Miller Center

Interview with R. James Woolsey

Introduction

Photo of Woolsey, James

Woolsey and the other interviewees comment on the CIA's roles in Somalia, Haiti, North Korea, and the former Yugoslavia. Terrorism, the Drug War, and America's new role in the Post-Cold War world are also discussed.

Copyright 2014 the Miller Center Foundation and The Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History. Publicly released transcripts of the William J. Clinton Presidential History Project are freely available for noncommercial use according to the Fair Use provisions of the United States Copyright Code and International Copyright Law. Advance written permission is required for reproduction, redistribution, and extensive quotation or excerpting.

Transcript

Riley

I thought it would be helpful for me to take a couple of minutes to review the ground rules before we get started, just so you’ll know what we’re up to and what’s going to happen with the tape today. You can see that we’re going to audiotape this. The primary ground rule is absolute confidentiality. The intention is to make the transcript available as a research document, but the conventions of oral history law and our own practices give you control over when this will be made available. We’ll make a transcript of this, and the transcript becomes the authoritative record of the interview. 

What that means is that you’ll get a copy of it, all of you will, and will have an opportunity to review your comments and if you decide that you want to make any modifications to what you said into the tape, or you want to place stipulations on a release, or if you said something that in retrospect you wish you hadn’t said and you want to redact it, you have the right to do all of those things. We settled on these ground rules because we prefer that you not edit yourself into the tape machine. Your audience is not principally those of us who are seated around the table today, but it is going to be scholars of the Presidency, of intelligence work, of U.S. foreign policy, who will come to this document five years, fifteen years, or twenty-five years down the road. 

What we want them to do is to understand your experiences and the [William] Clinton Presidency as you came to know it. It is better for us if we can get that accurately and candidly on the record, even if it means that we have to hold onto it for a while. I’m pleased to say that we have an unblemished record of maintaining these confidences. Nothing you tell us goes to anybody else in any subsequent interviews, although we work closely with the Clinton Foundation with funding. We’ve had an ideal relationship with them. They understand that what is spoken here stays here until you see fit to release it. We’ll have hard copies of the transcript provided and kept here. A copy will also go to the Clinton Library, but our standard practice is to make these things available with the entirety of the archive on the Web.

Andres

What happens to the tape?

Riley

The tape will stay in the vault. It’s not destroyed, but the tapes stay in the vault. At some remote future time, and I get this question occasionally—I haven’t researched it, but it is a 25-year interval, maybe even a 50-year interval, unless you stipulate otherwise. I can’t destroy the tape, but I can make sure that it is completely out of reach for anybody in our lifetimes and even our children’s lifetimes, probably. But as an historical exercise we don’t destroy anything. 

Woolsey

Maybe everybody should introduce themselves briefly, and then I’ll say a word about the context of how we came into office. Whenever your opening remarks are finished, I think it would be wise to let everybody introduce themselves.

Riley

Exactly. What we would normally do at this stage is introduce ourselves, because the self-identification is necessary for the transcriptionist to pick up who is talking. Dan [McDowell] is here, and you’ll see that he is making notes, but those notes are only as an aid to the transcriptionist. He’s trying to get the sequence of interventions down, because we have a fairly large group here, so the transcriptionist will know who is speaking. Why don’t we do that? 

This is the R. James Woolsey interview as a part of the Clinton Presidential History Project. Thank you all for being here. We’ve previously discussed the fundamental ground rules related to confidentiality, and at this point we’ll go around the table and introduce ourselves, to aid the transcriptionist. I understand that Jim will want to say a few words about our ground rules and then we’ll proceed.

I’m Russell Riley, I head the Presidential Oral History Program here at the Miller Center and have been chairing the Clinton project.

Woolsey

I’m Jim Woolsey. I was Director of Central Intelligence [DCI] from February of ’93 to January of ’95, the first two years of the Clinton Presidency. The rest of my bio is in the materials; there’s not much point in going into that. I’ll just say that I talked to Paul Gimigliano, the head of public affairs at the CIA, and he said he’d be glad to be the contact point for both the publications review board and for any liaison that needs to be done with the Director of National Intelligence’s public affairs people. 

The bottom line is if we will ship them a copy of the transcript, all they will do is to check to see if there is anything classified that should come out, in which case they would ask for it to be deleted. I don’t anticipate much problem with that. Most of what is classified is numbers and intelligence sources, and all five of us are sufficiently experienced in avoiding those subjects that I think it is relatively unlikely that we’re going to veer off into classified material. But if we should, there is this check with the publications review board, which is where I send my op-eds, for example, when I write them. Once, they told me to please change one present tense to a past tense. Occasionally there are things like that that crop up. But I think we’ll be able to work within the strictures of the fact that we’re talking in unclassified environment about intelligence and intelligence decision-making. I think we’ll be able to handle it.

Riley

Whatever your disposition is on these things, we will follow.

Selverstone

Mark Selverstone. I’m a historian here at the Miller Center. I spend most of my time with the secret White House tapes of [John F.] Kennedy and [Lyndon B.] Johnson, particularly on Vietnam.

Andres

Janet Andres. I was Jim’s executive assistant at the CIA during the same time period, February ’93 to January ’95. I was a career foreign service officer who had been seconded to the CIA for those two years.

Harris

I’m Jeffrey Harris. I was the Associate Executive Director of Intelligence Community Affairs supporting the Director of Central Intelligence from February of ’93 until May of ’94, when I confirmed to be the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for space.

McDowell

I’m a research assistant here at the Miller Center, on world history, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. 

Haver

I’m Rich Haver. I was the Director for Intelligence Community Affairs under, first, Bob Gates, then Mr. Woolsey, and then a short time for John Deutch, then went on to do the [Aldrich] Ames damage assessment.

Pratt

I’m Joyce Pratt. I was a career CIA officer, I worked there for a little over 25 years and served as CIA comptroller during Jim’s tenure as the DCI. 

Strong

I’m a professor of political science at Washington and Lee University with a long history of association with the Miller Center and the Presidential Oral History projects.

Riley

The starting point is usually to ask how you came into first contact with the person that hired you to be the Director. How did you first come to know Bill Clinton?

Woolsey

This is a somewhat humorous story. But before I tell it, let me just say that probably throughout the day, those of you who have worked on these issues, particularly foreign policy issues with respect to those who served in other years of the Clinton administration, will perceive that things occur that seem surprising now, given the salience and importance of a number of foreign policy and national security issues, such as terrorism. 

The first two years of the Clinton administration were really kind of halcyon days of American power in the world. We sort of bestrode the world like a Colossus in the early ’90s. And a year plus a month or two before we came into these jobs, [Boris] Yeltsin destroyed the Soviet Union. In much of the rest of the world there were problems. Many of them were humanitarian. The question before the President often during these two years was, Are we going to go help them? Not, Whom do we need to defeat? Who is challenging us? But, Are we going to keep helping the Somalis? Are we going to help the Rwandans? Are we going to help the Bosnians? Maybe next month. Maybe not this month. Who are we going to help?

With respect to a number of issues related to defense and foreign policy, intelligence is really about stealing secrets, particularly of enemies or potential enemies, and helping the President make a decision with those stolen secrets. The question of whether to go help the Rwandans is not one that intelligence has a great deal to offer. The information about what was going on there was out in front of everybody. Stolen secrets were, at least in my view, not central to a number of things. They should have been, probably, central to more things, but they were not central, understandably, to a number of decisions that the administration had to make. 

Further, the administration came in with a background in domestic policy for both the President and the First Lady. There was a heavy focus on the healthcare plan during those first two years. As a result, you will hear us from time to time, and I say it right up here in front without any sense of anger, almost always talking about circumstances in which intelligence is kind of on the back burner. I thought I would just set that out. That’s just the way it was in those two years. Not always, but that was the overall mood and set of circumstances. 

Now, how did I get the job? In late ’91, shortly before Governor Clinton declared he was running for the Presidency—I don’t remember what month, but in the fall of ’91—there was a dinner party at Pamela Harriman’s house, and Sandy [Samuel] Berger asked me to come to meet Governor Clinton. There were probably 15 people at the dinner party. It was a pleasant evening. I don’t recall much else about it, except being impressed by him. I certainly was, yes. 

I joined a group of other so-called Scoop [Henry] Jackson Democrats who took out a small ad during the campaign and endorsed then-Governor Clinton. We were favorably disposed toward what he had been saying on a number of defense and foreign policy issues and thought he was going to be, from our point of view, a good candidate on those grounds. I contributed about $250 to the campaign, and the campaign asked me and Lee Hamilton on Labor Day of ’92 to fly down to Little Rock and spend several hours meeting with the Governor talking about all the things that were going on in former Yugoslavia, and also what opportunities there might be for arms control. I had a background of having been involved in a number of the arms control negotiations. We did that. That was it. 

Then the Governor was elected President. I had nothing, other than what I’ve described, to do with the campaign. A month-and-a-half after the election—it’s a few days before Christmas of ’92, it’s a Friday morning. I’m staying home because my wife and I and our three boys were flying to California to be with her family for Christmas—I get a call at home from Warren Christopher. I’d known him for some years. He had been the head of the national security side of staffing the campaign. 

He said, Jim, do you suppose you could come to Little Rock and talk to the President-elect about the CIA job? I honestly thought he meant talk to the President-elect about who should have the CIA job. So I said, Well, Chris, I’m on the way to California for Christmas with my family. Is it okay if I come after New Year’s, or does it really need to be between Christmas and New Year’s? He paused for a second. He said, Actually, you ought to come today. Obviously something was up. I said, You really need me today? He said, Yes, if you could come to Little Rock, I’d appreciate it. All right. I sent the family to California, and flew to Little Rock. I was met by a staffer. She said, We’ll check you into the so-and-so hotel. The President-elect wants to talk to you but he can’t see you until 11:30 tonight because he’s got a big fundraising dinner.

Riley

Are you dodging press people at the airport at this time?

Woolsey

No. I go to the hotel, they send a car, drive me a few blocks over to the Governor’s  Mansion about 11:30. I sit around for about an hour. I think Madeleine Albright was coming in after me, but I was there until about 12:30.

Haver

Middle of the day for Clinton. [laughter]

Woolsey

The President-elect and I met. That’s the only time I ever saw him alone. It was for about an hour. We talked almost not at all about the CIA. I’m five years older than he and I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, Tulsa, and he grew up in northwestern Arkansas, in Hot Springs. We talked about Oklahoma and Arkansas football. We talked about where it was good to fish in the Ozarks. We talked about a lot of things. 

At one point he said something along the lines of, Do you think the CIA Director ought to give policy advice? I said, No, I really don’t. People would think he was distorting intelligence in order to support the policy. I think that if anybody in that job wants to give you policy advice they ought to do it very briefly, and one-on-one in some fashion, and not as part of the policy process. He said, I agree with that. As I recall, that was about all that was said about the CIA. I went back to the hotel. 

The next morning, I got a call from another staffer and she said, We need for you to have a conflict-of-interest meeting. Would you walk down the street three blocks to the Rose Law Firm and ask for Webb Hubbell? So I did. I met Webb Hubbell for the first time. He had a folder on me. He asked me who my clients were—I was practicing law—and what my investments were. I told him. He said, I don’t think any of that causes any problem, do you? I said, No, I don’t have any problems, not one. 

I went back to the hotel. It was late morning. I got a call just before noon from a staffer and she said, The press conference here is at 12:30. It was about a quarter to twelve. She said, The press conference is at 12:30. We’ll pick you up at 12:00. I said, Could I speak to Warren Christopher? She said, Well, he’s in a meeting and really can’t be disturbed. I said, I’d appreciate it if you’d disturb him. This is important. She said, All right. Chris came to the phone. He said, Jim, what is it? I said, Chris, by any chance, does the President-elect want me to be Director of Central Intelligence? He said, Yes, sure. That’s what he wants. I said, Chris, he never said so. He never made an offer and I never answered. I’ll never forget. He said, Look, just come on over to the press conference we’ll get it sorted out. I said, Chris, I think I’d like to know before I come to the press conference. He said, Okay, just a minute. He went away. He came back. He said, Well, I just stuck my head in his office and asked if that’s what he wanted and he said, ‘Yes, sure.’

By now it was about noon. I said, Well, okay I guess, yes. They picked me up. We went to the Governor’s Mansion. I walked into the living room of the Governor’s Mansion and there was the President-elect and Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton. There’s Vice President-elect [Albert] Gore and Tipper [Gore]. There’s Les Aspin. there’s Madeleine Albright, who is going to be the UN [United Nations] Ambassador. There’s Warren Christopher, of course, Tony Lake, and Sandy Berger, and the incoming Deputy Secretary of State, whose name I forget right now.

Riley

Not Strobe [Talbott]? 

Woolsey

No, not yet. African-American, a very bright able guy. He was only there for a year or so. Anyway, I’d met most of them before, but not all. Everybody said, Jim, hi. Glad to have you with us. I said, Yes, glad, sure. I sit down. Oh, and Dee Dee Myers and George Stephanopoulos. What they were doing, which I had come in the middle of, was gaming the press conference. I learned later that this was a frequent subject of meetings: Suppose they ask this? Suppose they ask that? 

One of them said, Well, suppose they say, ‘Isn’t this just a bunch of [Jimmy] Carter administration retreads?’ Since we were Carter administration retreads, there was this silence. I figured they probably ought to know what Woolsey is like, so I said, Governor, you could say that Woolsey served in the [Ronald] Reagan and [George H.W.] Bush administrations and maybe that counteracts the fact that I served in the Carter administration. 

Clinton laughed, and Dee Dee said, Admiral, I didn’t know you served in the Bush and Reagan administrations. By now it is 12:25 and the press conference is 12:30. I said, Dee Dee, I’m not an admiral. I never got above captain in the army. She said, Whoops, we’d better change the press release. 

Pratt

Well-oiled machine.

Woolsey

So that’s pretty much the whole story of my becoming Director of Central Intelligence. We know from the President’s book that Dave McCurdy was his first choice. McCurdy recommended me and so did Al Gore. I’d known Gore since the beginning of the ’80s. I’d worked to support him on one of his campaigns. We’d collaborated on arms control issues, particularly the small mobilized ICBM [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile]. I know him moderately well, not extremely well. I’m told what happened is that they got right down to the last minute and Dave McCurdy and the Vice President-elect both said, Well, Woolsey can read and write, let’s stick him in. So that’s apparently what happened.

Selverstone

Had you had any inkling that this might be in the offing from that Labor Day meeting?

Woolsey

No. Obviously something was going on when Chris called me, but I had absolutely no inkling until that phone call the day that I flew down to Little Rock.

Strong

If they had given you time to think about it, would the outcome have been the same?

Woolsey

Probably, yes. My family found out about it—My son was interviewing at colleges in Southern California and my wife was driving him around and they heard about it on the radio. Yes, I would have thought about it seriously but I might have suggested that something like, A weekly or at least a monthly meeting might be a useful thing to be able to have with you, Governor, if you want me to do the job. But I didn’t know that was going to be a problem, so I might well not have even raised it, I don’t know.

Riley

Did you have any anxiety or reservations about any of the other people that you were looking at, other than Dee Dee Myers not knowing your background?

Woolsey

The national security team, I’d known Chris for a long time. I’d actually once been a summer associate at O’Melveny & Myers. He was already a very senior member of the bar. Les Aspin had been a buddy for years. He and I were very good friends. I knew Tony and Sandy somewhat, liked them, got along with them. So the team was one that I was perfectly okay with and knew. Not a problem.

Riley

What happens beyond that? You go to the press conference—

Woolsey

I go to the airport, we’re all trying to fly out, and the flights—It’s bad weather. CIA, I forget how they did this, but somebody from there was around and had a car.

Harris

The President’s daily briefers were there.

Woolsey

That must have been—

Haver

They were staying in the hotel out by the airport.

Woolsey

By now it’s the day before Christmas and everything is crowded. I’m trying to get to California for Christmas, and one of them offered to drive me to Dallas to catch a plane because I somehow was able to get a reservation on this flight from Dallas to San Francisco. So the first thing that all my colleagues knew was first Woolsey was there and then he just disappears. They figured that—

Haver

Great spooks.

Woolsey

They figured the CIA had whisked me off somewhere, where in fact that’s kind of what they had done. The briefers said, You want a ride to Dallas? I said, Yes, sure. We drove to Dallas and I got the plane. That was it.

Riley

And your family—once they learned the news, are they okay with this?

Woolsey

Well, yes, sure. Obviously it’s an important and prestigious job. I’d had three previous Presidential appointments, but this one was obviously a senior and important one and interesting. And I was used to coming and going from my law firm, and my law firm was used to having me come and go. My law practice really didn’t have much to do with anything I did in the government so I normally didn’t have conflict problems. You’ll see when we talk about my resignation how easy it was basically to just go back to my law firm. 

Riley

Well, let me put the question to you this way: You’re somebody who had had these senior positions in the government before President Clinton came in. Had you spent time imagining or envisioning yourself as the Director of Central Intelligence, or were there other places where you thought, If Jim Woolsey is going to go back into the government at some point, Defense or State or—?

Woolsey

I had been an advisor on SALT  I [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks] negotiations and a delegate at large for President Reagan to the negotiations at START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty], and the Defense of Space talks in Geneva in the ’80s, and then President Bush appointed me to head up the CFE Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, and Janet was the chief political officer on the delegation. We did the CFE negotiation and had a big fight with the Soviet military, who were trying to transfer a lot of their Army troops into the Navy and say they didn’t count in the treaty. We went to Moscow and worked with the Foreign Ministry and got the Soviet General Staff to go along with the treaty. It was fascinating. It was an absolutely fascinating two years. We had a 23-nation treaty that we did under a really tight deadline. It was great fun. 

Also, since I was a litigator in private law practice, and often you end up settling law suits—I had some background experience in negotiating commercial matters too—I figured if I ever got called back into government, it would probably be to negotiate something, because I’d done it successfully. I’d done it as an advisor several times, and I’d done it in private law practice, and that’s kind of what I knew how to do. I’d never particularly thought about going back into government. I just figured it might happen at some point, but probably it would be to negotiate something.

Riley

Tell us about the transitional period when you’re preparing yourself both for the job and/or dealing with this new cluster of people that you knew but had not been associated with in this way. In a global sense I’d also like to hear from those of you who were, I guess, on the inside, getting prepared to accept the leadership of this person who all of a sudden ends up as your director.

Woolsey

Well, other than a courtesy call and talking with Bob Gates, you don’t really want to go out and spend a lot of time at an agency when you’ve been nominated and you haven’t had your confirmation hearings yet. So I wasn’t out there except for the terribly tragic event of [Mir Amal] Kanzi killing the people during the interim after Gates and before me, when Bill Studeman was Acting. I went out to the memorial service. But other than the confirmation hearings, and they weren’t particularly difficult—it was unanimous in the Senate, so the transition was kind of uneventful. Janet and I went out and hung up our coats and started meeting people.

Andres

I had to come from Iceland. 

Woolsey

So she had a big coat. But there wasn’t much transition. We just showed up and started meeting people and working. Jeff [Harris] and I knew each other because I had chaired a panel for Gates on reconnaissance satellites back in ’92, and he and I had worked together on that. I’m trying to remember if there’s anybody out there that we knew.

Haver

Well, you knew Studeman and me from Navy days.

Woolsey

That’s right, but a little bit—

Haver

From the satellite review.

Woolsey

Yes, but we hadn’t really worked together a great deal. We’d met and talked a little.

Haver

I brought all the spooky stuff to you in your arms negotiation period.

Woolsey

That’s right, you did. You and I knew each other some.

Haver

But I was given the job of doing the transition from Bush to Clinton. My counterpart was George Tenet. George had been the staff director for the Senate Select Committee working for Senator [David] Boren. Senator Boren was retiring from the Senate, had not run for reelection, was going to the University of Oklahoma. So George was obviously not going to be the staff director of the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] come January. George was interested in a position in the new administration and he was, if you will, the incoming administration transition chief. I was the Bob Gates Director for Community Affairs, so I was given the job of transitioning Bush into Clinton. 

Jim was surprised but I wasn’t, because I had heard from the second week of November on, from George Tenet, that there was a short list of people who were considered by Sandy Berger, who was doing most of this national security transition work for Warren Christopher, and that Woolsey was on the short list. McCurdy was on there. I forget some of the other names. George obviously had no inside information. He was just working from the meetings. 

Riley

Sure.

Haver

We would go down and have these meetings in Sandy Berger’s office because he was still working in his law firm in downtown Washington. An entire process was set up: Budget, How much money? Which accounts? What were the major issues? What were the big transition problems? Usually I find that the incoming administration wants to know what might bite them in the butt. If everything is going well, that’s easy. But if there are things hidden behind the curtain that are likely to become very ugly affairs for them in short order, this is what they want to know about. So the transition has a tendency to concentrate on the bad news, on the problems, not on the successes. Of course George, having been in the Senate committee, knew most of what was going on anyway, so it was pretty easy. 

Woolsey

There’s a funny story about this time. It is October of ’92, so the election hasn’t occurred yet, but we know that Dave Boren, who is an old friend of mine from Oxford, is going to go to the University of Oklahoma and there’d be a new chairman of Senate Intelligence so George won’t be the staffer. At the time, I was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Smithsonian Board of Regents. Our General Counsel for the Smithsonian was retiring, so I took George, in September or October, out to lunch at a very nice Italian restaurant. Basically I bought him a very nice lunch and gave him a pitch to hope he’d really consider becoming General Counsel of the Smithsonian. 

He let me sign the check and then indicated to me that he actually was not a lawyer [laughter], which I hadn’t known. I always have told him that it bodes well for his sense of duplicity, given his later job, that he let me sign the luncheon check before he informed me that he was not in fact a lawyer. So in the middle of all this, I’m trying to recruit Tenet to be Smithsonian General Counsel.

Haver

They knew Jim from all of his prior jobs, but in this study that he had done with Jeff Harris’s help to examine how much of the resources could be devoted to the intelligence space enterprise in the post-Cold War world, in the peace dividend environment, Jim had come up with—and it is undoubtedly still classified—he’d come up with a rather direct and radical proposal. It was not Sustain all the lines. It was a call to make a dramatic change, to go in and do some vertical pruning of the system, to sort of re-baseline it. This was done for Gates. Gates made me make it part of the transition because Gates liked it. Gates thought it was the right thing to do. What the Woolsey study had come up with made a lot of sense to Bob Gates. 

It was going to upset people. It was going to definitely not have universal acceptance, so it was seen as a rather gutsy move. It was seen as somebody who wasn’t interested in just sort of getting on with the normal routine business. When Jim was announced that afternoon at that news press conference, I watched it at CIA headquarters with George Tenet. George indicated he knew this was coming, and he told me that the reason was the Woolsey study that had been done, that this had convinced them that Woolsey was the guy who could make changes in the intel community. 

Woolsey

We’ll come back to this later, but one of the systems that Jeff is really the daddy rabbit of, that I signed on to as thinking was very important, we called 8X. In our modified and reduced satellite constellation overall plan, one of the key parts of it was this program. If you flash forward a year, year-and-a-half, the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee following David Boren, Senator [Dennis] DeConcini of Arizona, very much wanted to kill this program. We had a big argument about it. We eventually prevailed. Jeff Harris was the Director of NRO [National Reconnaissance Office] by this time. 

Harris

A lot of what was happening was—The big news was the Cold War was over and a sense that everything had to be adjusted. To Rich Haver’s point, Bob Gates was looking for how to define an investment program that can carry us to that next decade, so that we can build a foundation that provides the necessary intelligence within an affordability framework that we can understand and plan for, because as Joyce Pratt has pointed out several times today, in the programming aspects of the government, the word agile doesn’t particularly come to mind. 

Bob Gates realized that although the Reconnaissance budget was then still classified, the investment portfolio for large development programs required—The demands from the military had increased dramatically over the previous decades in terms of their operational dependence on utility of information from space, informing the overall intelligence enterprise. 

Two things come to mind, out of the Gulf War, where we had a lot of time to prepare. General [Norman] Schwarzkopf very much wanted to leverage synoptic coverage so that in particular he could understand the Republican Guard, which was the pointiest end of the Iraqi spear, and how the Republican Guard would maneuver so that we could, as we built up a ground force, decide what best to do. As a result, those lessons learned in the Gulf War in direct support of the operational commander were very influential on the deliberations of the Woolsey Panel in advising Bob Gates. 

Jim was confirmed and sworn in at the CIA. It was a matter of days later—It was a Monday holiday in February, and I was under the car changing the oil and the phone rang. I had one in the garage and I answered it with oily hands. It was his deputy, Bill Studeman, and he said, The Director has just come back from a meeting at the Pentagon with Colin Powell. They’re discussing the former Yugoslavia. To Jim’s earlier point, what support can we provide the citizens of Yugoslavia in providing them safe havens? What can intelligence do to understand the genocide side of the war? What can we do with safe havens?

So when the phone rang, Bill Studeman just said, The Director wants to see you. How soon can you be here? Well, I’m 58 miles away from headquarters. I’ll be there in 45 minutes. I’m looking at my hands. I got in the car and I’m on the Beltway and I called two or three other analysts. I said, I’m not quite sure what the subject is but stay next to your phone because there will be incoming. 

I walked into Jim’s office and he said, I had this conversation with the Chairman and we’re just trying to figure out what it is that we can do. Put something together and get back to me in about a week, understanding what this lay-down is. My recollection is this is day four or five after he has been sworn in, and he doesn’t know a lot of people around the Agency, but he says, What I do know is how to go put a team together to make stuff happen, and here’s something that is important to a consumer of intelligence. Let’s just go jump on this problem. The next morning he had 25 people in a conference room cranking out information that ended up in a package that Jim took back to Colin Powell, and we started to help inform what our strategy would be for what became a protracted engagement with the Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbians. 

Woolsey

At one early point, I don’t remember precisely what month, but it was well in the early two or three months of ’93, exactly on this point, we got off onto something that there aren’t any questions about, but I think probably all of us here regard as, if not the single most important, one of the two or three most important things we did, and it continues to have extraordinary impacts. That’s jump-starting, in what has turned out to be a very positive direction, the government’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] program. 

I had been active with an organization called JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. I’ve always said I anchor their Presbyterian wing. In the mid-’80s I was on a trip with them in Israel and the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] took me up to the Galilee and I saw these small, unmanned aerial vehicles, being operated by what looked like teenagers, flying up over southern Lebanon. They showed me some tapes of previous things they’d done, for example, the UAV would have a laser designator on it. There would be a Hezbollah car. They had some intelligence on a senior Hezbollah official. They’d laze the car with the laser designator, fire a Hellfire from a helicopter over the horizon, and boom. I remember thinking, Wow, that’s pretty interesting.        

About the same time, early ’80s, I had gotten to know a guy named [Abraham] Abe Karem, who was the chief designer for Israel Aircraft Industries and then emigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s. He had told me of a program that he had designed for DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] called Amber, which was a very effective, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicle. But, he said, all four air forces in the four military services were not interested—all of them were very pilot-heavy—and so his little company had gone bankrupt. I kind of stored it in my mind. So now we’re in ’93 at the Agency and we have this problem that there is cloud cover perpetually in Bosnia and we can’t find the places where people are getting killed en masse. 

Haver

March of ’93.

