Statement of Philip Mudd Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs "Assessing America's Counterterrorism Capabilities" August, 03 2004
We are now years into a war with the terrorist network whose members planned and conducted the attacks of September 11. With the 9/11 Commission recommendations now available to us, we have a critical piece in place that helps us toward a better organization of our institutions as they engage in a war that is likely to last for many years. The President yesterday announced that he will establish a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and take other actions designed to continue the process, underway since September 11, 2001, of strengthening America's ability to win the war on terrorism. I believe the President's establishment of NCTC will build on the concepts already in place in the DCI Counterterrorist Center and TTIC, helping us coordinate better across the government to fight this war. This government has the most powerful counterterrorist capability in the world; we must commit to ensuring that we coordinate effectively so that we attack this target with a unified approach.
A National Counterterrorism Center, coordinating across the US Government's analytic and other elements, will strengthen our effort, particularly relating to threats we worry most about, those that affect the US homeland and people. Assigning responsibilities across the government through NCTC planning could ensure that missions are clear and accountability well defined. A Center that could improve the link between foreign intelligence and homeland defense would be a valuable addition.
In short, the Kean Commission is right in focusing on the importance of collaboration and cooperation across the government. And right to ask for an entity that is charged with ensuring and facilitating cooperation.
As the President said, this remains a nation in danger and at war, so as we try to improve our intelligence capabilities, I would recommend that we ensure that we do not harm what already works well. The President is right in counseling care: in the midst of calls for great change, we are prosecuting a war with great success. Since September 11, we have made strides toward partnerships across and beyond the government, including CIA, the FBI, the US military, and foreign partners, steps that have given us a powerful weapon against our adversary.
CIA is a flexible organization, and we operate in that fashion so that we can adapt quickly to changes in world events or patterns we observe in our enemies. Since September 11, with the help of the Congress, we have more resources to fight the war. We have closer collaboration with law enforcement -- the number of FBI Special Agents serving in the Center has doubled and TTIC is helping to integrate more information every day. We are supporting not just military units from Washington, we are living and fighting and sharing intelligence with them on the battlefield. We should look at additional change in the context of the change we already have undertaken.
The challenge posed by Al-Qaida and its affiliates remains daunting. Despite the increase in resources we have committed to this mission, the combination of the global reach and relentless drive of this enemy means that we are fighting this war every day on many fronts, around the globe, with officers who are stretched. And due to the operational successes of these officers, the volume of information we have flowing in is huge.
We are succeeding against this adversary because of the dedication and capability of our officers and the partnerships that we have strengthened in recent years. We have literally joined forces with our colleagues in law enforcement and in the armed services to help make this country safer. We see the results today in terrorists dead or captured. That said, this adversary remains a deadly threat to us around the world, as you saw in the chilling threat information we recently began to uncover. And so are other terrorist groups.
This cooperation is reflected in the number of detailees from other agencies we have in the Counterterrorist Center and in the way the DCI has directed us to fight this war. For example, the Acting Director has continued the practice of chairing a meeting each evening that includes not only CIA officers but also representatives from other agencies across the US Government. Part of what makes that meeting successful is the ability of these individuals to reflect the richness of their home agencies, each of which brings unique talents, capabilities, authorities, and perspectives to the table.
The alliances we have worked to evolve during the past three years, including the global relationships we have developed with security services around the world, are critical. This war requires close cooperation with law enforcement and military entities that have capabilities CIA does not and should not. As we study proposed changes, we need to ensure that change improves our alliances with law enforcement and the military. The details of the Commission's proposals are not specific enough for me to judge their impact on our ability to, for example, retain close coordination with the FBI Special Agents working in CTC. What I do know is that this partnership is an integral part of our counterterrorism operations. We need it to continue in CTC and to expand upon it in the National Counterterrorism Center.
Let me offer a few additional thoughts based on CIA's experience with counterterrorism operations since CTC was founded in 1986. We need clear, clean, short lines of command and control. Opportunities to roll up a terrorist or prevent a deadly attack often demand immediate action. This is a war of speed.
Analysts in the Center are critical to its operations and critical to keeping policymakers apprised of current and future threats. The synergy between analysts and operations officers is the great strength of CTC, and the information-sharing partnership between analysts and operators in CTC could not be stronger. Our analysts reflect the day-by-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, pace and scope of our operations, and our operators understand the target better by virtue of their partnership with analysts.
This partnership has created a unique fusion: our analysts may write intelligence for the President one day and help operators interview a terrorist the next. Counterterrorism tasks require a combined application of knowledge and tools in ways that sometimes do not allow us to distinguish between analysts and operators. The Center I help manage needs officers like these to sustain its energy and effectiveness. As we work together to build the NCTC, we will want to make certain that we enhance important partnerships such as these.
My perspective from the trenches of this war is that my colleagues and I welcome organizational change that will help us do our mission. We welcome a dialogue about what change is needed. Finally, I thank you for listening to what I have said about the proposals you are considering today. I want to offer, today, whatever I can do to help you implement this new initiative.