REMARKS DELIVERED BY
JOHN D. NEGROPONTE
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

TO THE
WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCILS OF AMERICAS
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005
THE OMNI SHOREHAM HOTEL
WASHINGTON, DC

Ambassador Negroponte:

It’s a pleasure to be with all of you here this evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I also want to note that in the reception beforehand, I had a chance to meet with – again – with a number of people that I have known before through the course of my career, a number of whom represent your councils around the country. Whether it was Los Angeles or New York, or Stamford, Connecticut, and other places where I have had a chance to speak during the course of my time in public service. I have always appreciated greatly the work that World Affairs Councils do around our country. I think you play a vital role in promoting and understanding an awareness of foreign affairs and national security issues and I want to encourage you to keep up the great work.

I also want to thank Dr. Sugar for not only the introduction but for the great contribution that your corporation makes to the national security of our country.

I want to express my appreciation to the various sponsors of our event this evening. I want to greet the Ambassador of Brazil to Washington. A good friend – I am happy to see you again, sir.

Above all, I want to thank Ambassador Jones for having invited me to speak to you this evening. Jim and I have known each other a long time, but I suppose the time when we were the most closely associated professionally, was when Jim succeeded me as Ambassador to Mexico. I think we both – we don't fight over this. I think we both share great pride in the fact that we accomplished the North American Free Trade Agreement during our respective tenures. I guess I would take credit for mostly for the negotiating part and I think Jim would take credit for having helped get it through the Congress. I think that was the division of labor and I think that President Clinton – it was an inspired choice on his part to ask Jim Jones to be our Ambassador to Mexico at that critical moment in the history of United States-Mexico relations.

As I said earlier, over the years, I have had a number of opportunities to address World Affairs Councils around the United States, and I always have been impressed with the size, the diversity, and the expertise of your membership.

There are many ways to try to stay abreast of developments in today’s world, but surely one of the most important and effective is direct contact and dialogue between public servants like myself and civic, business, and cultural leaders like the members of the World Affairs Councils.

I also value your many initiatives that go beyond speakers programs – your exchanges, your people-to-people public diplomacy, your workshops, outreach to schools, support for the Model United Nations, and efforts to promote discussion of international issues on radio, television, and in the print media.

In an era of global interdependence, the World Affairs Council plays an indispensable role in ensuring that we have an informed citizenry that can make judgments and take stands on matters that affect all Americans.

So I accept your award with gratitude for your recognition of my career as a diplomat, but I speak to you in my capacity as Director of National Intelligence, a position created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Which has the rather unfortunate sounding acronym of IRTPA. Having served as the Director of National Intelligence for nine months now, with my principal charge being to implement the Act, let me say that I believe the nation’s efforts at intelligence reform are headed in the right direction, but before I expand on this topic, I would like to emphasize two points.

My first is that even as we implement intelligence reform, the Intelligence Community is supporting the nation in fighting a war. This war has fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, where our military confronts deadly enemies. It also has fronts elsewhere and much closer to home. The terrorists who struck on 9/11 have never stopped trying to strike us again. But this does not mean that our adversaries are winning or will win this war. Neither is the case. And that is at least in part attributable to the efforts of the patriotic, lawful, dedicated efforts of our Intelligence Community. Even as we discuss and consider what we must do to protect American lives within the framework of our Constitution, we should keep in mind that many Intelligence Community professionals are taking life-threatening risks to keep us safe. Unlawful disclosures of classified information put us all in greater jeopardy and demonstrate disregard for real sacrifices on the front lines of a dangerous conflict.

My second general point is this: Conducting a war and implementing reform – what President Bush has called the most dramatic reform of our Intelligence Community since President Truman – are both daunting challenges, each in their own right. Doing them both at once is even more daunting. But as we have no choice when it comes to the war, and the fact is that we need intelligence reform to help address threats to national security that go beyond terror. Countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction, to cite a single additional threat, is an essential task for the Intelligence Community, and unfortunately there are many more.

Here’s a simple way of looking at reform that may resonate in particular with those of you in the business world: Prior to the reform legislation, our Intelligence Community was a federation of business units directed by a CEO whose overwhelming preoccupation was operating the lead business unit. By this, I mean that the Director of the CIA was dual-hatted: he also was Director of Central Intelligence, coordinating and guiding 14 other intelligence agencies. Further, the Intelligence Community had a structural challenge: it wasn’t well organized to respond to transnational threats confronting the homeland.

