|MONITORING THE PEACE|
October 26, 1998
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: There are concerns on Capitol Hill about the CIA mission, and yesterday, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby of Alabama, said he would hold hearings to investigate the new CIA role.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Shelby is with us now, along with Nebraska Democrat Robert Kerrey, vice chairman of the same committee; James Woolsey, President Clinton's first director of Central Intelligence, and now a lawyer in private practice; and Melvin Goodman, an analyst with the CIA from 1966 to 1986 and now a professor of international security at the National War College. Thank you all for being with us. Senator Shelby , fill out a bit what we just reported on the memorandum's description of the CIA role. What would a CIA operative be doing specifically and why are you concerned about it?
Concerns about the CIA's role.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R) Chairman, Intelligence Committee: Well, what they would be doing specifically we're not sure yet. I would like some more details. But the CIA has been involved in a lot of the shadowed diplomacy -- have done a good job have given and furnished intelligence to our policy makers. But they haven't been basically a policy maker in an overt sense. This would be a visible role in a large role where they would be probably the enforcer of policy that we come up with, and perhaps an arbitrator. We would like to see some more details. All of us are very interested in the Middle East process working, but I think that we need to know what the role of the CIA will be here. If it's positive, it will work, and if it will not make the CIA a policy enforcer, that would be good.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So your aim in the hearings would be to find that out?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: Absolutely. I think it's departure from what they've done in the past, at least from a visible sense.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Sen. Kerrey, what's your understanding of the CIA role, and what is your view of it?
SEN. ROBERT KERREY, (D), Vice Chairman, Intelligence Committee: Well, the CIA is a key role in fighting terrorism worldwide. And as I understand stand it, that's what they're asked to do in this particular case. They're trusted by both sides. They've been working in the area for many, many years. My understanding is that they are not going to be setting policy. My understanding is that it's a continuation of what they've been doing all along, which is try reduce terrorism, and this case specific to a particular agreement.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Woolsey, is it your understanding that this is a continuation of the CIA role, not a major change, or is there a change here?
JAMES WOOLSEY, Former CIA Director: In a sense. I think insofar as they're providing training or are providing devices for border monitoring and so forth, that's fine. Insofar as they're assessing what's going on, let's say in the Palestinian jails or --
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now give us some specifics of what you think they'll be doing that you think is so good.
JAMES WOOLSEY: Whether or not enough weapons have been turned in; whether or not individuals have, in fact, been arrested, and if they have been convicted or, in fact, incarcerated. Insofar as they're learning things like that, and providing information to the U.S. Government, I see no problem. The difficulty comes up with these committees. If it's a CIA officer on the committee, and he's making judgments there about what has happened let's say in a Palestinian jail and conveying it directly to the Israeli side or in some other way, you get them into the middle of the politics, they become a lightning rod. And you find, I imagine you will find people in the U.S. Government saying, hey, can't you be a little less severe, you know, you're not helping with the president's program by adding those adjectives in -- can't you cut the adjectives out. And you want the CIA to call it straight. Now, I think they do. And I think the reason they're in this position is because they have a reputation with both sides for truth-telling. But there's there is a political difficulty here, I think, if they are in the middle publicly and everyone knows they're in the middle of making these judgments on the spot. I don't like that side of it very much.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Goodman, what do you think?
MELVIN GOODMAN, Former CIA Analyst: Well, I share Sen. Shelby's concern. If they're only taking a monitoring role, that is with regard to counting weapons or observing a trial, or making sure that certain standards are kept, then the CIA has been doing that for a long time. And they've monitored a series of very important arms control agreements. And the role of the CIA has been vital. But if they're going to be verifying a treaty, monitoring is a very objective process -- verification is a very subjective process.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How so? I mean, if you're having to monitor whether a thousand weapons are picked up or verifying whether a thousand weapons have been confiscated from some group suspected of being a terrorist group, what's the difference?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Because ultimately in verification you're going to have to make a very subjective decision whether the act that was witnessed or that is being reported by the CIA is actually in violation of an agreement. Now we don't have the details of the agreement but it's clear that the verification role that is being talked about with the CIA is unprecedented. They have never been involved in verifying a treaty of this type.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Is that the way you see it, that it is something new? I thought I mean, we heard the Secretary of State saying that this has been going on for a long time, two years at least.
