Remarks by Director of Central Intelligence Porter J. Goss

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, California
March 2, 2005

Excerpts from Remarks

Indeed, there is no viable alternative to freedom – only freedom offers men and women the opportunity to reach their full potential. And only those who don’t want people to have freedom feel threatened by it.

So, what is the role of intelligence in all this? There is no contradiction between intelligence and freedom. Intelligence work may seem dark and cynical to some, but it is a vital enabler of freedom.

Today, a section of the Berlin Wall stands outside CIA Headquarters, just as a piece stands here at the Library. I am deeply proud that destruction of the Wall and everything it stood for is CIA’s shared legacy with Ronald Reagan. We were America’s eyes and ears behind the Iron Curtain, just as we are its eyes and ears in today’s war on terror and other global mischief.

It wasn’t luck or inevitability that brought the Wall down. It was bold, heard work, commitment to ideals, perseverance, and yes, courage, both moral and physical. President Reagan had them all. Plus his innate and infectious optimism, which led him to believe anything was possible – even an end to the Cold War.

…Today I want to address one mission in particular: the global war on terror. President Reagan viewed terrorism earlier, more clearly and more perceptively than most. In 1985 he said: “There is a temptation to see the terrorist act as simply the erratic work of a small group of fanatics. We make this mistake at great peril, for the attacks on America, her citizens, her allies, and other democratic nations in recent years do form a pattern of terrorism that has strategic implications and political goals.”

He said the goals of terrorists – and the misguided states that support them – is to expel America from the world. As you know, that was antithetical to everything he stood for.

So, a full 16 years before the horror of September 11th tragically awakened all Americans – indeed the whole world – to the threat and reality of global terrorism, President Reagan advocated moving our counterterrorism focus from the tactical to the strategic perspective. As the man whose presidency began with the release of American hostages from our embassy in Tehran and ended a month after Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air, he saw terrorist acts fro what they are: Acts of war against the United States, its people and its allies – committed by brutal people using despicable methods.

…The CIA is and will remain the flagship of U.S. intelligence. It has unique collection and analytical capabilities – capabilities that give the President information he can get no other way. So my plan for CIA is really very straightforward: Concentrate the full range of our talents and efforts on stealing secrets and managing all–source material to inform decisions of policymakers and military commanders.

We don’t make policy. We don’t wage war. Yes, we do sometimes undertake covert actions at the President’s direction, but our primary focus is espionage – uncovering the capabilities, plans and intentions of the world’s mischief-makers and identifying the leaders and enemies or tomorrow so that they can be influenced and/or disrupted. We intend to reduce bureaucratic impediments to meeting that mission, and will push decision –making and resources out to the field, where a foreign intelligence organization ought to be doing its work.

Good intelligence is America’s best weapon in today’s dangerous world. It remains “the tripwire across which the focus of repression and tyranny must stumble,” as President Reagan so aptly put it.

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