Federal News Service
HEADLINE: CONGRESSIONAL NEWS CONFERENCE
SUBJECT: INTELLIGENCE TRANSFORMATION ACT
PARTICIPANTS: REPRESENTATIVE JANE HARMAN (D-CA); REPRESENTATIVE ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL); REPRESENTATIVE SILVESTRE REYES (D-TX); REPRESENTATIVE LEONARD BOSWELL (D-IA); REPRESENTATIVE BUD CRAMER, JR., (D-AL); REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO (D-CA); REPRESENTATIVE RUSH HOLT (D-NJ); REPRESENTATIVE C.A. "DUTCH" RUPPERSBERGER (D-MD)
LOCATION: HOUSE RADIO/TV GALLERY, THE CAPITOL, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. HARMAN: Good morning, good afternoon. How's our attendance here? One, two, three, four five, six-boy. Is Collin coming? All right, we're expecting more attendance, but this is pretty impressive for a Thursday.
Most of the Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee are behind me. What I am about to say reflects the view of the unanimous group of us.
We are here today to initiate a call to action. The problems plaguing American intelligence are too grave, and the potential damage to U.S. national security, force protection in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, too important to justify delay. These problems require urgent attention from the president, who has the power to fix some identified problems with our intelligence now-and from Congress, which built our intelligence community five decades ago to fight an enemy that no longer exists.
Our letter to President Bush makes 10 recommendations to reform the way intelligence is collected, analyzed and presented to policymakers. These steps do not require congressional action. The president has the authority to act now, and he must.
But those of us in Congress must also do our part. That is why we are introducing a major legislative proposal, the Intelligence Transformation Act, a set of critical and urgent reforms for our intelligence community.
The highlight of this proposal is the creation of a director of national intelligence, a DNI-here's the chart-who has budgetary and statutory authority over the entire intelligence -- (audio break) -- community. We also believe that our intelligence community must leverage the power of information technology to help our intelligence professionals share in real time.
The United States has the best IT capabilities in the world. But we have scarcely touched that potential to help the IC do its job.
Finally, the act would create a new WMD Proliferation Threat Integration Center-PROTIC-modeled after TTIC, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center-to provide integrated tasking of collection and analysis on the WMD proliferation threat.
At a time when much of Washington is finger-pointing, we hope this legislation today will add some light to the heat surrounding the subject of intelligence failures.
We had hoped to product a bipartisan bill, and I believe that it will ultimately be a bipartisan bill, because it is good policy and because of its bipartisan parentage.
We shared our legislative ideas with the majority on our committee, but we did not want the legislative year to pass while awaiting their response.
My colleagues will address specific parts of the bill and we will answer questions. In order of seniority in our committee-and most of them are here-Alcee Hastings of Florida, Leonard Boswell of Iowa, Bud Cramer of Alabama, Anna Eshoo of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey and Dutch Ruppersberger, our rookie, of Maryland. It is an honor to stand with them and to serve with them.
The terrorists and enemies of the United States will not wait until after November to plot their attacks. Nor will they check their party registration before they launch those attacks against us. We cannot afford to wait. The task is urgent. We must act now.
It is now my pleasure to call on our senior member, Alcee Hastings of Florida, who is also ranking Democrat on our Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He will address the subject of jointness.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you, Jane, for your leadership on this issue, and for being the strong voice that you are in the protection of our nation.
I'd like, as our ranking member said, to touch on two issues that this bill addresses, and that's in my view essential to the improvement of our intelligence community in the years ahead.
Spread throughout the intelligence community, as Jane just said, there are 11 different intelligence agencies, plus intelligence functions within each of our four armed services. It's no wonder that sometimes critical information either falls through the cracks or does not bubble to the top. In some ways the intelligence community is in the position the military was before 1986: too much duplication, too much competition, not enough coordination, not enough collaboration.
Congress responded in 1986, and passed legislation for the military which empowered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make decisions for the military and united the services around core functions, such as looking after our interests in the Pacific and Europe and the Western Hemisphere. Now it's time, as the ranking member said, to institute this type of jointness in our intelligence community, so that we can focus on the missions at hand, which are disrupting terrorists and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The legislation that transformed the Defense Department was very controversial at the time. The military resisted it. It's known as Goldwater-Nichols. But Congress insisted that our nation's warfighters must act together to protect our interests. Today we need similar Congressional resolve to ensure that our intelligence agencies work together to protect our national security.
