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Under Secretary Cambone Meeting with the Defense Writers Group

Presenters: Stephen A. Cambone, USD (Intelligence)
November 21, 2003
Q: Defense believed that the Iraqis had weapons deployed, perhaps prepared to use them and it seems now that was clearly not the case. This seems like a pretty serious weakness in the pre-war planning. I'd like to ask you, what is the currently accepted explanation for what happened there and what, if anything, can DoD itself do to rectify that problem in the future? Or can it do anything? Or is that primarily CIA?

 

     Cambone: Long before the onset of hostilities, some of you may recall, having reported on the Secretary asking the DCI to pull together a team to compare what we thought we knew about Iraq -- its order of battle all the way through to diplomatic activity and so forth, that had been the subject of reporting and had been of interest with respect to policy making  --  in the belief, that "if" -- at the time, it was "if" -- we were ever to find ourselves able to compare what we thought we knew over against what evidence we could find on the ground, one would have the opportunity to test the intelligence enterprise. And by that, I don't mean the CIA, but that whole process by which one goes about identifying requirements for collection, collecting, analyzing and then incorporating that information into your assessments. I noted the other day -- one of you had an article about Dick Kerr commenting on his being involved in that effort and so forth. So that process go started well in advance. And why?

 

     In part, it was because both the DCI and the SecDef understand that intelligence is about judgements that have to be rendered periodically -- depending on circumstances, they may be rendered more often than in other cases -- on the basis of what information you are able to generate, collect, analyze at any given point in time.

 

     So the question you are asking me is, based on what we think we have found or not found, or think we have not yet found, does that for some reason make you want to doubt in some substantial way what was known, not known, judged to be so, judged to be not so and then admitted to be something we needed to know more of. The short answer is, that is what people are doing on the ground at the moment. They are going through --

 

     Q: I am talking about, with the Iraqi forces.

 

     Cambone: I understand. And so you said it seems clear that is not the case. I don't know that I would draw the judgement that that is not the case. What we don't know yet, what that order of battle was, in a way that we can compare knowledge on the ground with what we assumed or judged, or what was judged by the intelligence community to be the case. So, people are working on that and that is part of the ongoing effort, both being done by Kerr in looking at his business and then comparing that with the evidence as it comes in from the people who are working on the ground inside of Iraq. This will be something that will unfold not over a period of days and weeks, ok? But over a longer period of time as the folks who are doing the assessment -- if you will, the assessment of the assessments, go through this. And they've got to do two things, remember. They've got to compare what was said and the basis upon which that was said over against what is actually found and understanding the relationships then that they can identify on the ground in place and then having got both of those, then you've got to compare them.

 

     Q: Is the U.S. getting any evidence from the interrogation of Iraqi generals and others that there actually were chemical weapons or biological weapons deployed with the Iraqi forces? The reporting I've seen, which is unofficial, is just the opposite. That everybody says, well, I didn't have them, but the guy to my right or the guy to my left had them.

 

     Cambone: The problem everybody is struggling with is you have a regime which is, if it is noted for one thing beyond its brutality, it is its ability to deceive, to deny, to compartment, to mislead, to misdirect. And it is through that haze, that fog, that deliberate set of misdirections and deceptions that they are trying to work. For you to have that impression is probably not surprising.

 

     Q: But, what about the specific question -- are you receiving?

 

     Cambone: Well, that I'm not going to answer.

 

     Q: I was wondering if you could give us an update or a sense of what the intelligence community is doing, either on equipment or people over to Iraq, to help with this?

 

     Cambone: Sure. A little background first because I think the context is important. I mean, the short answer is, we've had one group of people over to do an assessment, made some recommendations, moved some things and we can talk about that in a minute. And there will be another group that goes over here in another couple of weeks, just after Thanksgiving, to take another look to see how we are doing with the changes and the recommendations that were made. But to back up.

