BRIAN LAMB, host: James Bamford, author of "Body of Secrets," and Jeffrey Richelson,
author of "The Wizards of Langley." Colin Powell said on this Sunday,
September the 16th, that we have a great intelligence community. Do
you agree with that?
Mr. JAMES BAMFORD (Author, "Body of Secrets"): Well, it is great in
a lot of respects. Obviously, this shows that it's not great enough.
It--it--it's great in the sense that they've put a lot of money
and--and effort in a long--long period of--over a long period of
history into building up an agency--various agencies that can do a lot
of amazing things people can't even imagine. But when it comes down
to predicting a major terrorist incident like this, I think they've
got to go back to the drawing boards.
LAMB: Mr. Richelson?
Mr. JEFFREY RICHELSON (Author, "The Wizards of Langley): Well,
they've had successes in the past in terms of--of collecting
intelligence that's allowed terrorist incident--incidents to be
prevented, but this is an area where you really want to be 100
percent; that one devastating attack like this is--is more than you
can really stand. So it's clear that however good they are, and they
are very good in many ways, they have to look at ways to be even
LAMB: What's the strongest part of our intelligence community?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think the ability to collect using technical
systems, particularly satellites and ground stations. We can really
cover vast areas of the world, produce millions of images in a year of
very high resolution, intercept large volumes of communications. And
that's a very impressive technical task, and it's also very important
in giving analysts raw material to work with.
LAMB: What's the weakest part of our intelligence-gathering
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I think, traditionally, the human element
infiltrating CIA personnel into small, little cells of terrorist
organizations, for example. I mean, it's very difficult taking people
who've grown up in America to train them and--and infiltrate groups
that are basically family-based, blood-tied based clan organizations.
Plus, the CIA hasn't really done a tremendous job on--on producing
a--a--a culture of people who are really fluent in--in some of the
more exotic languages that they need. So I think that's the area that
they're--they're most weak--weak in.
LAMB: If you could change something right now, what would you change?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I th--I think I'd be looking towards
intelligence that is very much more strategic than it has been. There
has been a focus over the last decade in--in--specifically in support
to military operations which is very important, but it's also
important to look ahead at things like possible terrorist incidents or
possible nuclear testing by--by various countries and collect
intelligence or--or more intelligence on that than maybe we have been
in the past.
LAMB: I want to come back to all of this, but I want to spend 10
minutes at least with each one of you on your book so we can get some
background on what you've been writing about.
This is Jim Bamford's book, called "Body of Secrets." Why did you
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I wrote a--I wrote an earlier book on NSA which
was the first and only book ever written on NSA back in 1982. It was
called "The Puzzle Palace," and it took the first look at the agency
that does all this eavesdropping and--signals intelligence is the
technical term for it--eavesdropping, code-breaking and so forth. So
I did that book back in '82, and nothing had come out on--on NSA in
the intervening years, so in 1998, I decided to work full-time on--on
writing a--a new book on NSA, taking a look at the agency during the
Cold War right up until present basically.
LAMB: What is the National Security Agency?
Mr. BAMFORD: The National Security Agency, NSA, is the largest
intelligence agency in the world actually. It's far larger than the
CIA. And it specializ--it's also far more secretive. It's always
been far more secret than the CIA, but it specializes in three things
basically. One is interception of communications, eavesdropping on
communications worldwide, whether it's military communications,
diplomatic communications or terrorist communications. The second
thing it does is try to break codes. A lot of that communications,
especially nowadays, is encrypted, put in scrambled communications and
so forth, so the second function is breaking that code, breaking those
cyphers. And the third function is creating a--a code system for the
US, a very secure cypher system. So those are the three main
functions of NSA.
LAMB: How many people work there?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it's hard to say exactly. There's around 38,000,
give or take some.
LAMB: But you say in your book there's another 25,000 that has that
offline responsibility around the world?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, NSA is actually two organizations. One of them
is the National Security Agency which is mostly civilian, and then
there's another component known as the Central Security Service, which
is basically NSA's own Army, Navy and Air Force, and that makes up
maybe another 10,000, 15,000, somewhere around there. Those are the
people who actually go out on the planes, on the ships and sit in the
big listening posts with the earphones that--eavesdropping on the
LAMB: What's the budget for a year?
Mr. BAMFORD: It's around $4 billion for NSA but that doesn't count
the amount NSA spends for satellites. That actually goes to another
agency called the National Reconnaissance Office, and they build
satellites for NSA and other agencies and--and--so a lot of that
budget has to also be put towards NSA. So if you include that, it may
be around $7 billion.
LAMB: What is Crypto City?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, Crypto City is a nickname for NSA's headquarters
complex. It's a very huge operation. It takes up basically an entire
city almost. It has about 37,000 parking--parking places; post office
delivers about 70,000 pieces of mail a day. It has about 50 buildings
scattered over a couple different areas. And it's just a very large
place. They need a lot of room to have all these analysts and
supercomputers and--and the nickname for it is Crypto City.
LAMB: Where's it located?
Mr. BAMFORD: It's located on Ft. Meade, which is halfway between
Washington and Baltimore. It's--it's sort of--you can barely see it
if you drive up the Baltimore Washington Parkway, and it's from
Washington to Baltimore; it's off on the right. It's--it's hidden
behind a lot of fences and--and earthen berms and so forth.
