North Korea, on Iran, do not have
the first idea of what a spy, an agent really is. An agenta
human being with access to vital, secret information who agrees
to give this information to usis not a simply attainable
commodity. Contrary to popular fictionthey cannot simply
be boughtindeed, some of the very best agents have never
taken a dime. They are human beingscarefully cultivated,
developed, and brought to a relationship based on a level of trust
that transcends any simple business arrangement.
Among the trendy
sound bites on intelligence is the clamor for "connecting
the dots," for sharing sensitive operational information with
analysts and other consumers of intelligence so they have all the
dots connected, so that nothing whatsoever is overlooked.
I fully support
information sharing. Information sharing is essentialthe
information from our sources and the "product" of our
operations is meant to be usedto inform our top policymakers
and to enable law enforcement officials to thwart terrorist attacks.
We risk agents and officers every day to collect that data.
But that sharing
does not eliminate our sacred duty to protect our sources and
We always balance expanded access to information
with smart compartmentation and what we call the "need-to-know" principle.
I know the spy business and the people who conduct it better than
most, and I am here tonight to give you a bit of an insider's view.
As the DDO, I know better than anyone the men and women who spend
their days recruiting spies and stealing secrets. I know their
commitment, their integrity, their desire to serve, their sense
of duty and patriotism and their willingness to make tremendous
personal sacrifices for the national good.
of the clandestine service work in the most dangerous and most
places in the world. Places like Qandahar, Afghanistanwhere
Al-Qai'da and the Taliban target our personnel for assassination.
Places like Moscowthe heart of our number one global competitor,
working under the toughest, most pervasive surveillance in the
world. Places like Bogota, where narcoterrorists conduct assassinations
in broad daylight. Places like Baghdad where our officers are constantly
under attack from an enemy bent on their deathswhere we lose
to hostile fire armored vehicles at the rate of one a week. In
times that demand heroes, America is fortunate to have these heroes
serving on the front lines.
Let me tell you more about my officers:
The officer abroad who spent more than 20 hours on the streets
to collect critical intelligence, meeting an agent for whom the
consequences of exposure would be certain death.
in Iraqwho dealt with a nervous, jumpy intelligence
volunteer who promisedand delivered, the location of Uday
and Qusay Hussein.
in Afghanistan who, wounded in an Al-Qa'ida firefight, turned
his vehicle into
the line of fire to protect his Afghan
and American partnersand gave his life to ensure his colleagues
could return home.
abroad who ventures into the toughest immigrant neighborhoodswhere
the local police think twice about goingto scour the Islamic
community for a penetration of a terrorist cell, an Al-Qa'ida fundraiser,
someone who can provide a critical piece of intelligence.
The officer who posed as a foreigner to gain access to the inner
circle of a major terrorist facilitator in one of the toughest,
most dangerous areas in South Asia.
A young paramilitary
officer, recently married, with a young child who has spent more
time in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 than
with his family and whose only proviso when asked to travel into
the toughest of environments was, "tell me where I can be
of the most service."
officers themselves speak most eloquently about what they do
the job means. This from a first-tour officer
injured in a firefight that took the lives of his military partners
last fall while hunting terrorists in Afghanistan: "What the
best training cannot prepare you for is what it feels like to be
shot, what it feels like to see a friend in significant pain, what
it feels like to have your weapon jam under fire
I have to
admit, I was feeling sorry for myself, but it was the thought of
my family and friends that kept me level headed and focused on
surviving. I continue to be committed to our profession because
I believe in our mission."
often show their true colorsindeed as some
have put ittheir culturesin the worst of times. In
February 2003, we faced such a period with the tragic loss of a
young first tour officer who was killed in Afghanistan in a terrible
training accident. My Chief of Station in Kabul wrote me a note
shortly thereafter, which, I believe, captures the spirit and ethos
of the clandestine service. I quote from his note: "One thing
we cannot do, and every single officer here shares this view, is
back away from the job at hand, and that necessarily means accepting
it is dangerous here, in Kabul, at the bases,
all around. To a man, the attitude remains, if not me, who then?"
some time now discussing how the clandestine service is taking
on the challenges
of the present. Now I'd like to provide
some history. Let's go back to the darkest days of the Cold Warthe
mid-1970s, when the Soviet Union and the United States seemed close
to the nuclear confrontation we all dreaded during those dark days.
