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Tenet Addresses Armed Services Committee

Aired February 12, 2003 - 09:54   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we go to George Tenet, who is addressing an Armed Service Committee about our state of preparedness for a potential terror attack, among other things -- let's listen.

GEORGE TENET, CIA DIRECTOR: ... posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its efforts to deceive U.N. inspectors, and the safe haven that Baghdad has allowed for terrorists in Iraq. North Korea's recent admission that it has a highly enriched uranium program, intends to end the freeze on its plutonium production facilities and has stated its intention to withdraw from the nonproliferation treaty raises serious new challenges for the region and the world.

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of those national security challenges that, while not occupying space on the front pages, demand a constant level of scrutiny. Challenges such as the world's vast stretches of ungoverned areas, lawless zones, veritable no man's lands like some areas along the Afgan-Pakistani border where extremist movements find shelter and can win breathing space to grow. Challenges such as the numbers of societies and peoples excluded from the benefits of an expanding global economy where the daily lot is hunger, disease and displacement and that produce large populations of disaffected youth who are prime recruits for our extreme foes.

As you know and have talked about, Mr. Chairman, yesterday and today, the United States government last week raised the terrorist threat level. We did so because of threat reporting from multiple sources with strong al Qaeda ties. The information we have points to plots and to targets on two fronts; in the United States and on the Arabian Peninsula. It points to plots time to occur as early as the end of the Haj which occurs late this week, and it points to plots that could include the use of radiological dispersion devices as well as poisons and chemicals.

The intelligence, as I said yesterday, is not idle chatter on the part of the terrorists and their associates. It is the most specific we have seen and it is consistent with both our knowledge of al Qaeda doctrine and our knowledge of the plots this network, particularly its senior leadership, has been working on for years.

The intelligence community is working directly and in real time with friendly services overseas and with our law enforcement colleagues here at home to disrupt and capture specific individuals who may be part of this plot. Our information and knowledge is the result of important strides we have made since September 11 to enhance our counter-terrorism capabilities and to share with our law enforcement colleagues and they with us. The result is disciplined operations, collections and analysis of events inside the United States and overseas.

Raising the threat level is important to our being as disruptive as possible. We enhanced security that results from a higher level of threat. It can buy us more time to operate against the individuals who were plotting to do us harm. And heightened vigilance generates additional information and leads.

This latest reporting underscores the threat that al Qaeda continues to pose to the United States. The network is expensive and adaptable. It will take years of determined effort to unravel this and other terrorist networks and stamp them out.

Mr. Chairman, my statement goes on to note what I believe are formidable successes that we have had with our law enforcement partners over the last 14 or 15 months in disrupting this organization. It notes the important role Muslim countries continue to play in the war on terrorism, from Pakistan to Jordan and Egypt to the Saudis, to the Indonesians to the Malaysians. And we cannot forget Afghanistan, with the support of the leadership is absolutely essential.

Mr. Chairman, al Qaeda will try to adapt to changing circumstances as it regroups. It will seek a more secure base so they can pause from flight and resume planning. We place no limitations on our expectations of what the organization may do to survive. We see disturbing signs that al Qaeda has established a presence in both Iran and Iraq. In addition, we are also concerned that al Qaeda continues to find refuge in the hinterlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda is also developing or refining new means of attack, including the use of surfaced air missiles, poisons and air and surface and underwater methods to attack maritime targets. We know from events of September 11, that we can never again ignore a specific type of country, a country unable to control its own borders and internal territory, lacking the capacity to govern, educate its people, or provide fundamental social services. Such countries can offer extremists, however, a place to congregate in relative safety.

I told you last year, Mr. Chairman, that bin Laden has a sophisticated BW capability in biological weapons. In Afghanistan, al Qaeda succeeded in acquiring both the expertise and the equipment needed to grow biological agents, including a dedicated laboratory in an isolated compound in Kandehar.

Last year, I also discussed al Qaeda's efforts to obtain nuclear and radiological materials as part of an ambitious nuclear agenda. One year later we continue to follow every lead in tracking terrorist efforts to obtain nuclear materials.

