(Also participating was Navy Rear Adm. David A. Gove, deputy director for global operations, J-3, Joint Staff and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge.)
Clarke: Good morning, everybody. We've got a few things going on here, so we'll try to step through this quickly.
As most of you know, Secretary Rumsfeld and team are still on the road, in Prague today to join the president and the others at the NATO summit.
The first thing I want to do is turn to our humanitarian and civil assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Last week, reconstruction began on the most important highway in Afghanistan. The 745-mile highway from Kabul to Kandahar to Herat was badly damaged by years and years of war and neglect. The United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia have pledged $180 million to the rebuilding effort, including $80 million of that is from the United States. With the help of the Department of Defense, this road will be cleared of land mines and repaired; trade and commerce can then increase between the major Afghan cities. And the United States, it's worth noting, has already repaired more than 2,300 miles of roads as part of the $835 million in assistance we delivered to Afghanistan in the last year.
What I'd like to do now is just show you a brief video, and then we have some photos, some images, from some of the humanitarian efforts. This video, as you can see, is from a village near - Bagram Air Base.
(Video is shown.)
Clarke: Okay. Now, if Terry is ready, we're going to shift to a couple of photographs a few photographs here.
The first one is an American soldier examining an Afghan child. The soldier is part of a contingent from the 3rd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They are providing free medical treatment to the people of a local village outside of Camp Salerno in Afghanistan.
Second photo, a soldier of the 488th Quartermaster Company, deployed from Fort Polk, Louisiana, is treating a local Afghan child diagnosed with pink eye, and they are outside a school that was rebuilt by American and Canadian forces.
The third photo is the village of Nejhab, I think I'm pronouncing that correctly. An Army sergeant from the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, deployed from Fort Bragg, teaches a local Afghan crowd -- some people how to count in English.
The fourth photo in Sayad. A medic from one of our coalition partners, the Republic of Korea Army, gives aid to a local Afghan.
And the fifth photo. Last week it was sheep, this week it is goats. (Laughter.) But the veterinarian personnel from the U.S. military and others are helping a lot of people over there with their livestock, and the sheep and the goats are a very important part of the local economies, and we're doing everything we can to help them on that front.
The security front in Afghanistan -- we also have a small piece of some good news as well. And our forces on the ground have reported that the curfew on citizens in Mazar-e Sharif has been lifted for the first time since the Soviet occupation.
And I'll turn briefly to the situation in Iraq. Admiral Gove's going to give you more of the details. But as you know, the Iraqi regime continues to fire on coalition aircraft. The regime in Baghdad is attacking aircraft, coalition planes that are there to protect the Iraqi people, and they are doing this at the very same time that Saddam Hussein is professing he'll comply fully with the U.N. resolutions and the international community.
And finally, on a far happier note, we at the Department of Defense would like to honor a true American hero, Colonel Aaron Bank, known to the special operations community as the father of Special Forces, who will celebrate his 100th birthday this Saturday, November 23rd.
Aaron Bank volunteered for the Office of Strategic Services in 1943, and participated in numerous combat operations in both the European and Asian theaters during World War II. He also led underground resistance movements, trained indigenous personnel and helped free numerous prisoners of war. After his service during the Korean War, Aaron Bank was given the task of developing what would become the Army's 10th Special Forces group.
It was his initiative and foresight that helped shape the Army Special Forces as we know it today. And we of course are very grateful for his commitment to develop a force that is so capable of conducting unconventional warfare, a force that continues to be very critical in conducting and prosecuting the global war on terror. He is a decorated war hero, a father, a husband and a great American patriot. And we salute Aaron Bank and his family and wish them all the best on his 100th birthday.
Gove: Good morning. Thank you, Ms. Clarke.
At approximately 6 a.m. Eastern time this morning, the Iraqis fired surface-to-air weapons at our coalition aircraft and Operation Southern Watch. We responded by dropping precision-guided munitions on three Iraqi air-defense communication facilities near al Kut and al-Basra. These facilities are part of the Iraqi integrated air-defense system.
Since 8 November, coalition aircraft have now been fired on in nine of those 13 days in the South and 12 of the last 13 days in the North. In addition, Iraq continues to violate U.N. economic sanctions by illegally exporting oil outside the U.N.-mandated oil-for-food program. Last week alone, U.N. maritime interception forces operating in the North Persian Gulf boarded 118 vessels and diverted 42 for carrying contraband cargo.
