Central Intelligence Agency Employee Town Hall Meeting
Remarks to the Workforce
September 22, 2005
Excerpts from Remarks
This is a time of great opportunity for the Agency. I am excited about the years ahead. We are rebuilding our human resources – not just in sheer numbers, but we’re also addressing things like our language shortfalls. That applies to the way that we train our newcomers, our middle management, and even our senior management. In short, more quantity, more quality in our future.
Now, in order to accomplish our core mission, we access our plans and intentions of our enemies and then we analyze those secrets, identifying and gaining access to the mischief maker and the leaders of the future; providing our customers with a product that they can rely on to make the very tough decisions they have to make. There is no question in my mind as to my priority for this Agency. Improving our global capabilities is our main job. After all, how can you disrupt terrorist actions without first knowing their plans and intentions?
And you’re dealing with the explosion of information endlessly circling our globe in today’s technological society. How to filter the nuggets is not an easy job.
So, the bottom line is: The CIA is being asked to do better what it has always done – to provide objective, unbiased, and independent intelligence to policymakers without being policy prescriptive. The President expects the CIA to be able to do well what the Agency does uniquely. We are seekers of truth, not owners, and it is an endless task.
And now I want to give you my sense of how we are proceeding when it comes to transformation. And, an understanding of where I see things going next.
We have been making real progress in all areas that have called for improvement. Such as:
- We’ve been having substantial, but quiet success in our efforts in the Global War on Terror. We have provided intelligence support that has resulted in the capture or killings of dozens of high-level Al Qa’ida operatives, and our efforts have unquestionably saved American lives at home and abroad.
- We have gotten more unilateral, though still not as much as I’d like. It’s getting the right kind of people trained in the right places under the right cover against the right targets with the understanding that there is the right kind of political will and leadership to give them the time and the backing to do the jobs they need to do. This is breaking some molds.
- We have been having great success recruiting agents on all the target sets. We have continued various initiatives to stock our asset pool for future anticipated needs and challenges. We continue to look for ways to increase both the analyst’s and the case officer’s time on target, and this includes revising old guidelines that limit artificially an officer’s tour, and expanding our expert base around the globe.
- We are getting more and more global. We opened new stations and bases and we’ve reopened some old ones. We are developing new and creative ways to get more and more of our officers out of Washington.
- We have been reducing Headquarters bureaucracy. There is no better example of this than the Directorate of Support. We continue to look for ways to get Headquarters out of the way of field activities and back where it belongs. Headquarters’ operational primacy is an outmoded philosophy.
- We are incentivizing language skills and cultural awareness. We recognize the need for diversity in all our disciplines throughout the Agency. Having the knowledge base and these skill sets enhances all of our capabilities and improves our work product. To understand the world around us, we’ve got to reflect that world in house more faithfully than we do now. We are bringing in new case officers into the inner core of our agency family. They are going to include more recent arrivals to the United Sates and those with a lot of foreign travel and exposure to different kinds of experiences. That’s a good thing for CIA, for its mission, and for this workforce as a whole. This makes a lot of sense, but it is a huge divergence from the way we have always done things – and, it is critical that we do it without neglecting counter-intelligence, of course. When I was in case officer training, I was advised to beware of recruiting in my own image – back then we were indeed a small old boys network – and that is changing, but we are still not where we need to be.
- We are rewarding and promoting positive impact on mission, not just time spent at Headquarters. I have asked the Executive Director to begin the process to establish a more flexible track for the Senior Intelligence Service – the DI has done some innovative things in this regard worth noting. In other words, this would be an “Expert Track” so that experts in their field can be rewarded for their impact on mission without being forced to hold management positions.
- We have focused our need for a first class and state of the art global infrastructure worthy of the global enterprise that is CIA. I have seen this first hand. Too much of our aging infrastructure has been run to ruin. And, it is not just headquarters – this includes our other area facilities and those that are elsewhere. There are too many critical nodes that are single points of failure for an Agency on which so much depends. We cannot allow ourselves to fall any further behind.
- And we have put the spotlight on creativity and the exercise of one’s ingenuity. The creation and establishment of the Director’s Mission Innovation Center is quickly becoming the place where one’s imagination is allowed to exercise the challenges of tomorrow are met and overcome. I will shortly announce a Director’s Group that will work in conjunction with this center, and to make permanent our transformation efforts – no backtracking here...