Woolsey

We were talking about this last night. I can’t remember who I met with at the Pentagon, but probably after talking to these two guys, I went over and met with someone and I said, Look, we ought to be able to put together a long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicle that’s not too expensive, and stay under the cloud cover, because Bosnia has this cloud cover all the time at two to three thousand feet. We can stay under it. We can get this job done fairly easily. They did a little study and came back to me and said that they’d be glad to cooperate, and they figured that a prototype for an unmanned aerial vehicle would take six years and cost $500 million, a prototype. 

I went back and kind of scratched my head. I probably called Joyce Pratt at some point, but the first call I made was to Abe Karem. I asked him what happened to Amber. He said, Well, as you know, I went bankrupt. General Atomics [Aeronautical Systems] bought everything at bankruptcy sale. I recently sold three of them to the Turks. But there’s about half-a-dozen airframes sitting out there. We call it the GNAT-750 now because I’ve made some changes in it, but it is basically Amber. It’s sitting out there in a hanger, half-a-dozen airframes and some equipment that General Atomics Company bought at my bankruptcy sale. I said, Abe, this may be a crazy idea but how long would it take you, and how much would it cost, if I got General Atomics on board, in order to be up and flying over Bosnia, with a readout here in Washington? 

He said, Oh, six months, five million dollars. I said, Well you’re two orders of magnitude below the Pentagon. Let’s see what we can do. So Janet and I are conspiring about this, and we get together in some fashion with these other three folks—Jeff, Joyce, and Rich. Joyce, one thing I remember, we’ve talked about this, is I wanted right away to not only have this thing designed by Abe and get it flying, but to put a laser designator on it, because I wanted to be able to do what the Israelis were doing to the Hezbollah cars. I wanted to be able to do that to Serbian folks who were killing people. Pick up the story.

Pratt

I said to him, I think that’s a fine idea but first you’ve got to walk before you run, Jim, so let’s establish this as a viable collection tool. We’re going to have a political firestorm with DoD [Department of Defense], because somebody is going to be thinking that they should be doing this, not us, and we’re going to have to put together an operational story that explains the value of this obviously minimal but important investment. He very reluctantly said, All right. We never got to that stage during your tenure, but obviously today—But it did establish a very viable, inexpensive way to collect some very valuable intelligence. 

Woolsey

What happened was I called Linden Blue, who was the head of that portion of General Atomics that the Blue brothers owned. He thought at first that it was a joke, somebody pretending to be the DCI calling. But after we got that straight he came back East to see me. We had a very good conversation. We put together a team of a handful of people. We can come back and go into the details of how we did it, if you want. It has to do with having a link through what is called a Schweizer aircraft, which is essentially a powered glider, that we had up above the Adriatic. We had an old abandoned air base in Albania with a trailer on it with just a couple or three people in the trailer. We got the use of the air base from the Albanians by giving them some blankets.

Harris

A tough negotiation.

Woolsey

We had a bunch of leftover blankets for the mules that had been going into Afghanistan, and the Albanians were in such poor shape they needed the blankets, so we gave them a lot of blankets and they gave us this abandoned air base to use. 

Pratt

The blankets probably smelled bad, too.

Woolsey

By September, October maybe, of ’93, for about five million dollars that Joyce had scraped together from reprogramming money—$500,000 from this program and $750,000 from that—and with the nonopposition of the relevant people on the Hill, because, since we were doing it by reprogramming and the numbers were so low, we could move fast. We could go down the hall from my office—Janet and I were talking last night, and I remember doing this—and have a kind of a primitive e-mail exchange with the guy in the van in northern Albania who was flying this thing with a joystick, linking through the Schweizer to the UAV that was up over somewhere in Bosnia. 

I could say, What are we looking at? He’d say, Well, that’s Mostar. We’re coming up from the south. I’d say, What’s that in front of it? Well, that’s the bridge. You see, there’s a guy starting to get on the bridge. I’d say, What’s he got on his head? Looks like a funny big hat. You want me to zoom? Yes, zoom. Let’s look at the hat. Zoom. Yes, funny big hat. That’s fall, winter of ’93-’94. So when some of our friends from the Pentagon who had said it was going to take six years and cost $500 million got word and came out to see it, they were kind of, Wow

Harris

The key was solving a specific problem. A team of about five people, and he just says, You don’t go home and see your families until the following thing happens and the system is deployed. We don’t want it to solve all problems; we want it to solve this problem. We want to solve this problem now.

Woolsey

We put the whole thing on one airplane, on a C-130: the crates, the UAVs— 

Harris

And deployed it. It was interesting, because this dissemination was to allow, to Joyce’s point, the intelligence assessors to have a good understanding of the warlord battle, which was essentially Serbs raining mortars down on top of Croats. I can recall looking at the former Olympic site that had just been decimated by mortar shells. 

Although they were peacekeeping forces, it was hard to keep track of—It’s easy in today’s world to imagine, Just keep track of the combatants. That’s why we originally said in the office one day—We had it up on a classified channel on the intra-building network. You’re sitting doing your morning tasks and reviewing, I guess it was going to Yugoslavia. A guy came out of his townhouse and he had a cup of coffee and what looked like a bagel. He walks into a small courtyard and he puts the bagel in his mouth, he pulls back a tarp, he drops off three rounds from a mortar, pulls the tarp back over the mortar, then eats the bagel and walks in. So here’s the form of the new enemy combatant, and here’s a technology that is allowing us to make a much better assessment. 

Now I’ll pass it back to Jim. The military takes a look at this. It’s great for intelligence. Now you have an ID’d shooter, so you have information in Washington that is not available in the theater.

Woolsey

Yes, the military in the theater learn about this and they want it right away. But let me take you to the end of this so you’ll see the importance of it. Then we can talk about other aspects if you want. We run this for some months and everybody is captivated by this thing. Abe comes to me one day—I don’t remember exactly when this was, but it was in ’94—and he says, You know, we could get a lot better range and time on station out of this if we just stretch it. You know, I designed Amber originally to be stretched. It’s not that hard to do. I forget how much he said it was going to be—three or four months and $3 million.

Haver

And the satellite dish.

Woolsey

Yes, and put a satellite receiver—

Haver

Satlink.

Woolsey

Okay, let’s just do it. Miracle woman here [Pratt] comes up with my half-a-million here, half-a-million there, and we get the thing going. I don’t think it had flown yet when I stepped down in early ’95.

Haver

Predator.

Woolsey

But before I stepped down I remember asking Abe, This new stretch thing we’re doing, what are we going to call it? He said, We’ve been talking about that. We think maybe, ‘Predator.’ That’s where the Predator comes from. 

Haver

And the DARO [Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office] had then created—

Woolsey

Yes, the Defense Department is now tagging along creating unmanned aerial vehicles.

Haver

They took over the bulk of the procurement.

Woolsey

The point I want to make here is that the father of this program is Abe Karem and he’s a genius. He’s like [Clarence Leonard] Kelly Johnson. He did it for DARPA at the end of the ’70s and nobody would buy it, for bureaucratic reasons, and it was slumbering. So what we really did, with his help, was resuscitate something that had been developed but nobody was doing anything about because the bureaucracy was really kind of impossible. We did it for something well under $10 million, and over two development periods, one of about six months and one of about three or four months, something like that. It is a very good illustration of how an agency, particularly when they have people like these folks, can do stuff fast if you just get out of the way. Important stuff. This has revolutionized—

Pratt

But I would argue that if you go back to your opening comments about how are we going to help people? What are we going to do? As opposed to who is the enemy? I personally believe that this relatively small collection effort made a huge difference in U.S. policy towards that part of the world. In a humanitarian sense and in an economic sense, that tool, and it wasn’t widely known, obviously, but looking back on it, it had enormous impact on what ultimately became the demise of a bad regime in that part of the world.

Andres

But also the use of UAVs in other parts of the world, to this day—That really gave a concrete example of what could be done. 

Haver

Predator spawned Global Hawk.

Woolsey

Yes. At dinner last night Janet reminded me, in ’89 to ’91, when I headed up the CFE negotiations and she was my political officer, essentially my deputy, I was already fixated on UAVs. What I wanted to do was deploy UAVs all over Europe in order to monitor the CFE Treaty, because you had hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment that are supposed to stay here, stay there, or do that. We ran into the problem of air traffic control and all that.

Haver

Rotten European weather.

Woolsey

I’d forgotten that I was already pushing UAVs in the previous job, the CFE job.

Harris

To Janet’s point and following up on Joyce’s, later in the Clinton administration, the U.S. was betwixt and between as to what our policy should be with intervention in Europe. It was clear what was going on. My recollection is we were providing lots of airlifts, lots of communication support, but did not want to provide troops. I can recall a briefing that we did for the First Lady that was essentially using imagery outlining the genocide that was taking place. In U.S.-speak, Serbs and Croats were living in ranches and Williamsburg homes respectively, and you could go down the street and see all the equivalents of ranch homes burned out, and the Williamsburg homes weren’t. 

It was very graphic to see the systematic—I recall one of the interactions with the President where it was very clear to us in the imagery, the magnitude of mass graves. My sense at the time was that the Intelligence community had finally given the President of the United States the information that he needed to confront the Europeans: This is in your backyard. Jim’s team was getting the intelligence basis for an administration that had not awakened to intelligence yet. But when they did awaken to it, and you see a mass grave that has tens of thousands of people in it—

Woolsey

Very important point. By the summer of ’95, when you have Srebrenica, you have a confluence of the first kind of publicly known, really big massacre, and evidence. What the UAVs and satellites supplied was evidence. 

Harris

The cover up by Serbs included a dump truck backing up with quick lime in it to the mass grave.

Selverstone

Were any of those re-tasked in April ’94 or so over Rwanda? 

Woolsey

No.

Harris

I don’t recall UAVs in Rwanda.

Woolsey

We didn’t need UAVs in Rwanda. We wrote a report early in the process—There was an intelligence product and much of it, as I recall, was derived from the reports of that Canadian Brigadier General who was with the UN who was there, Romeo Dallaire. But we knew what was happening, before. It was pretty clear what was going to happen in Rwanda. 

Harris

When the event started, Rich and I were in with Bill Studeman in the Ops Center, and were called on Rwanda and we had to—Certainly for me as a technologist, I had to shift gears and say, All right, fifth grade, what do you call that country? And get yourself down in the center of Africa and understand what it was. 

I recall the U.S. mobilizing the Air Force for water purification, and the impact of cholera. The satellite imagery in this case provided important perspective of the immense size of the problem. Imagery of 100,000 bodies floating in the river and, again, just a huge genocide taking place, informing the U.S. as to what is happening on the other side of the world and awakening people to the magnitude of yet another genocide. 

Riley

Bob, you wanted to intervene. 

Strong

I want to go back to the transition and ask two questions: One, if there had been a more normal appointment—maybe Clinton didn’t do normal appointments, maybe all Presidents are unusual in how they do these things—are there things you would have raised, beyond the one you mentioned? You mentioned it would have been nice—Well, you mentioned two: It would have been nice to tell my family, and, It would have been nice to have a regular appointment on the President’s calendar. 

Are there other discussions that you would have expected and would have liked? Leeway in making appointments within the department? Budget questions about where things were  headed? Policy issues where you thought there might be issues?

Woolsey

See, I agreed with him that we shouldn’t do policy. I made one policy recommendation to the President in two years and it was a private, handwritten note. It was on a major matter, an idea I had about a way to improve some human rights issues. But I’ve never disclosed it. I wrote it on a single sheet and gave it to him at an NSC [National Security Council] meeting, in a sealed envelope. Policy, we wouldn’t be doing.

Appointments, I met everybody out there. The only other Presidential appointment, at the time, was the deputy. And the deputy, Bill Studeman, is off on a cruise and couldn’t be here today, I’m sorry. Bill had been—I’d known him when he was head of Naval Intelligence. He’d been head of NSA [National Security Agency] and he’d been Bob’s pick to be the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. He had a background in technical collection, and close working relationships with the military. He was an absolutely ideal deputy, so I never considered not keeping him. 

There weren’t any other—the General Counsel at the time was not a Presidential appointment. I didn’t go with the assumption that I was going to bring anybody from the outside, except Janet, and she was a government employee who was a foreign service officer. It never really occurred to me. I had very able people to pick from. I would move some of them around a little bit. The only outsider I brought in—I brought Joe Nye down from Harvard to chair the National Intelligence Council. 

Pratt

And Elizabeth. 

Woolsey

No, Elizabeth Rindskopf was already there. 

Harris

Joe brought a few others in to staff the National Council.

Woolsey

But there wasn’t really an appointments issue. Except, I’d been there a week or two and I got a call from Bruce Lindsey in the White House. I’d never even met him, to the best of my knowledge, but I knew he was some senior staffer in the White House. I didn’t know most of the people in the White House, and even after two years I didn’t know most of the people in the White House, but I knew who Lindsey was. I knew he was a senior staffer. 

He said, We have somebody we want you to take.  I said, Huh? He said, Yes, a lawyer from Arkansas to be your General Counsel. I said, Well, actually, I’ve got a General Counsel, and it’s not a Presidential appointment. She was a civil rights litigator for the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and has been General Counsel of the National Security Agency, and is doing a good job where she is now. Bob Gates picked her. She’s first rate and I’m keeping her. He said, Do you know where this is coming from? I said, I don’t really care where it’s coming from. It’s not a Presidential appointment and I’m keeping my General Counsel. That was the sum-total of my interaction with the White House about appointments. 

Strong

Here’s the second question: The first interaction between the CIA and the President-elect is this daily briefing by the folks who drove you to Dallas. What was that like? [laughter] Were these briefings that Clinton was taking directly, or was he delegating someone else?

Woolsey

Let me say it this way: President Clinton is a speed-reader. He had a lot to do, and he would from time to time make annotations in the margin and send back questions for the Agency to answer. We met maybe once or twice at the very beginning of the administration—but by the time I’d been there a week or two, although I would show up each morning for the morning briefing with the CIA briefer, we would sit outside and wait and would effectively never be invited in. Usually what would happen is somebody would come out and say, Could you hand us the briefing? The briefing book would go in, the President’s Daily Brief. 

We essentially did not do the morning briefing. We would have liked to have it, but didn’t. Other than NSC meetings, where it varied in frequency—sometimes one every two weeks or so, sometimes a couple a week—it kind of depended on what was going on. But except for NSC meetings, and in the Clinton administration a number of people with only secret level clearances would get invited to the NSC meetings, so you couldn’t get into a lot of the code word stuff that you would want to, covert action or anything like that. Except for the NSC meetings, I saw the President semi-privately, that is, me and Bill Studeman, when the President came out to the CIA, about a year into his administration. He met with a couple or three of us. Jeff, were you there?

Harris

We were in for part of it, out for part of it. It was in your office. There were about six people in there.

Woolsey

Had a lot of the models of the satellites.

Haver

George Tenet.

Andres

George was there. 

Woolsey

Yes, George was there for the White House. And Tony Lake, and [David] Gergen. Anyway, there were the President plus three or four from the White House, three or four from the Agency and the community, for an hour, hour-and-a-half, something like that. Then there was one session, something smaller than that. It was me and Studeman and somebody, I forget, about a year later, or a few months later, down at the White House. Essentially, we had two semi-private meetings with him in those two years I was in. 

The only other thing I can think of is, in the first week of the administration they invited all the direct reports to the President, including me, to Camp David for a weekend and a kind of skull session on How are we going to do things in the administration? But except for the NSC meetings, I saw the President extremely little. Those once-a-year meetings were about it. 

Riley

I’ll come right back to you, Marc. I think Bob’s question in part is about the timeline of how you began to decipher the working style of the new President. There are Presidents that have great appetites for intelligence, right? Probably including his predecessor. 

Haver

Oh, George Herbert Walker Bush had been the head of CIA and the community. He took that briefing every morning religiously, as did his son.

Woolsey

President Clinton is a speed-reader, I was told by the PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] people. He’d occasionally write something in the margin. One time I remember he read an article in the Atlantic about Africa that he thought was fascinating and he gave it to me at an NSC meeting, annotated in the margins. It had some ideas about looking at economic and other trends in developing countries that Vice President Gore was interested in. I took it to him. We had some meetings with some CIA analysts to look at those issues. 

Gore was very helpful. He would call the Hill on our behalf and try to help get our budget through. I could always get to see him. But if you’re a committee chairman up there and you’re holding that money, as happened to us a lot, particularly by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and you get a call from the Vice President, that’s good but it kind of indirectly says that the President doesn’t have the time on this one to call. Gore was a big help to us. But we didn’t have much interaction with the President.

Riley

I hear what you’re saying, which is—A couple of times you’ve said that he is a speed-reader. The inference is that his preference for getting intelligence information was in writing, rather than having an interpersonal brief. Or is it the case that he simply didn’t have the appetite that his predecessor did, or maybe the appetite that you would expect a President of the United States to have?

Andres

There’s another little piece of this, and we don’t know exactly what the relationship was between, for example, Tony Lake and Sandy Berger and the President. But you did religiously have regular weekly meetings with Tony and/or Sandy.

Woolsey

Yes, right, and often it was Studeman and me with Tony and Sandy, sometimes just me with Tony, or me with Tony and Sandy, but those would cover often a couple of dozen issues. That was my main interaction with the White House. 

I had, probably once every two weeks or so, a meeting with Warren Christopher and his deputy, depending on who it was, Strobe, et cetera. And I had a meeting once a week with Aspin while he was Secretary of Defense, and [William] Perry—they were both old friends—and an occasional meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So interaction with the other members of the team was good, but they would also, from time to time, have lunches themselves to go over policy matters, which we weren’t invited to.

The only NSC meeting I know of that neither Studeman nor I was even invited to was the one where they decided in the aftermath of the attempt by the Iraqis to assassinate former President Bush, to launch the cruise missiles in the middle of the night against the Iraqi intelligence headquarters, which I have subsequently characterized as a retaliation against Iraqi cleaning women and night watchmen, because of course there were none of the people in the middle of the night in the building who had been plotting the attack on President Bush. But that’s the only NSC meeting I know of that we were not invited to. NSC meetings were really about it. 

It’s kind of leaping ahead, but I finally came to decide after two years that really this wasn’t going to change, and there was a reason. There had been a press story or two in October that the White House wanted Woolsey to step down. So I called the Vice President’s office and went to see him. I said, I don’t know if you saw these or not— I don’t remember if this is just before or just after the Republican win in early November ’94 in Congress. I asked Gore, Does the President want me to step down? He said, I don’t think so, but I’ll find out. 

He called me a couple of days later and I went down to see him and he said, No, I talked to him. He thinks you’re doing a fine job. He doesn’t want you to leave. I said, But I never see him. He said, I know. And he said, I know your relationship is not everything that it ought to be between a President and DCI, but he doesn’t want you to step down. I said, Okay, well, thanks. 

I thought about it for about a month and I figured, well, they really ought to have somebody in the job that he wants to meet with. I mean, it’s just about that simple. It’s a big issue. There are just some things you can’t get done unless you can sit at least two-on-two, or best of all one-on-one with the President and say, Here’s what’s going on, and here’s the problem.

Riley

Sure, but your interpretation of that was that there was something between you and the President that wasn’t clicking, not that this was a President for whom intelligence is not—

Haver

Well I stayed around for the next six years and it didn’t change with John Deutch or George Tenet. In fact, they had less Clinton time than Jim did. George Tenet’s great contribution was down at the Wye Plantation when the Israelis wanted Jonathan Pollard sprung. I still don’t know what George actually said, although he didn’t deny the press stories that he had said he would quit if they sprung Pollard. I was working for George at the time and I got the job of talking to all of George’s friends in the press to reinforce why Jonathan Pollard was such a dirt bag. It wasn’t hard to do; he is a dirt bag. But George—In those exchanges, it was obvious that he had no relationship with President Clinton at all. None. Zero. He had no relationship with Bill Cohen, the Secretary of Defense. Jim would see Bill Perry or senior Defense leaders. 

When I did the transition from Clinton to [George W.] Bush—I get the back end of the Clinton administration, too. Mr. [Richard] Cheney asked me—The first day of the transition, he said, I have three questions, Rich. Yes, sir? Number one, what happened to the money? Tell me what was supposed to be spent in the ’90s on intelligence and then tell me what was actually spent. I can’t give you the numbers. They’re still classified, but let’s put it was a down arrow. 

The second thing he wanted to know was how often George Tenet had a one-on-one meeting with the Secretary of Defense, because they’re the two people who really run the resources that are spent on intelligence, and that relationship is critical. He says, Find out how often George has breakfast, lunch, whatever, with Bill Cohen.

Then third, Call the six men who have chaired the HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] or SISCI, the Senate and House Intelligence committees. How many times has the President, not somebody else—How many times in their tenure did the President call them on behalf of an intelligence issue, to get something done? This is eight o’clock in the morning. He says, I’ll see you at four. Typical Cheney meeting. 

Well, the answer I gave him was the down arrow. I called George Tenet and he said, Never. I’ve never had a one-on-one meeting with Bill Cohen. Rudy DeLeon, John Hamre— That’s how I do anything with the Department of Defense. I work at a level down. Then I called the six chairmen. Larry Combest laughed at me. Arlen Specter got mad at me and shouted—I had the phone this far away—telling me that, Dick Cheney knows the f---ing answer to these questions. The answer was never. 

Now I knew, because I’d worked for Mr. Cheney when he was SecDef, that Cheney would at least once a quarter tee an issue up for President George Herbert Walker Bush of such intelligence significance that he would get the President to interact with the chairman of the committee. Now of course Cheney had been on that committee as the ranking Republican and he knew how powerful it was for the chairman to walk into an issue that is being debated, about money or some political overtone, and have the Commander-in-Chief verbatim talking to the chairman, saying, I need this. Regardless of whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, when they know the Commander-in-Chief has taken the time to pick up the phone and interact directly with the chairman, they’d better have a really powerful reason why they don’t want to do this. But that had not happened in the entire eight years of the Clinton administration. 

So I understand Jim’s personal view of this, but from an historic perspective, I don’t think this had anything to do with Jim Woolsey or Jim Woolsey’s relationship with Bill Clinton. It had to do with Bill Clinton’s priority list.

Riley

Right.

Haver

And this just wasn’t on that priority list, where it was for other people.

Woolsey

And I must say that I don’t think it is a very efficient use of either of their time for the overall chair, now the DNI [Director of National Intelligence] of the Intelligence Community, to go in and brief the President every morning. I think there are more efficient ways for the President to get information and feed it back. But what you ought to have is, let’s say under current circumstances, once a week or once every ten days or something, probably the DNI and the DCIA [Director of the Central Intelligence Agency] together ought to go in and see the President, and maybe the National Security Advisor, and say, Here’s what’s really hot with respect to the Taliban relationship with al Qaeda, and here’s an idea for a covert action that we might pull off if you want us to work on it, Mr. President.  

If you can’t work on those extremely sensitive things with the top one or two people, you can’t get much done. But you don’t really need to go in every day and read the briefing book.

Haver

To support that, when you all do the George Walker Bush Presidency, you need to get Mike McConnell down here. Mike will give you the exact opposite. Mike was with President Bush every morning for as much as two hours. Mike will tell you it did two things: It completely exhausted him, because he would come in at 5:00 a.m. to be ready to see President Bush, who was precise in his timing at 7:00, and he could not run the Intelligence community. He would spend so much time being the intelligence officer for the President that he could not turn around and actually provide guidance, leadership, and management to the Intelligence community. Mike will tell you it almost killed him. 

Haver

Mike said one night he had been in with President Bush and said, I’d like to send my deputy in to brief you in the morning brief on those occasions when I’m out of town or have matters to take care of. As he was turning to walk out the door, the President said, Mike, that would be fine. Then there was a long pause and he said, On those days I just won’t take the briefing.

Woolsey

There’s another way—

Haver

He eventually took it.

Woolsey

As scholars, you guys can undoubtedly weigh the extremes of this. Neither one of them is probably the right answer. There’s another way to waste time for a DCI or a DNI or DCIA, and that’s Hill visits. [laughter]

In 1993, my first year on the job, Congress was in session 195 days. I had 205 appointments on Capitol Hill that year. I was up there an average of more than once a day when Congress was in session. Something over 85 percent of that was working, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to turn around decisions by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator DeConcini. One example was that, after the first World Trade Center bombing, he zeroed the money for the CIA’s Arabic language instruction. I don’t know why. He wanted President Clinton to call him to get it restored. I could never make that happen. 

We had good relations with the House Intelligence Committee. Dan Glickman was the chairman and did a great job and we worked fine with him. Larry Combest was the ranking member. We worked fine with him. We had good relations, partially thanks to  Joyce Pratt, with the Appropriations committees, both [Daniel] Inouye and [Ted] Stevens on the Senate side, and the gang on the House side, including Charlie Wilson, who helped us out on some things. So three of the four committees we got along with fine, but if even one chairman of one of your key committees is determined to say, The Cold War is over; We don’t need money for intelligence, or whatever, that can produce, instead of a daily meeting with the President, a daily meeting with the Hill, or more than daily. 

Andres

It raises another point, too, in terms of the relationship between the DCI and the President, that also it goes the other way. Not having that relationship, not having access, and that being perceived as such, lowered your clout, particularly within the community because at the time, the DCI was the coordinator of all the intelligence agencies.

Woolsey

Yes, exactly. The Hill is a shark pool and it’s like having a cut on your foot and trying to swim across the pool. If it is known that you’re not really the President’s guy, then even though you’re tolerated and people will hear you out—I got to know quite a few people on the Hill, and three of the four committees basically were not a problem, but I needed the President for Senate Intel and I couldn’t ever really make that happen. Even with his help I don’t know how much I would have gotten out of the Senate Intelligence Committee. There was not a great interaction with the Chairman. 

Selverstone

Were there one or two moments where you were sitting there outside the office, thinking, I really need to get in to see him on this particular issue. He needs to talk to me about this?

Woolsey

After a while, after the first month or so I stopped sitting outside the office, because it was just a waste of time. Occasionally I’d call out there, I’d call down and try, but I’d always get word back from Tony that, The President says to talk to me, that’s all that’s necessary. I had no reason to disbelieve that Tony and Sandy had excellent access to the President, and I’m sure they conveyed the substance of what I said to him. It was pretty much—I’d go over with them pretty much anything, no matter how sensitive. That was the channel he wanted and that was the channel we used. Yes, sure, there were a number of times.

Riley

  What percentage of this could be attributed to his body clock? I mean, this guy’s not a morning person and these were, by tradition—

Haver

He’s not an on-time person. Clinton Standard Time was a running joke in the administration.

Woolsey

I think he’s gotten better in recent years, but it was—yes, you’re always waiting for NSC meetings and stuff like that. I don’t know, since it carried across several DCIs. I think he basically regarded it as information, and he absorbed information faster in written form. Occasionally, in the cases—and letting the Iranian arms through to the Croats and Bosnians is probably one interesting subject to get into—when he wanted to do something really sensitive like let Bosnians be armed indirectly by the Iranians, he didn’t go through us. This has all been public in Congressional hearings. 

We found out about that because my station chief in Croatia had the Ambassador approach him and say, Would you help me look the other way as these arms come through? The station chief calls me right away, because while a CIA officer overseas has a lot of flexibility with respect to whom he can recruit to get information, once somebody says, Will you try to influence policy? Will you talk to So-and-So and try to influence policy? that becomes a covert action. So they needed a formal finding for that. 