 

     We came out of major combat operations with a structure in place, which was designed for the conduct of those operations. Beginning in, I don't know, some time in the spring, there started a process for refashioning that headquarters, which was at the time 5th Corps, refashioning that into what is now the Combined Joint Task Force 7 and changing its focus from being a corps headquarters in support of a major combat operation by essentially an Army corps, into a headquarters which was overseeing stability operations, or whatever phrase one wants to put to those ongoing operations.  During the course of which, that is, those stability operations, the requirement for an increased level of intelligence support became increasingly evident as we went through a period between early July/late August, in that time frame. In that late August time frame, a delegation went over from the Department and included people from the CIA to look at how we were structured, whether we had the proper arrangements at the division headquarters level, whether that information, as it was being compiled at the divisional level, was being moved from that level up to the CJTF 7 level in an expeditious manner. And then, when it got to the CJTF 7 level, whether they had enough in the way of resources, manpower, computers, connectivity and so forth to do the kind of analytic work that needed to be done at that level.

 

     They came back with a list of somewhere close to 80 or 90 recommendations on some of the changes and adjustments that needed to be made. Some were small: make sure you have the proper software down at a certain level of command and so forth. Others were rather larger. For example, there was already within the theater an inclination to create what they call a J2X, which is an organization within the intelligence unit component of CJTF 7, which would be committed to fusing information and data and all those kinds of things. Well, if you are going to create another section within it, then you needed more people. And so we flowed more people into that activity and we have improved the connectivity of the CJTF down to its component commands and things of that sort. Of that, 80 some odd/90 some odd recommendations and suggestions, they worked there way through the vast majority of them.

 

     In addition, understanding then the need for support over the longer term, particularly for human intelligence, each of the services has committed to training a large number of individuals who could serve as part of the defense human intelligence teams -- human intelligence teams -- in support of both the division level and the CJTF 7 level.

 

     In addition, the DCI has made a number of adjustments in his complement of people in Iraq and then lastly, there has been a concerted effort to lash up much more tightly the work that is done in the context of the CIA's activities, with those being done by the Department to ensure there is that cross flow of information and cooperation.

 

     Q: the Israelis have been doing this for years with basically margin success. They find people but they never manage to root out the problem. Any dialogue with them on things you would do differently than what they've been doing for more than decade in the occupied territories?

 

     Cambone: We have been -- those who are involved in this, have been the recipient of advice and counsel from any number of different organizations and so, those who have to deal with like problems tend to share information as best they can, but in terms of their being any kind of formal relationships with anyone else, no. We are not.

 

     Q: There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the decision to disband the Iraqi army. Jay Garner really was under the impression from the SecDef on down that he had a greenlight to keep that army somewhat intact. He says he was surprised when Paul Bremer came in and disbanded it. He had hired MPRs who do the training. In hindsight, was there a change in the intelligence on the ground that made Bremer's decision a smart one? Or in further hindsight does it now look like maybe things would have gone better had the army been kept in tact?

 

     Cambone: Gee, I don't know. That one actually is not in my lane. The question of what we did on the policy side of this is -- you need to talk with Doug Feith about that.  Those were primarily policy level decisions about how to proceed.

 

     Q: But isn't policy fueled by intelligence?

 

     Cambone: Oh sure, but you know, I mean, let me see if I can rephrase your question. If your question is, would a continued existence of the Iraqi army in some fashion or another, are you asking would it have prohibited or inhibited circumstances we find now, I don't know if that is answerable.

 

     Q: Take the first half of the question. Why did it change? Why did it go from, hey, let's keep it in tact?

 

     Cambone: I don't think that that was driven in the first instance by a threat assessment. It was a set of policy questions about how to proceed from where we were to where we wanted to go on the transitional process. I think you'd be better off asking Doug Feith that question.

 

     Q: And so, your shop didn't have a say on that decision.

 

     Q: You got a letter from the Electronic Warfare Caucus.

 

     Cambone: I did.

 

     Q:  -- suggesting that EW is suffering from chronic neglect in the Department. What is your response to that and can you give us an idea of when you'll have a comprehensive plan for airborne electronic warfare, IW and all that stuff?

