Prepared Statement of George J. Tenet
at DDCI confirmation hearing
before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

14 June 1995

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is George Tenet, and I am honored that President Clinton has nominated me to be Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. It is a special privilege to appear before this Committee to discuss my qualifications for this office and to share with you my views regarding the future of US intelligence.

For nearly a decade, I have been involved in intelligence matters both in the United States Senate and at the White House. Since January 1993 I have served at the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs. Prior to my service at the NSC, I spent more than seven years on the staff of this Committee, most recently as Staff Director from November 1988 through January 1993, and earlier as an arms control specialist.

My professional experiences in Congressional oversight and in the Executive Branch have provided strong preparation for the position of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. Throughout my career, I believe I have addressed many of the difficult problems facing the Intelligence Community. At the NSC, I coordinated Presidential Decision Directives on "Intelligence Priorities" and "US Counterintelligence Effectiveness," and managed the formulation and oversight of covert action plans and initiatives. At the Senate Intelligence Committee, I worked on initiatives to enhance human intelligence collection and on comprehensive legislation to reorganize US intelligence.

Mr. Chairman, I believe my background has given me an awareness of the importance of bipartisan Congressional oversight and a grasp of the critical issues that must be addressed to strengthen the performance of US intelligence.

Today, I would like to outline for you the five principal objectives that will represent my highest priorities if I am confirmed.

First, the Director and I will work together to ensure that the Intelligence Community provides the President, his senior civilian and military advisers, and the Congress unique, timely, and objective intelligence that makes a difference in deliberations that affect our nation's security. The Presidential Decision Directive "Intelligence Priorities" calls for collection and analytic resources to focus on difficult issues that require a strong intelligence effort. The message is clear. Rather than doing more with less, US intelligence must do more of the more important.

The Intelligence Community has a special obligation to provide policymakers with information which is otherwise unobtainable. Intelligence can and should be actionable. By providing real secrets and insights that flow from them, good intelligence offers policymakers, the military, and law enforcement officials new opportunities to protect our national security interests.

Accurate, timely intelligence protects the lives of the men and women in our armed forces. It disrupts the transfer of dangerous weapons. It prevents terrorist atrocities. It blocks illicit narcotics trade. It stops illegal commercial practices. It brings pressure to bear on adversaries and helps to persuade our allies. And it thwarts the plans of those who seek to undermine peace and stability around the world. This is the type of intelligence that I believe the American people are willing to pay for and that policymakers need.

Let me say unequivocally that there is no room for either politics or partisanship in the way the Intelligence Community performs its duties. The Director and I will insist that intelligence products provide unvarnished facts and straightforward analytic findings. We will candidly acknowledge what we don't know. Most important, all of this will be done without regard to policy preferences.

Second, the Director and I will work closely to oversee the reengineering of the Intelligence Community. Just as the need for intelligence is indisputable, so is the need for reform and renewal. We will undertake a careful review of the Intelligence Community's structure. Our goal will be to consolidate functions and to identify savings that will facilitate the innovation required to collect and disseminate unique information quickly in our core mission areas. We must prove that we can make tough budget decisions across disciplines that reward performance against high priority targets.

The strength of a fully integrated Intelligence Community is enormous. The Director and I will ensure that resources are allocated on the basis of performance and efficiency. Individual fiefdoms and parochialism undermine the efficacy and sap the energ y of all source collection and analysis.

Third, a clandestine human intelligence capability is indispensable to the success of US intelligence. Collection based on technology alone cannot provide all the relevant information on the activities, plans, and intentions of our adversaries. Indeed, we need human intelligence to take full advantage of advances in technology that can be used to collect secret information.

It is for this reason, I believe, we must strengthen the major effort under way to revitalize the CIA's Directorate of Operations. This effort must be based on the highest operational and counterintelligence standards. It requires continued attention to the quality of the individuals entering the clandestine service and how they are trained, evaluated, challenged, and rewarded for their accomplishments and expertise. We must review the composition and size of the service, its methods, the diversity and capabilities of its officers, and how well it performs against difficult targets.

This Committee's efforts in the late 1980s allowed the Directorate to apply new and creative techniques to operations in the post-Cold War environment. We must now challenge our civilian and military clandestine services to implement a long-term plan based on the highest standards of competence, accountability, tradecraft, and operational security. We must accept the fact that the benefits from this effort will not be immediate.