In Moscow, our small station was under incredible, close surveillanceour
officers were constantly watched and followed, tracked by trained
dogs and technical devices. It was the toughest operating environment
imaginable. Through the lens of the past 13 years, it is hard to
remember the Soviet Union for the evil, repressive, society it
was; in many ways, it was the model for the "republic of fear" Saddam
created in Iraq.
In mid-1977, a small furtive man, hiding near the official gas
station reserved for foreign diplomats, approached an official
he believed to be an American and passed him a note, quickly, carefully,
under the noses of surveillance. He was disgusted with the Soviet
regime, quietly worshipped America from afar, and believed he was
in a position to help.
Adolf Tolkacheva senior research scientist in the Russian
military aerospace programdid more than just help. The operation
at which he was at the very center ensured us air superiority at
a critical juncture of the Cold War. The intelligence he provided
from 1977 to 1985 saved the U.S. taxpayers literally billions of
dollars in research and development fees on look-down/shoot-down
radar, aeronautics design, and early stealth technology.
the basement of his office complex, in the toilets of the Lenin
library, risking his life at every
turn, Tolkachev silently fought one of the greatest battles of
the Cold War. Passing literally thousands of documents that were
nothing short of pure gold.
Tolkachev never left Russia throughout the operation. As someone
who held the highest level clearances, he was denied the privilege
of foreign travel. Our officers went to tremendous lengths to elude
and escape surveillance to meet him in the dead of night or early
morning, quickly passing film and documents. Tolkachev, fighting
his solo battle, was glad for the rare moments of contact with
In the end,
Tolkachev was caughtand paid the ultimate price
for his servicedeath in the basement of the notorious Lubyanka
Prison in Moscow. Oleg Gordiyevskiy may have been the spy who "saved
the world" during the Cuban missile crisisbut in the
secret archives of the Cold War, Adolf Tolkachev and our officers
who worked with him were heroes in one of the decisive battles
in the Cold War.
These accounts describe the clandestine service I know. It is
a national treasure that only a few people have the privilege to
These rare, extraordinary men and women, who go abroad to the
world's toughest places, understand the high stakes of their work
and they are willing to take the necessary risks. They accept that,
in the secret world, success is unheralded and failure is trumpeted.
Yet they continue their difficult, demanding work, in silent service
to our country.
Let me say it again: they are a national treasure.
As the result of exceptional leadership within the Agency and
a new appreciation of the value of human intelligence by our nation's
leaders, we are in a much stronger position today than we were
a decade ago. As you know from recent press articles, we embarked
on a wholesale rebuilding of the clandestine service in the late
1990s. We have made tremendous strides but still have work to do.
The fact is,
despite strong protests from within my agency, the clandestine
was left to wither during most of the '90s.
As part of the so-called "peace dividend" after the Cold
War ended, too many in Washington believed that intelligence was
no longer needed and our operations officer corps could shrink
And shrink it did. We trained roughly two dozen new officers in
1995. Even as our missions were expanding and changing, the number
of intelligence positions throughout the Government, especially
overseas, dropped by almost a quarter in the mid-90s. At CIA, recruitment
of both operations officers and analysts came to a virtual halt.
Compare that with today: Our recruiting and training efforts are
unprecedented. And interest in CIA from talented men and women
from all over this country is at an all time high.
We get 2200 resumes a week from some of America's best and brightest.
Not only young college graduates, but also experienced professionals:
retired military and law enforcement officers, linguists, scientists,
lawyers, engineers, doctors.
