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Intelligence Reform Won't Be Achieved Immediately, Rumsfeld Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2004 – Any U.S. intelligence system reform won't be achieved overnight, DoD's senior civilian told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

It has taken nearly decades "to instill the culture of 'jointness' across the armed services, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld noted to committee members, adding, "it ought to remind us of the importance of culture with respect to the intelligence community's issues."

Rumsfeld, accompanied by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Stephen A. Cambone, undersecretary for intelligence; and Acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin, discussed the recommendations of the 9/11 commission to establish a National Intelligence Director and intelligence center.

The White House, Rumsfeld said, is now crafting its policy on the panel's 43 recommendations, some of which have already been adopted. He pointed out that his opinions before the committee should be construed as personal-based.

Rumsfeld recalled that intelligence support to the military was found to be less than ideal more than a decade ago during Operation Desert Storm. Today, he noted, years of effort "to establish a timely and seamless interaction between DoD and CIA activities has become apparent in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the ongoing war on terror."

The two organizations, Rumsfeld observed, are "about as well-connected as we ever have been, although we're probably not as well-stitched together as we conceivably could, or should, be."

The relationship between the CIA and DoD, McLaughlin agreed, "has never in my personal experience been closer." The CIA and FBI, McLaughlin added, are also engaged in a close, information-sharing relationship. "It is a different world," he noted.

Myers acknowledged there's "more to do" to improve the nation's intelligence realm, noting information sharing has to be institutionalized across agencies. The general recommended that "table top" exercises be conducted among affected intelligence agencies to work through proposed changes and highlight problems before the changes are enacted.

Any changes made to the intelligence community, Rumsfeld noted, "should be designed to help us close, further, those gaps and seams, not to reopen them."

Further improving U.S. domestic intelligence capabilities while preserving American civil liberties, Rumsfeld remarked, is one of the 9/11 commission's most important recommendations. DoD has appointed a panel, Rumsfeld said, "to look at ways and means of achieving our defense intelligence capabilities, consistent with our laws and values, to help counter 21st century threats."

Another way to nip transnational terrorism in the bud is for Congress to embrace President Bush's Broader Middle East initiatives, Rumsfeld noted. In this manner, "educational institutions abroad that emphasize religious toleration are supported" through information technologies for schools, scholarships and student exchange programs to promote cultural understanding.

Rumsfeld said it's also important for Congress to approve funds for combatant commanders use in the field for humanitarian and reconstruction projects, noting, "those dollars are as powerful as bullets" in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

While it's paramount "to move with all deliberate speed" to consider and implement 9/11 panel intelligence reform recommendations, Rumsfeld also pointed out that the nation is at war.

"If we move unwisely and get it wrong, the penalty would be great," Rumsfeld emphasized, noting the Defense Department has undergone myriad changes since it was established in 1947. This included revamps resulting from the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols legislation that called for more jointness within the department.

"I doubt that we should think of intelligence reform being completed at a single stoke," he said.

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Biographies:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF
Undersecretary Stephen A. Cambone
Acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin

Related Sites:
Senate Armed Services Committee



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