With that, we'll take your questions.
Clarke: In place of Charlie, Toby.
Q: It seems that Osama bin Laden is still alive. So are you guys doing anything to step up your effort to find him? And do you still believe that he's in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, or maybe in Yemen?
Clarke: I don't know that we've ever said we believe he's somewhere. If we knew where he was, we'd know where he was. I don't think we've ever said if we had any good evidence of where he is.
Yesterday I was going through some things, and I went back to some of the transcripts from briefings as early as September of 2001, in the wake of 9/11. And the secretary said in September, as have many, many others, it's not about one person. Would we like to get the leadership of al Qaeda? Absolutely, and we've gotten leadership of al Qaeda. We have gotten and killed and captured leadership of al Qaeda. We've always said there are any number of people who could step into leadership roles.
So we'll continue to prosecute that very, very vigorously. And it is one of our goals in the war on terrorism, but it's not the only one.
But I wouldn't characterize for you stepping up efforts one way or the other. There are so many things that have to be done in this war, and we're doing all of them.
Clarke: Let's do Bob. Then we'll come back.
Q: Admiral Gove, you mentioned the pattern of Iraqi air- defense action in the South, particular -- given that there have been, you know, periods of intensification on and off over the years, would it be right to say that the Iraqis have in the recent couple -- last couple weeks really intensified the nature of their resistance patrols? And has the U.S.-British patrols intensified their attacks, or it has just been a tit-for-tat, as has been all along?
Gove: With regard to the recent level of activity, I would characterize it as a spike rather than a pattern. It's too soon to say. We have these periodically, and we respond periodically, and then settle down to a baseline of firings and responses. In the last couple of weeks it has been higher. It looks like it's a spike. And we're responding as we have for previous no-fly zone violations over the last couple of years. And so I would say it was consistent.
Clarke: But, Bob, I just want to push back slightly -- referring to this as some tit for tat --
Q: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
Clarke: It just -- it doesn't do service to the seriousness of this. I mean, it really is stunning, when you think about it. These planes, U.S. and coalition planes, are in the area to protect the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. Full stop. These planes are being fired upon and attacked regularly. And so we are going to respond in a time and a manner and a place of our choosing in an appropriate fashion. But the seriousness of it cannot be underestimated. I mean, our people are risking their lives day in and day out to do this. And any time you put a plane in the air, it is a risky operation. When people are firing at you with the intent of shooting you down, that is very serious business.
Gove: Torie, I'd like to just quickly correct the record. I said 12 of 13; the number should have been two of 13 in the northern no-fly zone.
Q: But I guess the --
Clarke: Let me go back to Ivan, then come back.
Q: Torie, the White House says that these continual attacks by Iraqi ground units, and painting and anti-aircraft, constitute a material breach of the Security Council resolution --
Clarke: Did you say "pinging"?
Q: Beg your pardon?
Clarke: Did you say "pinging" the aircraft?
Q: Painting, the painting. You know, illuminating, if you will, or the firing on.
Q: Anyway, the continuing action, even though it's a spike. And the White House says it's a material breach of the resolution, but they would not come out and say this is a sufficient material breach to attack Iraq, to go war, so to speak. What's the secretary's view on this?
Clarke: The secretary's view on this is the same as, I believe it's the United States government's, and that it is a material breach. The resolution says they shall not take hostile action against any member state. So we believe it is a material breach. When and how actions become the precipitating force, if you will, for there to be military action of far greater scope than what we're doing in the no-fly zones is a decision for the president and others at that level to make.
Q: May I do a follow up? Would you go so far as to say that it will probably go along as it's now going, until or unless a U.S. or coalition aircraft is shot down, and if that happens, would that then constitute reason to go to war?
Clarke: That's not for me to say. I think two things are very, very clear. One is, we're going to continue to patrol these no- fly zones; we are going to continue to protect the Iraqi people from the Saddam Hussein regime. The second thing is, we do consider it a material breach. So actually three things. It is up for the president and others to decide when it is appropriate, if it is appropriate, for there to be military action against Iraq.
Back to Nick.