 

     Cambone: Tomorrow or the day after. The letter, as I recall, was addressed both to the under secretary for acquisition and to me. And appropriately so. There is a large measure -- the vast majority of the decision making on electronic warfare is caught up in the service roles and missions and how they are going to support that mission. There is, from the point of view of the intelligence support provided by the Department, an interest in seeing that those systems are developed in a timely way, in an accurate way and all those other kinds of things, which is where my office enters into that picture. There are -- depending upon how narrowly you define or broadly you define you electronic warfare -- there are a number of programs that are of interest to my office and they have been looking at them for some period of time. As you get into the period of time over the winter and into the spring, people will have had a chance to take a look at it in a way that the members asked that we do. Thirdly, there is another element to this, which is important, and that is from the point of view of information operations as it is defined today. You know, electronic warfare is an element of that area of interest as well. Policy, acquisition, Joint Staff, the intelligence, my intelligence staff and so forth, are going to be sort of working in -- I don't know what you want to call it -- under a sort of a roadmap arrangement to think our way through all of those elements of the information operations world, from psychological operations and early warning and computers and so forth. There are about five categories, I guess, under that heading. That process has just gotten started and I anticipate it will pick up a lot of momentum over the course of the coming year because there is a lot of interest, not just in EW business, but also in the other four elements of the IO world.

 

     Q: But would you agree there has been a chronic neglect?

 

     Cambone: I can't answer that in the way that you are answering the question. I have to go take a look. If the question is, is EW number one on everybody's list? You know that is probably fair to say, no. Is it suffering from chronic neglect? I don't know the answer to that and need the time to go look at it.

 

     Q: I'd like you to talk a little bit more about human intelligence on the battlefield. Both the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division talked about that as a significant shortcoming before and during the war. What is being done in the near term and long term to improve that on the battlefield? And also what is going on within DIA, with the Defense HUMINT service?

 

     Cambone: Let's take the first part. Somewhere in the early 1990s and I have yet to get anyone to actually tell me who and when -- who took the decision and when it was taken -- there was a decision to reassign within the intelligence community as writ large, kind of roles and missions and one of the missions, if you will, that was affected was the human intelligence cadres within the various services. They were for a variety of reasons, substantially reduced. And that is a fact.

 

     So we found ourselves then in the current situation being more reliant upon that asset than people anticipated we would be. And so if division commanders are reporting shortages, it is because in fact there are fewer people today to do that than there were 10 or 15 years ago. What do we do from here? There is within my office an effort under way with the services, with the commands, with the Joint Staff to look at what those human intelligence requirements are going to be -- what they are now and how they might evolve over time. And asking the question, then, how ought we to levy that requirement. Is it a defense-wide levy, which is to say that it is a DIA responsibility or a counter-intelligence field activity responsibility? Is it a Defense-wide thing? Or, ought we to return to an arrangement wherein the services need to beef up their human intelligence activities. In either case, then, the other question we are looking at is, what is the distribution of that capability. Do you want to be on the side of the ledger where you are looking primarily at battalion, brigade, division level support? That is, the battlefield itself. Is it a battlefield analysis, order of battle kind of thing? Is it looking to focus on the post-conflict phase  --  and by that I don't mean the entire conflict, but after the forces moved through a region  --  you want to be focused on that kind of civil support, civil-military affairs, counter-insurgency, is that really where you ought to be focused? What about counter intelligence? How do you want to deal with the counter intelligence side of the ledger? All of that needs to be put over against the competing demands within the services for the people who support -- signals, imagery, all of those other kinds of elements of the intelligence portfolio that the force carries forward. We've been through two rounds of exchanges among the parties that I mentioned. We have an interim report due to the Congress on 11th of December and I am looking to get this to a point where we can then publish as part of the guidance for FY 06 -- we are finishing the '05 budget and we are already into the '06 build -- to give some guidance then to the services, the commands, defense-wide, to see if we can't answer -- having done the analysis I just talked about, then give some direction to people about how we want to go forward.

 

     Q: And this report is due on the 11th of December?

 

     Cambone: I think it is. You need to call and check.

 

     Q: Is that in response to a CDA?

 

     Q: In confronting this terrorist threat in Iraq, military commanders have found that they don't always have the technology, tech gear, that adjusts to the environment...Has there been a similar realization on the intel front in terms of technology that -- you talked a little bit about restructuring of the make up of the people that you have there -- but I wonder in terms of the actual equipment technology that helps your people to do their job and helps to protect them and allows them to move through the communities to gather the intelligence that they want.