I mean, if the President had decided he wanted Iranian arms to come to the Bosnians and he wanted the CIA to help smooth the way with the Bosnian government or the Croatian government or both to make that happen, and he wants to sign a finding, under the law the CIA could help. I don’t think that was very wise because it ended up getting the Iranians into the Balkans in more ways than anybody wanted, but that’s the decision the President gets to make. My station chief was exactly right in coming back and saying, Hey, I can’t do this, right? We don’t have a finding. Right, you don’t have a finding. Don’t do it.

When I then raise this with State or with the NSC, they say, Oh, we don’t need to get into that, or words to that effect. So there were—at least in that case, I don’t know whether in others—cases in which if you look at the institutional structure of the government and who ought to be doing the really careful, classified things called covert action, it wasn’t really us. I mean, I don’t think he looked on us as the institution to do that. A, he probably didn’t want to do it much at all, but B, when he did want to do it, at least in that case, it wasn’t us that was doing it.

Pratt

But a finding should have been generated.

Haver

And Congressional notifications and—

Woolsey

But the President—I’m not sure if it’s all among diplomats. Janet, I’d be interested in your feelings on this. The President is the boss of the Secretary of State, and he gets to have his diplomats say A or B to foreign governments if he wants to. And if he wants to have the Ambassador to Croatia or Bosnia say to the foreign ministries there, Hope you guys will be relaxed about these arms coming in from Iran. We’re just trying to help, I guess maybe he gets to do that. I don’t know.

Andres

You know, I don’t remember the details of this, but it seems to me, the little bit I do, is that it was not a question of active measures on the part of the U.S. but rather turning a blind eye to it in not acting. 

Woolsey

Right.

Andres

They tried to finesse it that way.

Woolsey

Anyway, the basic point, from the point of view of our responsibilities and this two years of the Clinton administration, is that we were not part of the close, small team.

Riley

Exactly.

Woolsey

We were an institution that collected intelligence. It was a time in which there were people in Congress, including some I admired a great deal—Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one—who were saying, The Cold War is over. We really don’t need to bother with this secrecy stuff. Now in retrospect, I imagine looking back on that, people would see it somewhat the way we did at the time and somewhat the way I look on Henry Stimson’s comment in 1929 when he was Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of State and he stopped code-breaking by the State Department , saying, Gentlemen don’t read one another’s mail. 

Haver

Herbert O. Yardley, The American Black Chamber.

Woolsey

What’s really interesting about that is that this was not some kind of left-wing pacifist. This was a hard-nosed member of the Republican establishment who was a fine Secretary of War for Franklin Roosevelt. Stimson was not some flaky guy. 

Haver

Signed the order to drop the bomb. Can’t do more than that.

Woolsey

But he stopped the code-breaking of some of these terrible regimes’ codes because Gentlemen don’t read one another’s mail. Even Henry Stimson— 

Riley

Can get it wrong.

Woolsey

Can veer off into that, and even Daniel Patrick Moynihan can veer off under the influence of the times into something like, The Cold War is over. We really don’t need secrecy in the CIA much any more.

Andres

But there was a point really, particularly for Moynihan and a lot of other people on the Hill, that there should be a peace dividend. With the end of the Cold War, they felt there should be some money and a focus on domestic priorities.

Riley

Exactly. Let’s pick up there. Bob, I’ll let you have the first question. Let’s take a break.

[BREAK]
Riley

You say you want to start with a good news story. 

Woolsey

I don’t remember, maybe one of our colleagues here will, whether it was sometime late in ’93 or early in ’94, but I got a call from Susan Blumenthal, who was the Assistant Secretary of HHS [Health and Human Services] for health.

Haver

I think it was the fall of  ’93.

Pratt

Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health.

Woolsey

She said, Jim, this is a strange request, I’m sure, coming to your organization. I’ve included you because I’m calling everybody that has any R and D [Research and Development] money. Is there any chance that anything the CIA does could help— 

Pratt

Or the community does.

Woolsey

The Intelligence community does— Could be of any assistance in improving diagnosis of mammograms? 

I said, Well, it sounds kind of unlikely to me but maybe not impossible. I don’t know. I guess I called you, right? [addressing Jeffrey Harris] You went away and all I knew was a couple or three months later you came back. Why don’t you tell them what you said, or what you did?

Harris

My recollection is that Jim called and said, This new Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services, named Susan Blumenthal, give her a call. She’s working on an important topic and is very close to the First Family, the President and the First Lady. I called her. She was extraordinarily nice and explained the problem just as Jim outlined. What do you have? It turned out I had done some not dissimilar work in college so I sort of understood the nature of the request. We discussed, Can you apply image processing algorithms in order to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer? 

I called a colleague of mine, Sam Grant, and said, Why don’t you put a team together and take a look at this, to see if it’s not inconsistent to use our image processing algorithms to see if we can do something here. The big advantage would be—My earlier familiarity was dealing only with film systems, and now digital systems—You can help the readability of mammograms and assist the doctor. So we went off on this study to go do something. 

In the process, I called Joyce over at CIA and said, I’ve asked, in this case, some of the CIA engineers who are associated with the National Reconnaissance Office, might the CIA have an interest in aligning your technical expertise and some of your resources to take a look at with what might be a reasonable question, to get another public benefit from the investment that the country has made in some of these algorithms?

The long story short is we have algorithms that are very sensitive for denoting changes in imagery. If I take a field and the forest area around it, a deploying Soviet force would put its radars right at the edge of the field, and the missile launchers, and further into the forest would be the command control and it would be camouflaged. They’d be running cables and you would see a grouping of command and control buildings, or grouping of fire control apparatus, and the launcher. We’re looking through hundreds of thousands of acres for the mobile missiles that were extant in the Cold War. We were able to find these things, and we built algorithms to help imagery analysts find these things in the proverbial shell game. 

We took these algorithms and turned them onto a large number of mammograms that had been given to us by Dr. Daniel Kopans at Harvard. The head radiologist at Harvard Medical provided numerous mammograms where the pathology was known and we did a blind test with algorithms. We noticed that, with not much change, the algorithms that we used to help analysts identify dispersed missiles were very useful in denoting calcifications of breast tissue ducts that tend to calcify as a precursor for understanding where cancer may result. In these interactions, I recall an interaction with Daniel Kopans, who called and said, This is really quite revolutionary. 

This was undertaken as a public policy in order to aid radiologists—It increasingly occurred to me that, surprisingly, the slowest adopters of technology are doctors. They’re trained, they’re really smart, they just turn out to be—They don’t go to Best Buy and buy the most radical technology. They’re just not inclined. Dr. Kopans said, If we get this technology adopted, we would reduce breast cancer deaths by— It was something like over 40 percent. It was big. He was quite excited, so I reported this back to Jim and we interacted with Susan. 

Last night as we got talking about this, I Googled From Missiles to Mammograms, which is what we called the program. She sponsored a forum up on Capitol Hill, and we had a booth and an open house for the legislators to come in.

Woolsey

I gave a talk at the mammogram conference.

Haver

We put this in as a Presidential briefing. We put this into the session that we held in your office. He saw this and was quite enthusiastic about it.

Harris

With the Cold War stuff that Jim had spoken to earlier: Is there some return from all of this investment? The question is: Was it was classified? The basic algorithm—no. How we were using it was on data sets that were highly classified, typically from satellite and aircraft systems.

Woolsey

The specific applications and algorithms were classified.

Harris

The researchers could easily move between the two. And the ease with which we did this, I thought, was a great success in public policy, and consistent with goals of the Clinton administration to make a difference in domestic policy and healthcare, and some of the things we saw a big interest in as this administration got going. So it was motivational for the engineers and a nice outcome for women.

Woolsey

And as Jeff said, a few months later, the one time the President came out to the Agency, this is one of the things we briefed him on.

Haver

  Yes, we had ten topics. We had ten set-piece vignettes that you walked him through, things that were happening in intel, and this was one of them.

Woolsey

Oh, I saw Congressman [Edward] Markey, who is Susan Blumenthal’s husband, the other day. He told me that, partially as a result of her work on this, she is getting some huge award in the medical field coming up. He said he was really glad she called the CIA and NCO. 

Haver

There was another thing that came out of the administration like this. It was very early on, and I don’t know exactly how it came to Jim, but we were told that there was an interest by the President himself, and Ron Brown, who was the Secretary of Commerce, to pursue the commercialization of space imagery. Heretofore, the U.S. had had no policy about—In fact, we didn’t have a commercial space industry. There was Landsat, there was the French—

Harris

For remote sensing, as compared to communication satellites.

Haver

Pretty tight instructions came down to Jeff and me. Of course, Jeff being the space expert, it was really his portfolio. I guess for the next six or seven months, Jeff, we worked out what then spawned the whole commercial remote sensing space industry.

Harris

Jim, as Director of Central Intelligence, took immediate interest in this. I recall a meeting that we had with Jim, his deputy Bill Studeman, Bill Perry as Deputy Sec Def, Rich Haver, and me, one Tuesday morning where we raised this with Bill Perry, who immediately thought it was a great idea and was very supportive. Dialogue was along the lines of, Can we remove some of the resolution restrictions that were found in the National Space Policy that set the line at where Landsat had been, and said that everything better than that quality shall be for national security interest, and the environmental side and understanding the academic side will be above this?

Haver

That and shutter control. 

Harris

The problem was that the technology had continued to move along to where there was a greater need than just intelligence for all of this, which allowed us to segue into another story. We went off and Jim hosted a breakfast where we asked the leaders of industry to come in and meet with the Director as to what their interest was in this evolving policy. It was really a turning point, because the study that he had done for Bob Gates on the affordability of a long-term space-based intelligence infrastructure caused less money to be spent over a ten-year period. We could now say to the industry, if you could leverage your R and D to other marketplaces—We developed a policy of working with the Commerce Department on the ground that said—

Haver

Keith Calhoun-Senghor.

Harris

—we will sell imagery products; we will sell turnkey systems; and only lastly will we export the technology, which will allow the U.S. and U.S. factories to continue to practice their craft that they were uniquely qualified for, and best in the world at. The benefit to the U.S. citizens was that the inventions of the U.S. could be leveraged for the greater good of the planet, and by keeping the factories busy, the cost to the taxpayers of these very unique systems that I would later be buying as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office would be reduced, because the initial capacity was effectively it was a burden shared by a commercial industry. 

Haver

The real problem was we didn’t buy Google Earth stock, which we should have done.

Woolsey

You know, Rich, I thought what you were going to mention was the digitalization of the community.  

Haver

That’s the second one.

Harris

Let me do one segue. At the beginning of this process, Al Gore had communicated to Bob Gates as DCI, just prior to Jim, Could we declassify some of the beginning-of-1960 imagery to inform our record for environmental understanding? Bob Gates had sent off a taskforce to take a look at it.

Haver

He came back and said no.

Harris

After several rounds, we ended up with the policy decision to declassify the first U.S. reconnaissance system that was called Discover unclassified, or Corona by its classified name. Subsequently we gave it to the Smithsonian, and turned over to the National Archives 56,000 cans of images of the earth, beginning in 1960. 

What was interesting from that is the Vice President was asked to form a team with Victor Chernomyrdin to do bilateral work with the Russians, and I was asked to co-chair with the Russian counterpart on the environmental panel, which allowed us to exchange this record to help them understand. We went off to work, and I guess the success I’m most proud of—We’re sitting talking to the Russians about planetary change and in one of the meetings he comes out and says, Well, we’ve been planning to launch ballistic missiles from the Arctic Circle for a number of decades, so we’ve been measuring ice thickness all this time so we could understand Arctic ice thickness. 

So, I’m sitting with an environmental team studying Arctic ice data. Big excitement. [laughter] Sitting in Moscow he says, Well, could we have access to this data? I said, Sure, it’s all on what we in the U.S. call 3x5 cards. There’s a flight hanger full of these 3x5 cards. If we could see that, we could get you a couple of laptops and a couple of hundred thousand dollars to pay Russians to type that in to a computer, might we have a deal there? And you can keep the laptops. We immediately had a deal. The oceanographer for the U.S. Navy was quite taken by the treasure trove of data that came across. The project came to be known as MEDEA [Measurement of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis], as one of the outputs. 

Secondarily, which was not quite as successful, we understood that they had been imaging all of our military bases for years. And we had been imaging all of their military bases. It was quite possible that during this 23-year period, things happened on military bases where dump trucks dug holes and buried stuff that the site commander no longer had a need for and that what was acceptable to dump in the ground in 1950 was probably different from what was acceptable to dump in the ground in 1993. So we went off and were gladly doing this and we picked a base in the southeastern United States, and they picked a base, and we’re exchanging data and it is this classified data that allowed the CIA to see where all the landfills were. 

I actually still feel bad. It occurred to me the day before the press release that I should probably tell the Air Force. [laughter] I get on the phone to the Colonel in public affairs down at this Air Force Base and I say, Look, the Vice President is having a press release tomorrow and we have the Russians, and we picked your base to be the highlight base, and we’re going to talk about your predecessor—  

Haver

What you illegally buried.

Harris

Dumping stuff for the previous twenty years. I feel very naïve. It occurred to me about halfway through the conversation that I had taken a similar dump truck worth of bad news and dumped it squarely in his lap, because he had all of about 12 hours to respond. But we had the press conference. And someone cleaned up some of these sites. It was actually a very good move. 

The breast cancer example and in the sharing of the environmental photographic record and this program, where we had scientists who were cross-cleared for information, we had world survey sites where we could understand what has changed on these sites and been noticed, which the scientists helped us understand. In the last couple of years this project has been revitalized, given the interest in sustainability and green. Some of the pioneer work that was started took place in these early years of the administration.

Woolsey

On the environmental side of all this, MEDEA, which is still going on—Gore really kicked it off during the preceding Bush administration with Gates and then we stayed with it. Gore always kept a big interest in it and still does have. I sit on the National Academy of Science’s review panel for it. It’s ongoing. That has led to a lot of use of satellite data, especially for environmental understanding of a lot of things.

Harris

Dr. Linda Zall was a CIA officer who worked very closely with the Vice President and just pulled these scientists together. It was an eclectic bunch.

Woolsey

There was only one outfit that was taking pictures, for example, of the Caspian Sea, for several decades, and it was Jeff. If you want to know what’s happened to the Caspian Sea you’ve got to go to the American NRO and the American Intelligence Committee.

Haver

My point about space was that that was a Clinton—I don’t know whether it was the President himself, whether it was Ron Brown, exactly where this impetus began, but when they came into office, the word came down very quickly: We want to commercialize this space-imaging world. It was within a year that we had that Presidential directive.

Harris

Presidential directive, and it creates a policy construct that signaled to industry that applying for a license was a time-certain event. It was very pro-industry, versus looking at some long dark corridor that says, I’ll be spending my money while you guys are—

Haver

They had an overly optimistic view of how big the market would be, which was generated out of Commerce. The reality turned out to be less— 

Harris

And it switched markets. We were allowing the commercialization of satellite technology to allow us to take high-resolution imagery of the globe—

Haver

In a timely manner.

Harris

—into commercialization. Back to the breast cancer algorithms, processing an algorithm, and I’ll say this whole digital revolution associated with imagery. The first company to launch was Space Imaging. One of the employees there—Space Imaging went off to another start up, which was called Keyhole, and then Keyhole was bought by Google. Google Earth was born and now everybody thinks, whether it is Zillow or Google Earth, that you can put an address in, get a map with satellite overlay—

Woolsey

And see your house. 

Harris

And that’s all quite normal. But that was a direct result of this work that Jim and Bill Perry had the vision for, and I’ll say that Ron Brown, and Keith Calhoun-Senghor in the Commerce Department had the push to get interagency process to work for a lot of the licensing of these companies. Quite a bit has changed as a result.

Woolsey

And maybe the final technical spinoff here that is pretty important is cancer and the profound use of digital imagery products.

Haver

Bob Gates, near the end of his term, did a review. He was looking at this decreasing budget situation. Bob wanted to take a different look. He never got to finish it but he gave the results of it to Jim and then Jim turned around and presented it back to those of us who were working for him, to do something about it. There were two particular problems that Bob Gates highlighted. One was the security system. Of course the Ames case and other things were bubbling along. But Bob had a sense that the security system was not functioning effectively. So we were asked to look at this. Jim had a good friend, I guess Jeff Smith—He went out and picked Jeff Smith—

Woolsey

Yes, General Counsel.

Haver

And assembled a group of people around Jeff Smith.

Harris

Dan Ryan was the study’s Executive Director.

Haver

They produced a magnificent document, Joint Commission on Security. Unfortunately it came out the same month that Ames was arrested, and unfortunately most of their recommendations were never acted on. The second initiative was that Gates explained that the community was spending a very substantial amount of money every year on communications and data storage and data handling systems, all of which were separate and isolated from all the other systems. There was no community view of this. There were individual agencies. In fact, they were very rigid in keeping their system separate from the other systems. This was not fostering sharing. You’ve seen the 9/11 Commission and you can read about it in today’s headlines about these problems. 

Anyway, Jim took this aboard and said, Let’s do something about it. Well, we had a meeting and he pointed out that the Department of Defense owns about 80 percent of this problem. The Central Intelligence Agency is relatively small when it comes to the other huge entities like NSA and others who are controlling this information. So Jim talked to the new Director of DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], Lieutenant General James Clapper. Clapper had a bright fellow who was working in his information processing department, a fellow named Steve Schanzer, and he agreed to give us Steve Schanzer for six months. We figured if a DOD guy was behind this there would be less resistance to it from our partners. 

We also had—Admiral Bill Studeman was Jim’s deputy, and Studeman had been the Director of NSA. By far the National Security Advisor holds all the high cards in this card game, so he made entrée to the Deputy Director of NSA, a fellow named Bill Crowell. So instead of NSA resisting it, they embraced it.

Jim’s first task to Schanzer was, Get back to me in a month or so and tell me how much money is really here. Well, Schanzer came back, explained what the money was, but then explained that there is no way in which Jim’s office could actually get control of it. This money was scattered, split up, attached to their phone bills and everything else. They had protected this money. You really couldn’t get in and seize this money. 

Schanzer had a different idea. That was to take this emerging thing called the Internet and apply it to the Intelligence community. Create a separate, independent system that would simply provide the integration of classified intelligence data. NSA had agreed to provide all the technologies to empower the creation of this. This became Intelink. All of the systems that currently provide for interactive sharing of classified materials inside the U.S. government, basically were spawned by Schanzer in that initiative.

Joyce found—We were trying to remember last night—I think it was under $50 million and it was year-end money. Joyce had identified that basically some of these programs hadn’t spent their money. So with Jim’s authority, and a Congressional reprogramming of the resources, Joyce went out and sold Capitol Hill on it. She went down and explained to them what we were going to do with this money. And, of course this was a crying need. In fact, they were more enthusiastic about it than the Intelligence community was.

Harris

Bill Studeman signed the waiver that allowed the agencies to meet in the middle and share their information. I remember the day we asked Bill to sign the waiver. We came down to a room about half this size and it had twice the number of people in there looking over the screen. In the timeframe—America Online had just been in place a few years. There was the Worldwide Web. But we essentially had created a classified version of AOL, in gathering the use of some of their software, which we were hosting to allow this classified interaction, and Bill signed the waiver that allowed people to post. So there was immunity from the organizational stuff. It was a wonderful example of the DCI as the Director of the Intelligence community saying, Here’s what we’re going to do about intelligence sharing. 

Go to today’s world, where we’re working without connecting the dots, the Underwear Bomber and the to-and-fro associated with today’s world, it was that same vignette. But if you ask almost anybody at random the best example of computer and computer sharing of information, Intelink today remains probably the high-water mark of what happens. What pleases me greatly is the bureaucracy has allowed the six-month waiver that was signed during 1993 to still be in place. They have not reissued it.

Harris

They keep renewing Bill’s waiver. It has vestigially become the rule of order.

Haver

The Clinton administration gets credit for it. President Clinton gets credit, although I don’t know whether he ever had any idea we were doing it at all. I don’t think he cared.

Woolsey

Beats me.

Strong

That’s sort of the question I want to ask. In the regular contact you were having with [Milton] Leitenberg, were you, in those sessions, being indirectly tasked by the President? Were they saying, The President wants more information about this? Or The report about that really is piquing interest?

Woolsey

Don’t know. Whether it was Tony’s priorities or the President’s priorities, typically it was really important. That was my only window, so if that’s what he says, I’ve got to assume that’s what the President thinks. 

Harris

But in each of those meetings you came out with a task.

Woolsey

Oh, yes. We had weekly—and on the secure phone more frequently, but at least weekly detailed meetings. Usually when we were both in town it was Studeman and me with Tony and Sandy. Sometimes it was just me with whichever one of them was around. Usually that would be Tony.

Andres

And we worked very hard to pull together the issues that we thought in particular were important for the President and his advisors to know.

Woolsey

Janet orchestrated all this.

Andres

Really getting down into the Agency, which hadn’t been done that much before, and asking, Okay, what’s the big issue now? What about this? What about that? Following up on things. Then a briefing book was put together to make sure that, at least from our standpoint, the White House was kept informed on all the things in particular that could bite them. 

Woolsey

But when that little airplane flew into the White House in the fall of ’94, you probably have heard, Tony told me the White House staff joke was, That must be Woolsey still trying to get an appointment with Clinton. [laughter] At first that kind of stung and I was kind of grumpy about it. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, What the hell, that’s really exactly what the situation is, so I started telling it myself. I heard it from Tony. But I picked it up and started using it. Yes, it was me, trying to get an appointment. 

Riley

Did you ever have any reason to believe that they were not being honest brokers with your information?

Woolsey

No. Tony and Sandy? No, I had no particular reasons to think they were doing anything other than what they ought to be doing.

Andres

My impression, from my perspective, which wasn’t as good as yours, was that they seemed perfectly satisfied. They wanted to know, Is something going to blow up in our face that the President has to know about? As long as we kept shoving all this information at them they seemed pretty happy.

Woolsey

Yes.

Harris

We had interactions, when any of the new administration come in, for career intelligence officers there has to be a flavor of, Here we go again, because they’re really smart, and they don’t have the bad habits, but they also don’t have the good habits. One of the National Security Advisors for the Vice President at one point complained because they wanted to see all the raw intelligence so they could read it themselves, and didn’t like the summarization.

Riley

This is Clinton or—?

Harris

This was not unique to this administration.

Riley

I’ve heard that assertion made about the subsequent administration, but I just wasn’t—I wanted to be clear that this was Clinton.

Haver

Joe Nye could probably give you more about this, people who worked in the National Intelligence Council. In the Reagan administration, particularly as a result of what was called Team Bravo, which had been part of the Carter administration—This was Richard Pipes and this alternate look, this Team B look. The Reagan administration pushed hard on having what I would call divergent views presented in the same paper: It could be this good; it could be this bad. That sort of approach.

President George Herbert Walker Bush, who had been the DCI and had some deeper appreciation for Intel than your average President, sustained that. Judge [William H.] Webster was not a White House insider confident. He was not close. Some of his deputies—And he didn’t go to the White House that often. When Bob Gates came in it was a night-and-day difference, because Gates had been [Brent] Scowcroft’s deputy. Gates was someone who President Bush had known when he was at the Agency and had known even better when he was in the NSC. Now he is Bush’s man at CIA and the Intelligence community. Gates had immense influence over the last year or so. He was an insider, a real confidant. 

No one had any idea what was going to happen with the Woolsey–Clinton relationship, except that it couldn’t be as close as Bush and Gates. That was a given. 

The interesting thing was that what was demanded out of the product was, and it came back—I was the Chief of Staff of the National Intelligence Council after Jim had left. There was a frustration with this intelligence product that said, We’re not sure what’s going to happen. It could be this good and this bad. Sort of, You pick it. Berger, in particular, drove hard. Give us your best estimate. Give us your best shot. We don’t need this. It could be these extremes, Narrow it down. 

 There was resistance at first. Fritz Ermarth had been the former Director. He liked presenting it that way. Joe Nye took the approach, This is what we want. We will focus it more. Joe left and then in came John McLaughlin, and then John Gannon, and they followed the lead. When the second Bush administration arrived in ’01, they went right back to, Stop giving us the best estimate. We don’t believe you’ve got any better idea what the best estimate is than we do. Give us the range. It was another sea change. You have to go back and retrain the authors, retrain the writers, to readjust their approach. And of course they still want it in two pages. They still want an executive summary that they can read. It becomes a much greater challenge to present this range of options, as opposed to what we think is the most probable one.

Riley

Jeff, forgive me, because I interrupted you. 

Harris

I’ll go back to the segue. We had the customers that Jim was meeting with regularly. He also asked Bill Studeman and Rich to reach out to other newbie political appointees in the administration to see if we could make them better consumers of intelligence. We’d prepare regular packages. We had some particular thrusts that improved intelligence support to law enforcement. 

 We had intelligence support to the Treasury. We had them at the CIA. They were cleared to take the information. What I noticed about these people, all certainly great people, but because they were inexperienced in intelligence matters—They had security clearances. It was like, if you tell me that, I’m going to have trouble in my brain segmenting. I want to make sure I protect what should be protected. So we were trying to tune the product up to make it more useful for them.

The humorous ones I remember, because there were some great successes in getting people more comfortable with accepting the product. Back to the Intelink example, we started to see not as much based on the printed word, but if I’m familiar with the people doing the work, I can pick up the phone and call them, and target my interest into this. This is a dialogue with the Intelligence community, with the seniors. State has always been a good relationship, but some of the nonclassical users improved dramatically. 

Pratt

But also you, in essence, started the communities of interest and communities of practice, which is very prevalent today, where people with similar interests looking at the same or very similar problems have the ability electronically to communicate as a group, just to collaborate and solve a problem.

Haver

They’re blogging. 

Pratt

But Intelink and some of these other technologies that were very new at the time have matured to that point.

Woolsey

Let me draw a conclusion here, which I think is kind of interesting in light of the current issues. The problems, I don’t think, of the Intelligence community in connecting the dots, are not particularly organizational and they’re not technological. If they have the right people with the right authority, the technology is there to connect the dots. But if you have a policy, because of NGOs [Nongovernmental Organizations] having beaten on you, and some members on the Hill having beaten on you, saying, We are really unhappy if you have more than two or three thousand people on the no-fly list, or on the Special Scrutiny list, of this 500,000 that are in the overall list. But boy, that’s really bad if you’ve got more than two or three thousand. 

The system will find some way to say, Well, okay, the guy’s father coming in and saying that he is a radical isn’t enough; it needs to be his father and his mother. Or whatever. The system will come up with a way to implement the policy. But the problem is the policy.

Harris

Or how staff works within the policy.

Woolsey

Right.

Harris

We sent a GS 13, as I recall, to support a delegation supporting Secretary of State Warren Christopher at a meeting that was big priority, and who had some specific intelligence to support the meeting that will allow—to improve the negotiation. The Secretary of State came back and reported how pleased he was with the reporting because it was exactly what he needed in order to successfully execute the meeting. It was as if I knew what was going to happen before it happened—kind of useful intelligence. 

The line that I remember that struck me was he said, Can I get this kind of reporting when I’m in Washington? Because I don’t get it from my staff. They’re doing the value-add that they think is necessary to protect the principal from what they need. So I think this outreach program was to get, to Joyce’s point, the different areas of interest really working together. If this is what you’re interested in, just let me know.

