March 11, 1997
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I also want to thank Senator McCain, Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry and Senator Rudman for their introductions. I am honored that four Senators of such distinction would speak on my behalf. These are men I have always admired for their public service and for their commitment to build a bipartisan foreign policy.
When President Clinton asked me to serve as Director of Central Intelligence, I immediately accepted. Few positions are more challenging. Few present a more extraordinary opportunity to serve.
I was raised to believe in public service. My father spoke proudly of his service in the Navy. I keep his sword in my office. He and my mother taught me that men and women who serve -- in elected or appointed positions, nationally or locally -- are doing something larger than themselves.
So in 1962 I joined the Foreign Service. Inspired by President Kennedy's call to defend democratic values, I volunteered to go to Vietnam, where I served as a Foreign Service Officer for two years. I then worked in Washington at the State Department and White House, primarily on Vietnam, until 1970, when I resigned from the National Security Council staff and the Foreign Service.
I continued to believe then, as I do now, in the enlargement of democracy and individual freedoms. For I strongly believe that whatever the differences in cultures and political systems, individuals everywhere know the difference between freedom and repression -- and share the thirst for freedom.
But I had reached the bitter conclusion that the war in Vietnam was a terrible mistake. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "In popular government, results worth having can be achieved only by men who combine worthy ideals with practical good sense." And the practical, human costs of our policies were running far beyond any possibility of success or what I considered to be a reasonable definition of American interests.
In the years that followed, I served as the foreign policy coordinator in Senator Edmund Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign, wrote two books that were little noted nor long remembered, and directed the International Voluntary Services, a private Peace Corps. From 1977 to 1981, I was the Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. And from 1981 through 1992, my wife and I ran a farm in western Massachusetts while I taught at Mount Holyoke. In 1992, I became Senior Foreign Policy Advisor in the campaign of Governor Bill Clinton for the presidency.
I stand by my record. I have tried consistently to follow four principles throughout my career: First, whether serving in a Democratic or Republican administration, I have always believed that foreign policy should be made on the basis of the national interest rather than partisan politics. Second, as someone who has worked with diplomats, soldiers and intelligence operatives, I believe that all those who stand on the front line of freedom deserve respect, support and leadership. Third, I believe that a life of public service should be based on integrity and a willingness to sacrifice. And fourth, I believe that our national security policy must integrate our national ideals with our national interests.
These beliefs have guided me over three decades of public service. And if confirmed, they will continue to guide me as Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. Chairman, as I have had the privilege of serving as President Clinton's National Security Advisor, my admiration for the men and women who serve in America's intelligence community has continued to grow. During these last four years, I've started and finished every day with intelligence reports. I've seen the way that intelligence informs every foreign policy decision the President must make. And I firmly believe that in the post-Cold War world, the mission of our nation's intelligence community is more important than ever -- not only for those who rely on its products, but for every American citizen.
This mission must be clear to us and to all the American people. I believe that it has four components.
First and most important, the intelligence community must supply the President with the best, unvarnished information to make the best decisions for America's security and well-being.
Second, the intelligence community must serve our troops. To our pilots in the air, that can mean knowing the location of enemy defenses before they take off on their missions. To our soldiers on the ground, it can mean having the best, most detailed maps in the world. To our sailors at sea, it can mean real-time warning of potential missile threats. And to our nation and our people, with their sons and daughters in uniform, it can mean fewer risks and fewer casualties. As our military has downsized, intelligence is even more important to maximizing our strength on the battlefield and minimizing the danger to our troops.
Third, the intelligence community must help our diplomats and policy makers defend America's interests in a more complex world -- collecting information on the activities of other governments; keeping careful watch wherever crises could explode, from the Persian Gulf to North Korea, from Bosnia to Burundi; identifying long-term problems before they become tomorrow's hot spots.
And fourth, it must directly protect American citizens -- tracking down terrorists ... putting drug kingpins out of business ... breaking up the criminal gangs that prey on open societies ... and keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the wrong hands. This is very important.
I know our troops are aware of how intelligence helps keep them safe. American citizens should understand that intelligence guards them as well.
The men and women of our intelligence community are required to serve in obscurity -- working behind the scenes, often at great risk, to protect their fellow citizens. When things go wrong, the whole community gets blamed, even when the problem stems from one bad seed. And when things go right, most Americans never know: A crisis averted or a conflict avoided rarely hits the headlines. But I've seen first-hand the dedication these Americans bring to their work. And I've seen some striking successes over the last four years alone.
They've broken new ground in aiding military operations -- helping our commanders in Bosnia, for example, to protect our forces and give peace a chance to take hold. Their round-the-clock support last spring, when tensions flared in the Taiwan Strait, helped us defuse a dangerous crisis. They warned us when Saddam Hussein moved Iraqi troops toward the Kuwaiti border. Working together with law enforcement, they enabled the arrest or surrender of all the Colombian Cali druglords. They helped us find and capture terrorists like Ramsi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing. And they've uncovered corruption and unfair foreign business practices that would have cost Americans billions of dollars.