Second, over the past several years all of us up here have urged, through authorizing language and amendments on the House floor, that the intelligence community must be diverse in order to be successful. There are too few in our apparatus that look, speak, sound and act like the areas where we need the best human intelligence. We've had a series of extraordinarily long hearings, and I just as a matter of record counted the number of people including today -- 110 people came before that committee. One was black, and no Latinos. Need I say more in that regard? James Bond isn't going to infiltrate Tora Bora. We must have more people who speak Pashtun or Urdu, and we must have blacks and browns and yellows and pinks, and any other color that fits the requirement. This bill requires that the newly established director of national intelligence recruit and train women, minorities and individuals with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and foreign language expertise through an array of different programs.
Maybe if we had done this years ago we'd find ourselves in a different place. I look forward to working with my colleagues in this regard. And, Jane, I believe Leonard would be next, right?
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Alcee. I thought you were James Bond. (Laughter.) We will now hear from Leonard Boswell of Iowa, who is ranking Democrat of our Subcommittee on Human Intelligence Analysis and Counterintelligence, called HAIC. Leonard will address the immediate reforms, the 10 reforms in our letter to the president, which we are sending today.
REP. BOSWELL: Thank you, Jane, and thank you for your leadership. You work untiringly. We-the country owes you a lot. We certainly do.
As you mentioned, we believe there is a need for President Bush to take several immediate steps to fix the gaping hole in the intelligence that exists today.
In our letter to President Bush, we have outlined 10 such steps. For example, we urge him to direct the intelligence agencies to scrub all WMD estimates worldwide, and forward updates on all areas of concern. The reports coming out of Iraq are like the 13th time one o'clock. They call into question everything that came before it. So we should revise and scrub our estimates of North Korea, Iran, and figure out now what we don't know.
We also urge the president to institute a program to strengthen international inspections. It turns out that one of the major lessons from Iraq was that the inspectors actually did great work. They helped keep Saddam's weapons programs in check, and they gave us on-the- ground intelligence into what they had. So we want the president to take immediate steps to strengthen and invigorate international inspections.
We also want the president to develop a plan to broaden and diversify our human intelligence work force. We need more people who can speak the language and understand the cultures of targeted countries and groups.
We believe these actions must happen now. We cannot afford to wait until another attack has occurred.
I would like to introduce my colleague-I'm going to refer back to my ranking member. (Laughter.)
REP. HARMAN: I think I'm messing up the system here. Bud Cramer of Alabama has been a great member of our committee. He is ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence Committee-T&T-it is a mouthful-and he will address collection against hard targets.
REP. CRAMER: Thank you, Jane Harman. I thank you for your leadership. My area of north Alabama thanks you for your leadership. And to my colleagues who are joining with us today, I thank them for their determination to hold our intelligence agencies' feet to the fire. We have got to learn lessons from 9/11. We have got to learn lessons from this war on terrorism, and we have got to react to those issues. And that's what we are all about here today.
I applaud our efforts to be bipartisan, and we are bending over backwards to accomplish that. But we cannot let this year slip by.
In our consultations with our experts, and using our hearings and our own individual visits to the intelligence agencies since 9/11, it has become clear that one of our greatest challenges is the collection of information on hard targets. By "hard targets," I mean al Qaeda, I mean for example the country of Iran, North Korea as well. We have numerous instruments, numerous ways of doing that traditionally-human sources, satellites as well. But those instruments and those sources must come together. They must be coordinated. And so in our legislation-and I hope you'll look at it carefully-we create a senior intelligence official whose sole job will be to organize all our collection efforts, to make sure that those are consolidated in one place. We also create a joint tasking organization, a central team that will take all of the collection requests and actually direct the collection of intelligence by our various agencies. This is no small tinker, but this must be done. This will be a major change in the way the intelligence community does business, and we must cause this to happen. Thank you.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Bud. Now comes Anna Eshoo, my classmate, my Californian neighbor, ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy and National Security, to talk about the people of the intelligence community.
REP. ESHOO: Thank you, Jane Harman, for your very special leadership. I can't help but think as we gather here today that out of the Democratic Caucus eight have been chosen to serve and be part of the House Intelligence Committee. This committee has always been important in the life of our nation. I think it is a committee that today is critical to answering the questions that really hang over the attacks on our country. And so this package, this very important legislative package, directs itself to that. We want to be very clear about one thing, and that is that our nation's intelligence professionals are exactly that. Like those who serve in the military, they are absolutely superb. They place their lives on the line around the world. We have met with so many of them here in Washington, D.C., but many of us have traveled-I think every single one of us has traveled to different parts of the world-certainly to Iraq-and we have met with them in those different parts of the world, and we salute them for the work that they do. Our nation is very grateful. We see it first-hand, so we are entirely grateful.