Woolsey

Well, as contrasted to my far-from-close relationship with President Clinton, I had an intense and close relationship with the First Lady. It occurred as follows: In September or October of 1993 was his and her 20th Yale Law School reunion, and my 25th. I’m five years older than they are. They, and I, and hundreds of other people from Yale Law School are up in New Haven and there’s a huge reception.

Haver

I’d love to be a fly on the wall for this event. 

Woolsey

There’s hundreds of people. I am standing around and I see, coming in the door, a classmate from law school I hadn’t seen in 20-plus years. I step out to go say hello to him and I feel something soft under my foot, and a female voice says, Ouch! I look down and I am standing on the First Lady’s foot. I said, Oh, sorry, Mrs. Clinton. That’s the sum total of my relationship with the First Lady for the two years of the Clinton administration. Ouch. Sorry, Mrs. Clinton. It was intense and personal but quite brief. [laughter]

Pratt

This is, Be careful what you wish for. 

Andres

I just wanted to make one point because we’ve been talking about a lot of these initiatives, particularly on the technological side. I think this is interesting—not just because a lot of it was kind of fun—but they also very much reflected Jim’s view of how he could contribute as DCI, and how to use the CIA. In fact, there was an intense relationship with these guys [Haver, Harris, Pratt]. That’s why they’re here today and why he has maintained the relationship with them. 

Now those were not the things that dominated the relationship with the White House, obviously, because there were other fires to put out. We haven’t even gotten to Ames yet, but that whole chapter really sucked a lot of the air out of everything.

Woolsey

And none of these showed up in the press, to speak of, at all. So from the point of view of any kind of public understanding—

Pratt

Other than the Missiles to Mammography. That was the one that got—But that was partly because we wanted it to. 

Woolsey

We got a bit of press at first but certainly the Predator didn’t, Schanzer didn’t, the MEDEA didn’t. We did, in the early ’90s, bestride the world like a Colossus, and we did really need to do some of the types of things to make an Intelligence community and its technology available for all sorts of other uses, as Gore had been saying for some time, particularly within the environmental area. This was an important part of what we did. Years later, people are surprised and say, That’s where the Predator came from? Or, That’s where this mammography came from? It’s not part of the record, to speak of.

Riley

It is not reflected in the questions in our briefing book. This is not a thorough—

Woolsey

It’s not in the press.

Riley

But if it doesn’t show up in the press, it’s unlikely to get in—

Harris

But if you notice, the Intelligence professionals are trained never to talk about their successes. [laughter]    

Riley

Of course.

Andres

Classified or not.

Haver

Also avoid talking about the failures, too.

Riley

Let me switch gears here a bit. We’ve been focusing a great deal on external relations with the White House and with the State Department and others. You’ve said that it was, in some respects, a sort of golden age of America’s place in the world. Yet it must have been an extraordinarily difficult time within the Agency itself because of the contracting pressures and the idea that American foreign policy has to be reinvented in a new world, and we didn’t know what the new world looked like.

My question to you is, can you tell us a little bit about how you’re trying to both re-conceptualize America’s place in the world and the Agency’s role in the United States? And as a corollary to that, what kinds of morale problems, pre-Ames—We’ll get to the Ames thing. Maybe we’ll wait until after lunch, because that’s a big one.

Haver

Disturb my digestion.

Riley

But pre-Ames, the kinds of morale problems that you’re dealing with, particularly because it’s no secret that this White House is not the previous White House. You’re not in the era of George H. W. Bush anymore where there is a natural sort of—affection may be too strong a word, but a kind of natural gravity towards the Agency.

Woolsey

The manifestation of the problems was, from my point of view, largely financial. 

Harris

Jim, if Rich can do the precursor for this I think it will help the record. Bob Gates is definitely the National Security Advisor, and did an assessment of what the country’s intelligence needs were and effectively delivered that report to himself, and then asked Rich given this context to begin implementation of the priority system.

Haver

That’s right.

Harris

But I think that’s the framework, which we then began to institutionalize. 

Haver

Yes, the problem you described, it was seen coming. It was part of this transition document that George Tenet worked on for the administration. Berger and company understood that. I don’t think it was really something that was shocking. There were things about redirecting the analytic assets in CIA, how much effort would be put to science and technical intelligence, how much would be put to studying the old Soviet Union, if you would. The Warsaw Pact was in the position of disintegrating, which was going to change all of the equation. 

There was an issue about linguistic ability. We had a large marching army of Russian linguists and others. We envisioned we would need fewer, but we didn’t have linguists for a lot of the rest of the world. These began early. Jim inherited a lot of these issues. They were not resolved yet. They were by no means resolved, but they were already—In other words, they didn’t sort of suddenly happen in January of ’93. They had begun in ’89, ’90 and ’91. 

The Gulf War had been something that no one had anticipated, fighting that sort of event. As Jeff and Jim described, coming out of the war they wanted—For example, imagery was seen as a national activity until the Gulf War. Then they wanted imagery for tactical purposes. The military became the dominant demander for this imagery. And of course the infrastructure that existed to provide this to the national users was completely inadequate for that which would have to go down to the brigade level, down to squadron strike officers doing route planning, et cetera. It was completely inadequate for that. That was all recognized in ’91 and early ’92 and the redirection of this. 

There was an NSA for signals; there was no NSA for pictures. No such thing existed. Gates fought through, and before Jim came in we created the Central Imaging Office, which was really a bastardization of the bureaucracy. They could never agree to have an agency so they agreed to have an office. In fact, Jim fought that for the next two years, and in John Deutch’s confirmation hearings, he was pressed against the wall and said he would create an agency. So one of the first things that happened in the first year of Deutch’s tenure was to create what Jim had been moving us towards anyway, which was the creation of a national imagery agency. All those issues were already steaming and causing a fair amount of disruption. 

What would you guess, Jeff? When the NGA [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency] was stood up, how many of those people were CIA career people that had to make the choice?

Harris

Fifty percent.

Pratt

At least.

Haver

When you tell people that this career they’ve started, this agency they belong to and have identity with, and these people are very loyal, and you tell them they’ve got to go—

Pratt

Now they’re DoD employees. 

Haver

And are governed by completely different personnel and retirement system and all the rest. It was very disruptive.

Woolsey

Well, a lot of these problems, virtually all of them manifested themselves in terms of money, in fights between us and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] to hold onto resources that they wanted to take away, and with the Senate Intelligence Committee. As I said, the other three committees were basically not a problem.

Haver

The appropriators were a big help though.

Woolsey

They were great.

Haver

Thanks to Joyce and others.

Woolsey

The CIA Comptroller managed the relationship with the two Appropriations committees; the intel committees sometimes got more complex.

Haver

Because they oversee operations, whereas Appropriations, they’re only interested in where the money is coming from.

Riley

Got you.

Woolsey

So it manifested itself in part in terms of money. And part of my strategy in all this was to take refuge with the Department of Defense, because Les Aspin was Secretary of Defense for the first three-quarters of the year, and Bill Perry thereafter—two of my oldest friends in Washington. Perry and I, for example, co-chaired the budget reviews. I had a baseball cap—

Haver

I made the hat.

Woolsey

—which said Chairman on it. We put it in between Bill and me. We’d have this big long table with all these agencies and so forth, and I’d sit here and Bill would sit here and we’d put the Chairman’s cap between us. We’d take turns chairing the meeting. If I wanted to say something on behalf of the CIA, I’d take the cap and put it on his head. We’d clown a little bit but we did it on purpose. Part of it was that Defense was our only refuge because OMB wanted to separate us out, give us a pass back and get real budget dividend, that peace dividend, by cutting back on the Intelligence community; whereas historically the budget had been handled as part of Defense, for both security reasons and others.

Harris

A philosophic argument was that Defense had agreed to a very steep drawdown, and the question Jim was promulgating was, is intelligence a force multiplier in a reduced footprint in defense? Bill Perry clearly understood that and created this refuge. I think the Hill, less so, because the other pressing needs for resources said, Let’s cut everybody. So the Defense Department did drawdown on a slightly steeper curve.

Woolsey

For example, we didn’t know how important the UAVs were going to be. My first instinct was, Let’s work together with Defense. Only when we get this ridiculous assessment of hundreds of millions of dollars and years did we say, Okay, we’ll go do it by ourselves. But our first instinct was to work with Defense and to help them be able to get digital imagery for the Tactical Commander. For the other missions it was summed up in general terms by the dragon-and-snake comment of mine, while keeping an eye on the Russians and the Chinese and so forth. And then there were secondary things like economic intelligence and organized crime. The two big ones were proliferation and terrorism and particularly any interaction between them.

 Joe and I—You’ve got the op-ed that we wrote for the LA Times in here right after I was DCI. They asked me to chair a look at terrorism because I’d been beating on the terrorism issue. I was really pressed for time and besides, Joe and I worked together on these issues a lot, so I asked if he’d be co-chairman. So he and I co-chaired this thing for some months for the community, on terrorism. We came up with a scenario in which terrorists got hold of anthrax, put it in a van that had just a little pipe leaning out, drove around Capitol Hill the day and night before the State of the Union, so all the anthrax would float into the chamber where all the members of the House and Senate and President and everybody were. Pretty straightforward. 

The study dealt with the issues. We figured out how you might keep people from getting their hands on it. This is like 1995. We scared ourselves so much with how easy it was that we decided to classify it at a confidential level, the lowest level of classification. As far as I know it’s still there. If you ever want to make sure nobody reads anything, classify it confidential.

Haver

Or TS [Top Secret].

Harris

Then we can get to read it.

Woolsey

Confidential is especially good because people figure if it is only confidential it’s not all that important, and it is still handled by the classified networks so there aren’t that many copies around. 

Anyway, the whole business of weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and terrorism separately and together would probably, in retrospect, have been the biggest new things that we were focusing on. A lot of the other stuff like commercial and economic intelligence the Economist got itself in a twit over, but basically what we were always talking about was bribery. 

Indeed, I wrote a piece a few years later in the Wall Street Journal called, Why We Spy on our Allies. Without naming France and so forth, it says basically, we don’t go steal your companies’ data for economic advantage. We don’t give it to American companies. We’re interested in one thing: We’re interested in the fact that you get a lot of your contracts through bribery. Sometimes we find out about it, we work on it, and when we do, we make it possible for the State Department to file a démarche with the foreign minister of X country and say, By the way, your finance minister has a special depository account in Switzerland, at such-and-such a number. You have just awarded this contract to a company from X country. That country lets people deduct bribes from their income tax. We don’t take kindly to your having awarded the contract this way. We’d like you to have another look at it.

It was to enable the U.S. government to function that way that we would filch economic data sometimes from companies in the Western world. All of those things are important, but I guess I would say that terrorism and WMD were the big ones. Everybody here can speak to that. 

Pratt

I would add counter-narcotics.

Woolsey

Yes. Organized crime, essentially.

Pratt

There’s a link between organized crime, counter-narcotics, terrorism, and if you put them all together it is really evil.

Woolsey

Especially as Russian organized crime came to get into more and more big stuff. 

Harris

The one thing that worked for the former Soviet Union was the black market, and when the Wall came down, that was the training ground for the capitalistic kind of society, so that organized crime was tooled for exactly what was now needed.

Woolsey

I used to say—I don’t know if I was still saying it by the time I was DCI, but even then or shortly thereafter—that if you meet a really smart, articulate, English-speaking Russian in the bar at the Noga Hilton in Geneva and he’s got on a $5,000 suit and Guccis and a Rolex, and he tells you that he represents a Russian trading company and he’d really like to talk to you about doing a deal, he might be what he says he is. He might be a member of a Russian organized crime family. He might be a case officer of the KGB [Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezoparnosti] under commercial cover. But what was really interesting was that there was a reasonably good chance he was all three, and none of those three institutions had any problem with that at all. [laughter]

Selverstone

Were you having conversations about these kinds of issues with individual Congressmen and with chairmen of committees thinking about some of the challenges of paring down the budget, demands to pare down the budget, and the arguments that you were having with them on the outside? There is just a host, as you said, of the poisonous snakes out there, that this is not the time to do that. 

Woolsey

Oh, yes. I got to know a lot of people on the Hill. A lot of those—when I’d have a problem trying to get one of Senator DeConcini’s decisions turned around, I’d go to the other members of the committee one-on-one. I’d go to Joyce’s buddies on Appropriations a fair amount because sometimes we could get money that had been appropriated but not authorized, or we could reprogram.

Harris

But you’d have individual members who had an interest.

Woolsey

Oh, yes.

Pratt

Or you could work with them to cause a hearing to be held, such that you had a forum to discuss it. 

Haver

You met with Senator [John] Warner with some degree of frequency, if I recall.

Woolsey

Yes. I was just up there all the time talking with individual members and with committees and subcommittees. I would have been up there about a quarter of that time anyway, but a huge share was turning around DeConcini decisions.

Andres

There was the conventional wisdom at the time that there had to be a complete reorganization and you just couldn’t get them off that. You could say, We’re doing this, this, this, and all these other new things. But they didn’t take it in: Oh, no. You don’t get it, Woolsey. And, Woolsey doesn’t want change.

Woolsey

I’ll tell you one that I took a lot of heat on and we got it at least minimally okay—we can go back to Ames later, but this is sort of separate thing. In the aftermath of the Ames business, some interaction between the Bureau and the Senate Intelligence Committee produced a reform that got drafted up, a statutory reform that not only gave the Bureau a role in counter-intelligence out at the Agency domestically in the U.S., so that’s fine, but also effectively gave the Bureau control over counter-intelligence overseas in the sense of penetrating foreign intelligence services, which is of course a very important part of what the CIA does, but not what the Bureau does. In terms of language skills and other factors, it was a very bad idea. 

DeConcini stood solidly behind it and I had to get that turned around. Eventually I did. I went to every member of the House Committee, and we worked and we got it modified so that at least that didn’t manifest itself in a radical change. I think it helped not too long thereafter when the Bureau—and this is not too strong a term—became absolutely fixated on the idea that a second spy (in addition to Ames) was at the CIA, to the point that they seriously damaged several careers, including that of one senior CIA officer who was absolutely innocent. They would not even remotely approach considering that there might be somebody in the Bureau who had been turned. 

When we caught [Robert] Hanssen, let me just put it this way, it was not principally because of the Bureau undertakings. We needed to preserve the CIA’s ability overseas to penetrate foreign intelligence services and to have the lead in that as a counter-intelligence measure. That took me untold hours of working the Hill, because DeConcini again was absolutely committed to have his way.

Haver

This is still in the headlines today. Are we at war, or aren’t we? Is it a crime? What is it? The Bureau and the Justice Department have a fairly straightforward approach: These are criminal activities that need to be addressed, and the way to handle them is through the legal structure. 

Riley

There’s a case of this early on, right? With the first bombing of the World Trade Center.

Woolsey

Yes.

Haver

And the Kanzi killings—

Woolsey

Right outside the Agency just a couple of weeks before. 

Riley

  Preceded your—

Haver

January or February of ’93. 

Riley

Can we talk a little bit about those two episodes and—If you want to start with Kanzi first—the extent to which it becomes an issue for you to deal with? I don’t know whether you want to turn to your colleagues and have them address this first.

Woolsey

It was largely—for both Kanzi and for those who were involved in the first World Trade Center attack—

Haver

The Blind Sheikh.

Woolsey

And the Blind Sheikh business, all of that. This is largely matters for the country to focus on outside the Agency. It was a law enforcement problem to find these guys. What we were doing was working with Pakistani intelligence, Jordanian intelligence, whatever, in order to find Kanzi, and to find whoever may have been involved in the plotting and then gotten away. It was from the point of view of finding individuals who clearly were suspects in major crimes. Those succeeded. Several of them did. We found Kanzi. We found Ramzi Yousef, et cetera. 

But, as you start seeing more of the Islamic radical movement influence terrorism, including pretty early in our time the two Hezbollah attacks in Argentina, on the Jewish center and on the Israeli embassy, you obviously were moving into a world in which something is going on over there with respect to radical Islam. Now, [Osama] bin Laden until, maybe for a few people mid-to-late ’95, but for most people who were in the area, ’96, was just another name of one of the bad actors in Sudan. Sudan had kind of become resort central for all the really bad guys. They even had annual terrorist conferences and so forth.

 This is after I left in January of ’95, but as far as I’m aware, except that al Qaeda under its earlier name may have been involved in helping the bad guys in Mogadishu figure out how to shoot down helicopters, the first al Qaeda operation against us, I think, was at a Saudi reserve facility in Riyadh. It killed a couple of Americans and a couple of Saudis—

Haver

And about ten contractors.

Woolsey

In ’95.

Haver

And Khobar Towers. 

Woolsey

I was going to say, the next thing, just to focus on bin Laden for a second. He was in Sudan. We weren’t part of this history and this isn’t part of our period in office, but one thing for later things you’d want to go back and look at is the statements from the American Ambassador in Sudan in ’95, ’96, who was based in Kenya and would go in for a week at a time because the embassy wasn’t really open. I’ve met him. He’s an able guy. I just can’t think of his name right now. He was very much of the view that the Sudanese were willing to turn bin Laden over to the Americans. It seems as if in ’95 or even early ’96 you couldn’t pin anything on bin Laden by way of a crime. And since it was a law enforcement issue from the government’s point of view, apparently we turned down his being turned over. 

Then in ’96, you have the Blind Sheikh trial. Andrew McCarthy was the chief prosecutor, and one of the things that had to be given up to the defendants as a result of the criminal trial was the list of co-conspirators, not technically classified. We’re not into the Classified Procedures Act quite yet, just a list of co-conspirators. One of those was bin Laden. So when the Blind Sheikh gets this list of a hundred or so co-conspirators, and one of  them is bin Laden, according to Andy anyway, within about three or four days, that’s in bin Laden’s hands in Sudan, and he takes that as the signal that he ought to get out of town, and leaves for Afghanistan. 

Just from the point of view of timing, we’re not, in January of ’95, yet in the world— except what we might know in retrospect about Mogadishu in ’93—of al Qaeda being called al Qaeda, bin Laden being famous, of his going to Afghanistan, or any of that. That was all ’95, ’96, and later. 

Riley

Part of the question that I’m trying to get at as a historical exercise is that from the outside we don’t see any of this. Obviously it doesn’t rise to any public attention until much later. My question is whether, within the Agency or within your own purview, you are beginning to pick up—Is there an element within the Intelligence community in the United States that is already at work on this? If so, does it come to your attention and are you in any way moved to try to elevate the counterterrorism—

Woolsey

The counterterrorism center. Yes. We started it one month—Do you remember where we started? Was it ’93 or’94? 

Haver

In ’93. It was in the summer of ’93. 

Woolsey

We set up the counterterrorism center.

Riley

Okay, and the motive force behind that is what? 

Haver

The evidence evolving out of the World Trade Center bombing, the Blind Sheikh, the FBI investigations, the associations. As Jim accurately described, these associations were not that well understood. Retrospectively, they now make a lot more sense than they did at the time. The debriefing of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has revealed a lot more about who was talking to whom, the relationships with Ramzi Yousef, the mass bombing over the Pacific Ocean. And there is a whole cadre of people who had served in the first Bush administration who were on the outside agitating—Paul Wolfowitz. There were people writing op-ed pieces, et cetera. The Agency established a counterterrorism center inside itself.  

Woolsey

We tried to pick up our Arabic language instruction, except the money got zeroed.

Haver

I would say, also, that inside the CIA there was a growing perception that they were the targets. America was a target, but they themselves—CIA station chiefs, CIA personnel overseas—are a target. This was part of the motivation in the early stages. This is not criticism, but they were looking as much to protect themselves as anybody else. The Director of Operations, in particular, was focused on this.

Woolsey

They saw themselves, I think rightly, as sort of in the front lines of this.

Haver

There were kidnappings. We had station chiefs that had been killed.  

Andres

The blowing up of the embassy in Beirut.

Woolsey

That was ’83.

Haver

That was back in ’83. A lot was unknown. This was very embryonic. 

Woolsey

The other thing is that during this time, with [Yitzhak] Rabin as Prime Minister of Israel, you had what appeared to be at the time reasonably substantial progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement with the handshake in the Rose Garden in September of ’93. There seemed to be some good news of reconciliation, at least on the Israeli–Palestinian front. We now know, from the negotiations that took place in January of ’01 in the last very few days of the Clinton administration, in Washington, that the so-called Clinton parameters were accepted by Ehud Barak and his cabinet and rejected by Yasser Arafat. That’s clear in President Clinton’s book and it’s clear in Dennis Ross’s book. The Carter book says exactly the opposite. 

Until the Israeli–Palestinian thing collapsed, virtually, on January 20th of 2001—in spite of the fact that the second intifada got started—it was a kind of a rosy period, kind of an optimistic period for things between the Israelis and Palestinians. We were in the midst of working on the terrorism and Sudan and all of that. We were watching and saying, Hey, this may sort out. Look, they’re shaking hands.

Andres

But in terms of the terrorists, the focus was very much Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and Egypt.

Woolsey

Yes.

Andres

There were those targets but al Qaeda of course had not emerged.

Haver

Again, these people were on the lists. Names were vague. Also, there were some people, Jack Devine in particular, who wanted to aggressively look at the money, who believed that these people have to have a funding source. But that became very difficult to do, particularly internationally, to get international cooperation to examine the way money was being moved to support these people. Ramzi Yousef clearly was a well-financed operation. That came after Jim’s departure, but some of the activities leading up to it—

Riley

Exactly.

Haver

Unfortunately, 20/20 hindsight is much better than at the time. There was a lot of groping around in the dark.

Woolsey

For example, we helped the French catch, in Sudan, Carlos the Jackal [Ilich Ramírez Sánchez]. As to the way we were thinking about things in ’94, bin Laden was in Sudan, too, but he wasn’t nearly as well known as Carlos the Jackal. We were probably focusing pretty hard—

Haver

A lot of these were old Mujaheddin.

Woolsey

Yes, exactly, people who had worked with, and had not yet manifested themselves. Bin Laden’s declaration of war on the Americans was either late ’95 or ’96.

Riley

Which post-dates you. Let me ask a question because you raised this, or put this in the context of Israeli–Palestinian issues. We’ve talked a lot about things that didn’t seem to be particularly interesting to President Clinton, but Israeli–Palestinian relations clearly were a core part of his own personal interest in U.S. foreign policy.   

Andres

Not necessarily right at the beginning, though.

Riley

Not so much. It becomes so more in the fall, I guess, of ’93. The question is, To what extent are they calling on you, or are you engaged in helping the White House figure out the puzzle that is Palestinian–Israeli relations? Does CIA have special insights into the personalities and the relationships? Or is the White House focused, and they want to put blinders on, and they think, I don’t want to hear what the Intelligence community has got to say about these things. I’m dealing with these things one-on-one.

Woolsey

Janet, what do you think?

Andres

We had probably one of the closest relationships in terms of intelligence service-to intelligence service with the Israelis.

Riley

Sure.

Andres

There were many meetings, both in Washington and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Certainly all this was very closely worked with the White House with Jim’s contacts there. To the extent it had an impact on the policy process, I couldn’t say.

Woolsey

I don’t know either.

Andres

We used to meet with [Yitzhak] Rabin—that was very common—and King Hussein [bin Talal], and King Fahd [bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud], and [Hosni] Mubarak.

Haver

I was about to say, the Jordanian and Egyptian relationships were part—

Woolsey

King Hussein, as a result of Black September and the fact that it was a CIA station chief who essentially saved him, had always had a close relationship to the Agency. He was the only head of state who would come out to Langley and meet alone with me. It wasn’t me; it was his whole history. I spent more time alone with King Hussein than I have with Bill Clinton. I spent about 45 minutes to an hour alone on that one occasion in December of ’92 with Bill Clinton, and several times had meetings approaching an hour, one-on-one with King Hussein.

Haver

He flew you around.

Woolsey

Yes, one time we were in Jordan and he was flying the helicopter.

Andres

And we didn’t even know it until we landed. [laughter]

Haver

They wondered why they rolled out the red carpet just for Woolsey.

Woolsey

He was a remarkable man, he really was. Janet’s and my two favorite people from that part of the world, going back a long way, are Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Hussein was an amazing man. That’s probably part of the relative optimism. First of all, [Omar] Suleiman, the intelligence chief for Mubarak, was really being tough on the Muslim Brotherhood groups. The Jordanians were working closely with us. The Israelis were working closely with us. The Palestinians looked like they were heading toward a deal. 

So although there was terrorism, and we experienced it right at the CIA, and at the first World Trade Center bombing, it didn’t seem nearly as much then as it does now, or post-9/11, that the whole Arab side of the Muslim world was somehow going on Jihad. 

Andres

There was certainly the concept, because I can remember Ellen Laipson, who was responsible for the Middle East on the National Security Council, was very focused on Islamic extremism, Islamic fundamentalism. We debated a lot of those issues at that time, from an intellectual standpoint. But it had not solidified the way it did later on.

Woolsey

It was bin Laden in ’95 and ’96, and that whole series of events, that probably, for the cognoscenti, for the people who really followed him, like the Agency, that things turned somewhat in a different direction.

Riley

And in your briefings back to the White House you’re reporting on your meetings with King Hussein?

Woolsey

Yes, to Tony. Janet would work up a trip report and we’d come back—Do you think they’re ready for the Yeltsin story? [laughter]

Haver

How about the rug?

Woolsey

Okay, let’s do the rug. We’ll do the rug.

Riley

Let’s do at least one, maybe two, and then we’ll break for lunch and come back. 

Woolsey

First of all, we’re in Kazakhstan.

Riley

This is when?

Woolsey

Late ’93.

Andres

Ninety-four.

Haver

Early ’94, somewhere there.

Woolsey

Okay, we’re in Kazakhstan.

Haver

They only went during peak tourist season.

Riley

You still have to tell me when, because I don’t know when that is.

Andres

Let me just preface it—I can’t speak to earlier administrations, but while Jim was there, we had really close relationships with a lot of services from allies to former opponents, and in some cases it extended, like in the case of Rabin and King Hussein, to the government. In some cases the relationship was more with the intelligence service, but it was very widespread.

Woolsey

It was the case then, that since the DCI was head of both the CIA and the community, and reported to the President—and as I said, the U.S. during those two years kind of bestrode the world like a Colossus—you tended to be received by the head of state, or the head of government anyway. [Silvio] Berlusconi gave a small dinner for me when I was in Italy. We’ll tell the Yeltsin story here shortly. In most places the head of government, and in the case of a close relationship like Israel, particularly somebody who is as interested in and sophisticated about intelligence as Rabin, you’re part of the gang. So it was a very interesting job from that perspective, more like being a foreign minister than not.

Back to Kazakhstan. They fly Janet, and me, and my station chief—and we probably had two other people from the station. 

Haver

Security people.

Woolsey

Well, the station chief went, because I remember he was the one who told me what to eat. Anyway, they fly us out to a mountain lake in Kazakhstan. Outside Almaty, the Kazaks have put up a yurt and they’ve killed the fatted sheep instead of calf. We’ve got this yurt full of about five or six Americans and eight or ten Kazaks including their chief of service, who’s hosting me. 

