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Panel I of a Hearing of the House Government Reform Committee - 9/11 Commission Recommendations

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service August 3, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: PANEL I OF A HEARING OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

CHAIRED BY: REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA)

WITNESSES: JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER ®; BOB KERREY, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER (D)

BODY:

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REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the gentlemen for your service to our country and all the commission members for rising above the political rhetoric and the bashing and all of the partisanship that goes on even as you have heard in this committee. And you've produced a truly bipartisan report that rises above that and that honors the thousands who died on 9/11, honors their grieving family members, and also gives hope to our men and women in uniform throughout the world who are fighting those Islamic extremists who seek our destruction and who corrupted their religious teachings in such a distorted way that they can state that they're killing for their creator.

I wanted to raise two issues that were raised in your report that are currently being debated in our International Relations Committee, and we'll have you appear before us in the coming days. And these legislative proposals that we're putting forth have to do with the information-sharing component of your report and the need for executive branch reorganization.

I wanted to ask if you believe that each agency involved in counterterrorism efforts should reorganize their own infrastructure to better integrate and coordinate the intelligence, the policy, the operational component, and should each agency essentially have a single dedicated office or division working exclusively on U.S. counterterrorism policy that will serve as a point of contact for other U.S. agencies and the soon-to-be-created terrorism center?

And also another proposal that we're looking at is your observation of the commission that has to do with the need to transform the system of need-to-know into one of need-to-share. But there are concerns that increasing the number of individuals with access to intelligence could jeopardize sources and methods, and in turn that could jeopardize not only our intelligence-gathering capabilities but our operational response as well. And how would you address those concerns and safeguard against these potential problems? Thank you.

MR. LEHMAN: I'll start, if I might, to that. One of the most essential things in reforming our current structure is rationalize the current security system. As you rightly put it, "to change from a need to know to a need to share culture." And that is one more very strong recommendation for a national intelligence director, who has that power that cuts across agencies.

Today, too many agencies do all their own classifying, do all their own background investigations, do all their own stamping and when in doubt, stamp it one level higher than it should be. What we are recommending is a cultural change, and that goes to the first part of your question. Should each of the agencies, the 15 agencies, change, reorganize themselves. I believe that what-the only reason for making these organizational changes is to bring about a cultural change, to provide an environment in the whole community and in each of the agencies where people can become innovative, can do the right thing, because we have fabulously talented people in each of these agencies that are kind of in shackles because of the bureaucratic process.

So, if we can change, give the power to somebody at the top to break up these shackles, to remove these obstacles, then each of the agency heads will be able to reorganize their own agencies and bring about a culture of sharing and of putting proper responsibilities where they belong. Specifically, in the classification issue, one of the greatest tyrannies in the classification system is what's called originator control. If NSA originates a piece of intelligence, they get to control it, nobody else. If CIA originates a piece, they get to control. It's called ORCON. That has to be totally changed. We have to have a system where sources and methods are detached as soon as the intelligence is gathered, and then it's fed into the system of sharing free of. So everybody doesn't have to maintain this ORCON compartmentalization throughout. So, that is why you're getting-an idea why we believe this is a whole. It's not a Chinese menu, these recommendations.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you very much.

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you.

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