So we believe that this legislation is going to strengthen this work force that I just described even more. How are we going to do that? First, we propose requirements in the legislation that our intelligence community professionals rotate amongst the various agencies. This of course is going to give them broader and deeper experience. It's going to foster better collaboration amongst the agencies. We can't afford to have people just staying in their cubicles. They have to be communicating with one another, but they also have to have an appreciation across the lines of individual agencies. So this is we think a very important proposal.
Secondly, we are going to equip our professionals with the most modern technology available. We are going to give them this modern technology in the following ways: Modern databases and communications technology, so that they can share information in real time, to stop threats to our country. We are all too familiar with the story of the agents that had information about two of the individuals that became part of 9/11. They knew where they lived, knew that their telephone numbers were listed. What's happened with that? It was dependent on a verbal food chain. Today the databases are not common. So everyone that is a part of the intelligence community deserves to have a database across all lines, where they can pose the question, but that all the information will move up. This is a very, very feature of this legislation. Coming from a good part-representing a good part of Silicon Valley, we have the technology and the ability to do this. We need to put it in place.
Finally, we believe the legislation will increase the overall efficiency of the intelligence community and free the critical resources that are there to devote to better pay, benefits and training for our intelligence professionals. If they are going to remain professional, you have to keep investing in that professionalism.
And an important part of strengthening our intelligence community involves empowering the professionals who help protect our country and our freedom, and we believe that this legislation does that. Thank you very much. Thank you, Jane, for your special leadership.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Anna.
Rush Holt, from New Jersey, a new member on our committee, will now address the important subject of red-teaming, a concept borrowed from the military, which uses it very effectively.
REP. HOLT: Thank you, Jane Harman, and thanks for your leadership in putting this together.
We are talking not only about recommendations to the president, but also legislation. And I'd like to talk a little bit about red- teaming. Intelligence-the entire intelligence community exists so that we know what we need to know for our national security. And part of that is to make sure that we actually know what we think we know. Certainly in the matter of the intelligence that led us up to and into Iraq, there were some shortcomings. As Ranking Member Harman mentioned, we've been looking closely at the issue of prewar intelligence in Iraq, and that look has led us to these recommendations that we are making today.
And although our review is still ongoing, we have learned clearly about some of the breakdowns.
One place was the development of the National Intelligence Estimate, the NIE. The 25-page version of the NIE on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was released in October of 2002. It made clear-cut statements about Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the capabilities and supposed stockpiles as part of the key judgments. And in that document that intelligence community informed us that Iraq would probably have a nuclear weapon within a decade. Well, we now know that those judgments were based on faulty information or stale information that had not been verified, or sources that could not be trusted, or defectors who had an ax to grind, or extrapolation that went beyond the evidence.
When you go back and look at it carefully you realize the so- called facts just weren't there. What we need and what we are proposing today is an institutional devil's advocate. It's a special red team in the Office of the DNI, and that it would be charged with challenging assumptions, poking holes in the so-called judgments of the intelligence community. In other words, the red team would be our in-house alternative analysis unit-our insurance against self- deception, our protection against fooling ourselves. It would make the NIE stronger and less subject to misinterpretation or selective editing by policymakers or others. And the new red team section would be where doubts and concerns and alternative views are laid out. If someone had taken the NIE from October 2002 and really challenged the assumptions, history might have been different.
Now, I know that it will greatly improve our intelligence products, and we absolutely need to do something like this, because one of the lessons of life, as well as government, is that the easiest person to deceive is yourself. Self-deception is what the intelligence community exists to protect us against, and we know going into Iraq there was group think, there was conventional thinking. There was believing what people wanted to believe, or seeing what they wanted to see in noisy data. This will be an institutional check against that.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Rush, that was excellent. I would just point out that some of us were in Baghdad recently-it was a return visit for me-and saw some of our intelligence products produced there. And on one page they say what we know, what we don't know, what we think. That's the kind of product we're talking about here, so that a policymaker, a person entrusted with making the policy decision, gets as clear a picture as we can give of what's going on out there, and this red team in concept is integral to the kinds of reforms we're talking about.
It's now my pleasure to introduce the rookie, Dr. Ruppersberger of Maryland, who will also address this important topic of jointness.