The first thing that happens is my station chief whispers in my ear and he says, Since this is an intelligence dinner, you’ve got to eat either the sheep’s ear or eye and give the other one to him. I said, All right. So I reach over to start to cut off the sheep’s ear, and he says, No, do the eye. It goes down faster. [laughter] So, for my country, I stab the sheep’s eye. Turns out that eyes are about 98 percent water and it goes down like an oyster. No problem. So I stab the other eye and offer it to him. In the meantime, everybody is drinking fermented mare’s milk and toasting and so forth. I notice that there are a fair number of Kazaks there. It’s not just the head of service and his two or three senior people. There are four, five, six, seven people down there and everybody is having a great time drinking the fermented mare’s milk. 

Well, we go to the helicopter and it’s an old Soviet MI-8, one of the most rickety-looking helicopters you can imagine. They’ve got two easy chairs in it, not strapped down, for Janet and me. And the guy who was one of the guys at the dinner gets on carrying a cooler. He gets in the back. We notice that the pilots are looking kind of happy and having a good time and laughing, and then we remember that the pilots had been at the table at the dinner drinking the fermented mare’s milk. 

Well, the guy with the cooler is in the back of the helicopter, behind Janet and me. We’re sitting in our easy chairs, without seat belts, without the easy chairs even being attached to the helicopter. He happily opens the cooler and starts cracking beers and starts handing the beers up to the pilots. They’ve got to go past Janet and me, so I intercept the two beers. She says, I don’t want another beer. I said, Just drink it. Better you than him. So we steal the pilot’s beers to keep a little bit of alcohol out of his system. They take off in this rickety old MI-8, laughing and talking—

Riley

And your chairs are moving?

Woolsey

Oh, yes, rattling around, and we finally land. 

Haver

A white-knuckle trip.  

Woolsey

I was never so glad to see an aircraft flight end in my life. Well, the Kazaks’ figured we were good buddies and got along fine, so the Kazaks then come visit us in another month or two. The two Kazak sidekicks of the head of service come in behind him, carrying a big rug. 

Haver

Which could have been a bazooka. 

Woolsey

Anyway, he stands there proudly and rolls this rug out and it’s me! It’s my official portrait woven by hundreds of Kazak ladies into the rug. Here is this me staring back up at me. Janet is a very experienced diplomat but even she is struck dumb. We roll the thing back up.

Haver

And all of us get called to come down and see this.

Pratt

We each got our own personal, private viewing.

Woolsey

Well, we roll it up and stick it in the vault. Eight or nine months later, I leave. The rule at the time was that if the present that you got cost less than $220, you got to keep it. If it was evaluated at $221, you could buy it from the government for $221, not one dollar less: $221. So I said, How much is that rug? They did an evaluation and said it was $875. I said, It’s probably not worth it, the hell with it.

Andres

I was ready to take up a collection. 

Woolsey

A year later I’m out there visiting somebody on something and I stick my head in the DCI suite and I asked somebody, Is anybody willing to do a reevaluation of that rug? They laugh. They did another one. Turned out it was down to $175. So that’s the depreciation schedule for a DCI—In one year, from roughly $875 to $175. It is now in our garage. It’s my kids’ favorite thing from those years.

Andres

The likeness is remarkable. And it’s in color.

Riley

The image that comes to mind is of your going into the Oval Office and unfurling— That’s a wonderful story. Why don’t we stop on that happy note and go down and have some lunch and come back for the afternoon. 

[BREAK]
Woolsey

The one covert op occurred in the fall of ’93. Stanford reunion. It was my and my wife’s 30th, so we decided to cash in some frequent flyer miles, take three days off from that 24/7 job, and fly out to California, see old friends, go to the Homecoming game, et cetera. 

The first thing that happened was my chief of security at the Agency said, Mr. Director, we want Mrs. [Suzanne H.] Woolsey to go on a different flight because we can’t have anybody named Woolsey on the flight. I said, But my name’s Woolsey. He said, Oh no, sir, you need to fly in alias. Of course my first thought was, Uh-oh, there go the frequent flyer miles. So Sue  goes out to the airport and gets on a different plane, flies to California. I go out with two security guys and they stop by the cockpit in those somewhat simpler times and show the pilot and the chief flight attendant that they’re carrying weapons, and that they’re authorized to by the federal government. We go to the back row of coach, right in front of the bulkhead where you can’t even lean back. With two big guys on either side of me, I’m sitting sort of wedged in the middle for six-and-a half hours across country. 

As we’re walking down the jetway, having staggered out of the very back of the plane, the flight attendant comes over to one of my security guys, I think it was Doc, and said something. He just cracked up. Since he’s a big stolid guy, I was sort of surprised and I said, Doc, what’s so funny?  He said, You know what she said? She said, ‘You know, I’ve been on these flights for 20 years and that’s the politest and best-behaved prisoner that we’ve ever had.’ [laughter]

Andres

That’s my favorite story.

Woolsey

I couldn’t make that up.

Harris

What was he guilty of?

Woolsey

Must have been a white-collar crime. 

Riley

All right, I’d love to have you tell the Arafat story from downstairs, but if you don’t want to—

Woolsey

All right, I’ll tell them. The one about Yeltsin is just before we go to Russia—This would have been around August of ’93?

Andres

Yes, because Freddie Woodruff— 

Woolsey

—was killed in August. Right. So just before we go to Russia, the CIA doctors, a couple of them, came in to see me and said, We wonder if you could do us a favor if you’re going to see Yeltsin? I said, Yes, I think I will. He said, We’re not sure whether he has cirrhosis of the liver. We know he has some heath problems but there are three things we’d like you to look for. I said, Okay, what? They said, Well, if you’re close enough to him, see whether or not the half-moons on his fingernails are yellowed at all, and see whether the whites of his eyes are yellowed at all. And if it is a social occasion, see if he can hold his liquor, because if there’s something wrong with his liver, he wouldn’t be able to.

So there’s this lunch that Yeltsin gives for me. It’s just him and [Yevgeny] Primakov, the head of the SVR [Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (Foreign Intelligence Service)], and Tom Pickering, the U.S. Ambassador, and me, and an interpreter. It’s this nicely appointed little dining room. Over on the sideboard there’s beer, and he poured a beer and hands me one. He has a glass of beer and then a second. We’re standing there chatting through the interpreter. And then we go to the table. The table is set with about half-a-dozen wine gasses at each place—It’s clear there’s going to be a wine with each course—and a beer glass, and a big shot glass.

As the lunch progresses, he has a glass of wine with each course. I have a bit of a sip of wine with each course. And he toasts me half-a-dozen different times, each time downing the full tumbler of clear liquid I assume is vodka, like mine is. By the time we’re approaching dessert and cognac, he’s had maybe two glasses of beer, maybe half-a-dozen glasses of wine, and six or seven shots of vodka. I’ve had maybe half a beer, a little taste of each of six or seven glasses of wine, and probably a total of one glass of vodka, having just sipped with each toast. But still, I’ve had half a beer, a glass or two equivalent of wine and a shot of vodka. I’m kind of blinking and he is not only apparently completely unfazed, but as we get to the dessert course he says, Now there are 21 things I’d like to talk to you about, through the interpreter. Then he starts ticking them off, bump, bump, bump, with no notes. Then he goes back and we talk about one, and then two, and then three, and then four—I go back to Langley and I call in the CIA docs and I said, Whatever this guy has, it ain’t cirrhosis of the liver. I have never seen a liver like that in my life. 

Haver

What color are your nails?

Woolsey

Mine are fine. What was the other one?

Riley

Whether you want to tell the Arafat story.

Haver

The Rose Garden ceremony.

Woolsey

This was the handshake in the Rose Garden. I’m seated next to the just-about-to-depart Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell. It’s mid-September, ’93. Arafat and Rabin shake hands up there with the President and Secretary of State, and there are two long lines of seated guests just as Arafat and Rabin step off the dais. Rabin begins to work down one line of Ambassadors from a number of parts of the world, and Arafat begins to work down the others. Before he comes to Colin and me there is a stretch of 15 or 20 or so Ambassadors from Arab states, and Arafat grasps each one of these by the shoulders and plants a large, wet kiss on his mouth. 

As he works his way down, he gets to be two or three people short of Colin Powell, who is there in his Army uniform, and who says, Good God, Jim, he’s going to kiss us. I said, You, maybe. Not me. I’m out of here. He says, I think I can fix it. Arafat plants the big wet kiss on the lips of the Arab-country Ambassador right next to Powell, and then he reaches for Powell. Now Powell is maybe 6’ 2 and Arafat was 5’ 6, 5’ 7, or something like that. Powell immediately throws himself into a full military brace and snaps a salute. Arafat keeps standing, jumping up, trying to get to him to kiss him and he can’t reach him. So while Colin is saluting him, I reach over and grab Arafat’s hand and pump his hand, and hand him on to whoever is to my left. I think it was Les Aspin. As he goes by I said to Colin, I never thought I’d have to shake hands with that bleep, but at least we didn’t have to kiss him. 

Riley

All right. Bob, you had questions on matters of state?

Strong

Just a suggestion. If you look at the list of issues the Clinton administration dealt with in your two years: Haiti, North Korea, Somalia, Bosnia, and there may be others. Is there one of them that we could talk about in some detail that would be a good illustration, or the best illustration of how the CIA was being used? 

Woolsey

Let me do Somalia first. I believe it’s the case that we had not had a National Security Council meeting on Somalia, as of Black Hawk down. We had had, of course, principals’ meetings, which Tony Lake chaired, but no meeting with the President and the full NSC, at least I don’t recall one. The record would indicate. In any case, a few days after Black Hawk down—a terrible situation with one American still in custody, and others had been dragged through the streets dead—we have an NSC meeting called on Somalia.

I’m told they need a five-minute or so summing up for the situation and intelligence assessment, so I spend the day before the meeting talking to my Somali experts and talking to my station chief on the secure phone and getting my five minutes ready. We’re also told that the meeting is too sensitive for the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense or Chairman of Joint Chiefs or me to bring any support people. So I show up in the Cabinet room, and there, in addition to the President and Vice President and the four of us—the Secretaries of State, Defense, Chairman, and me—are about three NSC staffers—Tony Lake and Sandy Berger of course, but also another one or two other NSC staffers. And then there are about eight or ten White House staffers. This meeting is too sensitive for us to have one additional CIA expert or State Department expert, but eight or ten White House staffers, including not just the Chief of Staff and so forth, but Dee Dee Myers, George Stephanopoulos, Dave Gergen—people who are there for public relations and communications issues. Also there is Bob Oakley, the former Ambassador, retired, to Somalia, among other places.

Riley

Who has a portfolio in the White House, or not?

Woolsey

He was just a retired individual at the time, but he was invited into the meeting.

Andres

At one point he was a counterterrorism expert.

Woolsey

But not at that point, I don’t think.

Riley

He’s just an outsider.

Woolsey

He’s an outsider who has been invited in. We have explained to us, I forget exactly by whom, probably Tony, that (A) we’re going to skip the intelligence briefing; and (B) it has been decided that they’re going to send Bob Oakley over to set up a coalition government in Somalia. Now I believe he also may have had responsibility for negotiating a release of the one American who was still in custody but the main discussion was about the work on getting a coalition government together. 

After that announcement, as I recall, we moved immediately to Dee Dee and George going back and forth across the table, talking about who was going to background the Washington Post, who was going to background the New York Times, who was going to be on the Sunday talk shows, to deal with the issue of the coalition government. This went on for 15 or 20 minutes and then finally I raised my hand, was called on, and I said, Mr. President, I’ve got several experts at the Agency who know this country pretty well because we were there in some numbers in the Cold War. I think if any of them were here, they’d say what I’m going to say, which is that this country has been engaged in clan warfare for a long time. It’s going to be engaged in clan warfare for a long time in the future, and the chance of any coalition government between [Mohammed Farah] Aidid and Ali Mahdi [Muhammed] and Omar [Hagi Masallah] and [Ahmed Omar] Jess—these bandits—holding together is essentially zero. There’s a long silence and it’s a little bit like being at a football game and having a commercial timeout. The team doesn’t have anything to do, so they kind of look up at the lights. 

We’re all kind of sitting around the table in the Cabinet room looking up at the lights, and after a sort of embarrassingly long time, Dave Gergen, who is supposedly there for public relations functions, but an able and sensible guy, says, Well look, if what Jim just said is true, none of this that we’re talking about makes any sense. Then there was another pause and another commercial timeout, and everybody looks up at the lights for a while longer. Then finally, without anything intervening, Dee Dee and George go back to discussing who is going to background the Post, who’s going to background the Times, who’s going on the Sunday talk shows. 

Nobody frowned at me; nobody came over afterwards and said, You know, Jim, you were out of line, or anything like that. I had just sort of irrelevantly introduced substance into the PR [Public Relations] meeting. It was as if I had said, Mr. President, I’d like everybody here to know that last Saturday I was up in Pennsylvania and I had two of my sons with me and by matching a mayfly hatch we were able to take ten nice rainbow out of a pool before nine o’clock in the morning. I’m going back this Saturday and if anybody would like to join me, I’d be glad to have you. People would have thought, Well, it’s odd that Jim is discussing fly fishing in the middle of this NSC meeting, but Jim is odd. Thanks for that, Jim. Like I said, nobody got upset. It was just clearly not the purpose of the meeting. That’s the only NSC meeting I recall on Somalia. There may have been some subsequently, but that’s the only one I recall.

Riley

That was the only one.

Woolsey

Haiti—Anyone else chime in.

Riley

On Somalia?

Woolsey

I was moving to Haiti.

Riley

One further question about Somalia: The President, in his memoir, and in other analyses of this, the criticism is that there was mission creep there, that it started out with one mission and moved to something else. Do you have any comments on that? Was Somalia actively on your radar during the period of time before the Black Hawk down thing? Were you in any way trying to get people’s attention on this? 

Woolsey

Mission creep isn’t the CIA’s business. If the military wants to creep and do more, that’s between them and the Commander-in-Chief. We don’t typically look at American behavior. We consider it, while looking at other people’s behavior, but the ability to penetrate these various warlord organizations with assets was extremely difficult. 

People have often said in recent years, How can you not find bin Laden? He’s just in this section of border. Well, we had control—until the Black Hawk was shot down, and still effectively thereafter—of the air over Mogadishu. We had control of portions of the ground. We had assets that we were trying to use to one way or another do different things, to put a bug on Aidid’s car he was riding in so that we’d know where he was, or whatever. We were working hard mainly on finding him. Never did. 

It’s not that easy to find an individual when he is hanging out among folks who are interested in protecting him. Sometime back in the 1970s the head of the mafia in Sicily was found in his hometown. Remember the guy in Serbia who was found just having grown a beard, [Radovan] Karadzic, and had been living for years, among people that he knew. The FBI took several years to find the guy who set off the bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, and he was within a very few miles of his hometown in the hills, camping. 

Harris

Eric Rudolph.

Woolsey

It’s not as easy as folks might think to find people, and we had not found Aidid. We came very close once. But that was mainly what we were working on.

Haver

There was a steady stream of Presidential daily briefings where Somalia was a topic. I never did an inventory of them, but I would guess that every week there had to be two or three items.

Woolsey

But it’s a summary of what’s happening on the other side, what warlords may be aligning with one another, and that kind of thing. It’s not any evaluation of what the Americans are doing.

Riley

Understood. 

Selverstone

Or of the challenges of trying to target Aidid, because the prior mission had been more humanitarian assistance. It was [Boutros] Boutros-Ghali who had essentially moved things toward targeting Aidid. Was there any intelligence that you had provided on the virtues of that?

Woolsey

I don’t recall that we had a finding that we were in charge of trying to do anything to Aidid. It would have taken a finding signed by the President and sent to us, for us to try and kill him or anything like that. To find him, to obtain intelligence about where he was, that is what we were mainly charged to do. The rest, in the course of this, as well as just generally having people on the ground and a very able station chief, was reporting on what was going on as best we could on the Somali side of things, which is why I was so convinced that these guys could not form a coalition government.

Riley

Did you get beat up on the Hill after this?

Woolsey

Not about Somalia. I don’t recall any special blows. Haiti was the one.

Haver

Remember, this was a military problem. When the military shows up, the CIA invariably takes what I would call a second seat because all of a sudden you’ve got mass there. The Agency never operates in those kinds of numbers with that kind of presence.

Woolsey

Let me give you an example from Bosnia. One of the things that was extremely important for the military to understand in former Yugoslavia was the load-bearing capacity of bridges. Because if they’re going to put forces in, armored personnel carriers or anything, they’ve got to know what roads they can use. That means, are they going to collapse a bridge when they go across it? The CIA is normally not in the business of suborning clerks in rural Bosnia in order to be able to steal documents revealing the load-bearing capacity of local bridges. That’s just not the business we’re in. But if the military is going to show up, the military is probably going to have somebody who is assigned that job. It might be a Special Forces guy, but he’d go do that.

Riley

Would you know about that in advance?

Woolsey

We had discussions about this with the Pentagon. The way it ought to work is if it is clandestine, if they’re pretending to be somebody they’re not, if they’re undercover, then the station chief ought to know about it and have oversight over it, even if the military is doing it. They shouldn’t be able to go off completely on their own, or you end up sometimes getting people working at cross-purposes.

Andres

Or caught.

Harris

For sure when you’re at peace. 

Woolsey

Yes. We had occasion one time when we were there, in an Eastern European country, let’s put it that way. We had a CIA asset, a very sensitive asset. Somehow his name came up during a Bureau investigation in the United States, and without checking even with the Washington field office of the FBI, much less with the CIA, the FBI bureau office in question, somewhere else in the United States, sent a couple of FBI agents, not undercover, not speaking the local language or anything, to this Eastern European country. Two American FBI agents came up and knocked on the door of this guy who was a covert asset of the CIA. Scared him to death. I mean blew his cover for all his neighbors and so forth. You don’t want two organizations operating like that, but sometimes it happens that they’ll operate at cross-purposes. 

Andres

I think that in a couple of instances, and I don’t remember a lot of the details, but we did find out that there were Special Forces in small numbers, ones or twos or threes operating. From the standpoint of the military, their view was, Well, this is a quasi-war situation. This is military. This is our show.

Woolsey

They call it preparation of the battlefield. 

Andres

So they did not coordinate with us.

Woolsey

That’s the kind of thing you get into in these jobs. Hey, why didn’t you guys coordinate? Well, we’re preparing the battlefield. We might have killed the guy. We needed to do this or that.

Riley

In that situation, is it best to handle it interagency? Or is that the kind of thing where the White House ought to be the referee as the Chief Executive?

Woolsey

There’s no reason for the White House—

Harris

It’s interagency for sure. In fact, to Joyce’s earlier point, increasingly within communities of interest you have a network of people, which does increase the trust. The reason you operate unilaterally is the lack of trust. If I come to you and say, I want to tell you what I’m doing, and every motivation in your body is trying to figure out a way to stop me from doing it, I would stop sharing. You can align the interests.

In the Gulf War as we were planning the first flights, air strikes, these were very sensitive military operations, but with a huge need for intel. In that case these communities of interest would form and say, Can we time the taking down of this asset so we can get quicker bomb damage assessment by intel means, so that we can prosecute the war more efficiently? The military would want to say, I’m going to be judged on how efficiently I prosecute the battle. I’d like to do that as unilaterally as possible because I’m going to be held responsible for it. I don’t want to have these dependencies of people that won’t be there when anything blows. But they found that the national system, as Jim pointed out earlier, was increasingly supporting them so well that they can’t leave home without it. 

Colin Powell, coming out of the Gulf War, said, This is the first space war. It made a huge difference. It announced to the world that we are not going to war without space assets any more. So you see the military having these dependencies, and the issue we had during Jim’s tenure was trying to get the rules of the road, with attachés and Agency assets—to have those rules of the road and the day-to-day management consolidated.

Woolsey

Jeff, just to explain the importance of being able to dwell, can we say what orbit the birds are in? I mean, very generally.

Haver

Geosynchronous orbit is no secret.

Woolsey

No, I’m not talking about that.

Harris

The Cold War intelligence wants to know the material of state actors, the two Goliaths going at each other. The tactical element is, I want to know what is happening minute by minute. The system that was designed, wrong use of the word strategic, was judged to be less useful tactically—As we got dwell times to increase, by tuning the technology or timing the technology to fit the need, the military started to make demands that said, Oh, I can get this answer more precisely. Those requests then caused the technologist to say, Let me go change the tools of the tool box in order to be even more responsive.

Woolsey

And one way to get dwell time is to have a UAV instead of having just a snapshot and then another snapshot and then another snapshot.

Haver

But you asked about human operations. There was a very formal arrangement between the Department of Defense and the CIA for—a few would call it mutual support and deconfliction. It is run at the senior level, the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, now the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, are the people charged with overseeing this in DOD, and the Director of Operations at CIA. 

I would say it probably works 80 to 90 percent of the time. Ten percent of the time, either somebody doesn’t want to do it, or is ignorant of its existence, or doesn’t do it correctly. Those are the ones you might read about. Some you don’t. There is an established, structured, named program—documented—All the material has to be numbered, all the exchanges, et cetera. It is to prevent any—A lot of it, in my opinion, came out of the [Frank] Church and [Otis] Pike Committee investigations, Yellow Fruit, and all of that. Then the Iran–Contra affair sort of reestablished the need for this. 

I would also say that there is a very deliberate attempt, from the point of view of scholars here, to avoid implicating the White House. This is all supposed to be done a rung away from the Oval Office, from culpability, from accusations against the President himself or even Cabinet officers. Rarely does the Secretary of Defense ever approve anything. It is all done by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Now sometimes the Secretary is interested and gets involved. But most of the time the bureaucracy would rather this be done one rung below so if somebody really screws up, that doesn’t reflect back into the Cabinet room against the President himself. 

So it doesn’t really rise to that level. They try to do as much of it at this level, based on policy direction when it comes out of the deputies’ meeting, or the principals’ meeting, or some other vehicle. But who knew the details of this person’s name, and what day they were going to do X, Y or Z—that usually isn’t approved at the top.

Woolsey

Do you want Haiti or North Korea or Iraq?

Riley

Why don’t you do Haiti?

Haver

Bad day for Haiti last night.

Woolsey

Poor country. When I came into the job, about two weeks before, there had been issued a new National Intelligence Estimate on Haiti. The principal author, anybody remember? We talked about him last night.

Several

Brian Latell. 

Woolsey

A real expert on Latin America, Haiti, fluent in Spanish, lived in Latin America a lot. Very smart, very able, very straight career analyst. The thing that became very controversial is that it was reasonably critical of [Jean Bertrand] Aristide’s stability. Not extremely hostile but critical, skeptical.

Riley

Personal stability of—

Woolsey

It didn’t say, but it was supported by very strong evidence. 

Haver

It was supported by strong, empirical evidence.

Woolsey

I think I can say here—I don’t know whether the Agency will want to have this in or not—Aristide is really bipolar and was very much on medication. You could see it if you ever talked to him. If he was on the good side of things, he is as friendly and articulate and smart as people get. If he is on the dark side, he’s perfectly happy to be ranting at a torchlight rally, and putting tires around people’s necks and pouring gasoline into them and lighting it—necklacing them. 

 Anyway, the estimate didn’t go into great detail. It was not classified at an extremely high level, but it was clear that it was skeptical to some extent of Aristide’s stability, and it was well-backed by evidence. The White House really wanted, and a number of supporters on the Hill really wanted Aristide to be the Thomas Jefferson of Haiti. They really wanted to see him go back, to have everything work out, and they generally had the view that people who said that he was not capable of being a Thomas Jefferson of Haiti were probably in the pocket, for one reason or another, of the Tonton-Macoutes and the hardliners in the military. 

We had a lot of criticism of Brian, a lot of criticism of the estimate, from people in the executive branch and people on the Hill. Nobody ever ordered me to fire him but that was certainly suggested in a number of conversations I had, both on the Hill and otherwise. I took to going with him and the Haiti team whenever they were called upon to meet on the Hill or to testify, and I would usually do the leadoff testimony myself and then turn it over to Brian, whether it was classified or unclassified format. 

We had a lot of back and forths and a lot of folks on the Hill who were extremely upset at the whole situation and thought that this was solely because the CIA had paid assets in the Tonton-Macoutes, or whatever they were being called at the time, and was just really in favor of totalitarianism in Haiti. This went on for some time. As best I remember, it finally just kind of died out. 

Haver

The facts wore down the opposition over time.

Woolsey

Then we had the various flaps about Haiti. We had the demonstration that chased off the landing ships. Remember that one? Things like that, the Agency is not particularly involved in. These were operational decisions for U.S. forces. But we were not a popular institution. Neither Brian nor I would have won any Mr. Popularity awards in most of the Congressional offices that were interested in Haiti.

Strong

Is there something important about those cases where you’re telling Congress or administration leaders what they don’t want to hear?

Andres

That’s the whole idea.

Woolsey

That’s kind of the job. A few weeks after I stepped down, Larry Combest had just succeeded Dan Glickman, because the Republicans had taken over the Congress, as the Chairman of the House intelligence committee. He held a hearing and invited all the former DCIs. I think everybody was there except former President Bush.

Haver

And [William] Casey.

Woolsey

Well, everybody who was alive. 

Haver

I’m sure Casey was there in spirit.

Woolsey

They wanted to take an overall look at the leadership requirements for the Agency and the community, and it was not an unfriendly hearing. He [Combest] asked each of us what we thought the criteria were for being the DCI, and I, being the most recent, was the last one questioned. We had these half-dozen or so eminent senior statesmen get the question and they said the sort of things you’d expect, the qualities people want. They got to me and I said, I think the only thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that you want to make sure you never offer the job to anybody who wants to be liked. Everybody kind of chuckled. I went home and told my wife and she said, Well, that’s a part of the job you never had any real trouble with. [laughter] But that to me is crucial. You should never have anybody in this job who wants another government job.

Harris

There has been discussion over the years—Should the DCI be a Cabinet officer and part of the administration? Jim said it earlier, that there is a very strong line between setting policy and in forming policy. Some DCIs got that better than others. There was never any doubt in Jim’s ability to go inform, just lay the facts on the table, have the right debate, and make the tough call. 

Haver

Well, about every four or five years they review the question about whether the DCI, now the DNI, should be appointed the way the Director of the FBI is, an eight or ten-year permanent appointment and all the rest of it. You clearly are the President’s intelligence officer and if you can’t connect or there’s no trust there, then that wouldn’t be a good fit. But it always comes up as a question.

Woolsey

It’s important and so is the organizational structure, but everything pales beside getting the right people in the jobs. I mean, if you look at intelligence organizations that have been successful, going all the way back to Queen Elizabeth I—KGB, Chinese, CIA, OSS, MI6, Mossad—there’s probably a short list of well under ten institutions over the centuries that have been really outstanding, for at least periods of time, in stealing secrets from enemies. They’re probably all organized differently. There was an op-ed yesterday or maybe today in the Times that maybe we ought to organize the way the Brits have organized. 

Part of the problem is that whenever there are problems with intelligence, what people want to do is reorganize, because it is something you can point to that you’re actually doing. If you’re on the Hill and you’ve got a bill and it is passed, and they change this guy’s title or whatever, maybe you have two people instead of one. You can say this is going to solve everything. Reorganization is the first and last refuge of anybody who wants to have a reputation for having done something about intelligence. 

Haver

It usually has more layers.