Q: But I guess the question is timing. Why is it any more a material breach today than it was three months ago, six months ago, six years ago? I mean, these firing incidents have been going on for nigh on nine years or so. It does bring into question of the timing of the administration's response from various venues here in Washington when the Iraqis have been doing this for some time.
Clarke: Well, we for some time, from this podium and elsewhere, have been talking about how serious we think the situation is and how seriously we take it. We for some time have been talking about the need to address what is a growing and real threat, the nexus point that we talk about -- terrorist states, weapons of mass destruction and terrorist organizations. So we have been talking about it for some time and taking it very seriously. I can't account for the last 10 years, but I can account for the last couple of years.
Are U.S. pilots getting some useful experience in flying over this zone, should there be a war? Not only are they getting useful experience; are they also degrading air-defense facilities that the U.S. would have to take out if there were a war?
Clarke: We know we've been degrading some -- and I'll let Admiral Gove jump in on this one -- we know we have been degrading some of their capabilities. To what extent and how much -- some of that is hard to say, because you're not there on the ground. So we know we have had some success. We also know, in some cases, they have been able to rebuild things. So we know we've had some success there. And I would leave it to you, sir, to talk. But I know -- I have heard and talked to people who have been involved in the no-fly zones, and I have seen reported -- they say it is great experience.
Gove: I would concur with Ms. Clarke. The pilots that flying patrols in the no-fly zone are essentially flying combat missions, given the circumstances. Any opportunity that they have to understand the capabilities and the layout of Iraqi air-defense weapons systems is useful for their own experience base. And there has been degradation of the integrated air-defense system in Iraq, and I'm not going to comment on the extent of that. That's difficult to know if you're not on the ground.
Clarke: Mm-hmm. Let's do Barbara and then Tony.
Q: Torie, you -- somewhat separate from the material breach question, you've talked about all this today as "serious," "stunning." The secretary in Chile, I think, again expressed his frustration, talking about this being the only place in the world U.S. pilots fly, are fired upon, and there is a measured response. Separate from the material breach question, if this is so serious, so stunning, why such a measured response? Why place pilots in such risky situations? Why is it that the U.S. military is not doing more to end this serious and stunning situation? You're talking about -- I'm not understanding this. You're talking about putting U.S. pilots in a risk that you described as stunning and serious. Why not do something about it?
Clarke: Oh, I think we are. I think -- for starters, I think there -- I think almost everybody in the United States who thinks about it can understand why it is so important and why we want to protect these people. All you have to do is look back and what happened to the Kurds, and you can't help but understand how important this is.
So we want to do everything possible we can to protect the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the president and others have demonstrated that they are making every effort -- and by they, I say the international community. You look at the unanimous vote in the United Nations. You look at the kind of conversations and the statements that are being made at the NATO summit. The world has decided not whether or not we will deal with Saddam Hussein, but how we will deal with Saddam Hussein. And that's not a simple question. It's not one-day activity, if you will. It is a multi-faceted effort. But I think the world has demonstrated that they are taking this very seriously now, and that they are going to make sure that events play out the way we want them to play out. And as the president was saying in one of his events yesterday or the day before, you know, it's not a question of whether or not Saddam Hussein will be disarmed. It's a question of does he disarm or do we and others do it for him.
Q: But you have -- I mean, if I could just press you just a tiny little bit, because you have pilots flying in this situation, and the response is to bomb three unmanned air defense elements in Iraq. Why not go after something in the Iraqi military other than unmanned facilities? Why not go after something that might make a difference in this stunning and serious risk situation?
Clarke: We wouldn't be doing what we're doing if we didn't think it was making a difference. I'll just leave it at that.
Q: I had a question about the U.S. aid -- U.S. military assistance to the inspectors. Mr. Rumsfeld last week said the U.S. is mulling over what types of aid would be appropriate. Can you give us broadly some of the categories of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aid that the Pentagon would like to offer, and also, the tensions involved. Blix has said he doesn't want to be seen as an arm of U.S. intelligence, but yet he would welcome some assistance. And there's a balancing act on his part. But what's the U.S. prepared to offer generally by way of ISR?