REP. RUPPERSBERGER: Jane, thank you for your leadership. And first, before we start, it's so important because our national security is at stake, that we act now. We can't wait. We must start putting in the change in policies that will protect our country and our citizens.
Now, good intelligence is clearly the best defense against another terrorist attack. After 9/11, the intelligence community has begun working together, probably better than they ever have in the history of this country-but much more needs to be done.
This legislation will push the team work to a new level, to protect our families and our communities.
Now, as Congressman Hastings said, there are 11 different intelligence agencies in addition to intelligence functions within each of our four armed services. That's a lot of people, a lot of functions. The 9/11 Commission found that one intelligence agency had gathered critical information about the hijackers but did not pass it along to another. Now, it is unclear if the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented, but better communication and coordination will definitely help protect our country in the future. In some ways, the intelligence community is in the position the military was before 1986: again, too much duplication, too much competition, not enough coordination, and not enough collaboration. Now it's time to institute this type of coordination and teamwork-and teamwork is so important in our intelligence community-so that we can focus on the missions at hand, disrupting terrorists and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Goldwater-Nichols was very controversial at the time: the military resisted. But Congress insisted that our nation's warfighters must act together to protect our interests. Today we need similar congressional resolve to ensure that our intelligence agencies work together to protect our national security.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Dutch.
When you look at our organization chart, you will see that the Defense Department has been written in in very critical roles. In fact, our number two here, the deputy director of national intelligence, is dual-hatted as we say-it's good bureaucrat-speak. He's also the undersecretary-or she-of Defense for intelligence. And we have done that for a reason. We want to fully integrate the Defense Department and the military into this system that we are creating. We think it will work most effectively that way. And we also know that one of the key roles for intelligence is force protection. And here to talk about working with the military is Silvestre Reyes, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a long-time member of our committee.
REP. REYES: Thank you, Jane, and thanks for the great job that you've done in bringing us together to put together a proposal that we think not only significantly changes the way this country will be able to rely on its intelligence system, but I think greatly streamlines it. I apologize for being late, but I'm also on the Armed Services Committee, and we had a meeting that I couldn't leave early enough to be here. But, nonetheless, as our ranking member said, both the military and the intelligence community work hard to enhance national security. However, there is a lack of communication between these two entities, and that can be critically important and we know in the past has led to some problems.
We believe that our bill will change this joint relationship. As we all know, the military controls much of the intelligence budget, because large segments of our intelligence community, including the NSA and the NGA, are under military structure. These agencies should remain part of the military structure, however there must be a better coordination between the military and their intelligence counterparts. Therefore, in addition to the DNI, the director of national intelligence, we are also creating another new position, the deputy director of national intelligence-essentially the DNI's number two, the deputy-who would be dual-hatted, as the ranking member has said, as both the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and a position that incidentally exists already today and that will give us the capability to provide that kind of integrated relationship.
From the feedback that we have received from experts in this area, we believe it is critical to institutionalize that relationship between the military and the intelligence community, all in the leadership capability, and we believe that this legislation will help us to achieve that.
This in part is part of our effort to ensure that the entire community works together cohesively to achieve its mission of collecting and analyzing critical intelligence vital to our national security.
In addition to this, let me just make a few comments about another part that is very important personally to me, and I know to all the members of our committee, and that is the prioritization in the intelligence community to understanding the cultures, understanding the languages, and being able to communicate in different regions of the world.
We believe that if 9/11 taught us one lesson, it's that for many years we had failed to focus on understanding, appreciating and speaking the different languages and dialects from throughout the world in areas of conflict, particularly that would create potential threats to our national security. We are hopeful that with this legislation-we are hopeful that with the experience of the last two and a half years or so, and the many different hearings that we have held, where we have prioritized these kinds of issues, that wee have turned the corner and that the intelligence community now understands and appreciates the amount of interest that members of Congress have in this vital and important area for our country. So I appreciate the opportunity to have had a role in presenting this proposal that we hope will change the way we do things in a very vital and meaningful way at this critical point in our history.
REP. HARMAN: Silver's testimony points up another deficiency, which our excellent staff, whom I would like to introduce briefly, pointed out, which is that we have been good over the years at understanding the technical signatures-What does a certain chemical or biological weapon look like? What smells or other signatures does it emit? But we have not understood the human signatures, the plans and intentions of human beings, and that after all is more important than the stuff that may or may not be in their possession. That's the stuff that our policymakers have to understand, and to get there from here we really have to have the diversity-not just the language, but the cultural understanding that we have so lacked.