Today, the average clandestine service trainee classes number
significantly higher and we aim to double the number of new officers
in two years. Recruits spend a full year learning every aspect
of our tradecraft, from how to detect surveillance, to the fine
art of recruitment and agent handling to armed defense in extreme
In the last five years, the clandestine service has grown 30 percent.
And we plan to grow it another 30 percent in the next five years.
But as good as our recruiting and training is, I can't buy experience,
and it will take time for our skilled new graduates to become the
seasoned pros we need them to be.
The world we face today, the challenges we face are far more dangerous
and require as great if not a greater commitment than those associated
with the Cold War. We face a global enemy in the terrorists bent
on our destruction, the challenge of providing force protection
for nearly a quarter million U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan,
the Balkans, the Korean Peninsula, preventing the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction, dealing with regional challenges
such as Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China.
The fight against
Al-Qa'ida and the hate-filled extremist movement it fuels across
is an intelligence waras much as
if not more than any conflict in our nation's history. We will
not prevail against this agile and determined enemy without creative,
vibrant and expanded human intelligence capabilities.
The CIA has
known this for years. The opening shots in the war on terrorism
well before 11 September 2001. The Directorate's
Counterterrorist Center will mark its 20th anniversary in 2006.
Even in our leanest yearsthe 1990s, when Congress was cutting
our fundingwe were ensuring sustained resources to counterterrorism,
not as much as we needed to meet the gathering threat, but as much
as we could given our limited resources.
Well before 11 September, 2001 we understood the important connection
between domestic and international terrorism. We were working side
by side with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to counter
the threat. The partnership was real.
Well before 11 September 2001, we were fighting Al-Qa'ida and
disrupting its activities. We unraveled terrorist plots that aimed
to murder innocents and shatter peace. Plans for attacks in the
U.S., Jordan and Israel around the millennium were thwarted. Others
still were quashed in the fall of 2000, and again in the summer
Well before 11 September 2001, we told the public and we told
the Congress and the Executive Branch, that terrorists threatened
Well before 11 September 2001, we knew Al-Qa'ida was planning
something bigger than we had seen, something terrible. All the
while, we at CIA were loudly sounding the alarm and constantly
seeking more resources to counter this threat. The bombings of
our embassies in Africa and the U.S.S. Cole were not enough. The
chatter we picked up in early summer 2001 was not enough to provide
us specific information about the attack.
The tragedy of September 11th changed everything. The intelligence
community, at long last, received the funding and the tools it
needed to fight the war
on terrorismat the cost of 3,000 innocent souls.
ask me if I think we could have stopped the horror of that dayif we had, in fact, connected all the dots before
us. There are some who have placed the blame on a handful of individual
officers for not ensuring the FBI watch listed two of the hijackers.
It is a question my officers have asked themselves, have tormented
themselves with, for it is only human to wonder "what if?"
Although we can speculate endlessly, given what we had that day,
I sadly conclude that the answer is no. Short of cracking Usama
bin Laden's impenetrable inner circle, sealing our borders and
recognizing box cutters as potential weapons, we could not have
stopped those planes from hitting the World Trade Center, the Pentagon
and that field in Pennsylvania. In a chilling interview on Al-Jazeera,
bin Laden himself bragged that not even all of the hijackers knew
the full extent of their mission that day.
We did not
foil the evil of September 11. We failed to stop this horror.
not only did we fail, much of our national security
apparatus failed as well to protect the American people. But we
did not allow the horror to prevent us from fighting backright
from the start. Ignoring the order to evacuate CIA Headquarters,
many of my CTC officers stayed to take charge of the intelligence
counterattack. Many officers from other parts of the DO volunteered
to stay onmany for several days without break. One senior
officer who had retired from the government on the 11th was driving
to his retirement home, literally swung his car around on the road
when he heard of the attacks, drove back in the gates, revoked
his retirement, and went right back to work.
