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Mr. RYUN. Well, Governor, I couldn't agree with you more. And, of course, we can wear you folks out, if you had 39 committees you had to appear before for hearings.
There are those, though, that are reticent to even make a rule change, and that is a first step, if you will, towards being able to implement this. There are those who say we have too many committees, and I would not disagree with that, and yet I feel the circumstances now warrant that sort of thing. Do you think this would be a sufficient enough, serious enough issue that it would warrant a rule change and the establishment of that committee?
Governor GILMORE. Yes, sir, I do. I would encourage it very much. We are certainly not encouraging duplication. The new committee should have that exclusive jurisdiction and authority and not simply duplicating and adding another layer on. But if that is done, we believe it will be much more effective and much more efficient and appropriate.
Congressman, our Commission is not insensitive or naive as to the process, and we understand that people are on committees and that they feel they have authority over a piece of this action and they want to maintain that. We understand that. But we believe that much of this needs to be put aside for the best interests of the Nation because of the compelling needs we are facing right now.
Mr. RYUN. I couldn't agree with you more. I know there are turf battles and jurisdictional issues that have to be addressed, but I appreciate your time and the work on this Commission.
I would like now to yield to the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Simmons.
Mr. SIMMONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Governor. Governor GILMORE. Thank you, Mr. Congressman.
Mr. SIMMONS. About 20 years ago, I was sitting on the Senate side as the head of staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and at that time a recommendation came our way that we create a fusion center for counterintelligence because the counterintelligence target was a very difficult target for us at the time. And it was felt that, at least in the intelligence community, that by creating a fusion center, by bringing in all the bits and pieces of information and putting them in one place, this country could better deal with the espionage or the intelligence threats that we faced.
That proposal died because of civil libertarian issues. It was felt that the community could deal with the intelligence and espionage threat adequately and that a national level fusion center might go beyond what the country was willing to accept as a way of dealing with that threat.
It occurs to me that today we are confronted with a very similar situation. Although it is not counterintelligence or counterespionage, it is counterterrorism. The activities are similar in many respects: very small groups of highly-trained, highly-resourced individuals with a somewhat different mission. In the case of intelligence or espionage, they wish to collect surreptitiously. In the case of terrorism, they wish to conduct an attack. But up and to the point of performing the mission, the activities are similar in the challenge we face in uncovering them and denying them.
So I am interested and intrigued by the recommendation of the Panel to create a new organization. I am intrigued by the comments on page six in the footnotes that indicate that you and another Panel member had concerns that there be no diminution of the civil liberties of the people of the United States—I hope I read that correctly.
Governor GILMORE. Oh, yes, sir.
Mr. SIMMONS [continuing). In the creation of a national counterterrorism center. And the point of my question is this: It seems to me that we have two courses of action: one, to take our existing organizations and agencies, which would be principally the CIA and the FBI, and address the rules and regulations under which they have had to operate in recent years, or maybe even over the last 20 years, and to engage in a debate as to whether those rules and regulations should be changed and those organizations should be given greater powers to address the current threat; or, alternatively, to create a new organization.
But if in creating that new organization you don't give it any of those additional powers, then what do you get from it?
Governor GILMORE. Congressman, we recommended in the very beginning, for example, that the rule that said that the CIA and other foreign intelligence people could not recruit certain criminal types, people who were engaged in rights violations and so on like that, we saw that as a great impingement on our capacities to do human intelligence on behalf of the country. We recommended, for example, that that rule be thrown out, and I think it has been thrown out, and I'm confident that the intelligence community has benefited from that and that we are doing a better job.
The focus, I think, has to be on legal collection, on what is gathered in a legal way. The report we have recommended here, frankly, I think is a dramatic report that you have before you, the recommendation for a fusion center. The idea there is to get intelligence that is properly collected gathered together in one place so it can be compared so we can deal with this stovepipe issue that has been so widely discussed, this segregation of information, this inability by law of one organization to talk to another.