Let me just introduce four staff members-committee staff members who are here and who've played a vital role on this legislation. And the reason I'm doing this is first of all I'm proud of them, but also you should understand that in addition to this diverse and wonderful group behind me, we have a hard-working and long-suffering staff. Suzanne Spaulding, who is our chief of staff in the minority side of the committee has had 20 years of national security experience. Beth Larson, professional staff member, has 25 years. Wow. Kirk McConnell, 25 years; and Wendy Parker, 8 years. That's a total of 78 years of national security experience, and it shows in this legislation.
The members are very proud of it, and we're very proud of our staff. And now we're happy to take your questions. Yes?
Q (It's a Republican sort of a ?) question here. First of all, CIA is supposed to do what you're seeking to do, unify all the intelligence collections. You know, we've had, what, about 40 years of experience, and that hasn't worked. So, what's the hope now? The other one is, what are you hoping you accomplish with the bill in this short session without any Republicans supporting it?
REP. HARMAN: Okay. Well, and I welcome other members to chime in. On the CIA point, the CIA-our current structure was set up in 1947, as I pointed out in my opening remarks-as part of the National Security Act to fight an enemy that no longer exists. And the CIA, the Director of Central Intelligence has never had the statutory or budgetary authority to do the full job that people expect that person to do. The DNI would not only modernize other aspects of our intelligence capability, but would finally give one person the authority to do the whole job. It has not been a function of the inadequacy of the person who's the DCI. It's been the inadequacy of the system under which that person operates.
In terms of why are we doing this now, I tried to say that. We think these problems can't wait until November. We understand that there are only nine hearty souls standing here at the moment, but these legislative ideas have a lot of support out in the community. Check it out. You'll see. And bipartisan parentage in the sense that the bipartisan joint inquiry endorsed this DNI idea, and we are approaching Republicans now. We're hopeful that members of our own committee will join us, but that members in the House in general and the Senate in general will also join us, and we would very much welcome a companion bill being introduced on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.
Q One of the points that members making, testifying before the 9/11 Commission was that Congress' problem in that they were afraid to go forward because of the reaction they would get -- (inaudible) -- ? To what extent do you think 9/11 has changed that culture -- (inaudible) -- and to what extent do you think it's just -- (inaudible) -- ?
REP. HARMAN: Someone else like to answer first? Okay.
REP. REYES: You know, it is clear and, I'm in my fourth term, but I've been on this committee now, going on four years. But it's clear to us based on a full year of investigation that this committee participated on on the issues of 9/11, plus the things that we've learned with the 9/11 Commission and everything else since then in hearings. And trying to again understand from inside out, top to bottom, bottom to top, the things and the areas that we could have done better. And we have an obligation to do better.
So I think that, irrespective of what has gone on in the past and whether there has been timidity on the part of Congress to step forward and do the kinds of things that frankly this legislation proposal hopes to do, I think those days are over.
I'm very proud of the job that collectively we have done, and there-and I should say that there are a number of members on the Republican side of the aisle in our committee that we work on different issues, have the same concerns and are attempting to work within that framework to be able to address these changes and these kinds of things that we've presented here today.
So, we appeal to members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to work in a bipartisan manner for the best interests of our national security, for the best interests of our country, and to be able to move forward together in areas as you have pointed out that where in the past, people have been reluctant to go. Whether that happens remains to be seen. I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful, and I know with the kind of leadership that our ranking member Jane Harman provides to us, her relationship with the chairman, and we're all cognizant of how tough it's been to work some of these issues through because of the politics, and we all know that it's a presidential election year. But all that said, we need to put those things aside and do what's best for this country. Do what's best for its citizens. And most importantly, remembering that we have a group of people that were affected directly by 9/11 that are all the time calling us and meeting with us and imploring upon us to please make sure that we work, to make sure that that kind of a horrible day never comes here again in this country.
REP. ESHOO: Just very quickly. Number 1, the world changed on September 11th, 2001. Nothing, nothing has the reach that that day has. So, our lives changed; the history of our country and the history of the world.
Number two: We're legislators. And listening, having hearings, asking questions, examining, reexamining. We don't-at the end of the day, we don't need permission. We don't need a permission slip from anyone to introduce legislation that we think is worthy of this entire effort of trying to fix and repair the very things that we have learned through the hearings that broke down. So, that's our responsibility.
And number three: I believe the American people are way ahead of us. Are way ahead of us. They know that something needs to be done.