Woolsey

I tend to be pretty skeptical. When we first got the DNI, they said it was going to have a small staff. I said, Yeah, right. Well, instead of 20, it’s got a couple of thousand. So you’ve got more people to coordinate with, but if [Dennis] Denny Blair is the right guy and drives things well, he can make this system work, he and [Leon] Panetta. You can make it work. But you’ve got to have the right people. You had to have the right people under the older system. As long as the system is not crazy and dysfunctionally conflicting or something—You can make most any sort of rational organizational structure work, I think, with the right people. The big problem is people wanting to please their political bosses. 

Harris

We talk a lot about the politics as the substance of the reporting, and in many of Jim’s meetings on the Hill when it was a single member on an issue they were interested in—I recall finishing a resource-related meeting, a hearing on the Hill, and Senator [John] Glenn asked Jim to come up and he wanted to have a substantive conversation about what was going on in Bosnia the previous twelve hours. Not to make a point, not to grab a headline. He said, I’m following this closely. This is important for the country. 

If you looked at how major policies were set as the Russians were disarming, to make sure that their scientists remained employed instead of selling fissile materials, those members could engage with the DCI and the NIC, and the intelligence substance. We saw a bunch of that take place outside of the public eye, because they were—Let’s get smart on this thing. If the Intelligence community is perceived as a fair broker of the facts, a lot takes place. But actually, the record clouds because Washington suspends politics so little of the time. 

Andres

One important thing, and it certainly happened during the time you were there, and I’m sure it started before, but there was very much an attempt to make sure that the different parts of the Agency were involved in putting together things. You didn’t take the intelligence strictly from the DO [Directorate of Operations, CIA], because there are certain biases in the DO. You tried to make the DI [Directorate of Intelligence] and DO work together. You tried to break down those stovepipes so that you could get the very best estimates possible, so that the intelligence would be as good as it could be.

Woolsey

One thing I tried to do—we did a little bit and I don’t know how much of it continued—was just kind of move people around. Historically, if you go back 20 or 30 years, or say 10 years before we were there, the DO’s part of the CIA building was locked and was completely separate. One thing we tried to do was have the DO people and the DI people who worked on, say, China, share office areas so they kind of got to know one another and were collegial. I don’t know if they’re still doing that.

Haver

And remember, Jim had two jobs. He ran CIA but he also ran the community. CIA has less than 10 percent of the people that work in the Intelligence community; the other 90 percent work someplace else. But when it comes to the production of substantive intelligence, the way it was structured then—Now, Denny Blair sits in a slightly different chair—the responsibility for all of it rested at the end of the table.

Riley

Exactly.

Haver

So he had to not only see to the day-to-day care and feeding and leadership of this Agency, he also had to turn around and be the leader of the rest of the community. When these estimates and these documents are produced, it’s supposed to reflect the aggregate wisdom of all of these pieces, not just one of them. 

Harris

Bill Perry was sworn in as Secretary of Defense, as I recall, at about four o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and by five o’clock on Friday afternoon, Jim was out and he called Bill Studeman and said, Monday morning at ten o’clock, my first real day on the job, I’d like to have exactly what our intelligence posture is in North Korea. I remember that Bill walked in and saw Rich and me and said, Have a great time this weekend. 

Haver

Actually it was pretty easy. We knew what it was. 

Harris

But it was, I want a focused look. It is a specific question. Here is a very smart consumer demanding just the facts.

Riley

I want to get you to comment—I’m happy to get engagement from the rest of you about this very question, because it is an enduring question: Although the configuration of responsibilities is now different by the reorganization, the fact is that there is a CIA component of the job and then there is this larger community part of the job. How do you deal with that? What are the sorts of routine problems that you have to confront? Are there elements of the dual role that complicate your relations with the external actors, particularly with the White House, for example? Do some White Houses get this, and others don’t?

Woolsey

Come back to the era we were there. Peace seemed to have broken out. Even Daniel Patrick Moynihan is calling for the abolition of the CIA. And at least one of our four committees and OMB when they can get at us are killing programs right and left and taking a lot of money out. We are in a situation at the CIA whereby we can hire virtually no one unless I want to start riffing people, because the personnel authorization was such that you had to choose, so we would hire a handful of people a year instead of what would make sense in a personnel profile.

Haver

You orchestrated a downsizing operation.

Woolsey

Yes, we did all that but we did it without firing people. 

Haver

Early outs and no fires.

Woolsey

The whole history of Sam Turner and all that was one that was very bitter out there. I did not want to get in the business of firing people. So we did a lot of things to avoid that. 

Haver

And the other agencies had to do the same thing.

Woolsey

My interaction with the NRO and NSA was in trying to help them keep body and soul together in the face of cuts. So what I’m spending my time on is going up with the NRO director to testify on behalf of 8X because—as my suggestion had been two years previously in the project I did for Gates—if we scaled down the size of the reconnaissance satellite constellation, we had to have something we could rely on, and the problem was that the Senate committee wanted to cut out the one thing that we were coming to rely on. And [NSA Director] McConnell couldn’t break codes without supercomputers and he had a bunch of supercomputers on order and the Senate Intelligence community wanted to kill the money for them. 

In other eras it might well be very different, but my interaction as DCI with the Director of the NRO or the Director of NSA was to try to work with them and help them hold body and soul together. What I’m doing is going up on the Hill with McConnell to testify, or with Jeff [Harris], to work that problem. In other eras, other people would be faced with different problems. I would have been delighted to have problems of the sort that people had later—plenty of money, targets that might cross jurisdictional lines, how should we organize—that would have been fine. I mean, we were trying to keep from getting foreclosed on, trying to keep the family home halfway painted.

Harris

Essentially your question is, what can be organized when you have these pieces fitting together?

Riley

Multiple jurisdictions. And the public perception, the conventional external wisdom is that you’re the—Even in this book when I first got it, everything referred to you as the Director of the CIA. We went through and edited that out because we’re educated over time to know better. Does that perception create the sense that there are privileged children?

Harris

Well, Jim and Janet came into the building, as we discussed earlier, as sort of outsiders who were going to run this organization. Rich had been in charge of the community staff, so he’s the executive director of integrating all agencies, and a month or two later as Jim came in, I moved to be his deputy. So what you have is a CEO [Chief Executive Officer] and a COO [Chief Operating Officer] in a corporate sense. And how are you going to manage these? The staff that Rich was running had been downsized.

Pratt

As it should have been.

Harris

As was directed by Gates.

Haver

When I came in it was called the Intelligence community Staff, and 364 billets were in it. Bob Gates told me to cut it to 100 and move it to Langley. It was down on M Street near the Old Executive Office Building. I pushed back on Bob, saying, I don’t think I can do this job with a hundred people. Typical Gates, his response was, That’s because you don’t understand the job, Haver. Hard to argue. 

He wanted to get out of micromanaging the agencies. He thought that was a waste of time. He wanted to set guidance and goals, and Jim picked up on that theme without dropping a stitch. Then he wanted to analyze whether the agencies were actually responding to what he was directing and what he was demanding of them. So he wanted me to populate it with analysts, people who could actually examine what was coming out the back end of the sausage machine, and drive the system. That was the Gates concept. We cut it to a hundred people. In fact, it was under a hundred; it never got to a hundred people when Joyce and I were there with it. It is now well over a thousand. 

Harris

We had strong people in. We still used, exactly to your point, the DCI versus the DCIA [Director of the Central Intelligence Agency]. We would pick topics that deserved having the spotlight on them for a short period of time and in the dialogue with the managing Agency, with the program that was under scrutiny, we would say, When we come in, we’ll illuminate this program for a while. If it’s in good shape we’ll move on. If it’s not, we’ll fix it, but we are going to fix it quickly and move on. This is not our life’s work, it is your life’s work. 

I can remember one particular time that I was having a dialogue with NSA and I said, We have a meeting next Saturday in California. There will be 22 people in the room. It’s the following people. They threw a bureaucratic curve ball and said they’re not going to be there, or they’re not this, or it’s the wrong day of the week. This went on about four minutes in this conversation, senior to senior. I said, Are you going to be there in about five minutes? He said yes. I said, I want to go do something. I’ll call you right back. 

I picked up the ringdown phone and called Jim, so it rang right on his desk. I didn’t use it all the time, but given his schedule, he could contact us much easier. He picked up the phone. I said, I need a favor. Dial this number and burn them. And I hung up. That was it. Being a litigator and having a close relationship, he called up—Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, I waited five minutes, dialed the phone, said, I’m back. He said, You didn’t have to do that. Do what?  Let me be clear. We’re having a meeting next Saturday. It’s going to be the following 22 people. We had the meeting. We resolved it in a six-hour meeting. Done. The program is still running fine now more effectively. 

We moved on to the next topic. So the signal that Jim and the management team were sending to the organization was find what to do, and do it. And if we see a crack in the armor we’re going to come help. The help will be swift and we’re going to move on. This is not a works program. 

I look back on a couple of years of that model, for the time, being very effective. Not curing all the diseases, but for the diseases we focused on we had a long checklist of successes. 

Woolsey

One thing, what I’m about to say would be even clearer if we had several of my other immediate direct reports, like Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, here. I always tried to follow some advice I got back in 1972 from Scoop Jackson, who was a member of Senate Armed Services and was the guy who got me my job as General Counsel. He had a staffer named Dorothy Fosdick, Dickie, who was a real pistol. Her sidekick, as a very young man, was Richard Perle. 

I was in Scoop’s office going over something for the committee with him and Dorothy and Richard came in. Scoop had done something—I’ve forgotten what this was about at all. He had done something that they really disagreed with and Dorothy just chewed him out. Scoop, you just can’t do this. Here’s what’s wrong, bam, bam, bam. He sat and listened for a minute and he said, Yes, I think you’re right. We’ll turn it around. 

He looked up at me and kind of grinned. I can still see him sitting there. He turned to me and he said, Jim, there are two kinds of people in government, people who are willing to hire people who are smarter than they are, and people who aren’t. You always want to be one of the first. I rest my case. [laughing]

Haver

To give you some context for this, the Clinton administration, Jim Woolsey—They inherited the Bush budget. The FY [Fiscal Year] ’94 budget had been put together by the preceding administration. They hadn’t planned on losing the election. It really was their budget. The Clinton people really couldn’t do much to it. It was already in publishing mode. It was done.

But now that the Democrats had both the legislative branch and the executive branch, this is where some of Jim’s problems that he’s described, particularly in the Senate—They wanted more peace dividends. They wanted to take money out of this Bush budget. The closer Jim and others got to it, they realized this budget really wasn’t that bad, considering the real world they were facing. It became this arm wrestling contest. 

Then the FY ’95 budget. This is going to actually be Clinton’s budget. There was a great deal of build-up to this. In fact, there were press conferences. And President Clinton ran this December confab where the Defense Department came in the morning and presented their entire program, and the President went out in the Rose Garden in December and had a quick news conference, saying they had reached this agreement over where the National Security account would go. We went in in the evening to explain how we had put together the FY ’95 Intelligence budget.

Woolsey

And footnote—big important chunks of it are things like reconnaissance satellites, which come under codeword clearances, and the room was full of people who the White House had asked to come who didn’t have anything approaching the right clearances. So we had to hand stuff out and then take it back from people. It was a nightmare.

Haver

Of course they started off saying how this should all be cut, that this is too much money.

Woolsey

And they had never seen a reconnaissance satellite in their lives.

Haver

Woolsey is sitting next to John Deutch and Deutch intercedes that, You just made an agreement to set the Defense budget this morning, Mr. President. President Clinton says yes. Deutch pointed out that, This Intelligence money sits inside my money. When you set the ceiling for Defense, you set it for us. So if you take money out of an intel project, I remember him saying these exact words, it’s not going to buy a parking garage in Detroit; it’s going to buy a barracks at Fort Hood. Any money you save out of Intelligence is simply going to get misspent somewhere inside the Department of Defense. He didn’t say those words. Of course Clinton then sat back in his chair and said, Well then, what are we doing here? Then he says, Is that true? Alice Rivlin and Panetta had to agree it was true, and Clinton said, Let’s go get dinner. 

Woolsey

We scampered around picking up all these codeword documents that these people weren’t supposed to be seeing.

Haver

And as we are leaving the West Wing of the White House, Woolsey is about thirty steps in front of us. I’ve gathered together the books. I’m walking right behind John Deutch who in that booming Deutch voice shouts out, filling the entire West Wing with his voice, Hey, Woolsey, slow down! The Secret Service thinks you’re making off with the silver. [laughter] Even after that they told us, This isn’t going to stand. We’re going to take this money out. OMB did.

Woolsey

Yes, they kept—

Haver

They eventually didn’t. But it was this back and forth that absorbed a great deal of our time.

Harris

Part of it was building a budget for the first time so that players understand their roles, and playing catch up, and getting a handle on the budget. Joyce is watching the resources slide from CIA, but this was big defense, big intel.

Woolsey

Even though the country was dominant and prosperous, in the Intelligence community we were in the circumstance a lot of people are in when they’re looking toward a foreclosure of their mortgage and losing their job. That was where we were focused.

Haver

And retooling ourselves for a post-Cold War world.

Woolsey

Sure. You’ve got to have that house fixed at the same time you avoid getting foreclosed. You want to do North Korea at some point?

Riley

I’d like to continue with Haiti. Is it the case that once it becomes a military operation then you’re—?

Woolsey

Yes, it’s kind of their job. Once they decide to go in—they decide to go in and they put Aristide back in. 

Haver

Then the issue becomes, what happens when we leave? What do we leave behind? Here the Agency comes back into play again because when the big military machine packs itself up to go home, the interest doesn’t go away, the need for information doesn’t go away, and the issue flows back into the hands of the Agency to pick up the pieces and to restructure itself. Usually this requires money, money that hadn’t been programmed, as Joyce can tell you. Three years ago people didn’t plan on this. 

 So you’ve got to go back in and restructure the program, and re-identify opportunities, and try to align yourself with what the demands are. Then the question is, what’s the policy structure going to be? A coalition government? Is this an economic issue? Is this a political issue? Is this a military issue? Is this a counterterrorism issue? Because it drives a different set of emphasis inside the way in which the Agency applies itself to the problem. Can this be better done with technical means, or is it better done with human means? What are the essential elements of information that are expected, and what’s the right arrangement of our capabilities? 

 Again, as Joyce can tell you, the first step is always how do we use what we already have best? Rather than going out and inventing something, paying a lot of money to get it created and taking years to get there, what do we already have that can be applied to this in the best way?

Woolsey

That’s what we did with UAV. We used those airframes that Abe had previously invested in and that were sitting in a hanger.

Riley

In the specific case of Haiti there were negotiations with the people who were in Port-au-Prince, to get them out. Were you involved in trying to figure out a place where they would go and get out?

Woolsey

What year was that?

Haver

That was ’93. That’s DoD.

Riley

That’s all DoD stuff?

Haver

There’s something called NEOs [Noncombatant Evacuation Operations]. These are emergency operations. These are planned in advance. They’re carefully orchestrated with the State Department. But because the only people who have aircraft carriers and amphib ships and lots of helicopters and structure—

Woolsey

These are evacuation operations.

Haver

The CIA has a footprint in the embassy. They have a relationship with the government of some degree or another. This is one of those things that has to be orchestrated between the two. When you see one that comes off flawlessly, that’s undoubtedly because the country team that was involved really had their act together. They were well prepared. Everybody was on the same sheet of music. When you see one that is messed up and ugly and people are left behind and it looks chaotic, it’s usually because the advance planning wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. The blame could probably be spread to State, Defense, and the Agency.

Riley

Okay. There was a moment before the American troops ultimately went in, where a team was dispatched down there. President Carter and Colin Powell and Sam Nunn, I believe—

Harris

That’s correct. This is the fiasco on the dock. 

Riley

Were they likely to have received any Agency briefing before they went down, about what they were going to confront?

Woolsey

Don’t remember. Probably. It would be very unusual for that operation to occur without any Agency cooperation.

Harris

Particularly those guys, who were customers of Intelligence. Joyce did a study on how customers perceive Intelligence. It was an Executive, Secretary of Defense study, and Colin Powell—You relay the story about Colin being the customer.

Pratt

He was a very active customer and we asked if we could interview him. The two of us went into his office and sat around a very small table. He started out by saying, Let me tell you what my approach is: If I ask someone a question, when they come back to give me an answer, the first thing I want them to tell me is what do they know? The second thing is what don’t they know? And finally, What do they think?

Woolsey

What does it mean?

Pratt

Because, he said, it is more important to me to understand the gaps in the facts, or lack thereof, before I listen to someone’s opinion about what those facts mean. That’s many years ago and I have never forgotten that.

Harris

So later, subsequently, getting to the Haiti operation, he’s saying, Here’s how to think about it. Sam Nunn is probably—

Pratt

A close second.

Harris

A close second to that.

Woolsey

These are fundamental rules in Intelligence. Tell me what you know, tell me what you don’t know, tell me what you think. And only tell me what it means if I ask you, because if I don’t like the first story, why would I waste my time?

Riley

Well, I’m getting quite an education here today. This study you mentioned, is it public?

Pratt

It was one of many that were done over a period of time. Back to Janet’s earlier point about—Peace has broken out all over; therefore we should reorganize. This was yet another review of how the community was organized, who its consumers were, and how they used the product, and did that then drive you to some other organizational structure? At the end of the day it was yet another study that collected dust. But no, it was never published. 

Riley

An external reader encountering this interview would not be able—

Pratt

No, I don’t think so. 

Riley

Is there anything else that you can tell us about consumers—It’s a fascinating question—that would help illuminate the—?

Harris

One of the things that surprised me is we’ve been admiring the transition between intelligence support to peaceful nations while crisis builds. As you cross the threshold to action, to Rich’s NEO operations, you want to have a smooth handoff. What always surprised me, just because it is a big organizational staff, was the number of times that military generals would be assigned to go into the theater to take over an operation—three-star, four-star. My sense was if there’s room for the Intelligence community to improve—We were briefing them while they were taxiing on the tarmac at Andrews. The need to know is an important construct in Intelligence because it’s not a secret if everybody knows. You want the right people to know. But determining exactly the right people, a priori

So when the two bureaucracies come together, the military wants to protect—Because so many lives are at stake in the operation. The Intelligence community wants to protect the source of the intelligence because the unique authority of the DCI is protection of sources and methods. Now when you get a good consumer, to Rich’s earlier point, the best consumers don’t need to know who the source is. They need to know the credibility, the analysis, and how to infer what they should think about the body of knowledge that they’ve received.

Again, I’ll go back to my earlier comment. In the several hundred visits that Jim made to the Hill, the ones that we all remember were the contentious ones trying to change somebody’s opinion, but I think the Agency did provide a very useful service. What we didn’t talk about was the DCI as the leader of the community could attend and chair what was then or historically called the National Foreign Intelligence Program, where all the agencies came together to form the considered opinion, and take footnotes. This was the deliberative body of all of the intelligence producers.

Just as a footnote, it was the Clinton administration—I’m trying to remember who—I think it was shortly after Jim left. Tony Lake turned to the DCI one day and said, Why am I getting my current intelligence from CNN [Cable News Network] and not the Intelligence community? The question was raised at one of the DCI lunches. I was then the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, not an analytical organization, but we were pretty sure of our intelligence. At the time I had the largest percentage of resources, so I was an important member of the community, just not an analytical producer. 

So, State INR [Bureau of Intelligence and Research] is there and DIA and CIA, and the whole table of participants is debating the answer. It went about as long as I could stand and I said, Stop! Why don’t you just tell Tony that we get it right? CNN is not held to a standard—they have to get it timely. We have to get it timely and right. I thought it was sort of waking everyone up and saying, Get your customer to understand what it is they want the answer for. Do they want your best answer if it’s not informed, or your best answer if it is? To go back to the Colin Powell example that Joyce gave, I think Jim made a lot of progress with good customers’ intelligence. He had a good relationship with Senator Boren. You could have a substantive topic with them that was not resource-related in order to try and guide the policy of the U.S.

Selverstone

Just to close out the Haiti conversation before moving on to something else—Was there anything particular from this episode that the Agency learned that was valuable, given the extent or lack of its involvement in the entire affair?

Woolsey

We knew about Aristide’s medical and emotional problems in some detail through a foreign intelligence service that had asked us not to pass on any association with them. So we couldn’t tell people how we knew these things, even in a classified meeting. Since a number of them really wanted Aristide to be the Thomas Jefferson of Haiti, it was very difficult for them to avoid the conclusion that this was just a bunch of CIA folks protecting these damn Tonton-Macoutes that had been in their pay. 

The protecting sources and methods side of things is a huge burden and it’s one that sometimes people want to shirk. But if X company or X country that you work with closely says, I’ll tell you this, here are the details, but you can’t even internally, even in your government, tell anybody where this comes from—and you don’t honor that, you could basically be screwing up your ability to obtain information in the future. 

Pratt

But you have some intelligence consumers that are very interested in knowing where it comes from because they want to be able to make an independent assessment of whether it is a legitimate or credible source. That can be a slippery slope.

Woolsey

It’s tough.

Pratt

One of the things that Bob Gates implemented when he was Deputy Director for Intelligence, long before he ever became the DCI, was to that point. He said, Our consumers deserve to know not the identity of the source but the reliability of the source. So, as an all-source analyst when I worked for him, whatever it was, you always had to indicate the reliability of the source.

Selverstone

Is there a quotient? 

Harris

Highly reliable, Usually reliable

Haver

With first-hand information, providing documentary evidence. This is a line straight out of the word processor.

Pratt

But you had to put it in there because his view was that, absent that, your consumer had just blind faith here. He wanted his analysts to be more precise and he was a real stickler about that. 

Haver

Sources were evaluated from A1 to F6. There were six grades within each letter.

Andres

But you could have some very reliable sources who had very shady backgrounds.

Pratt

Yes.

Woolsey

Oh yes, sure.

Haver

You could also have suspected double agents. Double agents don’t necessarily pass bad information. 

Andres

Absolutely.

Woolsey

As a matter of fact, if you look at what happened at the base in Khost a couple of weeks ago, the way that guy got credibility with both the Jordanians and the CIA, in part, was that he passed on some very detailed and accurate information—that’s what a dangle always does.

Haver

But it means it isn’t really a stolen secret. It is stuff that they intend you to have for whatever complicated, convoluted reason that might be.

Strong

But again on Haiti—Aristide is not the Thomas Jefferson of Haiti, but that doesn’t mean that putting him back in place is still not the policy worth following. Did the senior members of the administration pursue that policy with the right knowledge base?

Woolsey

They pursued it with the best we could give them. I always said, Look, Haiti is full of a lot of really ugly folks who want to govern it. This guy may well have killed fewer people than any of his competitors down there, may especially be the case in the future if you keep him on his meds. But that was not a message people wanted to hear, that he was the best, probably, of a really bad lot. They wanted the intelligence to mesh with the Aristide that some of them had sat across the table from and talked to—the charming, smart, articulate guy. With bipolar people, there’s a real problem there because on one side of their reality, that’s what they’re like.

Haver

I had a déjà vu moment there. I watched the invasion of Iraq from inside the Bush administration and watched the same attitude. They wanted the Iraqi anti-Saddam element to emerge as this enlightened, unifying force. The same sort of attitude. The one thing I would say from the requirements that came in from the system is that part of the Haiti operation was always an exit strategy. The administration did not want an open-ended Haitian commitment. Most of the requirements that I saw come across, and most of the demand for intelligence was How can this policy produce the result we want? Which was some sort of stabilized, pacified Haiti that we could then leave.

Woolsey

Yes, sure, that was the dream. You don’t have to stay and run things if Thomas Jefferson is in charge. 

Haver

And if you were giving them things that helped them do that, there was pleasure. If you kept telling them how impossible that dream might be, this was running counter to the policy stream.

Riley

We’ve got a couple of minutes before we’ll break. Let’s do the North Korean piece.

Woolsey

Let me just say one word. This was another NSC meeting that was quite memorable because things had really come to a head with North Korea. This was summer of ’94, right? Bill Perry had been, as he should have been, engaged in putting together a package of forces that could be pulled together quickly in case the President should decide to use force. The North Koreans were flaunting all of their obligations. It was a terrible situation. 

We’re sitting in the NSC with the President and Vice President, and the President’s secretary comes in and interrupts the meeting. It was the only time I’d ever seen her do that. She said, I’m really sorry, but former President Carter has just called from Pyongyang. He’s about to go on CNN and he’d like to talk to Tony Lake. So Tony went out to talk to him. 

Carter did go on CNN, and although the President and Vice President went off someplace, I guess to their own offices, there’s a television set right outside the President’s secretary’s office and somewhere there’s a photograph of half-a-dozen of us—the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, me—watching CNN, trying to see what former President Carter was saying and what constraints we would be under in making this decision in the Clinton administration. 

I still think—I made a careful study of it—that Carter’s intervention at that time essentially was part of what tied Clinton’s hands in his ability to consider at least the option of using force. Although nobody ever wants to use force, and probably a lot of people would say, Well, we didn’t do it then, and it’s still going to work out all right, in the interim, the North Koreans have tested a nuclear weapon, and as of a day or two ago things aren’t looking real good in dealing with North Korea. It might have been better to have dealt with it in the summer of ’94. Carter wasn’t entirely responsible for constraining President Clinton’s options, but he did play a role in doing so. What Clinton would have done, I’m not sure, but it was a really very interesting moment in modern TV-age diplomacy.

Strong

And Carter knew what he was doing.

Woolsey

Of course he knew what he was doing. 

Haver

Bob Gallucci—Was he in any of this? 

Woolsey

I don’t remember that he was yet.

Harris

I think he came later. 

Riley

Would President Carter have been de-briefed by the Agency when he returned from a trip like this?

Woolsey

I don’t think he would have wanted to come in. I don’t think we would have invited him in. If he had taken the initiative to come in, we would have politely received him, but—

Haver

He wrote something that he gave, I think to Lake.

Woolsey

There were lots of possibilities. There are all sorts of might-have-beens, but that was an important event. It quite literally broke up the NSC meeting on that subject, in which we were trying to decide what to do. 

Riley

Who gives the assessment of likely cost in a situation like that to the President for intervention?

Woolsey

You mean cost to the U.S. government?

Riley

I’m talking about the downsides of intervention. 

Woolsey

That would be something that the CIA would definitely be charged with.

Riley

Was there a sense at the time that intelligence on North Korea was—Reliable is not exactly the right word.

Haver

It was never great.

Woolsey

It was never great.

Andres

We relied pretty heavily on the South Koreans for one thing. They had a lot better connections.

Riley

Right.

Harris

The study we did for the incoming SecDef (Perry) was important so he knew intelligence posture as he saw a looming policy crisis.

Riley

Exactly.

Woolsey

We had some pretty good technical intelligence on what was going on in North Korea. Human stuff is really hard to do there.

Haver

North Korea was sort of a lesser-included case in the Cold War setup between the U.S. and the USSR. So North Korea was always looked at, but never with what I would call the blanket treatment. After this era of the early ’90s, and these lesser-included cases started to emerge as more serious matters, an entire process began, called the Hard Targets Initiative. It started without any particular name earlier, but it really took focus in Jim’s era. In fact we went to one of the CIA remote sites with all the leadership, including George Tenet, who was on the NSC staff at the time. Out of that came this Hard Targets activity. 

Back to Joyce’s portfolio, the issue was resources. The issue became, if you can come up with good responses to these hard targets, we will get them into the funding stream. We will see that there is adequate support for these. It was an attempt, in a resource-constrained environment, to rearrange the resources to fit the problems that were perceived as most serious.

