|12 April 2005
Negroponte Pledges Reform of Intelligence Community
Intelligence director nominee appears before senate committee
In confirmation hearings April 12, John D. Negroponte, President Bush’s choice to be the first national intelligence director, promised to reform the intelligence community, provide objective information to policy makers, and comply with all applicable laws and treaties.
Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence frequently referred to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the faulty pre-war assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs as senators sought assurances that such intelligence failures would not be repeated under Negroponte’s leadership.
Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and, for the past year, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said that the president had made clear that the intelligence community needs fundamental change.
“Our intelligence effort has to generate better results,” Negroponte said. “That is my mandate, plain and simple.”
“I will spare no effort,” the ambassador said, “to ensure that our intelligence community is forward-leaning but objective, prudent but not risk-averse, and yet always faithful to our values and our history as a nation.”
Asked directly by committee members if he would work to ensure that the intelligence community follows all applicable laws, including those involving the interrogation of terror suspects, Negroponte answered, “Yes.”
When asked about his ability to “speak truth to power,” he replied, “I believe the president deserves the unvarnished truth from his director of national intelligence and from the intelligence community.”
The office of national intelligence director was established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to integrate the work of the 15 separate U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the Department of Defense’s military intelligence, the CIA’s foreign intelligence and the FBI’s domestic intelligence. Several senators warned Negroponte, an experienced diplomat, that this might be his toughest assignment yet.
“We need a single intelligence community that cooperates seamlessly, that moves quickly, and that spends more time thinking about the future than the past,” he said.
In meetings with senior officials in the many security agencies, he said he had not “encountered hesitation on the part of anyone” toward reform.
Negroponte praised those who work in U.S. intelligence as “talented, patriotic Americans … our first line of defense” and noted that Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Hayden, nominated by President Bush to be the principal deputy director for national intelligence, would bring “great insight, wisdom and experience” to their work.
“Teamwork will remain my north star as director of national intelligence,” he said, “not just for my immediate office but for the entire intelligence community.
Negroponte, who has been previously confirmed seven times for various high-level posts including ambassador to Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines, is expected to easily win Senate confirmation.
Following is the text of Negroponte’s opening statement before the committee:
Statement by Ambassador John D. Negroponte
Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
April 12, 2005
Mr. Chairman, Senator Rockefeller, distinguished members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear before you today as the President's nominee to be the first Director of National Intelligence. I support the fine work this Committee has done to guide and inform U.S. intelligence policy, and if confirmed, I look forward to our continued close consultation. I know that the members of the Committee share my conviction that timely, accurate intelligence is a critical component of preserving our national security.
Without good intelligence, we will be unable to defeat the terrorists who began their assault on us long before September 11, 2001; we will fall short in our efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; we will lack the insight we need to deal with hostile regimes that practice artful schemes of denial and deception to conceal their dangerous intentions; and we will possess insufficient understanding of an array of global phenomena that could have consequences for our economy, our health and environment, our allies and our freedom.
The U.S. intelligence community, staffed by talented, patriotic Americans, forms what President Bush has rightly called our "first line of defense." My job, if confirmed, will be to ensure that this community works as an integrated, unified, cost-effective enterprise, enabling me to provide the President, his cabinet, the armed services, and the Congress with the best possible intelligence product -- both current and strategic -- on a regular basis.
My qualifications for this post extend over a career in public service that began in October, 1960. Since then I have been nominated for posts subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate eight times. On five occasions I have served as chief of mission of U.S. embassies and had the privilege of working with many fine representatives of the U.S. intelligence community, the armed services, and the cabinet departments. I also have served as Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.
Coordinating intelligence support for the National Security Council was one of my primary responsibilities under President Reagan.
During my most recent assignment as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, I saw first-hand the savage depredations of terrorists and insurgents who oppose the birth of a new democracy. These are violent, determined adversaries who cannot be thwarted, captured or killed without close coordination between all of our intelligence assets, military and civilian, technical and human. The forces of freedom are making progress in this struggle with the most notable accomplishment being Iraq's national election on January 30 but much remains to be done. To prevail, Iraqis must keep to the political timetable established in UN Security Council Resolution 1546 and continue to train, equip and motivate effective military and police forces. This is their struggle, but President Bush has made clear that they will have our support. With time, patience, and tenacity, I believe they will succeed. The formation of a Transitional Iraqi Government now underway is a major step forward.
The position for which I am now nominated is a new position in a new era, and the specific recommendations I will make to the President will require careful study and engagement that is not possible prior to confirmation. That being the case, I am not now prepared to describe in detail exactly how I plan to carry out the job of Director for National Intelligence. Nonetheless, there are clear requirements set forth in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and I understand that the Congress and the American people expect more of the intelligence community today than perhaps ever before in our history. In the past four years, our homeland has been attacked, and we have miscalculated the arsenal, if not the intent, of a dangerous adversary. Our intelligence effort has to generate better results -- that's my mandate, plain and simple. I expect this will be the most challenging assignment I have undertaken in more than forty years of government service.