And fourthly: This is the tough work. This is not sexy. This is the stuff that needs to be done in the dryness of legislative language, but full bore, it really addresses, not everything, but some of the most important pieces that were missing or need to be upgraded in our intelligence community.
REP. HARMAN: I would only add to that that I think Congress has been on the case. The joint inquiry that I served on, and some of us did, did come to, I think, a unanimous view, one of the plot, as we understood it, and Richard Clarke testified before us, as I think you all know. And two, of the need for 19 recommendations, many of them legislative, including this one. That was a unanimous report, and it also included in there some commentary on a view of the early Bush Administration, for example, and its response to terror, which has come out in the news in the last couple of days. And my point in mentioning that is we didn't shy away from some of the tough stuff, and that was a unanimous report. Republicans and Democrats, including Porter Goss and others, supported that report.
Last comment: Porter Goss has often said-and I agree with him totally-that what changed on 9/11 was the audience. And Anna Eshoo is right. The people want reform. We want reform, and we're hopeful that by acting now, notwithstanding the election year, and putting very good policy ideas out there, that the people and those legislators here who are not yet embracing this legislation, will join us and get this proposal past.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. HARMAN: Well, I've spoken out about that. He has not yet requested, and I don't believe he is requesting-at least not at the moment-to release that testimony.
But it-it-the transcript of Richard Clarke's comments to the joint inquiry did go to the NSC-that's part of the White House-from our intelligence committee, at the chairman's request. I think that's unprecedented, sending a transcript of this NS-then NSC employee talking to members of Congress without Congress approving it. And it went from the NSC to the CIA to begin the process of declassification. That's done at the CIA by a technical group of people. I was surprised that it was handled that way. I disagree with the way it was handled. I think all of us are prepared to make much more information available to the public, if it can be declassified. We all took that position as this 810-page joint inquiry report was being reviewed at the CIA. It was the administration that opposed making more available. On a bipartisan basis, we were pushing for that, but I am against selective declassification. If the Clarke material is going to be disclosed, let's disclose it all, subject to deleting the sources and methods and active investigations, and the things that have to be deleted. But let's disclose it all so people see it in context. And let's disclose a lot of other material that I think the public has a right to know.
Leonard, do you have something to say?
REP. BOSWELL: Just a very very brief comment.
REP. HARMAN: Come over to the microphone.
REP. BOSWELL: I'll just be loud. I'll do it from here, and that is, you know, times have changed, as has been said over and over. This DNI-for example, I have a top secret clearance for years. I learned how to assemble mass destruction weapons and things like that a long time ago, but I have a top secret clearance but there are certain things I couldn't have access to because I didn't have the need to know. This will make a major change. If the idea is to share information --
REP. HARMAN: Good point.
REP. BOSWELL: -- Jane has said that. Under this concept, this structure --
REP. HARMAN: Need to share instead of need to know.
REP. BOSWELL: -- somebody will be looking at the bigger picture and make it through the sharing thing moves on, and if the sharing thing's going on, why perhaps we can prevent another (9/11 ?).
REP. HARMAN: Right. Here, here. Someone else? Yes? Kim.
Q First of all, I was wondering whether you all had approached the White House behind the scenes before today about those items that don't require legislation -- (inaudible) -- by executive action?
REP. HARMAN: Well, we've spoken out about them. In terms of specifically calling the White House, I certainly have not. Has anyone else done that? No. But those ideas have been part of the public domain at least coming from us in recent time, and I think all of them could be done by this president or any president under his existing authority, and we think they need to be done now. We can't wait until next March for a Commission on WMD to make those recommendations. The world is too dangerous to wait.
REP. HOLT: Jane, if I may just say a brief word on that. Just to reiterate what Jane said, these ideas have been out there. We've been looking to the White House to take action on them. Not seeing that action, we thought we might help the process by delineating them, and so now there can be no question in anybody's mind that these are some steps that can and should be taken.
Q The other thing I wanted to ask is before today -- (inaudible) -- in terms of the DCI being in charge of the CIA and the whole intelligence community has been spoken of including in the joint inquiry report that that worked -- (inaudible) -- but there you have a different sort of double hatting-REP. HARMAN: They have a different hat, a different double hat.