Clarke: You know, I'd rather not even go into categories. I'd rather just say what happens to be true, is that we've made it clear we want to be as helpful and supportive as possible so the inspections can be as unfettered and intrusive and as effective as possible. I'm just not going to go --
Q: (Inaudible) --
Clarke: I'm sorry?
Q: Has there been a request for our --
Clarke: There have been conversations and dialogue about the kinds of things that could be helpful and useful. I honestly don't know if there's an actual piece of paper on which people are dotting i's and crossing t's. I don't know what stage of that we're in right now.
Q: And secondly, the Predator has been in southern Iraq. The U-2 has flown in support of U.N. UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commissions) missions throughout the '90s. Would that be -- is it accurate to say those are potential platforms the U.S. will offer?
Clarke: I'd rather just not go into categories.
Q: Is it the U.S. position that the U.S. military or intelligence agencies would simply hand over intelligence information to UNMOVIC (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) and not make use of this themselves?
Clarke: Conversations better left to the people who are working with the United Nations. Again, we want to be as helpful and cooperative as possible, because everyone has a stake in making sure the inspections are as unfettered and effective as possible.
Q: But is it possible the U.S. would simply turn over all that information and not glean what they can from that intelligence themselves?
Clarke: It's better for the people who are working with the U.N. to have those sorts of conversations.
Q: Two unrelated questions, if I may. First, the British have confirmed a request for troops to assist in a possible action in Iraq. Can you give us any specifics about what that request was, and respond to the sense that some have deduced from that, that this makes -- or gives the appearance that war in Iraq is inevitable, with a formal request like this of the British for troops and personnel.
Clarke: You can tell the ones that haven't been here much.
If Secretary Rumsfeld were here, he would say what I'm going to say, is we have a very consistent policy of letting other countries talk about what their level and type of participation might be. We found it is a very effective way to approach what can often be sensitive issues.
Having said that, the United Kingdom, Great Britain, has been phenomenally, phenomenally supportive and effective in the global war on terrorism.
Push back on you slightly on how you characterize things. I don't know of anything that is "inevitable." The president hasn't made any decisions about military action. What he is heavily focused on right now is the international pressure on Saddam Hussein. And if and when he decides -- he and others -- decide military action is appropriate, I am absolutely confident that we will not be alone.
Q: All right. The unrelated question. Are you in a position to in any way describe recent interrogation of Ramzi Binalshibh as related to Zacarias Moussaoui, and closer connections, factual connections, with his involvement in this September 11th plot?
Kim, then I'll come back to --
Q: On the question of contact, this other government -- can you say whether you're starting to make contacts with governments, to ask them to make contributions to forces in the Gulf that might be used, you know, if this does come to a war?
Clarke: It's really up to other countries to decide about what they want to talk about and when they want to talk about it.
Clarke: But, to use one of our favorite words, you know, it's an iterative process. Before 9/11, senior officials in this administration, including Secretary Rumsfeld, when they went around the world were talking to their counterparts about what a different world we were in and that we were facing some very unusual, unconventional threats like terrorism, and trying to find ways to prevent this nexus from occurring.
In the wake of 9/11, the response from the world has been phenomenal. Ninety-some nations are involved, in one fashion or another, in the global war on terrorism. And we talk with them, and we work with them and we plan with them all the time in terms of Iraq. The international community increasingly has decided we are all together in deciding not whether or not we deal with Saddam Hussein, but how we deal with him. There are lots and lots of conversations, there are lots of plans for what might be necessary if there is indeed military action against Iraq. We won't get into the details of those conversations; others can if they want.
Q: But, I mean, can you say whether you've approached other governments to see whether they would be willing -- be part of a coalition if that's necessary?
Clarke: We'll let them talk about this. But I will say there have been lots of conversations and discussions about what countries would be willing to do, and what they want to do. Many of those conversations and offers of assistance have been spontaneously offered up. Last trip I was on with the secretary, when we were in Europe, there were countries that came up to him privately and said: We want you to know we will be ready and willing to do the following, those kinds of things. So it's not just a matter of the United States going around saying, "Okay, who can do what here?" It is a matter of nations around the world saying if there is indeed action against Iraq, we'll be part of that effort.
Q: Can you help us to better understand what Admiral Poindexter's operation is all about, and how far along he is in developing his program or plan or -- (inaudible)?
