With this letter, we transmit the report of the Commission on the Intelligence
Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Our
unanimous report is based on a lengthy investigation, during which we interviewed
hundreds of experts from inside and outside the Intelligence Community and reviewed
thousands of documents. Our report offers 74 recommendations for improving the U.S.
Intelligence Community (all but a handful of which we believe can be implemented
without statutory change). But among these recommendations a few points merit special
We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its
pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major
intelligence failure. Its principal causes were the Intelligence Community's inability to
collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what
information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was
based on assumptions, rather than good evidence. On a matter of this importance, we
simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude.
After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence
Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What
the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they
believed. They were simply wrong.
As you asked, we looked as well beyond Iraq in our review of the Intelligence
Community's capabilities. We conducted case studies of our intelligence agencies'
recent performance assessing the risk of WMD in Libya and Afghanistan, and our current
capabilities with respect to several of the world's most dangerous state and non-state
proliferation threats. Out of this more comprehensive review, we report both bad news
and good news. The bad news is that we still know disturbingly little about the weapons
programs and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries.
The good news is that we have had some solid intelligence successes-thanks largely to
innovative and multi-agency collection techniques.
Our review has convinced us that the best hope for preventing future failures is
dramatic change. We need an Intelligence Community that is truly integrated, far more
imaginative and willing to run risks, open to a new generation of Americans, and
receptive to new technologies.
We have summarized our principal recommendations for the entire Intelligence
Community in the Overview of the report. Here, we focus on recommendations that we
believe only you can effect if you choose to implement them:
Give the DNI powers--and backing-to match his responsibilities.
In your public statement accompanying the announcement of Ambassador
Negroponte's nomination as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), you have already
moved in this direction. The new intelligence law makes the DNI responsible for
integrating the 15 independent members of the Intelligence Community. But it gives him
powers that are only relatively broader than before. The DNI cannot make this work
unless he takes his legal authorities over budget, programs, personnel, and priorities to
the limit. It won't be easy to provide this leadership to the intelligence components of the
Defense Department, or to the CIA. They are some of the government's most headstrong
agencies. Sooner or later, they will try to run around---or over-the DNI. Then, only
your determined backing will convince them that we cannot return to the old ways.
Bring the FBI all the way into the Intelligence Community.
The FBI is one of the proudest and most independent agencies in the United
States Government. It is on its way to becoming an effective intelligence agency, but it
will never arrive if it insists on using only its own map. We recommend that you order
an organizational reform of the Bureau that pulls all of its intelligence capabilities into
one place and subjects them to the coordinating authority of the DNI-the same authority
that the DNI exercises over Defense Department intelligence agencies. Under this
recommendation, the counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources of the Bureau
would become a single National Security Service inside the FBI. It would of course still
be subject to the Attorney General's oversight and to current legal rules. The intelligence
reform act almost accomplishes this task, but at crucial points it retreats into ambiguity.
Without leadership from the DNI, the FBI is likely to continue escaping effective
integration into the Intelligence Community.
Demand more of the Intelligence Community.
The Intelligence Community needs to be pushed. It will not do its best unless it is
pressed by policymakers-sometimes to the point of discomfort. Analysts must be
pressed to explain how much they don't know; the collection agencies must be pressed to
explain why they don't have better information on key topics. While policymakers must
be prepared to credit intelligence that doesn't fit their preferences, no important
intelligence assessment should be accepted without sharp questioning that forces the
community to explain exactly how it came to that assessment and what alternatives might
also be true. This is not "politicization"; it is a necessary part of the intelligence process.
And in the end, it is the key to getting the best fi-om an Intelligence Community that, at its
best, knows how to do astonishing things.
Rethink the President's Daily Brief.
The daily intelligence briefings given to you before the Iraq war were flawed.
Through attention-grabbing headlines and repetition of questionable data, these briefings
overstated the case that Iraq was rebuilding its WMD programs. There are many other
aspects of the daily brief that deserve to be reconsidered as well, but we are reluctant to
make categorical recommendations on a process that in the end must meet your needs,
not our theories. On one point, however, we want to be specific: while the DNI must be
ultimately responsible for the content of your daily briefing, we do not believe that the
DNI ought to prepare, deliver, or even attend every briefing. For if the DNI is consumed
by current intelligence, the long-term needs of the Intelligence Community will suffer.
There is no more important intelligence mission than understanding the worst
weapons that our enemies possess, and how they intend to use them against us. These are
their deepest secrets, and unlocking them must be our highest priority. So far, despite
some successes, our Intelligence Community has not been agile and innovative enough to
provide the information that the nation needs. Other commissions and observers have
said the same. We should not wait for another commission or another Administration to
force widespread change in the Intelligence Community.
LAURENCE H. SILBERMAN (Co-Chairman)
CHARLES S. ROBB (Co-Chairman)
RICHARD C. LEVIN
HENRY S. ROWEN
WALTER B. SLOCOMBE
WILLIAM 0. STUDEMAN
PATRICIA M. WALD
CHARLES M. VEST
LLOYD CUTLER (Of Counsel)