Mr. Chairman, with regard to Iraq, let me quickly summarize that last week, Secretary Powell carefully reviewed for the U.N. Security Council the intelligence that we have on Iraqi efforts to deceive U.N. inspectors, its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, and support for terrorism. I don't plan to go into these matters in detail, but let me summarize some key points.

Iraq has in place an active effort to deceive U.N. inspectors and deny them access. This effort is directed by the highest levels of the Iraqi regime. Baghdad has given clear instructions to its operational forces to hide banned materials in their possession. Iraq's biological weapons program includes mobile research and production facilities that will be difficult, if not impossible for the inspectors to find. Baghdad began this program in the mid-1990s, during a time with U.N. inspectors were in the country.

Iraq has established a pattern of clandestine procurements designed to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. These procurements include and also go well beyond the aluminum tubes that you have heard so much about.

Iraq has tested Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to ranges that far exceed both what it declared to the U.N. and what is permitted under U.N. resolutions. We are concerned that Iraq's UAVs can dispense chemical and biological weapons. And they can deliver such weapons to Iraq's neighbors, or if transported to other countries, including the United States.

Iraq is harboring senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab Al-Zarkawi, a close associate of Osama bin Laden. We know Zarkawi's network was behind the poison plot in Europe that I discussed earlier. And the secretary also discussed the association of this network with the assassination of a U.S. State Department employee in Jordan.

Iraq has in the past provided training and document forgery and bomb-making to al Qaeda. It has also provided training in poisons and gases to two al Qaeda associates. One of these associates characterized the relationship be forged with Iraqi officials as successful.

Mr. Chairman, this information is based on a solid foundation of intelligence. It comes to us from credible and reliable sources. Much of it is corroborated by multiple sources. And it is consistent with the pattern of denial and deception exhibited by Saddam Hussein over the past 12 years.

With regard to proliferation, sir, I'll quickly summarize by saying we have entered a new world of proliferation. And the vanguard of this new world are knowledgeable, non-state purveyors of WMD materials and technology. Such non-state outlets are increasingly capable of providing technology and equipment that previously only could be supplied by countries that establish capabilities. Demand creates the market.

The desire for nuclear weapons is on the upsurge. Additional countries may seek nuclear weapons as it becomes clear their neighbors and regional rivals are already doing so.

The domino theory of the 21st century may well be nuclear.

With regard to North Korea: The recent behavior of North Korea regarding its longstanding nuclear weapons program makes apparent to all the dangers Pyongyang poses to its region and to the world. This includes developing the capability to enrich uranium, ending the freeze on its plutonium production facilities and withdrawing from the nonproliferation treaty. If it seems likely North Korea moves to reprocess spent fuel at the facilities where it recently abrogated the 1994 IAEA monitored freeze, we access it could recover sufficient plutonium for several additional weapons.

North Korea also continues to export complete ballistic missiles and production capabilities with related raw materials, components and expertise. Profits from these sales help Pyongyang to support its missile and other weapons of mass destruction development programs and, in turn, generate new products to offer its customers.

Indeed, Mr. Chairman, Kim Jong Il's attempt this past year to parlay the North's nuclear weapons program into political leverage suggests he is trying to negotiate a fundamentally different relationship with us, one that implicitly tolerates North Korean's nuclear weapons program. Although Kim Jong Il presumably calculates the North's aid, trade and investment climate will never improve in the face of U.S. sanctions and perceive hostilities, he's equally committed to retaining and enlarging his nuclear weapons stockpile.

Mr. Chairman, I want to talk about China. We didn't talk about that yesterday.

China's chosen path to long-term regional and global influence runs through economic growth and Chinese integration into the global economy. Beijing calculates that as China's economic mass increases, so too will the pull of its political gravity. To date China's successes have been dramatic and disconcerting to some of its neighbors. Despite China's rapid growth, it remains vulnerable to economic fluctuations that could threaten political and social stability. China is increasingly dependent on its external sector to generate economic growth, and without rapid growth, China will fall even further behind in job creation.

The recent congress of the Communist Party marked a leadership transition to a younger political generation, but also created a potential division with authority at the top and the latest China's profound policy challenges, an additional leadership challenge.