 

     Cambone: The thing about, particularly on the side of human intelligence that is important to take on board is that it works in broadly two ways. Individuals will come to you with information. Conversely, you need to go to them to get the information. In both cases, it is done in a very personal kind of way. So my point is that a good deal of that is not technically based at all, but is very personal and requires that kind of relationship. Now that implies that, depending on how hostile the environment is in which you are operating, you tend to then need other kinds of support. There are arrangements for providing that support at each level of the command structures. More broadly, in terms of the ability then to communicate what one learns and to write down what you learn, communicate it up to the people who you are working with most immediately and then on to higher headquarters. That has taken us a while to get properly arranged. So when I say we sent a team over to work on it, in August, that is one of the major issues that they looked at. Are we getting the information formatted in such a way that it can be easily moved to the next higher headquarters and then, if you will, used for net assessments and things of that sort. Fixing some of that is taking a bit of time but it is in hand and I think the benefits of it are already being seen.

 

     Q: You can't elaborate?

 

     Cambone: There -- what are they? -- it is making sure that the proper connections are there for classified communications, that the coalition partners can share on that network, that you have the right kind of software to do the sifting. It is really very mundane, in the ordinary sense, there is nothing spectacular about it. There aren't a whole lot of gee-whiz, golly, well, here is a magic bullet kind of thing. Intelligence, as best I've been able to observe it over the period of time I've been involved, is laborious, tedious and not very glamorous. All that stuff about gee, golly-whiz, you know, it is mostly hard work. And getting people arranged so that they can talk to one another and compare notes to do the things that are necessary to be done. It was getting that part of it squared away that we needed to take the time and effort to do.

 

     Q: Two somewhat related questions. What is the assessment of who was behind the car bombings in Iraq? What is the assessment of the connections, if any, between the former regime loyalists and the foreign fighters-extremists-Islamists that are also operating in Iraq?

 

     Cambone: Incident by incident, I'd be hard pressed here to tell you this one is this, is this, is this. On the other hand, I think there is a sense that the former regime loyalists are laboring to discredit the coalition, to intimidate those who would cooperate with the coalition, to try to reduce and I presume eliminate the activities and support lent by non-governmental organizations, whether it is the Red Crescent, the Red Cross or the U.N. inside of Iraq. There is no question that there is an effort under way by them to do that. Now, how sophisticated is it in terms of the relationships between and among various cells and organizations or units inside of Iraq? I think that the view -- it is fair to say that there is some of the -- I mean, John Abizaid has talked about this -- there is some level of organization at the local levels and some connectivity between those cells, but in terms of this being a nationwide campaign, I don't think he has seen it quite in those terms. With respect to the relationship with foreign fighters, outside elements, that there were and are outside elements in Iraq is true. That they will find ways to associate themselves with or make use of or be used by the former regime loyalists is probably also the case. But I think the focus that John has at the moment, General Abizaid has, is to try to deal with the former regime loyalists and the hard core Ba’athists who are in fact seeking to disrupt the coalitions efforts and to intimidate Iraqis and to drive out support from others, both official and non-official, inside the country.

 

     Q: Does that mean that the former regime loyalists are the biggest threat in Iraq?

 

     Cambone: Well, boy, the biggest threat. I don't know. That is hard to answer. I think the view is that they are operating with a determination and a single-mindedness that is apparent. That organizations like Al Qaeda or an AI and others can operate inside of Iraq and do grievous harm is also true. I guess my thought there then is that in looking at this, the problem may not be thinking about it in terms of how many of one or another. It is not a numerical issue. We are dealing with the possibility for a relatively small number of people to do grievous harm. And so the question of where the greatest threat rests is probably not quite the right way to put it. Turn it the other way -- wherein lies the great objective and opportunity and that is to persuade the Iraqi people that the coalition is determined to see its way through this, that it is pursuing former regime loyalists and any outside influences who are seeking to do harm, and persuade them that cooperation with the coalition will result in their -- the Iraqi people -- being safer and more prosperous over time. That is where the opportunity is. And working that side of the ledger is where I think General Abizaid is focusing his attention.

