Letter from the Heads of the Joint Inquiry to George Tenet

Letter from the Heads of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 to George Tenet
United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

United States Government Printing Office, pages i–iv

Congress of the United States

Washington, D.C.

January 29, 2003

The Honorable George J. Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence
Washington, DC 20505

Dear Director Tenet:

As you know, the final report of the Joint Inquiry into the events of September 11 has been submitted to the Intelligence Community for declassification review. We look forward to early release of the public report so that efforts at reforms can be accelerated.

Having been privileged to lead this bipartisan, bicameral investigation last year, we are committed to working in the current Congress to help secure implementation of its recommendations. In furtherance of that goal, we are writing to the President and heads of departments and agencies about portions of the Joint Inquiry's recommendations that may be of particular concern to them.

Our first recommendation calls for establishment of a Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, who in addition to being the President's principal intelligence adviser "shall have the full range of management, budgetary and personnel responsibilities needed to make the U.S. Intelligence Community operate as a coherent whole." To help promote both strong leadership of the entire Intelligence Community leadership and an effective CIA, the Joint Inquiry also recommended that Congress provide that the DNI not simultaneously serve as director of the CIA or any other agency. In considering this recommendation, the Congress will certainly, we believe, benefit from learning of your views about the strengthening of the role of head of the Intelligence Community.

A number of the recommendations that follow address proposed tasks of the Director of National Intelligence, but as that reform will require study and deliberation, for the immediate future those further recommendations are directed to the Director of Central Intelligence as the present statutory head of the Intelligence Community.

The Joint Inquiry found that prior to September 11 neither the U.S. Government as a whole nor the Intelligence Community had a comprehensive counterterrorist strategy. One of our recommendations calls on the National Security Council, in conjunction with key agency and department heads, to prepare such a strategy for the President's approval. The recommendation states that the strategy should be "government wide," apply both "home and abroad," and include "the growing terrorism threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated technologies." The recommendation asks that this strategy identify and fully engage the intelligence as well as foreign policy, economic, military and law enforcement elements that are "critical to a comprehensive blueprint for success in the war against terrorism." The Director of Central Intelligence's full participation in this overall process will be essential, as will the DCI's development of the Intelligence Community component of the full strategy. The Joint Inquiry recommended that the Intelligence Community's component of the overall strategy include a number of important items, among them development of human sources to penetrate terrorist organizations and networks.

To provide to the Congress and Executive Branch policymakers intelligence estimates on terrorism, the Joint Inquiry has recommended establishment on the National Intelligence Council of the position of National Intelligence Officer for Terrorism. The recommendation suggests that the person holding this position also assist the Intelligence Community in developing a program for strategic analysis.

Another recommendation addresses the need for Congress and the Administration to ensure development within the Department of Homeland Security of an effective all-source terrorism information fusion center, as mandated by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The success of that fusion center will depend, as the recommendation states, on the center's "full and timely access to all counterterrorism-related intelligence information, including 'raw' supporting data as needed." Your action to ensure full cooperation between the entire Intelligence Community (including, of course, the CIA) and the Department of Homeland Security will be fundamental to the success of this vital reform. We applaud the President's announcement of the establishment of a new Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which we understand will be located under the Director of Central Intelligence. The important challenge, we believe, is to assure the full and harmonious implementation of both the information fusion requirement of the Homeland Security Act and the center that the President announced.

The recommendations include a list of significant reforms that the Intelligence Committees believe are essential for strengthening the FBI's domestic intelligence capability. In regard to these critically needed reforms, the Joint Inquiry has recommended that Congress should direct that the head of the Intelligence Community, together with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should report to Congress on the FBI's progress. The report should include "the specific manner in which a new domestic intelligence service could be established in the United States, recognizing the need to enhance national security while fully protecting civil liberties."

The Committees expressed their strong conviction that "the Intelligence Community's employees remain its greatest resource." They recommend that the head of the Intelligence Community "should require that measures be implemented to greatly enhance the recruitment and development of a workforce with the intelligence skills and expertise needed for success in counterterrorist efforts." Several particular actions are set forth in the recommendation. One is that Intelligence Community agencies should expand and improve counterterrorism training, including about information sharing among law enforcement and intelligence personnel, the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and watchlisting. The recommendation includes steps to improve Intelligence Community language capabilities and the utilization of the skills and experience of retired personnel. It calls on the Intelligence Community to "enhance recruitment of a more ethnically and culturally diverse workforce."

A further personnel recommendation proposes, in part, that Congress enact legislation, modeled on the landmark Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, to help instill the concept of "jointness" throughout the Intelligence Community and ensure that its components will work more closely together than has been the case. The mechanisms identified in the recommendation include such things as joint tours for intelligence and law enforcement personnel as well as incentives for joint service throughout the Intelligence Community. In developing these ideas, Congress would benefit from the Administration's detailed proposals.

The Joint Inquiry identified several important objectives concerning classified information, including expanding access by federal agencies outside the Intelligence Community, by state and local authorities, and by the American public. To this end, we recommended that the Director of Central Intelligence, in consultation with the heads of key components of the Intelligence Community, including the Attorney General, should report to the Intelligence Committees on "proposals for a new and more realistic approach to the processes and structures that have governed the designation of sensitive and classified information." The report should also address "proposals to protect against the use of the classification process is a shield to protect agency self-interest."

The Congress and the Nation as a whole will be grateful for your attention and response to these and other matters identified in the course of the Joint Inquiry. Further, we are confident that the Congress will benefit from other recommendations that you might have for legislative or administrative action to improve the Nation's counterterrorist capabilities.

Sincerely,

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Bob Graham
Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee, 107th Congress

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Porter Goss
Charmian, House Intelligence Committee, 107th and 108th Congresses

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Richard Shelby
Vice Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee, 107th Congress

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Nancy Pelosi
Ranking Minority Member, House Intelligence Committee, 107th Congress and Member ex officio (as Minority Leader), 108th Congress

Enclosure: As stated