That is just a sample of what good intelligence can do. But today's new environment presents new challenges. Although we no longer face the overarching threat of a single adversary, we must meet new threats that are more varied but in many ways no less dangerous. And we must do so in ever more difficult circumstances.
For example, we have to contend with the consequences of the high-tech explosion. In an age of microchips and cell phones, when bytes and bits fly around the world in nano-seconds, timely, useful, accurate intelligence is actually harder than ever to produce.
Let me give you some idea of the staggering volume of signals and data that our collectors must sift and sort: The Library of Congress can hold about one thousand trillion bits of information. Using yesterday's microwave technology, accessible information took nine months to fill one Library of Congress. Today's fiber optic cables can fill one Library every three weeks. Tomorrow's technology could be even faster -- stocking an entire Library of Congress every few hours. In an age when the haystacks have grown and the needles have shrunk, we need a system of precision-guided collection. In addition, as our society depends more on high technology, we also become more vulnerable to those who would exploit it.
We need to come to grips with these new realities -- or the information age could age us fast.
All of this complicates another crucial challenge before us -- and that is ensuring public support. The intelligence community cannot succeed without the faith of the public it serves. During the Cold War, while mistakes were publicly criticized, no one challenged the need for a strong intelligence community to defend the United States against a dangerous enemy. Now, when mistakes are made -- and some always will be -- their negative impact is magnified all the more. We face a climate where the public is more focused on domestic priorities ... and where the intelligence community necessarily remains restricted in its ability to make a strong case for itself to the American people.
On top of that, over the years, the intelligence community has suffered from turbulence and scandal. No one knows this better than its dedicated men and women. It's time to put the old problems behind us. We must complete our review of past events, correct our mistakes, and begin to build for a new era. I am very eager to help lead that renovation.
But it can only be done, Mr. Chairman, with this committee, and with your expert oversight. There must be a working partnership between the Congress and the Administration based on different responsibilities but shared information. President Clinton has urged us all to be "repairers of the breach." Now, I pledge to you that I'll do all I can to work with both parties -- and push for real progress -- as we take on the challenges of the coming century. There is too much at stake not to put partisanship aside.
Mr. Chairman, I know that long-term problems demand sustained commitment. There are no easy answers and no quick fixes. Frankly, I doubt if any corporation could survive the kind of changes in leadership the CIA has faced in recent years. If confirmed, I intend to stay in the job for a full four years -- the President, the Congress and fate willing.
For I see the years ahead as a time of hard work, but also a time of opportunity.
If confirmed, my efforts will be guided by two fundamental principles, without which we cannot succeed.
First, we must have an intelligence process of absolute integrity. This will be my most solemn responsibility as Director of Central Intelligence. Some have asked whether I -- as a close associate of President Clinton and participant in policy discussions -- can and will provide him the intelligence straight. This is indeed an appropriate question. The answer, unequivocally, is yes. I know first-hand how important it is to defend the bright line separating policy and intelligence.
If confirmed, my job will be to present the views of the intelligence community, and my own intelligence judgments -- unvarnished and unprejudiced. America's security demands no less, and the President has made clear that he will stand for no less. If I attempted to hide bad news, or soften harsh facts for the President, he could make mistakes that would damage the security of our nation and our people. Presenting the facts without fear or favor is the right -- and the only -- way to do the job.
The second critical principle for success is to make the intelligence community as efficient and effective as possible. I want to thank Director Deutch and his predecessors for all they have done. I support the many reforms they have already launched. Since 1991, there has been a cut of some 20 percent in the agency's personnel. Clearly, further reforms are needed -- such as improving financial systems and modernizing our personnel management. But it would be a mistake to start making big changes before a limited period of time allows a new director -- working with you -- to confirm where the problems lie and the best way to fix them. These past few months, I've already been consulting with current and former officials, and with you and your colleagues, to help chart the most effective course.
I also know that internal morale is the intelligence community's lifeblood. If confirmed, I will spare no effort to reach out -- to encourage the most from every member of the community, expecting the best in return. I will challenge our analysts and operations people to tackle hard problems and take on new challenges, even at greater risk of controversy. And I will see that they are rewarded, even if they fail, provided they acted skillfully and properly.
Most important, if confirmed, I will promote from day one a climate of total accountability. I intend to stand up for our officials, and I will expect them to stand behind their work. We must give them every opportunity, through hands-on management, to tell their superiors exactly what they are doing. The Director -- and the President and Congress -- must be properly informed. And if any officials fail to do so, there must be a clear response: He or she will need to find another job.
Beyond these fundamentals I have described, we face a very tough agenda. While focusing on the hardest targets, we must retain the flexibility to respond to crises worldwide. We must decide on important investments in our technological and human resources. We must keep up a vigorous defense against sophisticated counterintelligence threats. That is very important. And, crucially, we must deepen the public understanding of the role of intelligence, the dedication of our intelligence professionals, and the real difference they make to the lives of American taxpayers.