Just as my first requirement in Iraq was to stand up a new embassy, my first requirement as Director of National Intelligence will be to stand up a new organization. In this regard, I am grateful that the President has nominated Lt. General Mike Hayden as Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence. General Hayden's distinguished career in the field of military intelligence, capped by his tenure as Director of the National Security Agency, will enable him to complement my efforts with great insight, wisdom and experience. In addition to General Hayden, I will have the support of other deputies and senior appointees.
I have never been able to accomplish anything in government without the help of highly skilled, dedicated colleagues, nor have I ever taken an approach to leadership that is not built on the principle of teamwork. Teamwork will remain my north star as Director of National Intelligence -- not just for my immediate Office but for the entire intelligence community. My objective will be to foster proactive cooperation among the fifteen IC elements and thereby optimize this nation's extraordinary human and technical resources in collecting and analyzing intelligence. We can only make the United States more secure if we approach intelligence reform as value-added, not zero-sum. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence should be a catalyst for focusing on the hardest, most important questions and making it possible for very good people to outperform their individual talents by drawing on the nation's investment in intelligence as a whole. The President has made clear that the intelligence community needs fundamental change to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century, and this is what I take fundamental change to mean: working and thinking together, trusting one another across the various disciplines of intelligence collection and analysis, jettisoning outmoded methods, questioning assumptions, breaking down bureaucratic barriers, establishing priorities -- short-term and strategic -- and sticking to them. When I have to make difficult decisions or recommendations to achieve that kind of change, I will do so. We cannot let another decade tick away without making intelligence reform a reality.
Mr. Chairman, I am not one who believes that intelligence is a panacea. I suspect the members of the Committee agree with me. Intelligence is an ingredient in national security and foreign policy, not the policy itself. It has limits encrypted in the illusions of dictators and the fantasies of fanatics. But even if we cannot know every fact or predict every threat, by working more closely and effectively as a team, we can be more specific about what we do not know, and this is critical. It's the only way we can pinpoint gaps in our knowledge and find ways to fill them.
As Director of National Intelligence, I will spare no effort to ensure that our intelligence community is forward-leaning but objective, prudent but not risk averse, and yet always faithful to our values and our history as a nation. We must make sure that the information generated in one part of the community is accessible to other pacts of the community. We must recognize that what we do is on behalf of the taxpayer, not institutional interests. We must welcome new ideas, new approaches, and new sources of intelligence. In this Information Age, there are many open secrets to be discovered across the spectrum of government, private sector, and academic enterprise. Our Intelligence Community is already alert to this fact, but now is the time to pick up the pace, mirroring the agility and adaptability of entrepreneurs around the globe.
A great deal has been said about intelligence fiefdoms within the U.S. government. Some argue that there are three intelligence communities, not one: A military intelligence community centered on the Department of Defense, a foreign intelligence community centered on the CIA, and a domestic intelligence community centered on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and the FBI. Where there's so much talk, there's always some truth. In times past, these arrangements have served the nation well, but times present demand that we transcend any foreign-military-domestic divide that may historically have characterized our approach to intelligence. This Committee and the American people know that. The 9/11 Commission knew that. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States knew that, and having served as ambassador to the United Nations, where a multitude of issues transcend national borders and overflow 20th century categories of threat, I know that.
We do not confront a monolithic adversary or a state-based pact. Rather, we are dealing with an eclectic array of sometimes discrete, sometimes allied forces that are cunning in their efforts to define the field of battle to their advantage. Terrorists, narco-traffickers, high-tech criminals, and the leaders of anti-democratic states know that head-on assaults against any of our instruments of national security are not likely to succeed. It's in the cracks and overlooked gaps where we are at risk, places where our organizational stance -- and more importantly, our mindset -- has not caught up with the dynamics of globalization, which can be used to exacerbate the grievances and leverage the capacities of our enemies. We live in an unpredictable world subject to few of the old orthodoxies. That's why we must ensure genuine teamwork between our military, foreign, and domestic intelligence agencies, cooperating with both imagination and diligence to build upon the core strength of democracy itself --government's service to the people, all the people, all the time.
I have made it a priority to meet with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and law enforcement officials at the local level to make sure that we all, as a team, take advantage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, using it to bolster our ability to protect ourselves and our national interests here in the United States. 1 also have met with the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and other senior officials responsible for U.S. security interests overseas. I have not encountered hesitation on the part of anyone to begin reforming our intelligence community in ways that will ensure good overlap and good support, not wasteful redundancy, among the domestic, foreign and military components of our efforts. Everyone knows this will be a tough job, but the things that have to be done differently will be done differently. We need a single intelligence community that cooperates seamlessly, moves quickly, and spends more time thinking about the future than the past. We need the right mix of human and technical resources, providing us with a new generation of capable intelligence officers, analysts and specialists and innovative technologies. Good intelligence is our first line of defense. It is difficult and often dangerous to produce-many valiant Americans have given their lives in its service -- but it is the best way for us to ensure that freedom, democracy and our national security are protected in the 21st century.
Mr. Chairman, I want to that you and the committee for this opportunity to share these thoughts with you. I welcome your comments and questions.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)