In less then two weeks, CIA paramilitary officers were on the
ground in Afghanistan, working with old friends in familiar places,
in the traditions of their OSS forefathers, preparing the way for
the eventual military campaign that deposed the Taliban and deprived
bin Laden and his lieutenants of a sanctuary in which to plan future
Destroying terrorism and those who have attacked us is the primary
mission of my officers, not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but
worldwide. A worldwide threat requires a worldwide response.
And, our efforts have had significant impact on our enemies. We've
captured or killed nearly two-thirds of known Al-Qa'ida top leadership.
Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, Khalid bin Attash, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali,
Abu Musab al Baluchi, and a host of others are in custody.
None of thisnone of thiswould
be possible without human intelligence: my operations officers,
the agents they recruit
and the partnerships they build with foreign intelligence services
all serve the counterterrorist mission. Satellite photos and communications
intercepts can get you only so far. It is the human source that
so often delivers the final piece of a puzzle. Human intelligence
from the spies the clandestine service recruits, resulted in many
of the captures. A human source gave us the critical piece of intelligence
to conduct the operation leading to the capture of the architect
of 9/11, the Al-Qa'ida mastermind Khalid Shaykh Muhammed; a human
source provided us the trail to Hambali, Al-Qa'ida's ringleader
for a second wave of terror attacks on America; and it is human
intelligence that will eventually help us bring Usama bin Ladin
to justice, or justice to him.
Let me be clear:
the threat from Al-Qa'ida remains. Let me be even clearer: as
as I am of anything, I am sure all of us
here are sitting in the cross hairs. Al-Qa'ida has unambiguous
plans to hit the homeland again, and New York City, I am certain,
remains a prime target. Human intelligence will play a critical
role in preventing future attacks, but I can't offer you guaranteesand
I wouldn't trust anyone who does.
Let me move away from terrorism for a moment to another issue
challenging America and its spy service.
From the task of collecting intelligence before the war in Iraq
to the current task of supporting the new republic's first breaths
of freedom, the clandestine service has been fully engaged in Iraq.
I am often asked why Iraq was so hard?
Simply put, Iraq under Saddam was the republic of fear. If you
were suspected of or caught assisting his adversaries, your family
was tortured and you were shot. Indeed, it was no secret to Iraqis
that getting caught working with us meant the end for them and
As I mentioned
at the outset, some of our critics have been on the mark regarding
Indeed, as some critics have claimedduring
the pre-war period, we did not have many Iraqi sources. We certainly
did not have enough! Until we put people on the ground in northern
Iraq, we had less than a handful. As I mentioned before, the operating
environment was tremendously prohibitive and developing the necessary
trust with those Iraqis who had access was extraordinarily difficult
in light of the risks they faced. Once on the ground, however,
our officers recruited literally dozens of agentssome of
whom paid the ultimate price for their allegiance to uswho
were determined to help all Iraqis win their freedom.
Did we get access to the heart of Saddam's weapons programs? No.
In those final months, did we get closer to the inner circle of
the military and political process? Absolutely! And in that compressed
period of a few months, we collected intelligence our own military
deemed of vital importance.
CIA officers first played pathfinder roles, moving well ahead
of the combat lines, obtaining critical intelligence that informed
battlefield planners. Then, when U.S. troops launched on March
19, 2003, my officers were right there with them.
And well before
Saddam's statue was toppled in Baghdad, our officers, their equipment
and communications gear flew into the capital under
hostile fire. We needed to be thereto provide crucial intelligence
to the advancing combat forces.
Today, as Iraq transitions from tyranny to self-determination,
Baghdad is home to the largest CIA station since the Vietnam war.
I am extremely proud of our performance in Iraq, and of our role
in liberating its people from decades of repression.
