What is the Commission's mandate?
The Commission is charged with reviewing the intelligence capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community-comprised of over a dozen intelligence agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency-with respect to threats such as those posed to the United States by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). While the Executive Order that established the Commission specifically directs the Commission to evaluate the quality of the Intelligence Community's intelligence on Iraq 's WMD programs prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Commission's mandate is significantly broader. The Commission has been asked to evaluate comprehensively the quality of U.S. intelligence on all WMD and related 21st Century threats (whether from state actors or transnational terrorist networks) and to provide recommendations for ensuring that the Intelligence Community is best equipped and organized to warn the United States Government about such threats in the future.
How is the Commission's tasking affected by the President's recent intelligence reform proposals?
On August 2, 2004 , the President announced his support for certain organizational changes within the Intelligence Community. The Commission will continue its work as set forth in the President's Executive Order, and any recommendations it makes will of course take into account the new landscape if changes to the intelligence Community's structure or processes are implemented. Along these lines, the President has specifically asked the Commission to determine the merits of creating a new national intelligence center devoted to tracking and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Who are the members of the Commission?
There are nine Commission members who were appointed by the President to serve on this Commission. A brief biography of each of the Commissioners is available here. The Commission members collectively bring to the Commission both expertise in a variety of relevant substantive areas (including intelligence, national security, international law, and technology) and leadership experience within all three branches of the Federal Government, academia, and the private sector.
How many people are on the Commission's staff and what are their backgrounds?
The Commission is supported by more than 60 staff members that are assisting in the Commission's review of the Intelligence Community's capabilities. This staff includes dozens of individuals with direct experience working in the intelligence community, in addition to people with national security, military, and academic backgrounds. A brief biography of selected staff members is available here. Collectively, the Commission's professional staff members average more than 20 years experience in intelligence or national security work.
How is the Commission's staff organized?
The Commission's staff is led by an Executive Director, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Scott Redd, and is divided into two groups: a "Review" group charged with assessing the quality of U.S. intelligence capabilities, and a "Plans" group that will consider and propose recommendations for improving those capabilities.
Will the Commission hold open meetings?
The vast majority of the Commission's work involves the review, analysis, and discussion of classified material, including the most sensitive intelligence information within the possession of the United States Government. Accordingly, the Commission expects that many, and perhaps all, of its meetings must be closed to the public. The Commission has not, however, ruled out the possibility of having open sessions at some point in the future. The Commission will in all events take steps-including press releases and the release of non-classified materials concerning Commission meetings-to keep the public informed of the Commission's progress.
What has been the Commission's meeting schedule to date?
The Commission has held several meetings to date, and joint statements from the Co-Chairs of the Commission describing the contents of these meetings are available here. The Commission plans to hold meetings at least once a month until it concludes its work.
Is there a mechanism in place for individuals inside the Intelligence Community to communicate directly with the Commission?
The Commission has established a dedicated method of communication by which individuals within the Intelligence Community can pass information anonymously to the Commission. The agencies within the Intelligence Community have cooperated fully with the Commission in establishing this system and in publicizing it to agency employees.
How does this Commission differ from the National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the "9/11 Commission")?
While the WMD Commission and the 9/11 Commission both have mandates that include a review of aspects of the U.S. Intelligence Community, there are both procedural and substantive differences between the two commissions. Procedurally, the 9/11 Commission was created by an Act of Congress, while this Commission was established by a Presidential Executive Order. Substantively, while the WMD Commission's mandate includes as a subset of its responsibilities a review of the United States' capabilities to anticipate and prevent terrorist acquisition of WMD and WMD delivery systems, it will not be focusing on the 9/11 attacks specifically. With that said, the 9/11 Commission has made several recommendations concerning the U.S. Intelligence Community, and this Commission has carefully reviewed and will consider those recommendations in our work .
How does the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD (Duelfer Report) impact the Commission's work?
Executive Order 13328 directs the Commission to use the Iraq Survey Group's final report as a point of reference in reviewing the quality of U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq's WMD program. Mr. Duelfer's report is therefore of great importance to the Commission's work. Additionally, Mr. Duelfer met with and briefed several members of the Commission and the staff on October 13, 2004. A detailed review of the information, findings and the conclusions contained in the Duelfer Report is currently underway by the Commission and its staff.
How independent is the Commission?
While the members of the Commission were appointed by the President, it is a bipartisan Commission; one Co-Chairman is a Democrat and the other is a registered Republican, and the remainder of the Commission is similarly balanced in terms of political affiliation. The Commission relies upon the Executive Office of the President for administrative and technical support, and the Commission also has solicited (and will continue to solicit) the input and suggestions of Executive Branch policymakers concerning the capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community. With that said, the Commission alone will determine both the course of its inquiry and the content of its report.
How is this Commission interacting with entities with similar responsibilities in different countries?
Several countries have established independent reviews of their intelligence agencies' past performance, particularly with respect to intelligence on Iraq . Members of the Commission have already had productive meetings with representatives from the Butler Review ( United Kingdom ) and the Flood Parliamentary Inquiry ( Australia ). The Commission will continue to work with these and other foreign review boards to the extent possible, although national security requirements place some limitations on the ability of these entities to share their findings.
Will the Commission reach out to experts and other knowledgeable individuals outside of the government?
It is of the utmost importance that the Commission receives input from those who have valuable insights to offer about issues within the Commission's mandate, whether those individuals happen to be in government, the academic community, or the private sector. To facilitate this process, the Commission has solicited working papers from a host of research institutes and universities, and Commission Members and staff have met with several scholars and former government officials to obtain their advice and will continue to do so.
When is the Commission's report due?
The Executive Order directs the Commission to present its findings and recommendations to the President on or before March 31, 2005 .
Does the recently-enacted Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 affect the work being done by the Commission?
On December 17, 2004 the President signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 which creates a new Director of National Intelligence, establishes into law the National Counterterrorism Center, and enacts a wide range of additional changes to the Intelligence Community. The Commission and its staff have reviewed the Act and will consider the recently enacted reforms as part of its broad examination of the Intelligence Community as it continues its work as set forth by the President's Executive Order.