Q-spoken of -- (inaudible). Can you explain how this -- (inaudible) --
REP. HARMAN: Well, I think many of you know, especially those policy junkies about new organization for the intelligence community, but the old version of the DNI idea was different. And it was strongly opposed. In fact, the Secretary of Defense just recently said before the 9/11 Commission that he still opposes the idea. However, this organization that we have come up with, we think, will get much better reception when it is reviewed and reconsidered. We have set it up this way because, as Silvestre Reyes said, fusing the intelligence community with military operations is absolutely critical since we have learned very clearly in Iraq and elsewhere that force protection depends on good intelligence. And setting it up this way, with the number two person being the head of the intelligence organization of the Pentagon, and also the deputy to the director of national intelligence coordinating all the intelligence agencies beyond the Defense Department agencies is the best way to get that fusion. And we think this delivers what we're looking for, which is one national, integrated intelligence community against a lethal, integrated, horizontally integrated, digital threat. This is much better capability.
Q (Off mike.) And secondly, some people have projected that the intelligence community also -- (inaudible) -- because there is so much to do at this point oversight -- (inaudible) -- What do you think? Are there any specific objections -- (inaudible)?
REP. HARMAN: We shared these proposals, the outline for these proposals. There have been only the most technical changes as we got a little smarter drafting the bill, but we shared these proposals with the majority over a week ago. I have also had conversations with Porter Goss about this material over years and years and years, and I don't know of any specific objections. You would have to ask the majority. But we could not wait any longer for a response, and we decided to act. And I informed the chairman yesterday that we were going to act.
REP. CRAMER: Could I chime in on that?
Q Would you go the microphone?
REP. CRAMER: I think Jane's point about we couldn't wait to act is an important one, and one that I meant to emphasize. We're not standing here and saying that we're challenging our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We're saying that it's our responsibility today to put a product on the table for them to react to that product, and then put their views forward, too. Your question about whether we should wait, or whether we should-why do it now when past Congresses haven't done it, I can't react to 9/11 and not do what we're doing today and so, I know from my relationships on the other side of the aisle, they're good, they're many, I would expect my colleagues to react to this in a positive way. Most of what we have put on the table is subject to some amount of give and take, and we've invited that. A lot of ideas came from experts in the field, they came from our hearings. The hearings were participated in in a bipartisan way. I think it's a good conscientious, maybe I would call it a first start, but nevertheless we've got to do this, and we've got to leave some time for us to see what kind of give and take we can engage in. Our letter to the president is an effort in that regard too.
REP. HARMAN: You asked how-thank you, Bud-about the reorganization of the intelligence committees, they are small, they are select. We're all appointed by our leaderships to serve on this committee. It's a high honor. It took me four years of trying to get appointed to the House Intelligence Committee, and I filled the Bill Richardson seat, and he left a big mark in the House. And should they be made permanent changes, and so forth, that's a leadership call, but I can tell you just as one member, I could spend 24 hours a day working on these issues. I at present already spend probably at least half that working on these issues, and our staff spends 27 hours a day. So I know and we all know how critical these issues are. We're very proud of what we're announcing today. We think that these are critical steps. The president should take some of them right now, and the Congress should also take some of them right now.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. HARMAN: Well, we do not propose an MI5, which is the British version of a domestic intelligence gathering agency.
We have studied them. Numbers of us have been to Britain to meet with the MI5 folks, and one of the interesting things was the head of MI5, who happens to be a woman, said to me, gee, we like your Joint Terrorism Task Forces, the JTTFs, which are the new innovation that the FBI in America has, to set up integrating operations near or in our major cities, Los Angeles has four of these, because it's a huge metropolitan center. But, the JTTF concept, we think, is working very well here. We do have some changes in store for the FBI in our proposal.
When we talk about jointness, Goldwater-Nichols, we would have the head of intelligence at the FBI, a big new focus at the FBI, subject to the same organizational requirements as the heads of the other intelligence agencies. But, we think that's absolutely critical if we're going to get to a need to share culture, which is key to finding all the dots, and connecting them to the right conclusions.
Who has not asked a question who would like to?
Q (Off mike.) You have a term limit for the DCI, but not for the DNI -- (inaudible) -- you have a broad appeal to broaden the -- (inaudible) -- now with hiring foreign -- (inaudible) -- many of these people would-foreign language speakers would likely be -- (inaudible). That takes a -- (inaudible) --
REP. HARMAN: Let me just address the DCI terms, and ask one of my colleagues to address the other piece. We are trying to make the DCI more comparable to the FBI director. We think that the functions are comparable, obviously one is focused on foreign intelligence, and so forth, and the other is focused domestically. And that's why we've given him, or her, a term of 10 years, that's what the FBI director has. And that, it seems to us, is a better realignment of the functions.