To the extent that there are legal impediments to that type of communication, we believe the body should address those kinds of barriers and impediments. This fusion center we see as an organization structural vehicle to enable that, and we encourage it.
The collection body itself, I think, is just as dramatic, and that is what, of course, has raised the footnotes. But I wish to report to you that, while we wish that the FBI would be in a position to do this, there is great doubt in our Commission, and we believe that in fact a new agency ought to be recommended.
But we also have been very cautious in our report to say that a new domestic collection organization must be restrained by the same rules of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, of the Attorney General guidelines, and other restrictions in accordance with the Constitution. So the goal here is not to simply violate people's rights, as I think we have placed down into our report, but to instead have proper information sharing of properly gathered intelligence.
Congressman, one thing that we have done in our Commission is we have really focused on the issue of civil liberties. I am a conservative. I am concerned about these issues very much from my point of view philosophically; and it has been a heavy discussion within our Commission, all four years, and remains to this day. There are misgivings about the idea of a new Agency, but, frankly, our Commission doesn't seem to see any other alternative.
Mr. SIMMONS. Let me pursue this line of discussion a little bit further. It is my understanding, from looking at the recommendations, that the new organization would be authorized to collect intelligence only on international terrorism threats. It could not lawfully collect any other intelligence.
There has been a lot of discussion about connecting the dots. I spent some of my life as a collector and some of my life as an analyst. Sometimes you don't know what the dots mean. Sometimes you collect a dot that you think may be an Foreign Intelligence (FI) dot or a Counter Intelligence (CI) dot, but actually it is a counterterrorism dot. You have to work with the dot a little bit before you know what kind of a dot it is.
I guess my concern is, in looking at how we are structuring this new organization, again by saying you can only collect certain types of information or only analyze certain types of information you don't really know what you've got until you work with it.
Then let me make a second point: the division between collectors and analysts. In my experience, the best collectors were the ones that talked to the analysts; and the best analysts were the ones that talked to the collectors. Certainly in the time when I was out at the CIA, that is the way it worked best.
There is always this bureaucratic concern that exists between the different agencies in sharing, that the sharing will be done appropriately and that the information will be kept secure.
I wonder if in creating a third organization-you've got the CIA, you've got the FBI, you've got all of the military intelligence components, but then in creating a third organization, which has a limited collection function and an analytical function, that you are not actually just creating another bureaucracy within the same constraints that will buy us nothing more than an additional level of bureaucratic politics.
Governor GILMORE. While I am tempted to agree with you this morning, I will faithfully represent the position of the Commission on this and state what I believe is the prevailing thought, which is that this organization will be no more or less impeded than the CIA or the FBI in terms of its ability to collect information, but it will be more directed. It will be more directed and focused on the potential for gathering information with respect to international terrorist organizations operating within the United States.
The challenge that we have focused on is that we don't really want the CIA to do that. It is constrained by law to do it, but we really don't want the CIA doing that. They are overseas, and that is almost exclusively what they do. The FBI, on the other hand, is the thought of the Commission, is very much focused as a law enforcement organization. It has that tradition, that culture, those structures, those patterns; and there is a belief at this point that a new Agency that is focused instead upon gathering of information and deterrence and prevention is more appropriate.
The thought here is, number one, to challenge less of technology than of culture. And we feel strongly about this. It is the culture of these organizations that must be addressed. Leadership must be applied to change those cultures to make them interact and make them work together more appropriately. But the time is so urgent and the task is so specific that it is the sense that a new agency is called for in this case.
I appreciate your reading of the footnotes, and I certainly commend every Member to the footnotes, but that is where we are.
Then second of all, you are putting your finger on one of the more delicate issues that we are facing, the issues of getting information into the fusion center appropriately and lawfully so that we can find out what the enemy is doing, but at the same time, sifting through all the chaff to get to the wheat, you run the risk of the invasion of the civil liberties of people who have nothing to do with terrorism internally within the United States. This must be carefully managed under proper cultural and philosophical and strict rules so that we understand how far we can go. This is the balance.