Clarke: I can't, but I have someone here who can. (Laughter.) And Undersecretary Pete Aldridge, who was thinking: Okay, I've been here for a while, time for me to leave -- (laughter) -- would be happy to address that question.
Q: What's a nice guy like him doing in place this?
Clarke: That's right.
Aldridge: I asked the same question.
Well, I -- we anticipated that this issue may come up, so I have prepared a very short statement, and then if that statement doesn't clarify what we're trying to do, I'll stay up here for a few minutes for some questions.
My statement goes along the following: The war on terror and the tracking of potential terrorists and terrorist acts require that we search for clues of such activities in a mass of data. It's kind of a signal-to-noise ratio. What are they doing in all these things that are going on around the world? And we decided that new capabilities and new technologies are required to accomplish that task. Therefore, we established a project within DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, that would develop an experimental prototype -- underline, experimental prototype, which we call the Total Information Awareness System. The purpose of TIA would be to determine the feasibility of searching vast quantities of data to determine links and patterns indicative of terrorist activities.
There are three parts to the TIA project to aid in this anti- terrorist effort. The first part is technologies that would permit rapid language translation, such as you -- as we have used on the computers now, we can -- there's voice recognition capabilities that exist on existing computers.
The second part was discovery of connections between transactions -- such as passports; visas; work permits; driver's license; credit card; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases -- and events -- such as arrest or suspicious activities and so forth. So again, it try to discover the connections between these things called transactions.
And the third part was a collaborative reasoning-and-decision- making tools to allow interagency communications and analysis. In other words, what kind of decision tools would permit the analysts to work together in an interagency community?
The experiment will be demonstrated using test data fabricated to resemble real-life events. We'll not use detailed information that is real. In order to preserve the sanctity of individual privacy, we're designing this system to ensure complete anonymity of uninvolved citizens, thus focusing the efforts of law enforcement officials on terrorist investigations. The information gathered would then be subject to the same legal projections (sic) currently in place for the other law enforcement activities.
Aldridge: Protection. Legal protections.
It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA's purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TAI [sic: TIA] will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence and law enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism.
The bottom line is, this is an important research project to determine the feasibility of using certain transactions and events to discover and respond to terrorists before they act. We all share the frustration associated with vague warnings of terrorist threats. We hope that TIA will help the U.S. government narrow those generic -- genetic reports -- generic reports down to advance notice of specific threatening acts. I hope that's clear.
Q: There are two things that bother a lot of people -- one, the "Big Brother" aspect, and if you can talk about possible checks and balances -- the second thing is the choice of the man to lead it. I mean, Admiral Poindexter was under a cloud. You know, he was a convicted felon, even though the conviction was overturned on appeal, for lying to the Congress. Is he the kind of guy you'd really want in a situation like this, who has a record of lying and handling untruths?
Aldridge: I'll repeat, again, that what John Poindexter is doing is developing a tool. He's not exercising the tool. He will not exercise the tool. That tool will be exercised by the intelligence, counterintelligence and law enforcement agencies. So --
Q: Why choose him? There are lots of people available who could have run that organization.
Aldridge: John Poindexter has a passion for this project. He's a Ph.D. in physics. He has an enthusiasm for the project. He came to us with the project after September the 11th and volunteered it to DARPA. That was briefed -- Tony Tether, the director of DARPA, came over with John and briefed it to me, and I thought it was a project worthy of the pursuit of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. And you want an enthusiastic leader. Once the tool is developed and -- John will not be involved. But it's his enthusiasm and his volunteering of this idea which is why we developed and started to fund it.
Q: What about the checks and balances?
Aldridge: The checks and balances will be the normal checks and balances through the law enforcement agencies who will be exercising the tool, as they do today. There's no difference.
Q: (Off mike) -- tool to the intelligence community, though. A large part of the intelligence community is connected to the Defense Department. Isn't that -- won't they then be involved in domestic law enforcement to some degree?
Aldridge: No, they'll be involved just as they are today in enforcing privacy laws. There's not going to be any difference. This is just another tool to allow them to exercise their ability to go track where terrorists are and to prevent terrorist acts with certain kinds of technology. So that's the problem.
Q: I'm sorry, I don't understand one piece of this. Is this entire program based on totally fabricated data? In other words, it's all hypothetical?