 

     Q: We are all very familiar now with the stresses on manpower on ground units in Iraq, Afghanistan and what that is doing to the force. It is hard to believe that intelligence assets aren't also stressed in the same way. And, in particular, not just trying to figure out what is going on in the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even moreso, trying to figure out what al Qaeda and its related organizations are doing in the 60-odd countries that they are based in. There have been concerns by members of Congress that in fact a lot of your assets are being diverted away from the larger fight against al Qaeda to Iraq, by necessity, because of what is going on in the ground there. I'm wondering if you can talk about the stresses that you are in fact under in terms of assets and personnel, addressing what is going on in Iraq, and then widening out to Afghanistan and then widening beyond that to the world at large and how much Iraq is detracting from the fight against al Qaeda?

 

     Cambone: The war on terrorism is global. So the focus with respect to that war is global as well. And so the intelligence community writ large and the Department of Defense specifically continues to do the monitoring, the assessment and under take the appropriate actions to prosecute that war on a global scale. Whether it is the work being done at EUCOM or PACOM, obviously in CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, all of the regional combatant commanders and their respective J2s, their intelligence shops and their joint intelligence centers are paying attention to the problem of terrorism in their area of responsibility in addition to the other things that they have to worry about -- narco-terrorism and all kinds of other things that might affect say, General Hill at SOUTHCOM. They work in a federated environment such that it is possible for them to exchange information and data very easily. They meet frequently on the video teleconferencing and so forth. At the level of the global war, there isn't a lack of focus and each of those JICs, the joint intelligence centers, are fairly robustly manned. They are not small organizations. Now, with respect then to any stress that their may be on the intelligence force, nearly by definition, since we have reduced the number of people we have for defense HUMINT for the human intelligence side of the equation, we are, as I said earlier, in the process of asking the services to increase the number of people who would be trained to operate as HUMINT teams in support of the units that are deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, by the way, to prosecute the current set of operations that are taking place. So yeah we are a little short on the human side; there is no denying that. Steps are in place to try to improve the numbers and the capability of the people who'd be involved.

 

     Q: You are talking about newly minted intelligence experts, people who are newly introduced to this. What about veterans? Are you short of them?

 

     Cambone: Some. But look, part of the role for the force is to shift its weight as required by circumstances and part of that planning process is to assure or ensure that there is within the force some margin for doing that. What I would say to you is that with respect to the human teams, there is a shortage. There isn't a large margin for them. And so we have asked the services to provide them. They are doing so. They are being trained and you are right. They will be new to the craft. Yet, when they go forward and are deployed, they will fold into teams that are in place and have been in place for some period of time and just like a new battalion or brigade or division that will be rotated into Iraq, they will come in, those battalions, brigades and divisions, they will come in, they will ride side by side with their partners for some period of time. They will be acclimated. They will do the things that they need to do. And they will come up on the staff pretty quickly.

 

     Q: Given what you've said about the nature of the adversary in Iraq and the way you cast the role played by foreign fighters as may or might, I wonder if it is correct for anyone to cast the war in Iraq as the front line in the war on terrorism. Are there members of al Qaeda from Iraq that the U.S. has in custody and is there any evidence that al Qaeda is operating in Iraq?

 

     Cambone: Read your own newspapers. There is plenty of reporting on their likely activity there. The important thing to understand and I go back to the point I made -- small cells operating with the kind of secrecy that these organizations have been known for, can cause a great deal of damage, grievous harm. We saw it in Turkey. We saw it in Saudi Arabia. The U.N. worker was killed in Afghanistan. We saw it in Morocco. We saw it in Indonesia. This is a global campaign. There is, in Iraq, you know, a major effort underway to defeat the kinds of forces who bring that kind of activity forward in the world. The acts of bombing in Najaf, things that are taking place in Fallujah, activities up in Mosul. These are terrorist acts. They are designed to harm innocents and to gain political advantage. They can't be tolerated. I think the president was pretty clear about that yesterday as was the prime minister as was the leadership in Turkey as was the Italian leadership. What took place with the Italians, there is nothing else to call it, right? So, the patterns are there. The types of activity, the types of targets. As I said before, one draws judgements on what one sees and what one knows.

 

     Q: Does General Boykin in his current position work for you?

 

     Cambone: Yes.

 

     Q: What was the purpose of setting up that office that he has?

 

     Cambone: Setting up what office?

 

     Q: His office, the job that he has. Can you describe what the purpose of his effectiveness? Has he been undercut by the controversy about him?