Various studies and inquiries – notably those produced by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the 9/11 Commission and the Silberman-Robb Commission – did the nation a great service by documenting the requirement for change in our intelligence practices and posture. Now, the IRTPA has put that requirement into law. It created the position and office of the Director of National Intelligence to make the United States Government collect and produce more sophisticated and accurate intelligence, to disseminate it more quickly to more of the people who need it, and to make the necessary organizational changes required to accomplish all of this.

As a consequence, while making a number of decisions and setting various initiatives in motion, I have spent my first nine months building a leadership team whose job it is to help me optimize the Intelligence Community, and develop a strategy for them to execute. I will speak about some of our specific decisions and initiatives in a moment, because they are the stuff of real tangible reform, but first let me talk about the leadership team of the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence and our strategy.

My Principal Deputy, Air Force General Mike Hayden, and I have recruited an experienced corps of senior executives in whom we have great confidence. If there is a single reason to think that our office will make good decisions and ensure that they are carried out, it lies in the quality of our four Deputy Directors of National Intelligence, the Associate Directors of National Intelligence, the Directors of the National Counterterrorism Center and National Counterproliferation Center, the Program Manager for the Information Sharing, and many others.

In the Washington scheme of things, the leadership team of the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence was assembled very quickly. What is this team’s job? In my mind, it has been assembled to do four things: preside over the Intelligence Community’s strategy, policies, standards, and budgets. Again four things: strategy, policies, standards, and budgets. And the Directorate of National Intelligence is not here to manage the Intelligence Community’s individual business units – their own leadership can do that – it is here to integrate – this is a real watchword for us – to integrate them into what President Bush has called for. That is to say, an intelligence enterprise that is “more unified, coordinated, and effective.”

So one of our leadership team’s first tasks was to devise a National Intelligence Strategy that would bring about comprehensive reform while preparing to meet our intelligence needs as the 21st century unfolds.

The National Intelligence Strategy – I invite you to review it at www.DNI.gov, because it is, and I think this is probably something of a first for the Intelligence Community – it is an unclassified, public document. We believe that it gives everyone in the Intelligence Community clear direction. We need to move from a loosely federated Intelligence Community to a well-integrated one, and we’re doing that. The leadership team of the Directorate of National Intelligence began consulting with the 15 Intelligence Community leaders last summer to define and align our objectives. This integrated planning process will continue, serving as a forcing function for innovation. It also will provide the data necessary to make budgetary decisions in the context of the whole enterprise.

And as we budget, we will measure. For every strategic objective, we will stipulate outcomes that are both quantifiable and intuitively right. This process is consistent with the best practices of industry and the public sector.

In addition to overarching objectives, the National Intelligence Strategy points to many of the specific reforms we have undertaken consistent with the legislation and the 70+ recommendations of the Silberman-Robb Commission, and our commitment to protect American civil liberties and privacy. In nine months we have – and I cite a number of these achievements:

So in addition to team building and strategy development, I view our first nine months as a period of quick action in areas where immediate reform and structural reorganization were necessary. Urgency is our watchword as we strive to achieve cascading effects that make it possible for everyone in the 15-agency Intelligence Community to work more effectively with each other and better serve the President, the Congress, our troops overseas and our law enforcement officers at home.

Now, having received your recognition this evening and availed myself of your attention, let me offer to reciprocate by trying to answer a few questions. In so doing, let me note that even though I was asked to speak about intelligence reform this evening, I share your great interest in this conference’s major theme – the world’s rising powers, China, India, Russia, Brazil, and others. The point of intelligence reform, of course, is to make sure that we have a good understanding of this and similar topics. As the President’s principal intelligence advisor, that is an essential element of my job.

I also would like to take note of the award you plan to give to Anne Garrels for her news coverage from Iraq. I have admired Annie’s journalism a long time, and I can tell you that her contribution to the public understanding of developments in Iraq are not only outstanding but heroic. The tragic element of unpredictable danger in Iraq remains far too high, even though it is an uncertain indicator of the progress the Iraqi people are making as they shape their political destiny. The two elections and constitutional referendum the Iraqis have held in the last twelve months have had a much larger and more lasting impact in Iraq and the entire Middle East than any insurgent or terrorist attack could ever have.

When we talk about “nation-building” we often think of schools, hospitals, ports and bridges, but the central element, especially when confronting terror and insurgency, is less tangible, though more durable. “Nation building” is first and foremost an act of political will, calling for courage, leadership, and sacrifice. By skillfully reporting and recording what she has seen and heard throughout Iraq, I think Anne Garrels has given her audience an opportunity to get to know the Iraqi people’s political will firsthand. Despite the costs that they have paid, their determination remains strong, and that’s what ultimately will be decisive in defeating the insurgency and terror alike.