JAMES WOOLSEY: She said monitor and verify, and I think I would quarrel with her on that point. I agree with Mel. Take an example from arms control. The CIA saw 99 percent of what one would want to see if M-11 missiles were being moved by the Chinese into Pakistan, reported the facts. The U.S. Government for a long time said, well, we haven't seen a satellite photograph of these missiles, so we're not going to say that there's been any violation by the Chinese of anything. It's we're going -- as the president put it, there's an incentive to fudge. All right. You don't want any incentive for the CIA to be the one that is fudging. You want them to call it straight, call it just the facts, ma'am, like Sgt. Friday used to be on "Dragnet," and then let the political people, the State Department, the National Security Council make the judgments about exactly how they're going to characterize it and so forth. The problem here is -- it seems they are at least out in the field potentially getting them beyond the business of just reporting what they see and what they know and reporting it secretly back to the U.S. Government so other people can make the political judgments.
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: I got to tell you that's all well and good
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes.
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: But the truth of the matter is we would not have had an agreement without CIA. They were trusted at Wye River, and as a consequence of their presence and a consequence of what they're doing in the Middle East, we're able to get an agreement. So these are hairs that need to be split. We need to make certain that they're not setting policy and they're not getting beyond what they traditionally do. But as a consequence of the CIA's trust in the region, they were able to get an agreement.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What about, that Sen. Shelby, that both sides trusted the CIA more than they did each other?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: I think that's true. They trusted the CIA because the CIA has been an intelligent sharer. If it's a policy enforcer, it's a different thing. I think we've got to be careful here. We all want to get rid of terrorism. We want to get peace in the Middle East, but let's don't change the role of the CIA to get it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Sen. Kerrey, what about the concern that this was all very public, that the CIA director, George Tenet, was very publicly a part of the process and that people will now know that the CIA is involved in doing that, does that concern you at all?
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: Well, it certainly concerns me. And it was an earlier publication last year that identified the station chief in Israel. And it was a very unfortunate declaration. Mr. Tenet did not show up at the signing ceremony there. He was there in a supporting role, and he tried to take very substantial care, and I think accomplished that, of saying, look, we're not setting policy, we're here to provide whatever we can to get an agreement. So I hope we don't -- and in the process of evaluating this thing to death -- lose sight of the fact that the CIA contributed an enormous amount in being able to get an agreement. I think what Sen. Shelby has raised is a very legitimate question. But I hear in his words as well a considerable amount of praise. The CIA is the lead agency in providing us with resources that we need to fight terrorism. And that's exactly what we have as a problem in the Middle East. It is a security problem at its base.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, it's true, isn't it, Mr. Woolsey, that this accord wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for this large CIA role?
JAMES WOOLSEY: I think that's right, and I think it's wonderful. Those of us who worked out there and who have some affection for the institution, I think are quite proud of the fact that George Tenet and the agency as a whole have been trusted by both sides in this. And I think that's excellent. I think they can have a very positive and effective role to play. But I do think it is important that they not be put in the middle so they come under fire under pressure, political fire when they make a judgment. I think they ought to be able to make that judgment privately back to the U.S. Government and let the State Department or the political people in the NSC make those verification calls
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Goodman.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: I totally agree
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes, go ahead, Senator.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: -- with Jim Woolsey on this, if I can. I hate to break in. But --
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: It's okay.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: But Jim Woolsey has the perspective of a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and he understands the role, and the role is trust, the role is a provider of intelligence, and not an enforcer of policy per se, at least not in a visible way.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Goodman, what about the very close relationship that this accord seems to put the CIA in with both security services? Now I know they've had this relationship before, according to what we're learning. But are there dangers? Are there risks or rewards in that?
MELVIN GOODMAN: This is a very dangerous area and another area where the CIA is in the middle. Shin Bet in Israel, the security service and the Palestinian Security Service, are known for crossing a line on many occasions with regard to civil rights violations and abuses. The CIA has had its own problems in this area with regard to Central America. And we just received documents over the weekend about CIA violations of law in dealing with the Honduran Secret Service. There have been violations with regard to the Guatemalan Secret Service. So I'm concerned about the CIA becoming so close to the Palestinian effort and the Israeli effort, where we know laws are going to be broken. These are very tough-minded security services. Another area where they're in the middle --
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Excuse me. What concerns you exactly about that that the CIA will be complicit?