 

     Cambone: I will tell you what the organization is and what the roles are. I am not going to talk about General Boykin's circumstances. He has requested and there is ongoing an inspector general investigation. We'll let that run its course. We can talk about that afterwards. For now the purpose of the office, of which there are four, as you know -- let me give you the other three and then we'll talk about that one -- there is one that does programs, plans, policies, looks after the budget, all those kinds of things; a second office which is designed to look at counterintelligence and security. A third that is we're calling preparation and warning which is designed to provide to the Secretary and the under secretaries of the department, combatant commanders and so forth, some idea of the evolution of circumstances, technical, political and so forth so that the Department can organize itself, begin to organize itself to be ready for a period 10 to 15 years from now when circumstances could be quite different than they are today. Then there is the office that General Boykin leads and it is there as intelligence and warfighting support and it is an office that is designed to assure that the types of capabilities we have just been talking about here, whether it is people, or it is resources or it is materiel, or it is information, is moved forward to the people who need it at various levels of command and operation in order for them to execute their mission. So it is what it says, it is a support office. Now the entire, my entire organization is a staff organization. It is not a line organization. We don't do intelligence. I think that is an important thing for all of you to understand. The intelligence is done by the intelligence community -- DIA, CIA, NSA and NIMA soon to be NGA -- provide it. The analysts go through it. They provide the finished product. Our job is to communicate to, on the one hand, the intelligence community what the Department's needs are and on the other to make sure that the combatant commanders get their needs met from the community. And so the office that General Boykin heads is designed specifically to support the combatant commands in making certain that they are receiving the kind of support that they need and that their needs are transmitted to the community.

 

     Q: Does this give him contacts with representatives of other governments?

 

     Cambone: What he does is, as I say, he communicates needs from combatant commanders to the community and from the community back to the combatant commanders. That is what his job is.

 

     Q: A group from the ISG, have they found anything over there that would give more of an indication of what could be there?

 

     Cambone: As you know, that whole activity is being directed by the DCI and David Kay is his direct representative. David gave his interim report in September or October. And he'll do another when he thinks it is appropriate to do so. Until he does, I really can't tell you where he is. Remember -- and I know there is a bit of frustration among all of you on this -- but let me see if I can explain to you why we are handling it this way. Unlike the effort, say, that is underway with Dick Kerr, where he is looking at finished product or even other reports that went into those finished products, that is an analytic exercise. He is sitting there trying to work his way through to understand how these things were developed, why people thought what they did at any given time. David Kay is involved in an operation. This is an operational undertaking. It is not an analytical one in the ordinary sense. He has to send people out. You asked about HUMINT teams. I mean, he has to send his people out to contact individuals. He has got to go out and he's got to inspect sites. He's got to go out and bring in materiel and things of that sort. He needs to be able to do that with a level of operational security that protects his people as they are working, doesn't tip sources who would other wise not want to cooperate. And makes it possible for him to follow up quickly on the leads and possibilities that emerge as a result of his work. So if we were to, on a weekly basis, monthly basis, come out and say, well, we've now got this and this and this and this, well, you know, people read the newspapers in Iraq? And they will be enabled, if they are willing or desirous of misleading, deceiving or otherwise not cooperating with him, be that much better informed on how to do it. So this is a matter of operational security for that mission, not a desire in anyway to restrict per se that flow of information reported.

 

     Q: What kind of goal do you have going into this process?

 