Fourth, no other issue carries more importance for the Director or myself than counterintelligence. Espionage in the ranks of the Intelligence Community or foreign manipulation of information collected by US intelligence cannot and will not be tolerated. We have made good strides since the Ames case. The President has created a new counterintelligence structure. The Oversight Committees enacted new legislation which strengthened the ability of our law enforcement community to deter and detect espionage. The Intelligence Community has taken independent action to improve accountability, training, and awareness. And a forthcoming Executive Order will establish for the first time uniform standards for access to classified information.

But more must be done. Relying on the polygraph alone will not deter espionage. We need a strong cadre of professionals who possess the analytic and investigatory skills to prevent and detect security breaches. This group will have to assess the performance of managers who must balance the need for aggressive operations with an equally aggressive counterintelligence focus. Counter-intelligence must be a respected and rewarded career. It must be embedded in collection, operations, and analysis if it is to succeed.

Fifth, both the Director and I believe that effective Congressional oversight is essential to the renewal of US intelligence. As Director Deutch stated before this Committee, espionage does not rest comfortably in a democracy, and Congressional oversight plays an essential role in maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people in secret intelligence-gathering activities. If confirmed, I will keep the Committees fully and currently informed about covert action, other significant intelligence activities, and intelligence successes and failures.

These statutory responsibilities should not be the sole basis of our dialogue. The Intelligence Community must interact with the Oversight Committees on the basis of bipartisanship, candor, and mutual trust. Experience makes it clear that, when the principle of oversight is neglected or allowed to erode, the Intelligence Community, the Congress, and, most important, the American people suffer.

In pursuing these five objectives, I will promote a process of continuous improvement throughout the Intelligence Community so that it can adapt quickly to new developments and needs. Protecting the status quo and adhering to convention inhibit the innovation, creativity, and dynamism that are essential to keep US intelligence the best in the world. Good intelligence requires experimentation and risk taking. It demands a work environment built solidly on the foundation of equal opportunity and advancement based on performance. This is the best way to foster the free expression of ideas we need to increase efficiency and stay focused on collecting secrets.

Mr. Chairman and Members of this Committee, I am determined to restore the morale of the employees of the Intelligence Community and CIA in particular. I know from close association with the Intelligence Community over the past decade that its work force is among the most talented, dedicated, and hard working in the US Government. These professionals want to be challenged and held to the highest standards of performance and accountability.

My commitment to these objectives is rooted in the conviction that a strong Intelligence Community is critical to our nation's power and influence. In his opening statement to this Committee, Director Deutch pointed out the formidable threats to our national security. All of us know that the end of the Cold War has given birth to a new and more complicated world full of problems. The complexity of these problems makes the role of intelligence more vital than ever.

The intelligence business is challenging, demanding, and, above all, vitally important. It is no hyperbole to say that the well-being of this country rests on its success. I have discussed my ideas and my vision of intelligence of the future with Director Deutch. We share the same philosophy on what constitutes good intelligence.

If confirmed, I will work with the Director to insist on clarity of mission, priorities, and standards of accountability at all levels in meeting our obligations to the President, the Congress, and the American people. If confirmed, I will look forward to working with you, and I expect to be held accountable for the statements and pledges I have made here today.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and the members of this Committee for the opportunity to appear before you today.





Remarks by DCI George J. Tenet at Swearing-In Ceremony
by Vice President Gore

31 July 1997

I am honored, Mr. Vice President, by the opportunity that you and the President have given me to lead our country's Intelligence Community--particularly as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Central Intelligence Agency. As I assume this position, I haven't the slightest doubt what you, the President, and the American people expect from me and the exceptional men and women that I will lead. In pursuit of our mission, you must know that first and foremost:

  • That the Intelligence Community is working to protect the lives of Americans everywhere.
  • That we are working to protect our men and women in uniform and to ensure that they dominate the battlefield whenever they are called and wherever they are deployed.
  • That we are protecting Americans from threats posed by terrorists, drug traffickers, and weapons of mass destruction.
  • That we are providing our diplomats with the critical insights and foreknowledge they need to advance American interests and avert conflicts.
  • And, that we are focusing not just on threats but also on opportunities--opportunities to act before danger becomes disaster and opportunities to create circumstances favorable to American interests.