Aldridge: There's some real data that we use, but it's normal data that's available legally. The privacy issues, those will be fabricated stuff.
Q: Okay. That's what I didn't understand. Can you help us understand what is the fabricated data, what is the real data, and what are the privacy issues if you're using fabricated data?
Aldridge: There are no privacy issues. We will not use any data that affects -- that will have any relationship at all to privacy issues. Most of the data is synthetic. It's generated just to exercise the analysis. The real data will have to come from the agencies themselves once they have the tool.
Q: Can you give us some examples --
Aldridge: There will be no privacy issues. This will be all data that will be available in the open and fabricated, to use. There is nothing dealing with individuals at all in this particular exercise, in this feasibility study. It's all generated data for the purpose of the exercise.
Q: So what kind of real data are you using that you just mentioned?
Aldridge: I will have to find -- I don't know the answer to that question, exactly what kind of data. I'm not into the details of the thing. But I don't think there is a problem with it at all.
Q: Can you run over the transactions again? It sounds like every time I would enter or a citizen would enter a credit card, any banking transaction, any medical -- I go see my doctor, any prescription, all of those things become part of this database -- right? -- hypothetically?
Aldridge: Hypothetically they would, although the data that would go along with personal information such as bank accounts, that would all be protected in the Privacy Act just as it is today. Individuals would not be associated with that.
Q: So you need rapid language translation because you are trying to tap into databases of other nations, if they will allow that? Is that --
Aldridge: Or -- yes. Exactly.
Q: And does any of this involve collaborating or connecting, for example, takes from signals intelligence into the rest of this database?
Aldridge: I'm not going to get into the use of intelligence data. But you can be assured that the databases we're trying to investigate -- again, as the feasibility, will this all work, and try to take as much information as we can. When a person enters the country, for example, a visa that comes into the country, you'd like to have that in the database. If they apply for a gun license, you'd like to have that in the database. If they buy a certain amount of chemicals or apply for a gun permit, I guess --
Q: Every time they use a telephone, that call enters the database. And if it is voice recognition, for example, then that enters the database, hypothetically, right?
Aldridge: Hypothetically, yes.
Q: How is this not domestic spying? I don't understand this. You have these vast databases that you're looking for patterns in. Ordinary Americans, who aren't of Middle East origin, are just typical, ordinary Americans, their transactions are going to be perused.
Aldridge: Okay, first of all --
Q: And do you require search warrants? I mean, how does this work?
Aldridge: First of all, we are developing the technology of a system that could be used by the law enforcement officials, if they choose to do so. It is a technology that we're developing. We are not using this for this purpose. It is technology.
Once that technology is transported over to the law enforcement agency, they will use the same process they do today; they protect the individual's identity. We'll have to operate under the same legal conditions as we do today that protects individuals' privacy when this is operated by the law enforcement agency.
Q: So they would need a search warrant, then?
Aldridge: They would have to go through whatever legal proceedings they would go through today to protect the individuals' rights, yes.
Q: As part of this feasibility study, will anybody be looking at legislation, regulation, executive orders that may need to be modified?
Aldridge: I think that's probably an issue that's going to be taken up by the new office of homeland security, who probably will be very much involved in this type -- the use of this type of information.
Q: What is the time line for completion of this technology? And once it is completed, will you give the public sort of a more elaborate explanation of how it works, and maybe even a demonstration of this sort of technology to deal with some of these concerns?
Aldridge: In fact, I was reading somewhere the other day, I think Senator Gary Hart said this is a project of $200 million a year. I don't know where he got the number. The project is funded in the fiscal '03 budget by the president at $10 million. We're in the process of developing the '04 and out-year budget as we're in the process right now. We don't know where that's headed at this point. And the feasibility, it's several years away, based upon the ability to understand the technology.
Q: Several years away before this tool will be available, in other words?
Aldridge: Yes. Yes.
Q: Can you put your acquisition hat on just for a second, before you leave? How are we doing on the V-22, F-22, new carrier for the Navy? It's getting close to the end of the month.
Aldridge: (Chuckles.) Is that one question or three?
Q: Whatever you like.
Aldridge: Let me talk about F-22 first. As you know, there was a --
Q: Can we stay on this subject before you get off that, please?