MELVIN GOODMAN: That there will abuses abuses that will be taking place, that the CIA will be witting of these abuses and they will not be fully reported to Congress or to CIA analysts for fear of comprising an agreement that the president and this administration has endorsed.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Before you go on to another point, let me just get Mr. Woolsey's view on that.
JAMES WOOLSEY: I think there is something to that. When you're collecting intelligence, you have to traffic with severely unpleasant people. You can't just collect intelligence from nice people. And you're going to be buying information or encouraging information be given to you by some fairly rugged customers. But if you get it mixed up and people say you can't report those facts the way you did last time, Woolsey, that's interfering with the president's program. You know, you can deal with that, if you're reporting privately back to the U.S. Government you just call it the way you see it. But if you're in the middle of passing information back and forth between telling the Israelis what the Palestinians have done, for example, it seems to me that creates a problem.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Kerrey.
|Reducing the threat of terrorism.|
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: I don't disagree with that, but, again, I think you have to look at the entire facts here. I mean, there was a request by the Israelis to allow Jonathan Pollard to be released from prison, and the person who intervened directly to make sure that that didn't happen was George Tenet, was CIA. I mean, there was no bias there. He knew exactly he agreed with Jim Woolsey and every other director of the CIA that's done an analysis of this, that it would be an enormous breach of U.S. security to allow that to happen. And he didn't demonstrate any bias at all. He came down exactly as he ought to come down. So again I think the facts here show a tremendous victory for intelligence gathering. We added exactly the kind of value that needed to be added to this agreement, and we've reduced the threat of terrorism as a consequence.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: I agree with Sen. Kerrey that the CIA has done a great job as far as intelligence gathering, and providing trust to both parties -- the Israelis and the Palestinians -- and we want to keep that in the future; we don't want to jeopardize that. Will this jeopardize it? I'm not sure. But it is a visible role that they've never played, to my knowledge, before.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Woolsey, what about safety for the CIA people that are involved in this? They're more public being part of public committees, right, or will they still be covert members of these committees somehow?
JAMES WOOLSEY: Some of them probably will be and some may not be --
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So does that put them in more danger?
JAMES WOOLSEY: Some of them probably will be in somewhat more danger. On the other hand, they're used to be danger. That's the way earn a living. That's why they get paid the big bucks of mid-level civil servants. Their lives are on the line.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Goodman, anything on that? And you have another point you wanted to make.
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think there's a third point that should be made. That is the same people who are going to be serving on these committees, who are going to be verifying and monitoring these agreements, are the same people who are going to be collecting intelligence and sending it back to analysts at the CIA, who have the job of providing effective analysis to the president. And my question is related to what Jim said earlier. Will they be providing all of the information that is necessary? Will they be providing both sides of the argument? There is going to be tremendous pressure on the people in the field to make sure this agreement is observed. And they don't want to see any real risk to the agreement. That's co-option.
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: What's the alternative?
JAMES WOOLSEY: There is an alternative. I have one. I think there's a fairly easy fix. The agreement itself apparently does not refer to the CIA. If the members of these committees, these Palestinian, American, Israeli committees, and so forth -- there's a State Department officer and there's a CIA officer beside him who is advising him, assuming whatever role he can, and -- but not being the person who's actually conveying the information from one to the other. I think you could probably keep the agency out of the firing line.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Kerrey.
SEN. ROBERT KERREY: Well, I mean, that sort of thing is a reasonable way to make certain that the CIA doesn't go further than any of us want to go. But again I get back to it, we had a tremendous success here. As far as the CIA never having done anything like this before, I mean, that's exactly what we're dealing with over the weekend with Honduras. I mean, it has done this sort of thing to a fault in the past. And we're trying to improve its operation. And I think this kind of observation likely will help. But I hope in the process of evaluating we do not subtract the tremendous value added the CIA's provided both to this agreement and our capacity to be able to provide security and reduce terrorism in the Middle East.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Shelby.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY: I think it's a given that we want to reduce terrorism as I said earlier we want this peace process to work. We want our Central Intelligence Agency to continue to do its good job around the world and basically it has for the most part, but making it visible troubles me.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Well, thank you all very much.