Harris

Using substance to drive priority.

Haver

Right, and North Korea was certainly in the top—What, Joyce? In the top five?

Pratt

It was on the first tier.

Haver

That tells you right there that the intelligence was considered inadequate. 

Harris

Jim’s answer focused a lot on the North Korean leadership, or the lack thereof. At the same time, if you’re looking at North Korean technology, shipment of missiles, the countries that they’re selling to, the intelligence was much better—Financial tracking, which is a different kettle of fish to an unstable leadership.

Selverstone

I’m thinking about this case here where human intelligence was challenging, there are troubles with the terrorist issue, and you don’t have the kind of funding that you want for pursuing greater language training. I’m wondering if—You’re recognizing that in this new environment, technology is increasingly important, sure. But are you thinking at this time, Boy, we really need better human intelligence. We really need to put more resources there than we had considered in the past.

Woolsey

Yes, but one should not underestimate the fundamental nature of the transitions that are necessary. Just to use one example: In the Cold War there were certain codes of behavior between, say, the KGB and the CIA. We didn’t kill each other. If you got captured you were under diplomatic cover. You’d get declared persona non grata for having tried to recruit some Soviet to inform you, but the penalty would be you’d go back to Langley and teach courses or something. 

Haver

Francis Gary Powers got repatriated.

Woolsey

But against the new hard targets, for human intelligence in most of these places, Iran, Iraq, North Korea—

Haver

The North Koreans don’t play the game.

Woolsey

You don’t have a diplomatic presence. You don’t have any way to have diplomatic cover. So what you’re in the business of trying in some way to figure out how to do, if it is a country like Iran that is at least somewhat open to travel, is to try to recruit assets using people under nonofficial cover, called NOCs. That’s very dangerous. That’s a very dangerous life, because you not only have to be able as a skillful case officer to recruit an Iranian, but you have to probably look and sound like an Iranian, or look and sound like somebody else that can credibly be in Iran, like a Russian, or whatever. 

 So you’re not going to have just an Okie like me, with even a pretty good language skill, able to do those NOC jobs. That requires people who are very brave. It requires people who can, as I said, look and sound like something other than being an American.

Haver

It can take a decade to start producing human intelligence.

Woolsey

It can take, exactly, a long time because you’re talking about a long, slow buildup of credibility. If you’re going to seem to the Iranians to be a Syrian smuggler operating along the border, you have to probably actually go be a Syrian smuggler operating along the border for a few years. It’s a different world than just sort of shifting your focus.

Haver

It was a clear decision. We shifted resources.

Woolsey

We began to do this.

Haver

Shifted training, identified people.

Selverstone

This is the hard targets still. 

Woolsey

Yes, but going to NOCs—the other side is that I tend to think that there’s too much of a distinction drawn between technical and human intelligence. The way I always put it is when thing are going right, the spies tip off the satellites and the satellites tip off the spies. You’re doing stuff that is maybe not recruiting an asset but planting a little electronic gizmo somewhere. The whole operation, the whole suborning of so-and-so, and paying so-and-so, and establishing a fake this, and doing that, is not to go recruit the guy’s assistant to come do brush passes and dead drops with you, but rather to find some way to get into someplace and put, these days, maybe a thumb-drive momentarily into one of the network’s computers and then take it out and go away. In order to do that, you’ve got to know something about the technology that you’re working with. 

This historic thing where the DO folks are sort of Ivy League guys who are fluent in French or something, and the technical folks are nerds who stay in the laboratory is past—part of the problem is you’ve got to have the nerd able to get into the Iranian place, or you’ve got to teach the spy guy enough nerd stuff so he knows what the hell he’s doing when he gets inside the computer center. 

 All of this is a big set of changes. As Rich says, it takes a decade or more to begin to have effects. In ’93 we still had all of our wonderful Cold Warriors and these were people that won the Cold War—they had a major hand in winning the Cold War—speaking their Russian and their Polish and so forth. But you don’t need to spy on Poland these days. 

Haver

They were still valuable. The problem was balance.

Woolsey

Yes, right.

Haver

The community was out of balance. Forty years of Cold War, for every good reason you can imagine, had created an imbalance. Many of the technical collectors can be refocused one way or another rather quickly. But the human element is considerably more difficult.

Woolsey

Takes a lot longer.

Haver

More difficult to refocus, whether it’s language skills or simply the sort of problem they’re going after. For basically Western European culture to understand the Russians really isn’t that great a leap, or for that matter the Czechs or the Bulgarians. But to have the same people, with that same cultural bias, understand Middle Eastern culture, understand North Korea, it’s not an adaption. It’s very difficult to do. So basically the ’90s are an entire decade of retooling the workforce. It wasn’t finished when we came back in ’01. The job wasn’t done yet.

Riley

Let’s take a five-minute break and come back and we need to get onto Ames.

[BREAK]
Haver

I was talking about physically attacking the polygrapher. Ames was told that, at the very end, if he’s really in a state where he thinks they’ve got him, he should just leap out of the chair and punch the polygrapher in the face. 

Woolsey

That’s what the Russians told him.

Riley

I don’t know where we’ve been, but it sounds like interesting and relevant stuff. We’re coming back from break and we’re discussing Ames’ material. I think the backup recorder has been on the whole time so we’ve got most of that and I can ask the transcriptionist to make sure that we don’t lose that. Go ahead.

Selverstone

I had asked the question about the polygraphs because I had seen reports that he had passed the two polygraphs, and reports that he had not passed the two polygraphs.

Woolsey

To quote President Clinton—

Haver

He came out of both of those exams with no deception indicated.

Woolsey

It sort of all depends on what you mean by passed.

Haver

Right, and as I said, there’s no such thing as deception indicated or not. To set the context for this: We’re doing the transition. Jim Woolsey’s name has not been announced yet. This is late November of 1992. George Tenet has been identified as the transition fellow for Clinton. I’m the transition fellow from Bush to Clinton. 

 As I said earlier, what they really want to know is what is going to bite them. What are the problems? Not how great we’re doing. Of course we told them about our espionage issues, the open cases, the agencies that we think have serious espionage problems. And the Ames investigation was one of the leading items in that litany of troubles, which Tenet had not been aware of up to that point. Even though he was the staff director of the Senate Select Committee, this was not the sort of thing—They don’t open national counterintelligence cases to committees, not until they are full-blown, near the terminus of the investigation. Needless to say, George was not only intrigued, but quite obviously concerned that this could be an immediate problem for the incoming administration to have to deal with. 

He asked a lot of questions. I tried to give him the answers. I know he went to see people in the Bureau. He went over and talked to the people who were doing the transition from the Attorney General’s office. Two things became apparent, that in the early stages of this there had been very little cooperation between the Agency and the Bureau. Later on, in the early ’90s, there had been a burst of enlightenment and they had worked very closely together to get these cases well along the way. Then there was some deterioration in that sharing as the agencies began to see some of these problems reflecting on themselves. This was teed up as one of the first things that Jim would have to be told, and I suspect you were.

Woolsey

Oh, yes, pretty early. 

Andres

Yes, probably within the first ten days or so. 

Woolsey

He was still assigned to counternarcotics.

Haver

This was still an incomplete case. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia was turning over. Helen Fahey was coming into the post. Mark Hulkower was the lead prosecutor of these cases, the rocket docket of Eastern Virginia. Everybody wants to try national security cases in the Eastern District of Virginia, the rocket docket, because the attorneys there, people like Plato Cacheris, even though they’re good defense attorneys, are solid people. His brother was a federal judge. You knew that there would be very competent—No one was going to get off based on incompetent counsel. Things were going to be right. Everybody wanted to arrest Ames in the state of Virginia.

Now, how to do it, how to build the case? I will tell you that the Justice Department never wants to lose one of these. They never want to lose any case, but they really are obsessed with not losing a major spy case. So to some degree, they dragged this investigation out, looking to basically dot every i, cross every t, close out every possible escape route or explanation. It lasted for half of your—

Woolsey

Yes, it lasted another year.

Andres

Over another year.

Haver

As an investigation.

Woolsey

He was arrested in early February of ’94.

Andres

Presidents’ Day, wasn’t it? It was on the holiday.

Haver

Right, and he was leaving the next day for Moscow as part of this counternarcotics escapade, and nobody wanted him to go to Moscow. I had done the damage assessment on [John Anthony] Walker and numerous other cases, so it was quite clear that I was going to be the damage assessor one more time. If you ever want to cut down your Christmas card list, become a damage assessor, because you lose all friends. 

Then the case—He’s arrested, all the rest of it. Basically he pleaded guilty. He was never really tried.

Woolsey

In order to keep his wife from having a longer sentence.

Haver

Well, yes, but—

Andres

And his young son. Didn’t he have a young son?

Haver

Yes, but the son went to Colombia with the mother-in-law. They left.

Andres

The idea was that Rosario [Ames] would only have to spend a maximum of five years in prison so that she would then be available to raise the son.

Haver

Then of course the issue was, he had to cooperate with us. We did not sentence Rosario until his level of cooperation was certified. They kept stringing him along on that. The reality is that they knew what the deal was going to be. They weren’t going to throw the book at Rosario. She was going to go to that ladies’ prison up there in Connecticut, and do her two-and-a-half years, and head for Colombia.

 We didn’t have much room with Ames, because there was the Federal Sentencing Guideline Act, which came out in the mid-’80s, and tied their hands. What he was going to be convicted of was mandatory life without parole. Back with Walker and the year of the spies in the mid-’80s, there was a lot of latitude within the sentencing guidelines for these offences. But by the middle-’90s, the way the laws had been restructured, there was no latitude whatsoever. So Ames was never negotiating for himself. The death penalty was out, but anything but life without parole wasn’t conceivable, so he just tried to get her off the stick. 

But then set in all the investigations, all the recriminations. How could this happen? Lots of stories and urban legends about Ames being a drunk and a worthless asset. How could this all happen? Having done the damage assessment—Ames was not worthless. He did drink too much but that doesn’t make him unique. 

When [Vitaly] Yurchenko defected to the U.S. in July of 1985, they sent two people to be his handlers and his interpreters in the debriefing. One of them was Aldrich Ames. If this guy was known to be an absolutely worthless officer who couldn’t get promoted, this was not a job they would have given him, not to debrief the most important defector from the Soviet Union in 40 years. So that’s a bit of a myth. Ames wasn’t worthless. Ames had his problems. Lots of people didn’t like him, but he was not as incompetent or worthless as the legends wanted to make him out to be. 

Strong

You’re briefed very early on this. Did everyone in the White House on the National Security team know that this was—

Woolsey

Nobody.

Strong

Nobody?

Woolsey

Tenet, I guess, who was still there.

Haver

Yes, he knew. The Attorney General knew. I assume Sandy Berger might have been briefed. I never spoke to Sandy Berger about it.

Woolsey

I think I spoke to Lake, but that’s it. This sort of stuff you have to hold very close.

Haver

Right, you don’t talk about this.

Woolsey

For example, I informed Glickman and DeConcini, but nobody on Appropriations, a few days before he was arrested—

Haver

Late January, early February.

Woolsey

—that there was a case, and I’d be back to brief them when something happened, but please not to say even that to anybody. That was just the two oversight chairmen.

Andres

There was no paper sent anywhere. Everything was hand-carried. There was just a handful of people that knew what was going on and then there would be a courier coming with the brown envelope for developments, or this, that, and the other thing.

Haver

They wanted to catch Ames red-handed. They wanted to catch Ames servicing a dead drop, laying down a drop for the Russians. This is the sort of overpowering evidence that nails you to a cross in a federal court. 

Harris

Like Hanssen.

Haver

Right, or like John Walker. This is what they want. Even a jury of complete idiots can see a dead drop being serviced. This is the open-and-shut case. That’s what they wanted. They thought they had Ames cold, but a good defense attorney, loose evidence, circumstantial—And of course they never got that. But once they got in his house—Now they did do a black bag job on the house. They got a federal warrant to surreptitiously enter the home when they weren’t there, and they recovered a rather substantial amount of incriminating evidence from that. But as Jim can tell you, being the lawyer, there’s always a question about admissibility.

Woolsey

Right. They got something useful going through the garbage, as I recall.

Haver

They did indeed. But again it was circumstantial. It was inferential. It could be interpreted many ways. What they got out of being in the house—and they bugged the house. I’ve listened to the tapes.

Riley

This is the—

Haver

I wouldn’t have wanted to be married to her. 

Woolsey

They had a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant for this, right? 

Haver

Had a full FISA warrant. Oh yes, they went through all the stages of this. And of course Judge [William] Sessions had been there for most of this period. Then Judge Sessions leaves the administration. I believe he left like in April or May. He didn’t leave right away as the FBI Director. Then there was a short interim period where the Deputy Director of the Bureau was the acting director. Then Judge [Louis] Freeh from New York was brought down by the Clinton administration and confirmed and brought in. You can see a change in the way in which the FBI handles the case, not necessarily because of Freeh, but because of the fact that Freeh, being new on the job—The second and third tier really started running the Director, rather than the other way around. 

Sessions was more engaged. Freeh became frankly a bit of a problem on the case in terms of how it unfolded—jurisdictional questions, et cetera. Having watched it for almost two years, you could just sense that the old guard of the Bureau was trying to reinsert itself. It had shared a lot of this jurisdiction with the Agency because of who Ames was, and now that they’re nearing the end, whether it’s I want the glory, or what it was, I can’t tell you. It became a problem.

Woolsey

The morning he was arrested, when the morning began, Freeh and I had an agreement that we’d hold a joint press conference, and in mid-morning the Bureau called and pulled out of that, and ran the press conference themselves. From that moment on, it was a full court press by the Bureau to get complete control of all counterintelligence. That’s what manifested itself in that bill that DeConcini was pushing, which gave them not only added presence on a rotational basis at the Agency in the counterintelligence center, all of which we went along with, but rather they still had, when the bill was introduced, I’m sure at Freeh’s insistence, that they would run overseas penetration of Foreign Intelligence Services. That’s what we got turned around. 

Haver

That’s of course insane. But back to the Clinton Presidency—Because of my position as the damage assessor and debriefing the National Security Council people from time to time on the damage assessment, I told them that I thought that this was dysfunctional, and that something needed to be done to straighten this out. This catfight over authority for counterintelligence shouldn’t be allowed to spread out to the Congress and become a public issue. This was going to damage—The President needed to step in. George Tenet told me there wasn’t any interest in the White House in touching this. This is your problem. This is not our problem and we’re not going to let it become our problem. So in effect—

Woolsey

They washed their hands of it.

Haver

They washed their hands of it. They abdicated. And back to Jim’s time, you had to spend a lot of time fending off the bureaucracy of Washington trying to undo what was the right thing to do.

Woolsey

I said it before, but I want to say it again to make it clear: In the aftermath of Ames, it became clear that there was somebody else.

Harris

Oh, yes. 

Woolsey

Freeh was absolutely convinced it was in the CIA. 

Haver

That it was in the Agency. A number of us were absolutely convinced it was in the FBI.

Woolsey

A couple of people—CIA officers’ careers were ruined, one almost tragically. They maintained this up until the very end. It was CIA work that made it clear that it was—

Haver

What became Hanssen.

Woolsey

Hanssen, ultimately. 

Haver

We didn’t know it was Hanssen.

Woolsey

Had we lost the ability to run foreign intelligence collection on counterintelligence targets, without having the Bureau dominate it, that whole situation could have been very different. Hanssen might still be in place, because the Bureau—and I’ve been told it was Freeh himself—were absolutely convinced that the second problem guy was CIA, and would not really have permitted the kind of look into Bureau suspects that the CIA was able to do in the mid-to-late ’90s, which eventually led to Hanssen.

Haver

The shame of it is that Hanssen got an eight-year further lease on his espionage, criminal behavior. It took another eight years to catch him. I frankly believe a lot of that was interagency rivalry, and denial, and point the blame the other way.

Riley

Was there ever any sense on your part that the White House itself, or people in the White House, were looking for scalps on this? I mean, you had said that in the transitional briefing the one thing that they wanted to know was what was going to turn around and bite them in the butt.

Haver

That’s not unique to them. 

Riley

Right, of course.

Haver

I’ve done three transitions. They all had the same attitude.

Riley

Right, and I suppose because most of the damage was done before Clinton came into office, there must have been a ready-made sense of deniability on the part of the administration that this really doesn’t affect President Clinton, per se, because it preceded his time.

Andres

But they didn’t know, necessarily, that most of the damage had been done. He was the chief suspect but the case wasn’t closed. He was still being observed. He was right in the building and was still working. You had to manage that situation. Is it really him? Or is there somebody else?

Haver

Also, without going too far, this wasn’t the only case; this wasn’t the only problem. To answer your question precisely—Of course this wasn’t from President Clinton. I had no contact with him at all. This is from that second and third tier down. Particularly at the Tenet level, I got the impression that this would interfere with their other agenda. They saw this as a diversion of attention, saw this as a problem they didn’t need.

Now, they weren’t trying to say, Let Ames go. Nothing like that. They just weren’t prepared in their minds to have to deal with this problem. What are we going to do? This is going to cause Congressional interest and press interest. We’ve got all these other things we want to do in healthcare. You could almost see their short list and domestic and economic things they wanted to achieve, and this was simply going to get in the way. How quickly can this case get done? What’s the blowback? What’s the explanation? Do we have an open-and-shut case so there’ll be no messy trial? The last thing we want is for this guy to be acquitted, et cetera. So all of that was in the mix of the questions.

Riley

But it is at least within the realm of possibility that a different kind of political calculation could have been made that this is something we could exploit for our purposes, if they wanted to tackle CIA as being dysfunctional, for whatever reason.

Haver

I never detected that. That might have been there, but I never detected it.

Riley

Understood. The other question I wanted to ask—There was a great deal of—Dysfunction is probably too strong a word, but there was a lot of uncertainty at the Justice Department, particularly during the first year of the Clinton administration. They went through a lot of different candidates before they finally found an Attorney General, and then the deputies and so forth. Did that in any way clutter what you were attempting to do? Or was most of this being—

Haver

I did not detect that the Attorney General’s office had any particular involvement in the Ames process at all. 

Woolsey

The Attorney General sometimes sat on the NSC and would sometimes negate the possibility—even though there weren’t legal problems associated with it—would just express a view opposed to some covert actions that would have helped against some of the snakes that we were worried about.

Haver

Inside Justice this was run by the FBI and with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Woolsey

By this, you mean Ames.

Haver

Ames. Helen Fahey and Mark Hulkower and the Justice Department, the head of the Criminal Division, Mark Richard, and the head of the National Security division was a guy named John Dion. I dealt with him for years. They were absolutely, laser-beam focused on He’s going to be arrested in Northern Virginia and we’re going to try him on the ‘rocket docket.’ They knew which judge they wanted. They knew which attorneys they wanted. This was—They’ve got to win this case. They cannot lose this case.

Harris

It was important to do it right.

Haver

Absolutely, and I got the impression that no one above them ever interfered or did anything with them for any other reason. As I say, I got the impression the White House didn’t want to be bothered. Make this go away. Take care of this. Don’t let this interfere with anything else.

Riley

And you did that?

Haver

Yes, except that—The nastiness of the Ames case was that Ames had compromised a large number of sources. There was a substantial body of intelligence that the Agency had been distributing around the Intelligence community and working for a number of years and clearly these were not legitimate cases. Ames had compromised the sources. Some of them had died. Others had continued. What does that tell you? Sounds like they got made an offer they couldn’t refuse. You’re sort of wondering—This is like Spy vs. Spy in Mad magazine. It shook the whole human intelligence system to its core.

Woolsey

I deprived the system of catharsis by not firing anybody.

Haver

That’s a whole other story.

Woolsey

My problem all along with this was that there were four very clear people, senior officers, who had made substantial errors of judgment. Three were retired and one had already been preparing to, and retired the day after we came out with the Ames report. Technically I could have fired him. He was an otherwise distinguished officer with a distinguished career. I’m not going to fire the guy on his last day on the job. 

The four retirees—There was no way to get at them unless they committed a felony. You couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t withhold their pension. You couldn’t do anything unless you wrote them a letter, which I did. It said, You guys screwed up. Another, I don’t remember, Janet, the exact number—six, seven, eight—folks who had, the way I would put it, screwed up in minor ways. I could have fired one or more of them.

Haver

The head of the polygraph office and those people.

Woolsey

I could have fired one or more of them, or I could have filed a report only dealing with the four guys who had really screwed up. But the problem was that not having fired the folks who had really screwed up, and having what I’d call relatively mild letters of reprimand given to the other eight, the natural question is why didn’t you fire somebody? 

I never will forget one particular Senator who is a very able guy and somebody who helped me a good deal—

Haver

Navy Seal.

Woolsey

Very sensible guy, too, at least in terms of what I was usually dealing with. He said to me, Jim, look, just fire the first three people through the door. I said, Suppose they’re the three people who caught Ames? But that was the mood, and for better or worse that’s what I did.

Riley

What you didn’t do.

Woolsey

Yes, one of the things I didn’t do. But one of the things it left was a real feeling of frustration on the part of some people in the Agency, and certainly the press, and the Congress and so forth, that Woolsey didn’t fire anybody. We made a number of institutional changes. Basically in the aftermath—who was head of counterintelligence for so long back in the ’50s and ’60s?

Andres

[James Jesus] Angleton.

Woolsey

In the aftermath of Angleton, who had consolidated everything under him—

Haver

And had a spy under every bed, in every closet.

Woolsey

And particularly late in his life he grew very paranoid. After Angleton goes, the Agency farms out a lot of the things that were relevant to counterintelligence to all kinds of different places.

Haver

Decentralizes it and marginalizes it.

Woolsey

The folks who knew that Ames had the new Jaguar weren’t the same folks who knew some other facts; nor did the polygraph people have all the relevant information. It was all coming late. We pulled that largely together without trying to create another Angleton sort of czar-dom. But it was a real source of frustration, even for people like Bob Kerrey, that nobody got fired.

Riley

Tony Lake and Sandy Berger are not coming to you and saying, We want to see some heads roll?

Woolsey

No, they left it up to me. They would, after I made the decisions, and when there was all the bad press. I got the impression that the administration, indirectly at least, was getting bad press, and thought we needed to do something about this. But there were no orders of anything precisely to do. Most of those decisions got made in the summer and fall of ’94 and the seas continued to toss into the mid-to-late fall. It was perhaps some residue of that that led to the one or two stories in the press in October or early November that the White House wanted Woolsey to go, which is what in turn led me to go to Gore and say, Is this true? and for him to check and come back and say, No, but I don’t think anything is going to change in terms of your access to the President. Anyway, that was the rough sequence of events.

Andres

I think the whole Ames thing, after the arrest and everything, kind of played into the feeling that was already there on the part of some people on the Hill, and in the press, and to a certain extent in the public, that the CIA had a culture that was at odds with what we needed for the new post-Cold War era. For many people, the fact that you didn’t fire anybody meant that you were protecting this old boy network and the fraternity, and that all just got morphed together. 

Woolsey

DeConcini accused me of acting like a civil rights lawyer. Well, I’d been a civil rights lawyer for part of my career. I can understand how that can be the case.

Selverstone

Did you wrestle with this decision for a long time? Did you consult with a bunch of other people?

Woolsey

Internally, for days, not weeks. And people whose judgment I trusted a lot were not unified on the inside. It was a tough call.

Riley

Can you tell us a little bit—You said that there were indications that there was a second problem. I know that you have to be careful.

Woolsey

Historically what happens in cases like this is you catch somebody and you figure out what his access was and you say, well, he could have been the one who burned John, and he could have been the one who burned so and so, but he couldn't have been the one who burned [Dmitri] Polyakov because he didn’t know about Polyakov, he was never briefed. So maybe there’s somebody else who had access to the Polyakov case and burned Polyakov. It was that kind of thing that typically caused—

Haver

During the case of interviewing Ames, we’d questioned him about certain things he had revealed and he told us that he had been told by the Russians not to pursue any more information on, that they had everything they needed. They gave him a list of code words, half of which he didn’t recognize, which is a pretty good indicator. If you have a great penetration you try to use that penetration to your maximum benefit, particularly since you realize it may be fleeting; it may not be around forever. It’s a balancing act that it goes into.

 When you see the other side using Ames the way they did, it told me—I wrote it in the first paragraph of the damage assessment—this is not the only penetration of our system. It caused a lot of unhappiness around the building. Now I didn’t pinpoint that the problem was at the FBI or CIA. I knew enough to know that there was a raging debate inside the counterintelligence community about where this was. Jim touched on it. Unfortunately these bureaucracies don’t want to be the ones with the spy. 

Woolsey

This is the toughest part of this job, this whole counterintelligence thing. You have to be a bit paranoid, but you can’t be too paranoid.

Haver

You have to be a lawyer but you can’t be too lawyery.

Woolsey

Paul Redmond, who was the head of CI [Counterintelligence], was the one who came in and—about two years before we got there, two-and-a-half, maybe three—really got, for the first time, the Bureau involved.

Haver

One of the heroes. 

Woolsey

Jeanne Vertefeuille, and Sandy Grimes, and he, I think, sort of did this.

Haver

They did.

Woolsey

An extremely professional operation. Paul is absolutely perfectly cast as a tough street detective from the Bronx. He is suspicious of everybody but still kind of a good fellow.

Haver

Unflappable, completely unflappable. 

Woolsey

Just marvelous.

Andres

With a great deal of integrity.

Woolsey

Absolutely. This was really hard because you’ve got to be able to shrug off all sorts of stuff that’s coming at you and keep burrowing in, even though lots of folks don’t want you to because it makes them look bad if the guy that they just promoted turns out to be helping the Russians.

Haver

Loyal to the agency but also very capable of being highly critical of its problems. The sort of fellow that any director wants to have close to him.

Strong

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, who in the world has the capabilities or interest in those kinds of penetrations?

Woolsey

The Chinese, certainly. 

Haver

Al Qaeda, North Koreans.

Woolsey

I would say it’s complicated. As a friend of mine says, We probably shouldn’t start talking about this because there’s no wine on the table. This is kind of an evening-long discussion.

Riley

I could see whether we could—

Woolsey

In my judgment, the nexus between Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi sect and the Muslim brotherhood and Islamists in different aspects of that movement. For example, Dr. [Nadeem] Hassan is an existing and likely to be a growing problem, because the next Dr. Hassan, or the next [Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab with his filled underwear, is not likely to want to just go blow up a few people. He may apply to be an interpreter for the CIA or the Justice Department. We’re not dealing in those circles with the wretched of the earth. As Sean Wilentz at Princeton said after 9/11, now we know the root causes of terrorism: wealth, status, and education. 

Haver

Well that’s a problem. When you hear the policy leaders talking about poverty, talking about the places where terrorism springs from, it frightens me, having been close to this, because they’re absolutely wrong. This isn’t where these problems spring from.

Woolsey

Yemen may be a new case, but certainly fifteen of the nineteen bad guys on 9/11 fitted Sean Wilentz’ wealth, status, and education line. And furthermore, some of those assets will not just be working for money—for a Mercedes or for a lovely new home for the new wife, like Ames.

Haver

Or 72 virgins.