The missions the clandestine service takes on for America are
not all fast-breaking. Many take years or longer. Human intelligence
led the way to one of the most significant counter-proliferation
successes in years: Libya's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction
As the result of a patient, decade long operation involving million
dollar recruitment pitches, covert entries, ballet like sophistication
and a level of patience we are often accused of not possessing,
the clandestine service exposed the network of Pakistani scientist
AQ Khan. Khan was the source of nuclear materials in Libya, Iran
and North Korea and the potential source to non-state actors. Working
with British intelligence, we surprised Libya's leaders with the
depth of our knowledge about its weapons programs. We pressed them
on the right questions, exposed inconsistencies and convinced the
Libyans that holding back was counterproductive.
In the end, Colonel Qadhafi had no option but to abandon his WMD
programs and accept international inspections. Nice work by any
None of this comes easily. Espionage is not James Bond or Jason
Bourne or any of the hundreds of other fictional spies who occupy
the world of novels and movies. Human intelligence demands a balance
of delicacy, poise, timing, and understanding of human beings.
It relies on an operations officer getting to know an agent or
potential agent as well as he or she knows a member of his or her
family. The officer must learn the motivations, emotions, loyalties,
vulnerabilities, and limits that drive this most unique of human
beings. It requires professional detachment that allows the officer
to see the truth from the half-truth, the nuance of fact, the coloration
of bias. It is no wonder why human intelligence is, as I told you,
more art than science.
It has been
well established that the intelligence community, including the
did not have the resources it
required before the 9/11 attacks. Most of you are aware of the
traumatic resource reductions we received throughout the decade
of the 90s, cuts made in the wake of the supposed post-Cold War "peace
dividend," the reluctance of Congress and the nation's leadership
to sustain the clandestine service so that we could answer the
alarm we had been sounding about Al-Qa'ida's threat to America.
These cuts, the lack of funding, left America's spy service weakened
and America vulnerable. As I said before, 9/11 changed all thatthe
Congress provided a tremendous influx of counterterrorism funding
in the wake of 9/11 and Iraq focused funding prior to the war in
The tremendous resources devoted to the war on terrorism and the
effort in Iraq have made a difference; the influx of funding has
helped. But it has helped us catch up in a race in which we had
been allowed to fall too far behind. Frankly speaking, the men
and women of the clandestine service have been in a flat out sprint
since 9/11. The increased funding has helped us to grow our capability
in the global war on terrorism and support our troops in Iraq.
But we will need longer term, strategic funds to win the race around
the globe. For the sake of America's security, for our future,
we need sustained congressional and executive commitment to grow
and nurture a clandestine service worthy of this country and the
challenges we face.
In my opinion,
now is not the time for radical reorganization of the intelligence
for creating a new structure, a
different framework in the hope of always getting it right and
always connecting the dots. Some have said my retirement and George
Tenet's resignation create the "perfect storm" for radical
restructuring in the intelligence community. Let me remind you
that in the book and the movie "the perfect storm," the
ship sank and the crew drowned.
I would argue against change for the sake or appearance of change
particularly in these politically charged times and at a time of
great terrorist threat. No one really seeks a perfect storm. The
aftermath of 9/11 brought about tremendous change in the way we
do business; but change for its own sake is dead wrong. I believe
thoughtful empowerment of the DCI and sustained executive and congressional
commitment to improve our nation's intelligence capabilities will
serve our nation well.
No amount of intelligence funding, no amount of threat integration,
no amount of rebuilding the intelligence community, as some have
called for, will or can guarantee perfect results.
At its very best, human intelligence is an inexact art, and while
we may be able to find and connect many of the dots; I would be
lying to you if I said we can connect them all. I would be suspect
of anyone offering quick solutions or quick answers through hasty
reorganization and centralization.