The former party chief Jiang Zemin, who is also scheduled to hand over the presidency to his successor in both positions, Hu Jintao, is determined to remain in charge. He retains the chairman of the party's central military commission. The new leadership contains many Jiang loyalists and proteges. The next generation's leaders offer policy continuity, but the current setup probably guarantees tensions among leaders uncertain of their own standing and anxious to secure their positions. Such tensions may well play out on the issue of Taiwan, the matter of greatest volatility in U.S.-China relations. For now, the situation appears relatively placid but recent history shows that this can change quickly given the shifting perceptions and calculations on both sides.

Chinese leaders seem convinced that all trends are moving in their favor. Taiwan is heavily invested in the Mainland and Chinese military might is growing. From its perspective, Beijing remains wary of nationalist popular sentiment on Taiwan and of our arms sales to and military cooperation with Taipei.

As for Taiwan's President Chen, he may feel constrained by internal political and economic problems and by Beijing's armed (ph) defensive (ph). As he approaches his reelection bid next year, Chen may react by reasserting Taiwan's separate identity in expanding its international diplomacy. In this regard, our greatest concern is China's military build up. Last year marked new high points for unit training and weapons integration, all sharply focused on the Taiwan mission and on increasing the costs for any who might intervene in a regional Chinese operation. We anticipate no slow down to this trend in the coming year.

Mr. Chairman, my statement goes on to talk about Russia and Iran. I'll enter those into the record. I want to talk for a minute about South Asia, where I think our attention must remain focused.

On the Pakistan-Indian border the underlying cause of tension is unchanged, even though India's recent military redeployment away from the border reduced the danger of imminent war. The cycles of tension between India and Pakistan are growing shorter. Pakistan continues to support groups that resist India's presence in Kashmir in an effort to bring India to the negotiating table.

Indian frustration with the continued terrorist attacks, most of which it attributes to Pakistan, causes New Delhi to reject any suggestion that it can resume dialogue with Islamabad. Without progress on resolving India-Pakistani differences, any dramatic provocation, like the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament by Kashmiri militants, runs a very high risk of sparking another major military deployment.

Mr. Chairman, my statement goes through a number of other hot spots and transnational issues that I will enter into the record with your permission. I would note that with regard to Africa, this is a place where we don't often pay a lot of attention or enough attention to. Sub-Saharan Africa's chronic instability will demand our attention.

Africa's lack of democratic institutionalization, combined with its pervasive ethnic rifts and corruption, render most of the countries vulnerable to crises that can be costly in human lives and lost economic growth. The Cote d'Ivoire is collapsing and its crash will be felt throughout the region where neighboring economies are at risk from the fall off in trade and from refugees feeling violence.

Mr. Chairman, I'd just like to conclude and respond to Senator Levin's comments about data on inspectors, and I'd like to be quite formal about this.

U.S. SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHAIRMAN: I want you to have that opportunity, and what I'd like to do is to give it to you immediately following...

TENET: Yes, sir.

WARNER: ... the admiral's statement.

TENET: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

WARNER: You'll be given the time to reply, and I have a comment myself.



The defense intelligence today is at war on a global scale. We're committed in support of our military forces fighting the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and other locations where that war might take us. We provide warning and intelligence for force protection of our military deployed worldwide even as they increasingly are targeted by terrorists. Detailed intelligence is essential long before forces are deployed. This detailed effort, termed intelligence preparation of the battle space, has been ongoing for many months to support potential force employment in Iraq.

Other defense intelligence resources are committed to careful assessment of the dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula. Defense intelligence is also providing global awareness...

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And we are going to be stepping away from this hearing right now. This is for the Senate Armed Services Committee. We heard earlier the CIA director, George Tenet, give his report, much of which is almost exactly the same stuff we heard in the talk about yesterday with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Right now, that is the vice admiral Lowell Jacoby, who is with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is giving his part of the briefing right now.

We heard earlier Director Tenet talking about the various threats that the U.S. right now is dealing with, saying that the threat from al Qaeda is one that the U.S. will have to face for years to come, and that there are no limitations on what al Qaeda will do to survive.


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