But the key, from our point of view, is that we must remember the civil liberties piece of this. If we don't, then the proper balance will not be struck and we will be headed down the wrong path as a society.
Mr. SIMMONS. One of the great challenges, if I can have just a few more minutes, of dealing with counterintelligence or counterespionage is that often the agency that first gets the tip-off that something is coming down the pike would be the CIA operating overseas. And if they get a line on somebody who is a foreign agent who is then going to be posted to the United States, you have the hand-off to the FBI because of that national border issue. So a lot of coordination is necessary to run those operations.
During that period of the Cold War, the 40-year period of the Cold War, I think both Agencies were able to handle cases involving these hand-offs reasonably well. But there is always slippage. There is always slippage. And that slippage leads to some of your major espionage cases that are not uncovered, and that is the challenge of it.
The question that occurs to me is, aren't we going to deal with exactly the same situation when it comes to counterterrorism? That, according to the proposal, the CIA would be involved in the counterterrorism activities abroad but not at home, and the handoff is even more difficult and the risks are even higher?
The risk of not uncovering an espionage operation is that they will get some information that may degrade our defense for a period of time. Now, over time, the United States has shown that through our research and development and bringing new weapon systems on line and new procedures we can overcome that. But the risks of missing a terrorist operation is we may lose a city.
So what I am suggesting goes beyond the creation of a new organization. What I am suggesting is that the focus and the debate should be on the current structures and whether or not they are adequate for this future threat. Now, that is an important debate, and it hasn't really taken place yet. We've kind of avoided it. The Congress has, and I think the country has. But I think that is an important debate because it does have civil liberty implications.
But, in my opinion, the creation of a new organization that looks nice but does not address these fundamental issues that I am trying to raise is not going to buy us any more security. It is just going to buy us a title and some people in an office. And that maybe the time has come, maybe there is enough distance between us and September 11th at this point to begin to dig into these fundamental civil liberty issues that confront the CIA and the FBI even as we speak, and the military intelligence folks, too.
Governor GILMORE. Congressman, I am sensitive to what you're saying here. We have raged over this for six months in our Commission, believe me. I don't know that there has been a lot of reporting about it, but it sure has been good theater in our Commission. I can assure you of that.
I don't think this is all that complicated, however. The fact of the matter is that our Commission believes that the counterintelligence, the counterterrorism role must be played efficiently and effectively in this country, that it is not the same as law enforcement. The FBI has a long history of being a law enforcement organization. The Commission at this point believes an additional Agency is necessary to most effectively do the other piece of it. Either a new agency must be stood up to do this function or the FBI must be required to do this additional function.
In the end, we believe that we are making the best recommendation to get the job done. But if it is the will of the Congress that the Bureau be required to do this second function effectively and report to the Congress to that effect, that certainly would get the job done, too. Mr. SIMMONS. I certainly appreciate your comments.
I I'll conclude by just remarking on the Chairman's frustration a couple of years ago, I guess, when he was trying to find out some information on Mr. Karic, where he got eight sentences from the CIA, eight pages from this Army organization. I would argue that if he had gone to Bob Steele and his open source folks, he probably would have gotten eight volumes.
So it is really a question of us, as Americans, figuring out how to deal with the new world and new threats by using new technologies; and in some cases that requires new authorities. But I certainly appreciate everything your Panel has done, and I think that the recommendations of your Panel will be an excellent method to begin the debate on these important issues. So I thank you for that.
Governor GILMORE. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman. And I would say, Governor, you may want to get the distinguished gentleman from Connecticut over before the Commission because of his background in the CIA and his expertise having been on the inside. I think he could provide some valuable in-depth insights, as you have had me over from time to time with the Commission members.
Governor, I have a couple of other points I want to make.
You mentioned and alluded to briefly the issue of communication, which has been an issue you have focused on. It is one that is frustrating to me, and you have seen this as a Governor, that we do not have an integrated national emergency response communication capability. We have different frequency spectrums for different departments, and the problem is very frustrating.