     Cambone: The '05 budget is meant to be a continuation of the program that was laid down with the '04 budget. We do the '04 budget or any year budget and then there is the program that follows. The agreement was that we would use '05 as a year to continue, to stabilize the programs to allow people a two-year period to work this. So we are focusing now on two things. One is to give whatever broad policy guidance would be needed for the coming year in as planning against the '06 budget. So as budget item, that is the first thing we are doing. Then the second is to make the increasingly straightforward case, if you will, on the need to work toward a handful of objectives and goals. So one is what at different places you've heard me talk about and that is the idea of persistent surveillance or another term being universal situational awareness. We'd like to have the ability through a combination of technical and human means and analytic processes to be able to sustain a situational awareness of events around the globe such that we get to a point in time -- and it will take us probably a decade of dedicated effort -- where you have sort of a baseline established of activity in the world of interest to you that you can monitor on a regular basis and you monitor it for those anomalous events: things that break from the baseline; things that you don't understand and use that as a way to then focus your intelligence assets for a much deeper look at a given problem. Secondly, we've got to improve and work very hard on improving our ability to do strategic warning. Because a small number of people, operating in secrecy can do grievous harm in an instant, the ability to warn, well in advance of that possibility and the potential that can be used and provide alternative ways of addressing that problem is terribly important, but associated with that is not just being able to compile information. It is learning how to compile the information in a way that the decision making understands it. You know, every day the leading policy makers in this town receive a stack of paper through which they are expected to sift in order to understand what is taking place in the world. We've got to find ways to do decision aids and teaching aids that that work is a whole lot easier. We've got to get more agile in what we do. That is clear both from the point of view of collection as from the point of view of production. Things take a long time to be collected and they take a long time to be analyzed, unless you are in a tactical situation. So, we've got to get better at that and that means adjusting organizations. It means adjusting the kinds of technology, procedures, policies, all the rest of that has to be done. We've got to get to the point where the support to the war fighter, the front line folks, is more continuous. We can't have these discontinuities in support. There has to be a way of melding together the work that the planners in the J3 shops, the operational plans people, with the intelligence support people so that there is a closer melding of analysis, collection and operational planning. And it is done in a way that allows for a dynamic application of intelligence, if you find yourself in an operational environment. We've got to find a way -- I mentioned our counter intelligence effort. It is clear that we have adversaries out there who are quite knowledgeable about how we go about our business, about what we think we know about what we think we don't know. And they are trying very hard, both to take from us, to steal our secrets if you will, while at the same time denying their secrets to us. We've got to work very, very hard to overcome that gulf and to secure the information that we have in hand. As we craft the guidance over the coming months, those are sort of broad objectives against which we will then judge how the return as represented in budget programs matches up against those kinds of objectives.

 

     Q: Is this shaping up to be a classic example strategic intelligence failure?

 

     Cambone: Hmm. I don't know. That is worth thinking about. I hadn't quite thought about it in quite that way. What is an intelligence failure? I am not trying to be pedantic here. What constitutes an intelligence failure on this? I had a line someplace in one of these talks where we often talk about intelligence failures and operational successes. There are no operational successes without intelligence. Intelligence failures are usually a consequence of a variety of factors, recognized always in hindsight. The problem is that those who are charged with making decisions make them without the benefit of that hindsight. They make it on the basis of the quality and the volume of the information that they have, which by definition is sketchy, incomplete and never in the ordinary meaning of the word, satisfying. And so you make a judgement. And on the basis of that judgement, you move forward on what you believe is the appropriate thing to be done. That is kind of where you are.

 

     Q: What about strategic warning about an imminent threat?

 

     Cambone: Strategic warning is without a doubt the hardest thing to do. Without a doubt. If you go back and look at the great cases of intelligence failures, my reading of it thus far is that you find it is, I mean, take '67 versus '73. Fascinating sort of problem. Take the problem of Pearl Harbor. Some of you may recall the Secretary still passes out the preface to Wohlstetter’s book as a way of reminding just how difficult it is to do warning well on the part of the intelligence community and how difficult it is for the policy community to accept and understand it. Warning is very hard and something that my guess is we're going to have to learn how to do no matter what. Whatever one may think about the last three or four or five years, whatever you think about that, we know in the future what we are going to be having are circumstances which are going to require that we learn how to think about the problems we face better, differently perhaps, than we have in the past. Because what you are going to base it on is very different. Let's go back to Corona. There was a relatively straightforward problem that we had at the end of the '50s and into the early '60s. Just how many of whatever it was of concern -- bombers or, at the time, missile silos  --  are there? On the basis of sort of an appreciation of that, it was possible to adjust any number of policies and activities on the part of the United States government to adopt certain diplomatic approaches and stances. There are no silos to count now in that sense. You are not dealing with a static problem. Most of what is of concern can be hidden. Most of the materials that will go into making chemical or biological weapons will fit in a room this size.

 

     Q: Are you talking about the missile gap and exposing it?