But again, I think dialogue is what makes the World Affairs Council so special. As Jim mentioned earlier, I understand that he may have collected a few questions from you and if they are as good as the ones that I have always received at the World Affairs Council events, I’m sure they will be first-rate. And so, Jim, I am ready if you are.

Thank you very much. (Applause)

Ambassador Jones:

John, thank you very much for those words. We are going to go into a few questions. You have to earn that – do that to earn the award, right? One question came in dealing with the concern that not enough Americans speak Middle Eastern languages, and what can be done to better engage Americans of Middle East background to help the situation and bring peace in the Middle East.

Ambassador Negroponte:

First of all, I couldn’t agree with you more with respect to languages – language and area studies. I think this is a field of endeavor and academic and intellectual activity that in the wake of 9/11 has really, again, come to the fore in terms of importance and interest for our country.

I think one of the problems we have had in foreign affairs and national security community is that there was a decline in the number of people working in these various fields including in the intelligence community after the end of the Cold War. The 1990's saw an overall decline in the size of those working in the area national security. If you combine that with the retirements that have occurred in government service as a result of the baby boomers, if you will, coming of retirement age, we have had a real hollowing out of the middle and senior ranks of our services.

This is an area we need to reinvigorate – and it's a high priority for the Intelligence Community, not only training people in language and area studies during the course of their careers – which is the expensive way to do it, if you will. But I think we also have to make efforts to encourage more language study within the population of the United States as a whole.

In that vein, I’m pleased to announce to you that just recently, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and myself jointly launched an initiative to promote greater study in K through 12 schools in the United States of foreign languages. And the Intelligence Community is making a contribution to that effort and we expect to see our contribution grow in the years ahead. (Applause)

As far as availing ourselves of the talents of the various ethnic and national communities that have integrated to the United States – becomes citizens of our country. By all means, I think we must avail ourselves of the talents, and the skills, and the backgrounds and experience of those people. Certainly, from my experience in the Foreign Service, which is of course longer than the time I have been in the Intelligence Community, I see that happening before my eyes. I think it is a trend that is both desirable and to be encouraged.

Ambassador Jones:

I am going to try to bunch together some questions and I also – he has about two more hours of work yet to do tonight – so I also promised him I would try to get him out at a decent hour. Here are a number of questions that deal first of all with your experience in Iraq and intelligence gathering. Let me try to summarize them into one question about three or four points.

One is – there is the comment about the intelligence failures with the Weapons of Mass Destruction, etc. Are you satisfied that the intelligence reforms that are going on will prevent these sorts of major intelligence failures in the future?

Another question that sort of related to that, are you satisfied that the political pressure that some write about on the dissemination of intelligence has been corrected?

And then on Iraq: What is winning in Iraq and how do we know when that has happened?

Ambassador Negroponte:

Great questions. With an increasing degree of difficulty, it seems to me.

First one about the reforms and whether we have corrected the mistakes, and might they be repeated. Well you can never say never, can you? But I think it's important in any society, just like our own, that we learn the lessons from mistakes and experience of the past. I think that that was the effort that was entered into by these various commissions that I referred to in my remarks. I think they have come up both in the legislation and in the commissions with very, very good ideas as to how we can take steps at least to try and avoid repetition.

And what are some of these steps? We are embarked on achieving all of these changes.

One of them – I think was said in the 9/11 commission report – the question of connecting the dots, to make sure that we have developed the kind of connectivity between foreign, military and domestic intelligence that is necessary if you are going to actually track the activities of terrorists and others who wish our nation harm, and be able to do something about it. It doesn't do much good to know about a plot that's taking place somewhere in South Asia to do harm to the United States if you then don't have an effective way of sharing that information with authorities within our own country who can do something about it when the time comes. That's just one example.

I think in the area of analysis, we have encouraged – as I mentioned with respect to the intelligence information that we bring to the attention of the President – particularly in his daily brief – we have involved both the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department in the drafting of the President's daily brief in addition to the CIA. I would say the CIA still carries the lion's share of it, but I think we’ve encouraged a greater diversity of contribution.

We also encourage alternative views. We don't want to stifle those in any way and we also developed the so called “Red Cell Teams” that occasionally develop – totally alternative analysis to some of conventional wisdom. So that if proposition X is the conventional wisdom and its a very important judgment to a course of action we are planning and we'll say now “Look we all think that's the way it is, but let's find some really smart person to write the totally contrary analysis of that particular question to see if it has any merit.” Those are the kinds of things we're undertaking.

Let me get to your question on success in Iraq.

Let me maybe answer that question about the definition of success by just saying what I felt I was trying to accomplish while I was Ambassador there. I think in sum it comes down to helping them complete the political process that was laid out for Iraq in UN Security Council Resolution 1546, which was to create a democratically elected government after drafting a constitution. That, as you know, been a multistage process with a transition from a coalition administration, then an interim government, then a transitional government and now on the verge of seeing a definitive government formed there. And that is one major part of it – to encourage the consolidation and the strengthening of the self-governance of Iraq.

The other part – this is an area I devoted a great deal of attention to when I was there that remains a very, very high priority for our policy – and that is enhancing the ability of the Iraqi military and police forces to take on – to shoulder a greater and greater burden for their defense – the defense of their own country, which ultimately should lead to the possibility of us reducing and eventually withdrawing our military presence from that country.

Those are two of the key – I guess we used to call them during my short time in the private sector – critical success factors.

Ambassador Jones:

I am going to try to summarize in to two more questions.

To deal with the nuclear threat – we focus on Iran – North Korea is there. Would you comment on the seriousness of that? Do we have our priorities right in terms of Iran vs. North Korea, etc?

Ambassador Negroponte:

Both of them are an issue. Both of them pose a threat to the international community. I won’t speak directly to the policy issue. I would say from an intelligence perspective, both countries that are on the path to having a nuclear weapons capability. Maybe North Korea is farther along in that area – in fact, it’s almost certain that they are – because they have fissionable material – they themselves claim to have weapons. Although we have never been certain whether to credit that claim or not.

But in the case of both of these countries, I think we are talking about countries that are determined to have – and that was the judgment we issued with respect to Iran a number of months back – determined to possess nuclear weapons, notwithstanding the fact that one is and the other had been a member of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. I certainly think that we are right to be concerned about the threat posed by both of those countries. As I mentioned earlier, we have created these mission managers to follow the respective issues of Iran and North Korea because of the importance of those issues for our country and I think it behooves us to follow those two situations extremely carefully.

Ambassador Jones:

The last question is related – deals with the United States domestic – and that is your relationship between your office and the Office of Homeland Security. And then the second part of that – from someone – dealt with the question of how serious – or do you believe the statement that someone made that we really don't have many al-Qaeda operatives in the United States, otherwise we would have seen some terror action within this country.

Ambassador Negroponte:

Relations with the domestic agencies that work on protecting the homeland – well, first of all, they're very close. And one of the interesting aspects of the National Counterterrorism Center, which reports to me, is that that has become the fusion center for all National Intelligence – all Federal Intelligence – on the terrorism threat. They called it a fledgling institution a couple of years ago.

Under the new legislation, it was placed under the wing of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. I recruited a permanent director for that center, a retired admiral, Admiral Scott Redd, who had been the executive director of the Robb-Silberman Commission, and within that organization, we have representatives of all of the different agencies concerned with the war against terrorism, the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security, and others. I think that's one area where we – one vehicle whereby we have forged extremely good relationships with the other departments and agencies.

I also have a role, as I mentioned in my remarks, in overseeing – they're not under my executive authority, but I have an input into the work of the National Security Branch of the FBI. That is another way in which we work very closely together. We work with all of these agencies, particularly the Homeland Security Department in helping them strengthen their intelligence capabilities.

I've carried on so long, Jim, I forget the other part of your question – al-Qaeda and terrorists here at home.

First of all, I come back to my first proposition in my remarks. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are members of al-Qaeda in this world actively plotting and planning to do harm to our country and to other friendly countries around the world, and they do this on a constant basis.

I would say that these activities for the most part take place outside of the United States. Certainly, the planning and the plotting, the preparations and the logistics and so forth. That, after all, was the way the 9/11 plot was carried out. It was not hatched here in the United States. It was hatched abroad and it was carried out by people who had recently come into our country.

And they do. We know that they certainly try to establish contacts and people with whom they can work here in the United States – or to get people to travel into our country to carry out their plans and their desires. I think that we cannot rest so long as we know that this kind of activity is being plotted and planned outside of our country against us. I don't think that we can, in anyway, afford to let down our guard.

Ambassador Jones:

John, thank you very much. It is a great pleasure to present this award to Ambassador Negroponte. (Applause)

END