Tenet’s Remarks to Permanent Select Committee
on Intelligence – House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Over the years, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence Community have enjoyed a cooperative and productive relationship with its Congressional oversight committees.
I was very much surprised, therefore, by the tone and content of some of the report language associated with HPSCI’s FY 2005 Authorization Bill.
Without exception, the goal of the various elements of the Intelligence Community has been to protect the lives of Americans everywhere. The Committee is within its rights to suggest different priorities, but I find it hard to accept that any serious observer would believe, as the Committee apparently does, that there is an unhealthy emphasis on counterterrorism and counterproliferation efforts or that we are placing too much emphasis supporting the nation’s Iraq effort at the CIA.
I am deeply disappointed at the way the report has chosen to question the leadership and capabilities of the Clandestine Service.
Dysfunctional organizations do not perform the way the Directorate of Operations performed in Afghanistan, and in support of the military in Iraq before and after the conflict. Dysfunctional organizations do not take down or eliminate the most dangerous proliferators in the world – like the A.Q. Khan network. Nor do they aid in the disarmament of a country like Libya. To suggest that the organization that was key to all these victories, not to mention the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and more than two thirds of the Al Qa’ida leadership is on the verge of being incapable of “the slightest bit of success” is frankly absurd.
The damage done by inattention to the clandestine service during the first half of the 1990s cannot be repaired in the blink of an eye. Just as the military cannot hire people off the street to become instant Majors and Lieutenant Colonels, it takes years for CIA to recruit, train and deploy experienced case officers. That rebuilding process has been going on for more than six years…but only patience, continued resolve and sustained support will see it to a successful conclusion. In the interim, the Deputy Director for Operations is making the necessary adjustments and devoting the bulk of available assets to where they can make the biggest contribution to saving American lives.
Some of the Committee’s criticisms of the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence are, in my view, similarly ill-informed. The Deputy Director for Intelligence has made extraordinary strides in improving her Directorate’s global analytic reach. The suggestion that analysts are risk averse is simply wrong. It has been stressed to all our analysts that making hard calls is what we do. Our work must be based on rigorous, well-reasoned, and appropriately caveated analysis. Above all, we must take care not to create a chilling environment in which analysts are hesitant to make tough calls.
Finally, I object to your Report’s language on the Agency’s Compensation Reform plans. Leading government and private sector experts such as the Office of Personnel Management and the Business Executives for National Security have singled out the Agency’s plans for particular praise. CIA’s program is much more carefully thought out and structured than that of other Federal departments that are proceeding apace with their civil service restructuring without Congressional micromanagement and the prospect of facing unnecessary obstacles and legislative burdens. Being able to adequately and flexibly compensate our workforce would go a long way to helping CIA overcome the challenges we face in completing our essential mission.
Since your Report language has been widely distributed, I plan to release this letter.
An original of this letter is also being sent to Ranking Democratic Member Harman.
George J. Tenet