 

     Cambone: That's not what I am saying at all. That is not what I said and you'd be wrong to write it. What I am saying is, the nature of the problem is different. It is fundamentally different than we had then. The point I'm getting to is, you know, if you wish to -- and I do not -- if you wish to talk about this in terms of failure, you need to have the right metric in thinking about this and I would suggest that time and thought needs to go into that. We need to see what Dick Kerr is going to find. We need to see what David Kay is going to come up with. We need to take our time with this and make sure we get it right. Because, rushing to a judgement would be wrong.

 

     Q: I had a lunch with a senior military officer a couple of months ago and he said something I thought was very interesting. It was his observation that based on the widely held perception that there were massive or considerable intelligence failures prior to the war, that this would call into question our ability to fight future pre-emptive wars. Can you comment on that?

 

     Cambone: To the extent that there would be a decision by the president -- any president -- this president or his successor, to direct military action of whatever kind in anticipation of grievous harm being done to the United States, its interests, its allies, I don't think that there is any question or will be any question of our ability to do it. There are always going to be issues of whether or not there is sufficient confidence on the part of the decision makers to take that decision. Is there a level of assurance about what we know and what we think about what we know and a recognition that there is a limit to how much assurance can be given as a function of intelligence in the kind of world that we are living in. The president keeps referring to this theme. He keeps coming back to it, time and again. I think my answer to your question is, no.

 

[End of side 1 of tape.]

 

     -- the Secretary was thinking about this well in advance, having gone through the experiences with the missile threat commission in '98, the space commission in 2000 and having had the benefit of two years or more of his role as Secretary of Defense, I mean he understood the need to both continue to work on the basis of what you know and what you don't know and what you think as well as going back and checking and double checking and thinking again, about your premises, your hypotheses, the way that you compile the information and improving that capability as a function of time and effort and people and money and technology and it is very hard. As most of you know, the intelligence community was reduced along with the rest of the Defense establishment in the wake of the end of the Cold War. That is a fact. And so those things need to be repaired and a capability needs to be restored and overtime to be improved.

 

     Q: You talk about intel being a sketchy business and a lot of vague things. But in September 2002, the Secretary testified before the Senate and House armed services committees that they had large stocks of weapons in Iraq.

 

     Cambone: As I recall, that was based on -- I have to check, but I think that was the basis of U.N. reporting from what was not declared over against what was thought to be there.

 

     Q: But he is categorically saying they have weapons, as the Congress is getting ready to vote on war. Now, you haven't found any. You are not calling it an intel failure. When do you call it an intel failure? How long does David Kay need?

 

     Cambone: Well, that was my point to Tony.

 

     Q: Months? Years?

 

     Cambone: When did [Roberta] Wohlstetter write her book? How long did it take to get through all of that. I am not trying to be evasive here. No, I'm not. There are two efforts underway. At least two. That are subject of public discussion. There is the work that Dick Kerr is doing, which as I told you was conceived in anticipation of there being a decision that if there were a decision, we needed to make sure that we compared what we learned via intelligence over against what we might find on the ground. And then there is the actual activity that is taking place with respect to Kay's operation inside of Iraq today on the specific questions of weapons of mass destruction. Those two activities have got to run their course, is all I'm saying. I don't know where the end of that course is. I can't tell you it is going to happen in three months or six months or a year. I just don't know the answer to that. You run all the things to the ground to get to the bottom of what you think you can find out and you render a judgement at that point.

 

     Q: You understand how absurd this looks when he says they had these weapons --

 

     Cambone: That is what we thought we knew at the time.

 

     Q: So was it a failure of the Secretary and his staff to rely on U.N.? Is that what you are saying?

 

     Cambone: No. You said he said these things. I am just telling you that is where that information came from.

 

     Q: What is the accountability on this?

 

     Cambone: The accountability.

 

     Q: There are soldiers wounded at Walter Reed as a result of these policies driven by bad intelligence.

 

     Cambone: That is not far from anybody's mind. Not far from anybody's mind. Look you are asking for a level of certitude, you are asking to gain a level of certitude now which is transferrable back to a period in which, as I said a number of times, what you get are bits of pieces of the information. You put that information together in a way that you believe to be accurate based on what you know and what you don't know. The search for proof via intelligence is one that will be disappointing in the extreme because that is not what intelligence is. Intelligence isn't history. It is not history.

 

     Q: That is the last question. We are out of time. We appreciate you coming in.