The DNI, in my concept, would be a presidential appointment, so would the DCI, but a presidential appointment serving for the same term as a-serving for the term the president chooses, serving at the pleasure of the president. So no longer than the president's term, unless continued by the president's successor. And the legislation is not clear about Cabinet status for the DNI. But, my personal view is that is where we should go. I think that person needs to be a peer of other Cabinet secretaries, certainly the Homeland Security Director, and the Secretary of Defense should be peers of this person.
REP. REYES: Before coming to Congress I spent 26-1/2 years in federal law enforcement. Speaking for no one except myself, I know that there is a system, a vetting process that can provide the kind of diversity, the kind of expertise that is required in today's ever changing world. And I think the basic and fundamental issue is one of making it a priority, making sure that there's a priority in the intelligence community to go out and recruit people from diverse backgrounds, diverse languages, diverse cultures, so that we can in a more meaningful way evaluate, analyze, and communicate in this very critical area.
REP. HOLT: If I may also add to this, the legislation we're recommending today is not the only thing we're doing interest eh committee. For example, we're preparing legislation right now to enhance our language capabilities. And, in fact, this afternoon the committee will be addressing that issue again. So I have legislation, others are working on legislation that will look at our language proficiency. We've talked a great deal about recruitment, recruitment in communities of foreign speakers, and that-some of that might be made easier. We intend that this reorganization will make it easier, but we're also addressing it in other ways.
REP. HARMAN: Let me just add, finally, that the DNI, under this legislation, will have a new authority to reorganize classification and personnel security clearances, and that will make a difference. Each agency has different processes, and you are right, there is a problem clearing people who are foreign born. We have to deal with that. Obviously we don't want to be recruiting spies, so it's critically important that they be vetted properly. But, if we are trying to learn human signatures, we need human beings who understand the cultures of countries, and organizations that pose us threats. And we have got to do a better job of the way we clear people.
Q If I could bring you back to Richard Clarke for a second. Can I get your opinion on how effective he was as the terrorism chief in that job? Was he a bull in a China shop, as some have described? What was your working relationship life with him? And has your opinion of him changed at all?
REP. HARMAN: I don't know Richard Clarke well, but I have encountered him over years. I was a member of the 10-person commission on terrorism in 1999 and 2000 chaired by Jerry Bremer, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, who is now the civil administrator in Iraq. So I was one of the 10 members there. We interviewed Richard Clarke for the report that we did, the Bremer Commission Report, which recommended a lot of changes that are part of this legislation, and also predicted a major attack, terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland, we predicted that in the year 2000, as did several other commissions that plowed these fields.
I met him then. He seemed to me to be a serious, no-nonsense guy, perhaps a bull in a china shop. I'm not sure that's a bad quality if you're a bureaucrat for 30 years. He was passionate about his subjects. And I recall his testimony before us as factual, just telling us what he was doing in his organization. And we were very sympathetic, since we all thought that the terrorist threat was enormous. I also recall his testimony before the joint inquiry. It was six hours long. I checked, I was not there for the morning session, but I was there for the afternoon session, and I have read his testimony, which is still classified, so I'm not going to give you any details, but again, it was focused on the record, the plot of 9/11. And I thought he was an impressive witness.
I've begun to read his book, which I bought. Nobody sent it to me. The first chapter is riveting, but I really don't want to characterize him, or his ambitions at this point. I think he was a very important player in the time leading up to 9/11, and four presidents selected him to serve them. The current President Bush sent him a warm note upon his departure, and I think that record speaks for itself.
REP. HOLT: I actually worked with Dick Clark for a couple of years, long before I came to Congress, when I worked in the State Department, and he was then, as he remains, someone who pushes very hard for what he works on, and what he believes in, and we see that. the other point I would make is he is not one for whom contrition is a strong characteristic, and when he apologized for errors made, that said a great deal, because I'm sure that doesn't come easy to him.
REP. HARMAN:: Let's take one more question, if there's one more. We have to go back to work, and I'm sure you do, too. Anybody?
Q Have you all spoken to Senator Kerry about this package? Does he have any position on it? (Inaudible.)
REP. HARMAN: We haven't spoken to Senator Kerry about it. I'm sure we will share this package with the Kerry operation, and the Bush operation, and our colleagues in Congress today. As soon as this bill is introduced and we have a bill number, we're sending a dear colleague letter on this bill to all of our colleagues, all 435 colleagues, and we look forward to a lot of interest in the bill, and a lot of cosponsors from both parties.
Thank you very much.