Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505

July 17, 2001

The Honorable Stephen Horn
Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial
Management, and Intergovermental Relations
Committee on Government Reform
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

In response to your letter inviting me to testify at a July 18, 2001 Subcommittee hearing, I regret to say that neither I nor any CIA representative will testify.

My decision is fully compatible with the wishes of the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who urged me not to testify at the 18 July hearing. The House Intelligence Committee referred CIA to the recently passed House rule that stipulates clearly and unequivocally that the Intelligence Committee has "exclusive" responsibility to review and study the Intelligence Community's sources and methods.

Let me be clear. CIA has not questioned nor will it ever question the right of the Congress to have answers to questions it has asked.

As a former Senate staff member and staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I recognize perhaps better than most the requirement for CIA and the other intelligence agencies to work closely and cooperatively with the Congress, its members, and committees. Every year CIA provides many hundreds of briefings and reports and responds to questions from committees and individual members. In doing so, CIA is guided by the overarching principle that the American people, through their duly constituted representatives, have a right and a need to be informed of CIA's activities and to be benefited by CIA's work. Indeed, since I became DCI, the intensity of CIA's interaction with the Congress has grown as has the amount and timeliness of sensitive information that is passed to our House and Senate oversight committees.

The American people and the Congress have long recognized the importance of CIA's work and the criticality of discretion and even secrecy to that work. For this reason the Congress passed legislation that obligates me to protect sources and methods. Twenty-five years ago Congress passed legislation that created a system of oversight of the intelligence activities of CIA and the other intelligence agencies that has, in my opinion, balanced well the sometimes conflicting needs of oversight and confidentiality. This balance is not easily gained nor maintained and represents the constant work of all of us who recognize the importance of our intelligence agencies' contribution to the well-being of America and its people.

Finally, we sought to respond reasonably and in good faith to the Subcommittee's request(s) for information regarding CIA computer systems amd security. For instance, although we did not answer directly the information systems security questionnaire you sent me, we did advise you that: computer security has been and is a top Intelligence Community (IC) priority; the IC continues to develop innovative security policies, controls, and tools; the IC was pursuing four initiatives, which we outlined, to maximize intelligence sharing while protecting IC infrastructure, sources and methods, and data integrity; and IC computer systems and security programs are designed to operate in compliance with DCI Directive 6/3, which requires safeguards beyond those OMB, GAO, and NIST require.

Our letter also said we were expanding an update to the HPSCI-mandated "Assessment of the [IC's] Information Infrastructure--Annual Report," a classified document that would contain detailed information on the information security posture of the IC's networks. On September 8, 2000, IC and CIA representatives, on an unclassified/for-official-use-only basis, briefed and answered questions from two members of your Subcommittee staff on IC information security. On April 13, 2001, in reply to a March 2, 2001 letter you sent me, we noted that we had completed and were coordinating with DoD the update to the HPSCI-mandated Assessment/Annual Report.

We believe we have been responsive to and cooperative with the Congress within the overall structure and process for congressional oversight of intelligence as developed by and under statute, rule, and a quarter-century of practice and precedent. Our notifications, briefings, and other provision of information to the Congress have furthered and facilitated congressional oversight of CIA operations and activities. We will continue to do so in the context of a process that has served us for 25 years.


George J. Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence