George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)
October 17, 2002
It is important for the American people to understand what the CIA and the Intelligence Community were doing to try to prevent the attack that occurredand to stop attacks, which al-Qa'ida has certainly planned and remains determined to attempt.
What I want to do this morning, as explicitly as I can, is to describe the war we have waged for years against al-Qa'idathe level of effort, the planning, the focus, and the enormous courage and discipline shown by our officers throughout the world. It is impor- tant for the American people to understand how knowledge of the enemy translated into action around the globeincluding the terrorist sanctuary of Afghanistanbefore September 11.
It is important to put our level of effort into contextto understand the tradeoffs in resources and people, we had to makethe choices we consciously made to ensure that we maintained an aggressive counterterrorist effort.
We need to understand that in the field of intelligence, long-term erosions of resources cannot be undone quickly when emergencies arise. And we need to explain the difference that sustained investments in intelligenceparticularly in peoplewill mean for our country's future.
We need to be honest about the fact that our homeland is very difficult to protect. For strategic warning to be effective, there must be a dedicated program to address the vulnerabilities of our free and open society. Successive administrations, commissions, and the Congress have struggled with this.
To me, it is not a question of surrendering liberty for security, but of finding a formula that gives us the security we need to defend the liberty we treasure. Not simply to defend it in time of peace, but to preserve it in time of wara war in which we must be ready to play offense and defense simultaneously. That is why we must arrivesoonat a national consensus on Homeland Security.
We need to be honest about our shortcomings, and tell you what we have done to im- prove our performance in the future. There have been thousands of actions in this war an intensely human endeavornot all of which were executed flawlessly. We made mistakes.
Nevertheless, the record will show a keen awareness of the threat, a disciplined focus, and persistent efforts to track, disrupt, apprehend, and ultimately bring to justice Osama bin Ladin and his lieutenants.
Somehow lost in much of the debate since September 11 is one unassailable fact: The U.S. intelligence community could not have surged, as it has in the conflict in Afghani- stan, and engaged in an unprecedented level of operations around the world, if it was as mired as some have portrayed.
It is important for the American people to know that, despite the enormous successes we have had in the past yearindeed over many yearsal-Qa'ida continues to plan and will attempt more deadly strikes against us. There will be more battles won and, sadly, more battles lost. We must be honest about that, too.
Finally, we need to focus on the future, and consider how the knowledge we have gained in this war will be applied.
These are some of the themes that I hope you will reflect on as you listen to this testi- mony today.
Let me begin by describing the rise of Osama Bin Ladin and the Intelligence Communi- ty's Response.
The Early Years: Terrorist Financier (1986-1996)
The first rule of warfare is "know your enemy." My statement documents our know- ledge and analysis of Bin Ladin, from his early years as a terrorist financier to his lead- ership of a worldwide network of terrorism based in Afghanistan.
Bin Ladin gained prominence during the Afghan war for his role in financing the recruit- ment, transportation, and training of Arab nationals who fought alongside the Afghan mujahedin against the Soviets during the 1980s.
CIA reported that during Bin Ladin's five-year residence in Sudan he combined business with jihad under the umbrella of al-Qa'ida.
As Bin Ladin's prominence grew in the early 1990's, it became clear to the CIA that it was not enough simply to collect and report intelligence about him.
I must pause here. In an open forum I cannot describe what authorities we sought or received. But it is important that the American people understand two things.
By the time Bin Ladin left Sudan in 1996 and relocated himself and
his terror network to Afghanistan, the Intelligence Community was taking
strong action to stop him.
We must remember that, despite this heightened attention, Bin Ladin
was, in the mid- 1990s, only one of four areas of concentration within
our Counterterrorist Center (CTC).
Taliban Sanctuary Years: Becoming a Strategic Threat
Beginning in January. 1996, we began to receive reports that Bin Ladin planned to move from Sudan. Confirming these reports was especially difficult because of the closure in February of the U.S. Embassy as well as the CIA station in Khartoum for security reasons.
Later in 1996, it became clear that he had moved to Afghanistan. From that safehaven, he defined himself publicly as a threat to the United States. In a series of declarations, he made clear his hatred for Americans and all we represent.
By the time of the 1998 East Africa bombings, al-Qa'ida had established its intention to inflict mass casualties and a modus operandi emphasizing careful planning and exhaus- tive field preparations, which Bin Ladin saw as a prerequisite for the type of spectacular operations he had in mind.
The East Africa bombings in August, 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in October, 2000, succeeded because of al-Qa'ida's meticulous preparation and effective security practices.
Beyond the conventional threat, we were also becoming increasingly concernedand therefore stepped up our warningabout al-Qa'ida's interest in acquiring unconventional weapons, not only chemical or biological elements, but nuclear materials as well.
The terrorist plotting, planning, recruiting, and training that Bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida did in the late 1990s were aided immeasurably by the sanctuary the Taliban provided.
Afghanistan provided Bin Ladin a relatively safe operating environment to oversee his organization's worldwide terrorist activities.
In summary, what Bin Ladin created in Afghanistan after he relocated
there in 1996 was a sophisticated adversaryas good as any that
CIA has ever operated against.
Going to War against al-Qa'ida"The Plan"
As the Intelligence Community improved its understanding of the threat, and as the threat grew, we refocused and intensified our efforts to track, disrupt, and bring the terrorists to justice.
By 1998, the key elements of the CIA's strategy against Bin Ladin and al-Qa'idain- side Afghanistan and globallyplaced us in a strongly offensive posture. They included:
The CIA's policy-and-objectives statement for the Fiscal Year 1998 budget submission to Congresswhich was prepared in early 1997reflects this determination to go on the offensive against terrorism.
Despite these clear intentions, and the daring activities that went with them, I was not satisfied that we were doing all we could against this target. In 1998, I told key leaders at CIA and across the Intelligence Community that we should consider ourselves "at war" with Osama Bin Ladin. I ordered that no effort or resource be spared in prosecuting this war. In early 1999, I ordered a baseline review of CIA's operational strategy against Bin Ladin.
In spring 1999, CTC produced a new comprehensive operational plan of attack against the Bin Ladin/al-Qa'ida target inside and outside Afghanistan.
This strategywhich we called "The Plan"built on what CTC was recognized as doing wellcollection, quick reaction to operational opportunities, renditions, disruptions, and analysis. Its priority was plain: to capture and bring to justice Bin Ladin and his principal lieutenants.
The parts of "the Plan" focused on Afghanistan faced some daunting impediments (some of which would change after 9/11). For example:
Despite these facts, our surge in collection operations paid off.
The realm of human source collection frequently is divided between "liaison reporting" (that which we get from cooperative foreign intelligence services) and "unilateral re- porting" (that which we get from agents we run ourselves). Even before "the Plan," our vision for HUMINT on terrorism was simple: we had to get more of both types. The figures for both rose every year after 1998. And in 1999, for the first time, the volume of reporting on terrorism from unilateral assets exceeded that from liaison sourcesa trend which has continued in subsequent years.
The integration of technical and human sources has been key to our understanding of and our actions againstinternational terrorism. It was this combinationthis integra- tionthat allowed us years ago to confirm the existence of numerous al-Qa'ida facilities and training camps in Afghanistan.
Countering Al-Qa'ida's Global Presence
Even while targeting UBL and al-Qa'ida in their Afghan lair, we did not ignore its cells of terror spread across the globe. Especially in periods of peak threat reporting, we accel- erated our work to shake up and destroy al-Qa'ida cells wherever we could find them.
By 1999, the intensive nature of our operations was disrupting elements of Bin Ladin's international infrastructure. We believe that our efforts dispelled al-Qa'ida's impression that it could organize and operate with impunity. Our operations sent the message that the United States was not only going after al-Qa'ida for crimes it had committed, but also was actively seeking out and pursuing terrorists from al-Qa'ida and other groups en- gaged in planning future attacks whenever and wherever we could find them.
During the Millennium threat period, we told senior policymakers to expect between five and fifteen attacks, both here and overseas. The CIA overseas and the FBI in the U.S. organized an aggressive, integrated campaign to disrupt al-Qaida using human assets, technical operations, and the hand-off of foreign intelligence to facilitate FISA court warrants.
Over a period of months, there was close, daily consultation that included Director Freeh, the National Security Adviser, and the Attorney General. We identified 36 addi- tional terrorist agents at the time around the world. We pursued operations against them in 50 countries. Our disruption activities succeeded against 21 of these individuals, and included arrests, renditions, detentions, surveillance, and direct approaches.
The efforts of American intelligence to strike back at a deadly enemy continued through the Ramadan period in the winter of 2000, another phase of peak threat reporting.
Fusion and Sharingthe Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement
Taking the fight to Bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida was not just a matter of mobilizing the CTC, or even the CIA. This was an interagencyand internationaleffort. Two things which are critical to this effort are: fusion and sharing.
It is also clear that, when errors occurwhen we miss information or opportunitiesit is often because our sharing and fusion are not as strong as they need to be. Communica- tion across bureaucracies, missions, and cultures is among our most persistent chal- lenges in the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of counterterrorism. I will return to this issue later in my testimony when I present some prescriptions for the future.
One of the most critical alliances in the war against terrorism is that between the CIA and the FBI. This alliance in the last few years has produced achievements that simply would not have been possible if some of the recent media stories of all-out feuding were true.
There are abundant examples of close FBI-CIA partnership in counterterrorism.
Of course, the relationship is not perfect, and frictions occasionally
arise. A 1994 CIA Inspector General report noted that interactions between
the two organizations were too personality dependent. This has been
particularly so when the two were pursuing differ- ent missions in the
same case: FBI trying to develop a case for courtroom prosecution, and
CIA trying to develop intelligence to assess and counter a threat.
Increasing the difficulty of inter-agency communications is an unfortunate phenomenon known as "the Wall." It has been mentioned before in these hearingsthe complex system of laws and rules (and perceptions about them) that impede the flow of informa- tion between the arenas of intelligence and criminal prosecution. The "Wall" slows and sometimes stops the flow of informationsomething we simply cannot afford. The Patriot Act has helped alleviate this.
The third period of peak threat was in the spring and summer 2001. As with the Millenni- um and Ramadan 2000, we increased the tempo of our operations against al-Qa'ida. We stopped some attacks and caused the terrorists to postpone others.
Runup to 9/11the Watchlist Issue
During the period of the Millennium threats, one of our operations, and one of our mis- takes, occurred during our accelerating efforts against Bin Ladin's organizationwhen we glimpsed two of the individuals who later became 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al- Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
At this early stage, the first days of January 2000, the CIA briefed the FBI, informally, about the surveillance operation in Kuala Lumpur. We noted in an internal CIA commu- nication on 5 January 2000 that we had passed a copy of al-Mihdhar's passport with its US visato the FBI for further investigation. A CTC officer at the FBI wrote an e-mail in January 2000 reporting that he briefed FBI officers on the surveillance opera- tion, noting suspicious activity but no evidence of an impending attack.
The relative importance of al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi at this time should be kept in per- spective. Neither al-Mihdhar nor al-Hazmi at the time of their travel to Kuala Lumpur were identified as key al-Qa'ida members or associates. Thus, at this point, their significance to us was that they might lead us to others or to threat information. During this period when all CIA facilities were involved in dealing with the Millennium Threat, there was particular CTC focus on three separate groups of al-Qa'ida personnel:
Surveillance began with the arrival of Khalid al-Mihdhar on 5 January 2000, and ended on 8 January, when he left Kuala Lumpur. Surveillance indicated that the behavior of the individuals was consistent with clandestine activitythey did not conduct any business or tourist activities while in Kuala Lumpur, and they used public telephones and cyber cafes exclusively.
Other individuals were also positively identified by the surveillance operation.
To this day, we still do not know what was discussed at the Kuala Lumpur meeting. Al- Mihdhar and al-Hazmi remained there a few days. On 8 January 2000, they traveled to another Southeast Asian country with Khallad. We learned in March 2000 that al-Hazmi flew from that country to Los Angeles on January 15, 2000. We did not learn that al- Mihdhar was on the same flight until August, 2001.
Al-Mihdhar departed the US on 10 June 2000 and obtained a new passport and US visa, possibly for operational security reasons. Al-Mihdhar applied for this new US visa in Jeddah in 13 June and stated that he had never traveled to the US before. On 4 July 2001, he returned to the US, entering in New York.
During August, 2001, the CIA had become increasingly concerned about a major terror- ist attack on U.S. interests, and I directed a review of our files to identify potential threats. The CTC reviewed its holdings on al-Mihdhar because of his connections to other terrorists. In the course of that review, the CTC found that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi had entered the US on January 15, 2000. It determined that al-Mihdhar departed the U.S. on June 10, 2000, and reentered on July 4, 2001. The CTC found no record of al-Hazmi's departure from the U.S.
There are at least two points before August, 2001, when these individuals were on our scope with sufficient information to have been watchlisted. During the intense operations to thwart the Millennium and Ramadan threats, the watchlist task in the case of these two al-Qaida operatives slipped through. The error exposed a weakness in our internal training and an inconsistent understanding of watchlist thresholds. Corrective steps have been taken.
These corrective steps notwithstanding, we must not underestimate our enemies' capa- bilities.
Runup to 9/11the Warning Issue
In the months leading up to 9/11, we were convinced Bin Ladin meant to attack Ameri- cans, meant to kill large numbers, and that the attack could be at home, abroad, or both. And we reported these threats urgently.
Our collection sources "lit up" during this tense period. They indicated that multiple spectacular attacks were planned, and that some of these plots were in the final stages.
Our analysts worked to find linkages among the reports, as well as links to past terrorist threats and tactics. We considered whether al-Qa'ida was feeding us this reporting trying to create panic through disinformationyet we concluded that the plots were real. When some reporting hinted that an attack had been delayed, we continued to stress that there were, indeed, multiple attacks planned and that several continued on track. And when we grew concerned that so much of the evidence pointed to attacks overseas, we noted that Bin Ladin's principal ambition had long been to strike our homeland. Never- theless with specific regard to the 9/11 plot, we never acquired the level of detail that allowed us to translate our strategic concerns into something we could act on.
The Intelligence Community Counterterrorism Board also issued several
threat adviso- ries during the summer 2001. These advisoriesthe
fruit of painstaking analytical workcontained phrases like "al-Qa'ida
is most likely to attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous
casualties," and "al-Qa'ida is prepared to mount one or more terrorist
attacks at any time."
A sign that our warnings were being heardboth from our analysis and from the raw intelligence we disseminatedwas that the FAA issued two alerts to air carriers in the summer of 2001.
Our warnings complemented strategic warnings we had been delivering for years about the real threat of terrorism to America.
In February 1997, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security reported that:
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence sources have been warning that the threat of terrorism is changing in two important ways. First, it is no longer just an overseas threat from foreign terrorists. People and places in the United States have joined the list of targets, and Americans have joined the ranks of terrorists. The bombings of the World Trade Center in New York and the Federal Building in Oklahoma City are clear examples of the shift, as is the conviction of Ramzi Yousef for attempting to bomb twelve American airliners out of the sky over the Pacific Ocean. The second change is that in addition to well-known, established terrorist groups, it is becoming more common to find terrorists working alone or in ad-hoc groups, some of whom are not afraid to die in carrying out their designs."
In its publication, "Criminal Acts against Civil Aviation 2000, " the FAA stated:
"Although Bin Ladin is not known to have attacked civil aviation, he has both the motivation and the wherewithal to do so. Bin Ladin's anti-Western and anti-American attitudes make him and his followers a significant threat to civil aviation, especially U.S. civil aviation."
In discussing the plot by convicted World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef to place explosive devices on as many as 12 U.S. airliners flying out of the Far East, the FAA's report points out that at least one other accused participant in the conspiracy remains at large, and
"There are concerns that this individual or others of Yousef's ilk who may possess similar skills pose a continuing threat to civil aviation interests Increased awareness and vigilance are necessary to deter future incidents be they from terrorists or non-terrorists. It is important to do the utmost to prevent such acts rather than to lower security measures by interpreting the statistics as indicating a decreasing threat."
We have heard the allegation that our analysts erred by not explicitly warning that hijacked aircraft might be used as weapons. Your staff has been given access to over half a million pages of documents and interviewed hundreds of intelligence officials in their efforts to investigate this complex issue. The documents we provided show some 12 reports, spread over seven years, which pertain to possible use of aircraft as weapons in terrorist attacks.
To evaluate our work on al-Qa'ida before 9/11 objectively, it is essential that you look at three issues: global geopolitical issues we were grappling with including counterter- rorism; resource changes throughout the 1990s that affected our ability to fight the counterterrorism fight; and the overall health of US intelligence during this period. It is simply not enough to look at al-Qa'ida in isolation.
The last decade saw a number of conflicting and competing trends: military forces de- ployed to more locations than ever in our nation's history; a growing counterprolifera- tion and counterterrorism threat; constant tensions in the Mid East and, to deal with these and a host of other issues, far fewer intelligence dollars and manpower. At the end of the Cold War, the Intelligence Community, like much of the National Security Com- munity, was asked by both Congress and successive Administrations to pay the price of the "peace dividend."
The cost of the "peace dividend" was that, during the 1990s, our Intelligence Community funding declined in real terms, reducing our buying power by tens of billions of dollars over the decade. We lost nearly one in four of our positions. This loss of manpower was devastating, particularly in our two most manpower intensive activities: all-source anal- ysis and human source collection. By the mid-1990s, recruitment of new CIA analysts and case officers had come to a virtual halt. NSA was hiring no new technologists during the greatest information technology change in our lifetimes. It is absolutely essential that we understand that both Congress and the Executive Branch for most of the decade em- braced the idea that we could "surge" our resources to deal with emerging intelligence challenges, including threats from terrorism. And surge we did.
During this time of increased military operations around the globe, the Defense Depart- ment was also reducing its tactical intelligence units and funding. This caused the Intel- ligence Community to stretch our capabilities to the breaking point because national systems were covering the gaps in tactical intelligence. It is always our policy to give top priority to supporting military operations.
While we grappled with this multitude of high priority, overlapping crises, we had no choice but to modernize selective intelligence systems and infrastructure in which we'd deferred necessary investments while we downsized or we would have found our- selves out of business. We had a vivid example of the cost of deferring investments a few years ago when NSA lost all communications between the headquarters and its field stations and we were unable to process any of that information for several days. We have a more current example of the cost of deferred investments today as we struggle to recapitalize our aging satellite constellation another "return" on the peace dividend, given that conscious decisions to accept risk and defer replacing these systems were made in the mid-1990s. At the same time, we added the National Imagery and Mapping Agency to the Intelligence Community along with enormous funding shortfalls required to merge and modernize its geospatial and imagery functions.
Throughout the Intelligence Community during this period we made difficult resource reallocation decisions to try to rebuild critical mission areas affected by the funding cuts. For example,
But with the al-Qa'ida threat growing more ominous, and with our resources devoted to countering it clearly inadequate, we began taking money and people away from other critical areas to improve our efforts against terrorism.
Despite the resource reductions and the enormous competing demands for our attention, we managed to triple Intelligence Community-wide funding for counterterrorism from fiscal year 1990 to 1999. The Counterterrorism Center's resources nearly quadrupled in that same period. As your own Joint Inquiry Staff charts show, we had significantly reallocated both dollars and people inside our programs to work the terrorism problem. This inquiry has singled out CIA resources specifically and I want to address it spe- cifically.
From a budget perspective, the last part of the 1990s reflects CIA's efforts to shift to a wartime footing against terrorism. CIA's budget had declined 18 percent in real terms during the decade and we suffered a loss of 16 percent of our personnel. Yet in the midst of that stark resource picture, CIA's funding level for counterterrorism just prior to 9/11 was more than 50 percent above our FY 1997 level. CTC personnel increased by over 60% for that same period. The CIA consistently reallocated and sought additional re- sources for this fight. In fact, in 1994, the budget request for counterterrorism activi- ties equaled less than four percent of the total CIA program. In the FY 2002 CIA budget request we submitted prior to 9/11, counterterrorism activities constituted almost 10 percent of the budget request. During a period of budget stringency when we were faced with rebuilding essential intelligence capabilities, I had to make some tough choices. Although resources for virtually everything else in CIA was going down, counterterrorism resources were going up.
But after the U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed, we knew that neither surging our resources nor internal realignments were sufficient to fund a war on terrorism. So in the fall of 1998, I asked the Administration to increase intelligence funding by more than $2.0 billion annually for fiscal years 2000-2005 and I made similar requests for FY 2001-2005 and FY 2002-2007. Only small portions of these requests were approved. Counterterrorism funding and manpower needs were number one on every list I provided to Congress and the Administration and, indeed, it was at the top of the funding list ap- proved by Speaker Gingrich in FY1999, the first year in which we received a significant infusion of new money for US intelligence capabilities during the decade of the 90s.
That supplemental and those that followed it, that you supplied, were essential to our efforts - they helped save American lives. But we knew that we could not count on supplemental funds to build multi-year programs and that's why we worked so hard to reallocate our resources and to seek five year funding increases. Many of you on this Committee and the Appropriations Committees understood this problem very well. You were enormously helpful to us. And we are grateful.
I want to conclude with a couple of comments about manpower. In the CIA alone, I count the equivalent of 700 officers working counterterrorism in August 2001 at both head- quarters and in the field. That number does not include the people who were working to penetrate either technically or through human sources a multitude of threat targets from which we could derive intelligence on terrorists. Nor does it include friendly liaison services and coalition partners. You simply cannot gauge the level of effort by counting only the people who had the words "al-Qa'ida" or "bin Ladin" in their position description.
We reallocated all the people we could given the demands placed on us for intelligence on a number of the highest priority issues like chemical, nuclear and biological prolifer- ation and support to operational military forces, and we surged thousands of people to fight this fight when the threat was highest. But when we realized surging wasn't suffi- cient, we began a sustained drumbeat both within the Administration and here on the Hill that we had to have more people and money devoted to this fight.
We can argue for the rest of the day about the exact number of people we had working this problem but what we never said, was that the numbers we had were enough. Our officers told your investigators that they were always shorthanded. They were right. America may never know the names of those officers, but America should know they are heroes. They worked tirelessly for years to combat bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida and have responded to the challenge of combating terrorism all during this time, with remarkable intensity. Their dedication, professionalism and creativity stopped many al-Qa'ida plots in their tracks they saved countless American lives. Most of them are still in this fight are essential to this fight and they honor us by their continued service.
Thanks to the last two emergency supplementals and the Administration's FY03 budget request, which both Houses approved during the past week, we have begun to move aggressively to reverse the funding shortfalls that have had such an impact on the nation's intelligence capabilities. But we have hardly scratched the surface in our efforts to recover from the manpower reductions, and we cannot reconstitute overnight the cadre of seasoned case officers and assets overseas, or the expert team of analysts we've lost. It will take many more years to recover from the capabilities we lost during the resource decline of the 1990s.
Success against the terrorist target must be measured against all elements of our nation's capabilities, policies and will. The intelligence community and the FBI are important parts of the equation, but by no means the only parts. We need a national, integrated strategy in our fight against terrorism that incorporates both offense and defense. The strategy must be based on three pillars:
Nothing did more for our ability to combat terrorism than the President's
decision to send us into the terrorist's sanctuary. By going in massively,
we were able to change the rules for the terrorists. Now they are the
hunted. Now they have to spend most of their time worrying about their
survival. Al-Qa'ida must never again acquire a sanctuary.
We have learned an important historic lesson: We can no longer race from threat to threat, resolve it, disrupt it and then move on. Targets at risk remain at risk.
I strongly support the President's proposal to create a Department
of Homeland Securi- ty. The nation very much needs the single focus that
this department will bring to home- land security. We have a foreign intelligence
community and law enforcement agencies, but we have not had a cohesive
body responsible and empowered for homeland security. The President's
proposal closes that gap while building bridges between all three communities.
While the Department will be vital to our homeland defense, the most valued resource for our work against terrorism has always been and will forever be our people.
Moving from this necessary organizational change, I cannot emphasize enough our overwhelming need to recruit and train the intelligence officers we need to win this war.
Terrorists have a tactical advantage. They can pick and choose any target they please, who are willing to sacrifice their lives, and who don't care how many innocents they hurt or kill have tactical advantage. Developing the intelligence to combat them is manpower intensive. With the personnel we have invested in counterterrorism today, we can do much more than we could before 9/11, but more are still needed. I remind you that we lost nearly 1-in-4 of our positions since the end of the Cold War.
Our people also need better ways to communicate. Moreover, we also need systems that enable us to share critical information quickly across bureaucratic boundaries. Systems to put our intelligence in front of those who need it wherever they may be, whatever their specific responsibilities for protecting the American people from the threat of terrorist attack. That means we must move information in ways and to places it has never before had to move. We are improving our collaborative systems. We need to improve our multiple communications linksboth within the Intelligence Community and now in the Homeland Security community as well. Building, maintaining, and constantly updating this system will require a massive, sustained budget infusion, separate from our other resource needs.
Now, more than ever before, we need to make sure our customers get from us exactly what they need which generally means exactly what they want fast and free of unnecessary restrictions. Chiefs of police across the country express understandable frustration at what they do not know. But there's something else: Intelligence officers in the federal government want to get their hands on locally collected data. Each could often use what the other may already have collected. The proposed Department of Homeland Security will help develop this vertical sharing of information. So, too, will the Intelligence Community's experience in supporting our armed forces. We're going to have to put that experience to work in "supporting the mayor." We don't have the luxury of an alternative.
One last point with regard to our human talent. As critical as terrorism
is, our people will not concentrate solely on counterterrorism. Even
in the last year, when national attention was focused on terror, other
events occurred which demanded the attention of experi- enced intelligence
officers. The risk of an Indian-Pakistani war and the deterioration
of the situation in the Mid East are just two examples. The Intelligence
Community must keep skilled, experienced officers on all such issues.
Our effectiveness has increased since September 11, and the Intelligence Community will continue to pursue a strategy of bringing the war to the terrorists.
But in the counterterrorism business, there is no such thing as 100 percent success. And there will never be.
It may be comforting on occasion to think that, if we could find the one process that went wrong, then we could remedy that failing and return to the sense of safety we enjoyed prior to 9/11. The reality is that we were vulnerable to suicidal terrorist attacks and we remain vulnerable to them today. That is not a pleasant fact for Americans to live with, but it is the case. There are no easy fixes. We will continue to look incisively at our own processes and to listen to others in an ongoing effort to do our jobs better. But we must also be honest with ourselves and with the public about the world in which we live.
The fight against international terrorism will be long and difficult.
It will require all of us across the government to follow the example of the American people after September 11 to come together, to work as a team, and pursue our mission with unyielding dedication and unrelenting fidelity to our highest ideals. We owe those who died on September 11 and all Americans no less.