Q: You described one of the functions as to establish connections between transactions. Well, that sounds --
Aldridge: And agencies.
Q: Right. Well, that sounds like a perpetual fishing expedition, as opposed to something for which a search warrant would be sought. For example, if subject A withdrew a lot of money and bought a crop duster, and then over here, bought chemicals that aren't normally used for crop dusting, that's what sounds like you're after. And you wouldn't necessarily have a specific search warrant for that kind of information.
Aldridge: I think that's a good point. Because what we're really looking for -- if you were a terrorist, and you wanted to conduct a terrorist act, you would undertake certain kind of actions, transactions to do that. One, you have to enter the country, and you would probably buy -- get a driver's license, or you would maybe take lessons in airplanes, or something like that.
You're looking for trends in transactions that are associated with some potential terrorist act; that's what you're looking for. And you're trying to put those pieces together. And I -- what this is trying to do, is can this technology work to the point where we as Americans could feel a little more comfortable that our country was protected against potential terrorist acts? That's what we're trying to accomplish. The ultimate goal is that, and to prove the technology works.
Q: But if --
Aldridge: I'm going to answer one more, then I'm going to go back to F-22, because I want to answer that question.
Q: -- Again, to follow up on that question. It sounds like the only way it will work is by casting the widest possible net to encompass the broadest possible number of transactions, as opposed to focusing on individuals for whom law enforcement had some specific interests.
Aldridge: I don't know what the scope of this is going to be, what it's going to take to make this work yet. That's what John's trying to find out. Are there things that we can -- do we have to have a huge amount of data to make this work? Or can we work it by looking at the transactions that lead to a terrorist act; they need some understanding of that; and sharing of various pieces of information among all the agencies that deal in this process, so --
Q: Can I just follow up with one thing? Why --
Aldridge: No, let me talk to Tony first. He's been bugging me for an answer to his question.
Q: Can you make it clear, though, and this seems directed more toward foreign nationals coming into the United States and the visa passports that U.S. citizens --
Aldridge: No. No, it's actions, it's transactions that lead to potential terrorist acts; that's what we're trying to get to.
Q: So it could be like a McVeigh renting a truck --
Aldridge: Could be buying a lot of chemicals; if there's somebody buying a lot of chemicals, it looks unusual; buying a gun; all kinds of potential activities that fall --
Q: Buying a gun? Could you flush that out --
Aldridge: I'm just using examples of things that would go along with -- that would be patterns of an individual potentially conducting a terrorist act.
Q: Why is this appropriate research for the U.S. military to be doing? None of the things that you have described here fall under the rubric of -- or under the scope of what the Pentagon does, understanding that you might eventually turn it over to domestic law enforcement. Still, the question is why is this even an appropriate program for the U.S. -- research program for the U.S. military to be involved in? Why not turn it over to the National Institute of Justice or some research element of the domestic law enforcement community?
Aldridge: Well, I think it is appropriate for the Department of Defense. We are in a war on terrorism. We're trying to prevent terrorist acts against our country. We're trying to give our people who understand and try to track down the terrorists with a sufficient set of tools. DARPA, which is a research agency, which has this as a characteristic of trying far-out solutions, has the technical capability to make this work. And I think this is a service to our nation as the Department of Defense has a role in serving our nation.
Aldridge: Yes, right here. You going to ask about F-22?
Q: Yeah. V-22 I guess, or --
Aldridge: Okay. You heard the other about the F-22 cost increase. We heard about that a week or so ago. Immediately upon hearing that input, I talked to the secretary of Defense and the deputy secretary. We formed a Tiger team to go out and take a look at the estimate to see, one, is it real? Is it high or is it low? Why did it occur? Why did it occur so late in the program? And we have that activity underway. We are recalling a Defense Acquisition Board for the 5th of December to take a look at the reality of the number and to determine what is the appropriate course of action that we will take as a result of -- if these numbers are real.
Q: That have anything to do with firing two generals?
Aldridge: That was a decision by the Air Force, and you'll have to ask Jim Roche.
Q: Well, it sounds like you're quite concerned at these numbers, that perhaps they don't exactly match up to what you have.