These are issues on which we simply cannot afford to fail.

In short, Mr. Vice President, we will meet these challenges head on with the highest standards of personal integrity and professional performance. We can and will take the risks necessary to protect our country, but we also pledge to never act recklessly. We are accountable to you, the President, and to the American people for all that we do.

A special part of the privilege you have given me is the opportunity to lead the men and women of the Intelligence Community. They are simply unmatched in their dedication, drive, and devotion to duty. They bring not only their expertise to work, but a deep conviction that national security is neither a nine to five job nor just a career, but a public service of grave importance.

Working with them every day has driven home for me a vital point: as important as sophisticated technology is to our work, intelligence is primarily a human endeavor. And so, for me, our people must always come first.

My goal for our people is a simple one: That they should consistently be the nation's premier experts in their field--whether they are engaged in analysis, operations, or scientific and technical pursuits.

If we--your intelligence team--tackle these challenges with energy, decisiveness, conviction, and integrity--we will live up to the high expectations that you, the President, and the American people rightly have for your intelligence service. We will be the best intelligence service in the world. As Director of Central Intelligence, I will aspire to nothing less.

Implicit in all that I have said are four commitments that will guide me every day that I serve in this office:

  • To the President, you, Mr. Vice President, and all others who rely on our Nation's intelligence capabilities--We will deliver intelligence that is clear, objective, and without regard for political consequences. Getting it right in circumstances that require accurate information and sound judgment will always be my highest priority.
  • To the Congress--you can count on my honesty and candor. What distinguishes our intelligence service from all others is the link with the American people that comes through strong Congressional oversight--it is vital to maintaining the trust and faith of our citizens. And I will not violate this trust.
  • To the men and women I will lead over the next several years--We will be partners. I've told you that I want leaders who will take care of their people. This starts with me. I will care about your work at all levels, be there when you need me, and stand up for you when times get tough. Together we will ensure that American intelligence is the nation's first line of defense in a world that still holds plenty of surprise and danger.
  • To the American people I would say--Your intelligence service is committed to protecting our country from all those who would threaten it. We will honor the trust that you have placed in us, and we will serve you with fidelity, integrity, and excellence.

Finally, let me close on a personal note by thanking a number of very special people, some who are here today and some who are not.

  • Senator John Heinz gave me my first job in Government. He taught me about the importance of public service and is someone I miss very much.
  • Senator Pat Leahy took a chance and brought me to the Senate Intelligence Committee. This whole journey really started with him. And over the years he has always been a source of friendship and wise counsel.
  • Senator David Boren--or should I say President David Boren of the University of Oklahoma--my friend and mentor for whom I have the highest personal regard and affection and without whom I would not be here today.
  • Sandy Berger and Tony Lake who gave me the great opportunity to serve you and President at the National Security Council. They will be my friends for life.
  • And the great John Deutch--one of the most remarkable people I have ever known--who asked me to serve by his side.
  • And finally--You Mr. Vice President along with President Clinton who have honored me with your faith and trust.

Along the way--there are hundred of colleagues, co-workers, and friends-who always made me look better than I deserved.

Finally, I want to say a few words about my family--because I have a great family.

  • First, my father, who is no longer with us. He came to this country just before the great depression. With no money or family he built a life based on hard work, love of country and family. He took nothing for granted--I am guided by his example and I will take nothing for granted in protecting this country and this democracy.
  • My twin brother Bill--who after my Dad's passing has carried me and supported me every step of the way.
  • My mother, who is here today, fled Southern Albania at the end of World War II on a British submarine to escape communism--never to see her family again. She experienced first hand a threat that became a vivid and life changing reality. Her courage strengthens me always.
  • And finally, when I go home at night--I am greeted at the front door by the two most wonderful people in the world--the greatest 10 year old a dad can have--John Michael--who is my pride and joy, and my wife Stephanie who has been my conscience and source of energy for 16 years.

So Mr. Vice President, I once again thank you, my friends, my family and the men and women of the Intelligence Community--you honor me by being here today. Thank you.