Even with all
that we have learned from 9/11, from the war on terrorismas
good as we've become, there will be failures. Perfection is impossible
in a profession devoted to the complexities
and unknowns of the world.
know what I worry aboutanother attack by terrorists
on the homelandindeed this is what I lose sleep over. But
I also worry that racing to change risks many things to include
our nation and the clandestine service. The clandestine service
provides the American public with no balance sheet, no scorecard
at the end of the year tallying victories and losses. Our failuresreal
or perceivedare the stuff of headlinesour successes
are largely unheralded. Therefore, I hope I have expanded your
understanding of what we do.
As we search for ways to improve our intelligence capability,
we as a nation must take care not to dismiss or undo the magnificent
gains of human intelligence. There is far more at stake than an
organization's pride. Our challenges remain daunting, our responsibility
I fear that
we are being pushed into a "mistake-free zone," and
only bad can come of that. Fear of failure creates cautionin
people and in organizations. One of the bedrocks of my business
is a willingness to take riskscalculated risks that withstand
legal scrutinybut risks that are inherent to all we do. Mistakes
and failure come with the territory as wellwe will always
strive for perfection with the understanding it is unattainable.
As my friend
and former director Richard Helms put it, "secret
intelligence has never been for the fainthearted." In my business,
you simply have to accept the real probability of failure, learn
from your shortcomings and do better. Those afraid to make mistakes
will never be bold or creative enough to solve the problems our
nation faces. This business is not for everyone.
Imagine for a moment what would have happened if the CIA, during
the height of the Cold War, had abandoned its effort to send the
first spy satellite into space. The program was called Corona and
it failed 12 times over two and a half years. Finally, in August
1960, it launched, orbited and sent back to America the first overhead
photos of the Soviet Union. The vast amounts of intelligence it
gathered quickly overtook all we had gained from the U-2 spy program.
of our best officers have learned from their mistakes. In the
century, a junior intelligence officer in Switzerland
received word on Sunday evening that a disturbed Russian sought
to speak to an American official. Not wanting to spoil his weekend
tennis outing, our officer told the duty officer to direct the
disturbed Russian to return the next dayMondayduring
duty hours. Unfortunately, Vladimir Lenin chose not to return to
the mission. Allen Dulles, our first DCI, was the junior intelligence
officer. He recovered admirably from this early stumble and learned
a lesson he imparted to future generations of operations officers.
Today, a willingness to think creatively and to take risks is
arguably more important than ever. Our enemies in the war on terror
seek our destruction. They have been weakened but not beaten. And
there will be more deadly attacks.
And there is an important analogy.
Al-Qa'ida succeeded, with terrible human toll, on 11 September.
Many times before, and many times after that horrid day in 2001,
the terrorists failed and intelligence succeeded. Too often that
is forgotten in the endless rush to assign blame.
- 70 terrorists were brought to justice before 9/11, and hundreds
- The millenium plot, which targeted us among others, was disrupted
with dozens of terrorists apprehended.
- The Ramadan plot in the Gulf was foiled.
- We stopped attacks against the U.S. in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
- We disrupted attacks against the U.S. military in Europe and
a U.S. embassy in a European capitol.
- A major arrest deterred plans to kidnap Americans in three
countries and carry out hijackings overseas.
We must be agile and aggressive in our response to this shrewd
and single-minded foe.
We are and will continue to be.
As George Tenet
once put it, "in times like these, the need
for heroes is compelling." If you remember nothing else I
have said tonight, remember this: There is no shortage of heroes
in the company I keep.
- From the
South Asian Muslim woman who became a U.S. citizen and is nowin her words"living the American dream" by
serving in the clandestine service,
- to the Arabic-speaking former operations officer who returned
to us on September 12th, 2001, after leaving us for the private
sector, because he decided there was no more important calling;
- from the Chief of Station targeted for assassination in South
- To the memory
of Mike Spannthe first American hero to
fall in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and Al-Qai'da.
I am tremendously
proud of the peoplethe heroesI have
led for the last five years. They are heroes for whom there are
no parades, no public accolades, and rare acknowledgement of their
deeds. They are a living national treasure. They have earned your
adulation and they need your support.