Aldridge: We are very much concerned with these numbers. It's $690 million of the taxpayers' funds that hit us at a point where we didn't understand. And if I don't understand something, we're going to get to the bottom of it. And once we get to the bottom of it, we'll take the appropriate action immediately. And so that's why I'm giving them a couple of weeks to finish up the analysis of the number, and then we'll press on with the program at that point.
Q: How about the V-22 and the carrier?
Aldridge: Yeah, I'll get to that. Let him ask one, and I'll go back to it.
Q: You've been strong on having the Cost Analysis Improvement Group's (CAIG) numbers. Are they going to be doing a new review or go over their data on what the number is?
Aldridge: These numbers were not predicted by the Cost Analysis Improvement Group. The estimates that we had for the F-22 were pretty solid between the Air Force and the CAIG. And these -- this was a number that popped up, and we don't know why yet, and we're going to find out.
Q: Sir, and when the DAB looks at it, you said the reality of the number -- the 690 number or the overall total program --
Aldridge: We'll look at the 690 number, because that is an FY '04 and '05 impact, and we'll decide what to do with it as we get -- prepare for our FY '04 budget submission next year.
Q: Is there a criminal element to what you're looking into?
Aldridge: No. No. No.
Q: Sir, is it even more surprising because it was only a year ago you allowed this thing to go into low-rate production, you funded a $5 billion production estimate --
Q: -- and they assured you that the program seemed to be under control?
Aldridge: Yes. There is a -- we seem to be -- I don't know exactly why the number occurred. There's speculation that it occurred because the test program has gone a little slower, a little more difficult, and we may be seeing some cost impacts of the test program slowing down. We'll get to the bottom of that, because -- we did know we had a problem with the tail buffet. We think they've got that solved. We have some problem with stability in the -- in software. These are things normally -- that's what you do flight tests for. But it's delaying the introduction of the OT&E (Operational Test & Evaluation) period, and it may be there's some cost increases. We'll get to the bottom of it and decide what to do about it.
Aldridge: V-22's in flight-test program. Its flight test program is going well. We haven't -- don't see any problems at this point in time. However, we're just getting into the hard part of the test. Vehicle number 8 is the one that's instrumented for the high rate of descent testing, and that's where we find the problems. That'll start -- in fact, it's in tests now. It'll -- we should know probably towards the spring of next year whether or not we are -- our flight test program is going well enough to continue with the program.
Q: Are you still personally skeptical?
Aldridge: I'm always skeptical about everything. And especially in this job, you have to be.
Well, I -- the flight test -- we've got a good flight test program laid out, and the airplane's going to prove itself or not with the flight test program. And we'll see where we go from there.
Q: How is it that you could have been totally blindsided by a $690 million overrun? And what was your reaction?
Q: At this mature a point in the program. That's the real surprise.
Aldridge: I was not happy, nor was the Air Force. And so we are -- but we're going to find out why, what is the problem, and we'll get to the bottom of it. And we'll make a corporate decision as to how to proceed, and I think we'll have the right answer.
You know that we had the F-22 program plan as laid out, that we permitted the Air Force to buy a certain number of airplanes at a certain amount of money, that we had agreement between the DAB (Defense Acquisition Board) and the CAIG and the Air Force, and now we have a $690 million cost increase. One of the ways you pay for it is reduce the number of airplanes, and that may be what we have to do.
Clarke: Sir, I know you're having a great time with this.
Aldridge: I know. I just always --
(Laughter, cross talk.)
One more question. Yes? (Cross talk.)
Clarke: Last question.
Q: A lot of people have been talking for you. They've putting words into your mouth, the Marines --
Aldridge: Yeah, like I'm a convert or something. I heard that. Yes.
Q: Yeah. Can you address that? I mean, the Marines and Members of Congress and the Bell-Boeing team. You know --
Aldridge: Yeah, as if I went down to look at the program and I endorsed it.
Aldridge: Boy, that surprised me because I -- that was news. (Laughter.) I am still as concerned about the program as I have always been, and that's why -- I just told you the flight test program's going to prove itself one way or the other, but it's going to have to be proven without any ambiguity before we are going to proceed. We are not going to fly unreliable, unsafe, non-operationally-suitable airplanes for the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Forces and the Navy. It's going to be an airplane, which I feel confident that can fly and perform, as it has been advertised. And we're not going to proceed without it.
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