Woolsey

They’ll be working because, from their point of view, God is telling them to. That’s different. As recently as a very few years ago, I had a briefing on counterintelligence from the FBI, and the words Saudi Arabia were never mentioned. I said at the end, Aren’t you worried at all about Islamist groups paid by Saudi Arabia? and the briefer looked at me like a deer in the headlights.

Haver

That’s a bad sign.

Woolsey

So I’d say China and the radical Islamist movement funded by the Wahhabis, and maybe some others. Cuba has done an awfully good job of penetrating without much by way of assets or presence, a diplomatic presence, in this country, anyway. They’ve done a bang-up job of penetrating. DIA’s estimates on Cuba, for years, were written by a Cuban asset.

Haver

A long-standing Cuban asset.

Harris

Add the cyber piece to fit a new construct.

Woolsey

Right.

Harris

It’s a huge game changer, because it’s a different form of espionage when you put the economic with the political, with currency kinds of things.

Woolsey

If I’m a visitor to your office and your computer is sitting right there, and you should have to step out of the office for a second, all I may really need to do is take the thumb drive that’s in my pocket, stick it in your computer for a second, pull it out again, put it back, and I may have done a very great deal to make it possible for anything I’m interested in on your computer to automatically be transmitted. So this world that we’re into probably requires considerably less logistics and technological expertise—

Harris

And foreign presence.

Woolsey

Right, and foreign presence and so forth.

Haver

Particularly against us. 

Woolsey

What you needed a big country for, today you may well not. North Korea is an example. It’s possible for some North Koreans to pass successfully as South Koreans and get into this country—it’s a good ally, an important country with important commercial relations with the United States. You might well be able to be a North Korean NOC under South Korean cover.

Haver

Having been involved in the Pollard case, there are a number of our friends who are also after knowing a lot more about us than we’d like them to know. 

Woolsey

Don’t take your Blackberry either to France or to Israel unless you want it downloaded within the first few seconds of when the plane lands. 

Riley

Or China?

Woolsey

China within the first second. 

Haver

On the conveyor belt coming up from baggage claim. [laughter]

Riley

There were a couple of things that turned up in the briefing book that I did want to ask you about. One was that there were issues of sexual inequality in the Agency when you came in. It’s interesting in the environment today that we have two senior women as a part of—

Woolsey

Five of the eleven direct reports I had were women.

Riley

Is there anything worth recording for historical purposes?

Haver

The culture was there.

Woolsey

The DO old boy network historically had definitely been a masculine, macho, and in some cases bad-treatment-of-women, culture. It was in the process of changing. Vicki Toensing was doing a very good job of litigating on behalf of one woman case officer who had been treated badly. I don’t think we understood how badly until the discovery process in the litigation produced some papers from inside the IG [Inspector General] that had some internal CIA writing on them that was—

Haver

Incendiary.

Woolsey

Vicki and her clients would still be counting the government money. I had litigated for some years. I took one look at this material that the IG [Frederick Hitz] had been holding on to and said, Settle this case. Settle this case and settle it now. They did. But quite apart from the legal remedies involved, the culture was pretty bad. Ask Janet and Joyce—bad but improving.

Pratt

As a result of that case, and other things, where it was apparent that the glass ceiling was pretty thick, we undertook some things like making sure that at every level of performance review, which ultimately would lead to promotion or perhaps rotation, assignment, something, that women were now fully represented, in terms of having an advocate at every level of those kinds of reviews. Even if you didn’t know every woman, and for that matter minority, in the list of people that were being considered, it was your job as their advocate to make sure that you raised their name and that their performance was discussed. 

 If at the end of the day they didn’t measure up or make the cut, that was okay, but at a minimum you had to make sure that their performance was fairly and fully discussed at every level of promotion. Then when you got to the Agency level where you were competing for a very small number of Senior Intelligence Service, or in the other parts of the government, SES, Senior Executive Service, then the same criteria, the same process applied. There it was even a much more detailed discussion, to make sure that you really did consider on an objective basis. I served in that role when I was the Comptroller, and I can tell you, I’d get books that were as thick as this for those kinds of reviews. I took it very seriously. I read every person’s—and if a name didn’t come up, it was my job to say, Wait a minute. We haven’t discussed—

Harris

Where’s Sandy?

Pratt

Where’s Jill? Or whoever. That was a major change in the way performance reviews had been conducted prior to some of these issues that arose.

Harris

Not inconsistent with the general population. The general population was learning how to move through this change.

Pratt

When I first joined the Agency a hundred years ago [laughter], there were very few, if any, women. Certainly they weren’t GS-15s; they were at some level below that. There were maybe a handful. And women who were in senior positions were not frontline operations, directorate, chiefs. They weren’t. They were in the support jobs. Over time you could see this change. It was very slow change, but gradually you saw more and more women who ran offices as opposed to being branch chiefs, or whatever. When I was Comptroller, my deputy was a woman, and I think it was my office and one other where the two most senior people were both women. Out of how many operating components we had, there were only these two that had women in charge. Not to say there weren’t women deputies or whatever, but the pair was unusual. I would guess today, although I haven’t been back there in a while, that the trend is still going in the right direction.

Andres

And CIA was not alone in this. I mean, at State they had class action a decade before, a class action suit that dragged on and dragged on, over the same issues.

Haver

It’s minorities as well as women.

Pratt

One of the things we did as SES women, and there were maybe a hundred total out of the whole service—We instituted what I’ll call for lack of a better term a brown-bag lunch arrangement with our counterparts in the other parts of the community, in other agencies. These women would show up and they’d go, How many of you are women at the CIA? We’d go, Like 92. Some of these major agencies had like five women at the SES level, seriously. It was shocking, the difference. 

Harris

CIA had a more favorable senior structure—

Haver

Well, the Agency had a much larger senior structure.

Woolsey

In addition to Janet and Joyce, my Chief of Congressional Affairs, my General Counsel, and after the first year, the head of the National Intelligence Council, were women. I think that’s five of the eleven direct reports that I had. Janet was career but at State, and Elizabeth Rindskopf had come in relatively recently from being General Counsel of NSA. The other three were CIA career people and they were at a level where they had moved up to being Comptroller, head of Congressional Relations and Chair of the NIC.

Riley

Okay, there was also an indication in one of the articles, just something that I wanted to ask about, that in the early stages there was an assumption that Admiral [William James, Jr.] Crowe would be on PFIAB [President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and that PFIAB would have some enhanced role in the intelligence business under President Clinton.

Woolsey

I think they probably did and it was great because it was Bill Crowe. I’d known Bill since I was Under Secretary of the Navy and he was head of strategic planning for the Navy. 

Haver

Ninety-four.

Woolsey

I’d known him for nearly 20 years. He’s a phenomenal man in all ways. I forget what flap it was, whether it was Haiti or something else, but he was charged by the President, really by Lake, to do a thorough review—I’m pretty sure it was Haiti.

Haver

I think so.

Woolsey

People were expecting, just because of the press, something real critical of the Agency to come out. He ran this himself for PFIAB and they came up with a report that said the Agency has performed just fine in this, and they’ve done what they’re supposed to do. He sent it to the President with a letter that was—

Haver

One of the reasons for this interest in PFIAB was President George Herbert Walker Bush had been the DCI. He had not found the PFIAB, when he was DCI, to be very useful. So when he took over, he collapsed PFIAB down from a group of almost 30 members down to six. He put retired Admiral Bobby Inman in charge of it, with John Deutch, Bill Perry, a couple of other people, and they were really a rather lean and mean PFIAB. They weren’t very political at all. They were mostly Democrats, interestingly enough. Gates really used them on the NSC to do things, more than the DCI, Judge Webster, used them.

Riley

What kinds of things would they do?

Haver

For example, we had a defector from Cuba in 1989 who had quite a story to tell us about our security problems. President Bush, with Brent Scowcroft’s urging, asked Inman and the PFIAB to take a full examination of it all. They did, and produced a scathing document—I mean it needed to be printed on asbestos—about what was wrong with the security system. It was one of the things that stimulated Gates to suggest to Woolsey that he pick Jeff Smith to come in and do the security evaluation, because this was obviously wrong.

 Another one was: There were, after the Cold War, a lot of issues about what I would call human-enabled technical collection, where you use a human source to create a technical opportunity. The question was whether there was enough of a closely knit relationship between the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency to really capitalize on all these advantages. They gave that to the PFIAB, who wrote another indictment of the way in which the system was being run, and caused a lot of changes to occur. Jim inherited many of those changes, and in fact, a lot of our successes today can be tracked directly back to the decisions made in ’93, ’94. But I will give credit where credit is due. It was the PFIAB. But again, it was a very small group. It wasn’t a large mass. 

When President Clinton came in, the PFIAB returned to a semi-political—It was back to about 20 members, and a number of them were serious people but now outsiders with political connections. This was played up in the press, that Admiral Crowe and the PFIAB was going to sort of return to its old ways.

Harris

Part of this—A President can use PFIAB in two ways. In the latter example, I’ll suggest, the President can sort of say to outsiders in Washington, How does this play in Kansas? Help me think it through. I’m trapped in this Washington bubble where I’m being driven by the media and being driven by the NSC.

Haver

Bush 41 wasn’t interested in that.

Harris

But a President can say to a banker from Kansas, Are we thinking about this right?

Riley

Is there a sense of natural antipathy between the Agency and the PFIAB?

Woolsey

Doesn’t have to be. It depends on the people. All of this depends on the people. 

Haver

To Jeff’s point, it’s how the President wants to use the PFIAB. If the President wants to use it to counterbalance the community, he can use it in a combative, adversarial—

Woolsey

But if he has Bill Crowe as the head, and he says, Have a really tough look at this, and Bill calls it straight and says, They’re not screwing up, then it almost didn’t—

Riley

So in your case it was not a burden.

Woolsey

Far from it.

Harris

On balance I would say it was like an academic interaction in the search for the truth.

Selverstone

Could I just ask one question about Ames? It’s a broad-brush thing and it may help in the future for people to understand how you went about things after, particularly in ’94. Is there a way you can assess the extent to which the fallout from the case absorbed your energies and time as you went forward?

Woolsey

Hugely. Janet, what do you think? Half time?

Andres

At least. It seemed like it at the time. Every new revelation was greeted with, Boy, the CIA is really stupid. This went on right under their noses for all this time. Why didn’t somebody see that he’d bought a house with cash? Information was dribbling out constantly and we had to react. Then there were attacks. We had to absorb a lot of that.

Haver

I was his Deputy for Community Affairs. He made me the damage assessor. I wound up—Jeff did two-thirds of my job because I wasn’t there, I was down doing the damage assessment. Luckily, Jeff was there to take it over and do it. Then he went off to the NRO and I had to go back and do both jobs.

Woolsey

We started out this morning talking about four or five things that we all were proud off that we had kicked off: the digitalization of the community; the digital mammograms; UAVs; pushing further forward the use of satellites for reconnaissance with respect to environment—There was another one—

Harris

The reconnaissance ran both ways. It went to use with the mammogram or the satellites. It was dual-use. Once we saw how useful it was, we more closely coupled it with the broader spectrum of users. We also got commercial remote sensing policy in place.

Woolsey

All those got started in ’93.

Pratt

And the first commercial imaging.

Woolsey

In ’94, between dealing with Ames directly, dealing with the press, dealing with the investigation—

Andres

And dealing with the FBI—

Woolsey

And dealing with the FBI as they tried to grab all of counterintelligence, dealing with the Hill both cutting budgets and trying to implement the Bureau’s view of what should have been done in the aftermath of Ames—those things together seemed to me to be virtually full time. I mean, the time where we were thinking, Hey, let’s do something new here. Yes, maybe you can do mammograms with satellite algorithms.

Selverstone

Do you know what the opportunity cost was? Was there stuff on the drawing board?

Woolsey

Who knows?

Pratt

Well, in terms of damaging the reputation of the CIA and obscuring a lot of the good stuff that was going on, that was immeasurable. The FBI had its allies on the Hill and the CIA had some allies, but this battle was going on up there as well.

Haver

It didn’t hurt recruitment, because we weren’t recruiting anybody. That was the silver lining in that cloud.

Woolsey

Only one more thing, before talking about very briefly how I left, which is kind of a fun weird story parallel in some ways to how I stumbled into the job in the first place. The only other thing I wanted to mention was the bombing of the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters, which was the only NSC meeting that Studeman and I were left out of. I was out of town. Studeman was in town but wasn’t invited.

They knew, because I had gone to the Department of Defense, that we had some folks who were looking at the vulnerabilities of Saddam’s [Hussein] regime and what one could do in order to really punish the regime without damaging the population. We had some ideas. I forget where, exactly, that came from. Maybe one of you guys remember.

Haver

It was the Iraqi intel HQ.

Woolsey

I went over to Defense and talked to them about it a little bit—I can’t remember who right now—and I talked to Tony about it a little bit. We were just trying to provide an option. I think because they had decided they did not want to do anything like that, they met while I was out of town, and didn’t invite Studeman to the meeting. Then when they did select a target, they selected an interesting target—Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters—but decided to do it at night so they wouldn’t hurt anybody who really was involved in trying to assassinate Bush. 

In its own way, that left about as sour a taste in my mouth as anything in those two years, because I thought that if they would just have a meeting, okay—Let Bill go and explain what could be done—and then decide to go the other way, that’s fine. The President is Commander-in-Chief. That’s the President’s option. But they apparently wanted to avoid having presented and discussed something that was equivalent to Casey’s intervention on the Libya bombing, to Don’t just bomb the building, bomb the damn tent. That’s where he lives. You know, not to want even to hear that, left an awfully sour taste in my mouth, I must say, an awfully sour taste.

Selverstone

Your departure.

Haver

The Christmas surprise.

Woolsey

Anybody else have anything?

Riley

Bob had one question before we get to that.

Strong

I wanted to move us a broader agenda.

Woolsey

Sure.

Strong

You said a couple of times, and I think you’re really on target with this, that it is not organizational structure, it’s really people that make a difference. You worked with the National Security team for two years and then you were in a good position to observe what they did in the immediate years after. Could you go down the list and give us some strengths and weaknesses for some of the key members of the team?

Woolsey

Well, I thought then and I think now very positively about Gore. He would have been a good President. I’m into his environmental stuff, not exactly the way he is—I think he’s kind of over-the-top a little bit on some of it, but his general proposition, his concern, is the right one. His performance back as a House member, which is when I got to know him in the early ’80s, on the stuff we were doing with the Scowcroft Commission, and the small mobile ICBM, and arms control, and all that—he just had a very sure touch for dealing with defense and foreign policy issues. 

In the NSC meetings, he would never speak out and say anything that anybody could later say, Well, the President did X, and Gore was in favor of Y. So you never really knew, and to some extent I’m going on past judgments, but my hunch is that, had he been President, we would not have waited two-and-a-half years, if I may put it in blunt terms, to kick Serbian butt in the former Yugoslavia, because we had a fair number of massacres, not as well documented as Srebrenica, but we could have dealt with that with the back of our hand. This we eventually did with some air power. 

I also think he would have been—in spite of the shock to the system that Black Hawk down created, and the gun shyness that that sent into the system—more inclined than Clinton was to make decisions based on the merits rather than the PR. By the summer after I left, by Srebrenica, Clinton began to come to terms with the importance of some of the uses of power in foreign policy and national security policy, and Srebrenica pushed him over the edge into finally doing something about the Serbs.

The latter part of his administration, just viewed from afar, I don’t have huge arguments with. I think they should have pushed harder on ballistic missile defense. You saw my piece in the National Review the summer of 2000. I had some differences with him—This is an odd way to put it, but as Clinton grew some in the job, beginning about two, two-and-a-half years into it, he became a bit more Gore-like. He became more like what Gore would have probably done from the beginning. 

Those, as far as I am concerned, are the two key players. Chris [Warren Christopher] is a diplomat and a man of great ability and care and precision, not someone who weighed in hard on the policy issues, as nearly as I could tell. Janet may have a better idea. Perry was very fine—as I thought Aspin was. I don’t think what happened in Mogadishu was his fault. But Perry is a very fine, able man who just calls them straight. We had good chairmen, Colin, and then [John] Shalikashvili. 

I think that Madeleine [Albright], had she had her way, had she been Secretary of State at the beginning instead of coming in later, we would have been much more likely to have helped the Bosnians. From her own personal background and her convictions on the human rights issues and on what the Serbs were doing, Madeleine would have been quite ready, as she has been quoted, to ask Colin about the military, Why don’t we use it? Or, What are they for if we’re not going to use them?

My ideal Clinton administration for the time I was there, if I take the players and rearrange them, would have been to have Gore be President, Clinton to be Vice President, Madeleine to be Secretary of State, and Chris to be Ambassador to the UN. The Defense Department I would have left alone. [laughter]

Selverstone

Just one quick question. DeConcini’s name has come up a number of times when you talked about trying to go around to talk to other members of the committee. Were there efforts that you made, or that he made, to get the two of you guys together in a room—Let’s work this out?

Woolsey

No. 

Harris

It was not fact-based. It just was not.

Woolsey

There was never an opportunity to do that, from the beginning. I mean he once said to me that he was sorry he had voted for my confirmation. We just didn’t see anything the same way for two years.

Harris

His committee issued a report in draft on a particular subject that was in effect complimentary and found nothing wrong, and then when he found out about it he retracted it and reversed the findings. 

Woolsey

Let me give a perfect example. The NRO building. 

Andres

The secret building.

Woolsey

The reality is this: Beginning probably in the mid-’80s and certainly around the beginning of the ’90s, the Senate Intelligence Committee, staff and some members, in part because of the desire to consolidate the NRO and not have it operate under stovepipes with one part of the Army, one part of the Navy, et cetera, became enamored of the idea of a new headquarters. There were a number of meetings with the committee. Not involving me. I’m either over in Vienna, or it’s before that when I’m practicing law, but I’m not involved.

Haver

Oh, no. This goes back to Mr. Casey and Barry Goldwater. This is the middle of the Ronald Reagan administration. 

Woolsey

There is a full history of this. The Senate intelligence committee was the driver.

Haver

Goldwater moved on, and Senator John Warner moved in and sustained it, particularly in the state of Virginia.

Woolsey

It gets built, and it is built in such a way that it was of average occupancy density and average per-square-foot cost for office buildings in northern Virginia. Yet there were very major negative press reports suggesting not only that the project had been hidden from Congress, but that it was lavish.

Haver

One other thing: For much of this time, the National Reconnaissance Office was not an acknowledged entity. It was a black organization, so building them a building in the state of Virginia had to be done with the idea that they didn’t exist. So a contractor was used to step forward to provide what you would call the public justification and occupancy excuse for this complex.

Woolsey

Right.

Haver

Now into the Bush administration. The Cold War is over. When Bob Gates is up for confirmation he agrees with Senator Boren, who is now the chairman of the Senate Select Committee, that as part of his confirmation dealing he will publicly acknowledge the existence of the National Reconnaissance Office. It will cease to be a black organization. When Bob is confirmed, he comes over that afternoon and tells Dick Cheney, who of course theoretically owns the NRO through the Department of Defense, that he had made this deal with Boren. I was there. 

Mr. Cheney said, That’s a bad idea. The NRO should not be publicly acknowledged. Bob says, I’ve agreed. I can’t go back on my agreement with Boren. Dick, you’ve got to help me. Cheney says, Okay, but we’re going to regret it. Bob says, Why? He says, Because the organization that hates the NRO the most will now come after it. Bob said, The Agency doesn’t hate it. It’s not the Agency; it’s the Air Force. The Air Force hates the NRO. They will make a stink out of this. Cheney is absolutely convinced to this hour that he was right about that. 

Anyway, the backdrop for this is that it started off in one world, unseen, and then it migrates, because it is now the NRO headquarters, into this bursting forth of a new building for the NRO.   

Woolsey

Somebody in the press gets hold of this and there is an article about this secret new building. 

Haver

The Washington Times. Bill Gertz broke it.

Woolsey

DeConcini calls a public hearing. We declassify a lot of material. Actually there’s a Washington Post picture of me carrying a giant box in with all of our stuff that we’re going to give out to the press, give out to the committee, run through in public the large number of meetings that were held—

Haver

Four towers, all sorts of things.

Woolsey

Doesn’t matter at all. The committee, mainly DeConcini and one or two of the staff, continue to hammer on this scandal, this gold-plated, secret building of average cost-per-square foot, of average occupancy-per-square foot. Everybody joins them, except I remember the Washington Times editorial page wrote an editorial saying, Wait a minute. What’s everybody upset about? Look, here are the facts. Nobody notices.

Haver

The Senate had been consulted every step of the way.

Woolsey

Nobody cared. 

Harris

During one of the hearings, John Warner is particularly upset and is making a point, and a staffer, says Sir, this is the building you wanted to do a press release on, but couldn’t because it was under this commercial cover. Oh, that building. He then continued his comment. It was just so clear that it was political and not based on fact.

Woolsey

One can have a real fight over whether the FBI or the CIA ought to be running counterintelligence abroad. I think we were right, and it has been borne out, but at least there is a policy position on the other side. But on the NRO building there was nothing on the other side. This was pure flapdoodle. 

Harris

The House intelligence committee had a public hearing the day following the Senate hearing and they said, We don’t know why our colleagues in the Senate had a problem, because here’s the record of how we were continually informed with the same documents—

Woolsey

The press effectively didn’t report the House hearing.

Haver

The scandal was a lack of notification. Oh yes, all that stuff about the price and all the rest, but the real argument was that nobody had told them, which was a lie. 

Woolsey

We had a whole chronology of all the hearings. 

Pratt

The other excuse was they could not find a chapter in your Congressional budget justification that in a single paragraph or two laid out the entire plan. It was all there.

Haver

You’re right.

Pratt

It was all there, but their argument was, You made it hard, and therefore—

Haver

You were trying to hide it. 

Pratt

You were trying to hide it, yes.

Harris

But part of that—They had done an audit of the construction of the building and the only thing in the finding of the audit was that the contractor had established an impressed fund to go off to places like Ace Hardware while the building was under construction so if you forgot to order the right number of screws, you can send a runner out to go get what you need. They had mistakenly put the impress fund into a bank savings account that earned interest. Since you can’t make money on appropriated dollars. We had something like $13.87 of interest that we had to return to the bank, so that the Federal Government hadn’t made money on their money. That was the single finding, after a year-long Senate investigation, before the news story broke and they retracted the report.

Woolsey

Hey, $13 is $13. [laughter]

Haver

This was all about getting Woolsey and getting Woolsey’s boy Harris, and getting to his space programs.

Woolsey

One of my proud possessions is a T-shirt that Jeff and Joyce made up for me that has a picture taken in these hearings of him leaning over my shoulder, and I’ve got the microphone blocked while I’m listening to him before I respond to the Committee. And the question I’m asking, at least as far as the T-shirt is concerned, is How many zeros in a billion? [laughter]

You want a quick story on leaving?

Riley

Right. At some point you decide that you’ve had enough of this. 

Woolsey

Well, it just kind of kept—’94 was not a good year. I go in around the end of October or early November to see Gore and to say, Well, does the President want me to step down? He says no, then goes and checks, calls me to come back and says, No, but I can’t tell you that you’re going to be seeing him any more. I said, Okay, thanks. 

I thought about this for about a month. The family and I were going sailing, December 27th, down in the Virgin Islands for a week. So I wrote out a one-sentence resignation letter: Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve in your administration; I’d like to hereby submit my resignation. On the 26th, I dropped it by the White House. I got a call at the office not long thereafter from Gore, asking, Are you sure you really want to do this, Jim? I said, Yes, I really do. We put out a short press release saying that I’d submitted my resignation. I forget whether I told Gore, or I put in the note, that I’d be pleased to stay on for the month of January for a transition if the administration wanted. 

The family and I go sailing. We come back. It’s about January 5th or so, a Monday. It’s my first day in the office. I have coming up in about four or five days, a public hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, now chaired by Arlen Specter. I haven’t announced yet exactly what day I’ll be stepping down. I get a call from the White House and it is from the White House Chief of Staff, the guy from North Carolina.

Riley

[Erskine] Bowles?

Woolsey

Erskine Bowles, whom I had never met. It shows how plugged in I was. He had been at the SBA [Small Business Administration] until the summer.

Riley

He was the Deputy Chief of Staff. 

Woolsey

Yes, he was Deputy Chief of Staff to Panetta at this point. I hadn’t met him, couldn’t pick him out of a crowd of three, but knew the name. The secretary said, Mr. Bowles is calling from the White House. He said, Jim? I said, Yes, Erskine? He said, I want to talk to you about this plan you have to testify late this week. I said, Well, it’s the annual posture statement that the DCI gives before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Yes, I was planning to do it. He said, We’ve been talking about this down here. That’s public testimony. I said yes. He said, Well, you shouldn’t be giving public testimony after you’ve resigned. I said, Okay, thanks for your view. 

I put in a call to Panetta, Chief of Staff, and to Lake, head of NSC. This is like ten o’clock in the morning, and by early-to-mid-afternoon I haven’t gotten a call back. I figured that meant that he was speaking for the White House, so we put out—I don’t remember the exact dates, but we put something out saying that my last day would be the day before the hearing, and my retirement ceremony or reception would be the day before that. That was all about two or three days in the future. So we put this statement out. 

Then at about five o’clock I get a call from Sandy Berger, and he says, Jim, this testimony at the end of this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, do you suppose you could do it? I said, Sandy, I’ll be gone by then. Do you know a guy named Erskine Bowles, who works down there? He said, Oh yes, I know about that phone call. That shouldn’t have happened. That was a mistake. I said, Well, there’s a problem, which is that, as of close of business on the day before, I’ll be a private citizen, at least as I’ve arranged it. He said, Why don’t you do the testimony anyway? I said, Well, I don’t mind doing the testimony but suppose somebody figures out that I’m no longer with the government? He said, Just refer them here. We’ll think of something. I said, All right. 

So we had my retirement ceremony and reception on my final day in office, and the next morning I went down and did the testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and in the afternoon I went over to Shea & Garner and started practicing law. So I kind of wandered into the job and I kind of wandered out. [laughter]

Riley

With that fitting bow on the box today, we’ve pretty much exhausted our time. I always tell people when we get to this stage in these interviews, you seldom exhaust all the topics but you certainly exhaust the people at the table. 

Woolsey

Well, I can tell that this gang isn’t exhausted. We’ve had fun.

Riley

It has been, in the tradition of the really good interviews, both entertaining and enlightening at the same time. We appreciate your being willing to devote a day out of your schedule, and more importantly, for orchestrating what was a really fascinating exercise in group oral history. 

We leave open the invitation to virtually everybody we interview to bring people with them and it is the rare exception when this happens. I was telling Marc earlier this week that I was something of a belated convert to this because, given the nature of confidential discussions, you’re never sure what’s going to happen if you get more than one person at the microphone. But I learned over time, having done three or four of these fairly early, that there really is an extraordinary enrichment of the record by having multiple voices. Your memories feed on one another and importantly you get a sense about the group dynamic that works within an organization.

What I fear is that I’m never quite sure that this is going to be communicated in a written document, because so much of this is the back and forth at the table, but we do the best we can with it. I want you all to know how grateful I am for your taking the time. Understand that we can’t fully appreciate the great value that this has, because it’s going to be another 20 or 30 years before people will come back, and probably with proper historical perspective delve into these things, and it is invaluable for them to have these first-hand accounts. So you leave with our deep appreciation for a day of fun and engagement, and we’re indebted to you.