The only way to meet these goals is for the Executive and Congress to work together. I would expect you to hold me to the highest standards of performance. And I expect to work with you in mutual respect for each other's positions and integrity.
Mr. Chairman, as someone who believes strongly in public service, my integrity is something that I care deeply about. That is why I want to take this opportunity to lay to rest, once and for all, two challenges to my personal integrity that have come up in the course of the confirmation process.
First, I believe that the settlement of a civil case by the Department of Justice last month resolves questions that have been raised about my ownership of stocks as National Security Advisor. I take full responsibility for not having sold these stocks earlier. But as the resolution of the civil case -- following a full investigation over 18 months -- also clearly states: "There is no evidence that Mr. Lake ever took any action to conceal or misrepresent his or his wife's financial holdings." It notes that "There is no evidence that ... at the time any issue came before Mr. Lake which may have had a direct and predictable effect on Exxon Corporation or Mobil Corporation, he considered any effect or impact which that matter or issue might have had upon his or his wife's financial interests."
Second, the Department of Justice has also investigated and responded to the charges raised by a House Subcommittee that senior Clinton Administration officials, including myself, lied to Congress. As the Department of Justice's reply to Chairman Hyde says, "We have found no direct, material contradictions between Mr. Lake's statements and the statements or testimony of any other witness, nor any other evidence that Mr. Lake was untruthful to the Subcommittee or was part of a conspiracy to obstruct Congress."
Mr. Chairman, any public official must be dedicated to upholding not just the laws of the land, but the spirit of cooperation between the three branches of government that informs our Constitution. I pledge to you that, if confirmed, I will not only fulfill every legal requirement in keeping Congress informed, but will go beyond. And I propose to meet on a monthly basis with the members of this committee -- to discuss the problems on your minds as well as mine, and to work those problems through at as early a stage as possible.
This raises the issue of the "No Instructions" policy regarding arms shipments to Bosnia through Croatia. I'd like to take a moment to review that policy, because I know that it has been a source of concern.
As you recall, in April 1994, Croatian President Tudjman asked our ambassador whether the United States would object to arms shipments to Bosnia through Croatia. It was clear that Iran would be among the sources. Our ambassador was told to say he had "no instructions" -- in other words, that we would neither endorse nor object.
Our decision was a tough one, but the right one -- and it worked, helping to pave the way to the Dayton Agreement. Today, there is peace in Bosnia and an elected, multi-ethnic government. All foreign forces have been expelled, military and intelligence cooperation with Iran has stopped, and Iranian and radical Islamic influence has eroded. Most important, while much work remains, hope in the future has been restored. Bosnia's markets are full of life, not death ... its children go to school instead of hiding in their cellars ... homes and businesses are being rebuilt ... and the routines of normal life are returning.
I have no apologies for the policy. But I do appreciate that it would have been better to have informed key members of Congress on a discreet basis regarding the "no instructions" instruction while you were debating enforcement of the arms embargo. The President has said the same. At the time, grave concern about the need to keep our allies together led us to emphasize the secrecy of the decision.
At the same time, I must make it clear that I do not believe we were under a legal obligation to inform the Congress. I disagree with those who say that "no instructions" was an intelligence activity. Diplomatic exchanges, including secret diplomatic exchanges, are diplomatic activities. This view, I know, is shared by John Deutch.
I would also like to say that when the CIA raised concerns with me for the first time in October 1994 as to whether some U.S. officials may have gone beyond the "no instructions" position, I referred the matter to the White House Counsel. In consultation with me, the Counsel asked the Intelligence Oversight Board to review the matter. The IOB found no covert action by the government.
This experience, and my own role in it, reinforces my pledge to you about the need to work together. And again, I pledge that, if confirmed, I will not only supply the committee with all information legally required. When in doubt, my rule will be to inform.
Confidentiality must and will remain a vital part of what we do. For as George Washington wrote during our nation's battle for independence, "...upon Secrecy, success depends in most Enterprises of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned."
But it is also true that if you look back at some recent controversies involving the intelligence community, while various mistakes were made, too often the core of the problems was overzealous secrecy: Not sharing enough information among ourselves; not sharing enough information with the Congress. And that is simply unacceptable.
Let me state clearly: We have to keep the secrets -- and I think I'm known for my ability to do so. We need the most vigorous counterintelligence program to keep our secrets in and keep spies out. But secrecy whose purpose is to cover up mistakes, preserve mere bureaucratic routine, or avoid responsible oversight, is ultimately self-destructive.
Mr. Chairman, in closing, let me emphasize that these hearings are about much more than one man's nomination. We'll be discussing the future of the CIA and the intelligence community at large ... our commitment to protect our people in the world of the 21st century ... and our ability to advance our interests in an era of exploding information.
I welcome the endeavor. I look forward to the challenge. I'm ready, if confirmed, to get to work. And I'm confident that, working together, we can help promote the security and prosperity of the American people in the next century as we did in the last.