LAMB: Well, what would happen if I drove up there and tried to get in
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, you wouldn't get very far. They've got numerous
fences around it. They have these huge white boulders to stop any
kind of truck bombs. They have these anti-tank devices, basically, so
they've got a lot of protection around the--the agency. And I've been
in there numerous times and been given tours of the agency. And it's
a fascinating place. They've got the world's largest collection of
computers there. They have more mathematicians in there and--and
language experts and cryptologists than any place in the world. So
it's a--it's a very fascinating place.
LAMB: There's an ironic statement in your book on page 549. `The
addition of two new operations--towers provided the agency's
headquarters complex with more space than 11 New York City World Trade
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's right. It's a huge place. Its--its
headquarters--operations complex is a--is a gigantic building with
numerous subbasements and it connects three separate headquarters.
There were three headquarters built at different times and they're all
interconnected in this one headquarters operations building.
LAMB: How did you get in?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I've been in there many times over the years.
NSA has granted me access and given me tours because I've--you know,
I'm the premier writer on--on NSA, so I've had different relationships
with the agency, but even going back as far as 1982, I've been given
tours of the agency, and most recently, not--not too long ago, just
before I finished the book.
LAMB: How did you get into this business in the first place?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I graduated from law school and I didn't really
have any great desire to practice law. I--I wanted to write. I
wanted to be a writer and write on government, and having a law degree
is very useful because if you write on government, you've got to deal
with lawyers a lot, you've got to deal with government officials a
lot. And so I--after law school, I went into writing and--and wrote
the--the predecessor to this called "The--The Puzzle Palace."
LAMB: What's the picture on the back?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the picture on the back is what we were just
speaking of, the headquarters operations building. It's actually a
complex of--of three buildings there--actually, complex of four
buildings, all interweaved together, and that's the main headquarters
of--of NSA. And Crypto City gathers around it in--in every direction.
LAMB: Who runs it?
Mr. BAMFORD: The director of NSA is an Air Force lieutenant general,
Mike Hayden, and it's always run by a three-star Army or Navy officer
who--they change about every three or four years. And he reports to
the secretary of Defense. It actually comes under the--the Pentagon,
which most intelligence agencies do, as opposed to the Central
Intelligence Agency, although he has a--a responsibility to the
director of Central Intelligence also.
LAMB: What do people at NSA think about you writing these books about
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the first book I wrote, "The Puzzle Palace," back
in '82, they were very angry. They--it was the first book ever
written on the agency and they--they did everything from trying to put
me in jail to just giving me a very hard time for writing the--the
first book. But over the years I think they've understood that the
book--that--the--the writing is going to take place, and--and people
should know about the agency. You don't have to know about
everything. One problem the agency has had is that Hollywood is sort
of drawn a caricature of NSA as people who have--are employee
assassins, they go out and shoot people and they eavesdrop on people
in their hotel rooms in--in Washington and it's sort of this--this
false cartoonish image of--of NSA.
So they were--they were, to some degree, happy to see the book come
out this time because it portrayed a--an accurate view of NSA. And if
you have some high school student someplace in the country
that's--goes out and sees a movie showing NSA filled with assassins
and so forth, at least there may be some book in the library as--high
school library or the bookstore where you could go out and--and read
about what A--NSA really does and not the fictional version of it. So
the end result was in the first book they--they tried everything from
trying to get me put in jail to who knows what. This time, it was
complete opposite. They--they actually had a book-signing for me out
at NSA with the employees lined up way out into the parking lot and
went on for four hours. So it was quite a different reaction. And
the agency gave me a lot of help. They gave me interviews with the
director and a number of other officials and--and tours through
different parts of the agency and so forth.
LAMB: When it was at its height, how much money did it spend and how
many people worked there?
Mr. BAMFORD: At its height was at the middle of the Vietnam War.
There were about 90,000 people that worked for NSA at that time. I
don't know what the budget was. I'm just not sure what it was back
then. But it was--it--it was very sizeable--a--a very sizeable
portion of the Defense budget.
LAMB: Where did you grow up?
Mr. BAMFORD: I grew up in Massachusetts outside of Boston, a little
town called Neddick.
LAMB: Where did you go to school?
Mr. BAMFORD: I went to school in Neddick, growing up in Neddick, and
then I went to college in Boston, a law school in Boston.
LAMB: And how long have you been writing books about intelligence and
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I've only written two, the first one, "The Puzzle
Palace," in '82, and "Body of Secrets" a few years ago. I've written
a lot on--in--in terms of articles for magazines, New York Times and
other places. But I've only written two books and I'm going to
continue writing books, I think, now but I probably won't do another
book on NSA for maybe 20 years. It will be the--the third of my
trilogy, maybe, 20 years from now.
LAMB: Let me turn to Jeffrey Richelson, and his book is "The Wizards
of Langley." Why'd you write this?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I'd been interested in technical c--collection
of intelligence, meaning use of satellites and aircraft and so forth
to collect intelligence for a long time. And in doing that research,
I came across the--the key role the directorate played in building
those systems, operating those systems, and as I looked more into its
activities, it--it really--I saw it represented an intelligence
community in itself during parts of its existence. It really became
an intelligence empire, doing everything from building satellites and
aircraft, to operating them, to analyzing the intelligence, and so it
became a fascinating example of the application of science and
technology to really all aspects of intelligence.
LAMB: What's the difference between the NSA and the CIA?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, the CIA has, really--has had three ba--major
functions over its--its existence. One is the analysis of
intelligence, and that's in the end the most important, providing the
president with a daily brief every morning, providing others with very
extensive analyses of say Chinese or Soviet or Russian military forces
and international terrorism. It also has an operations directorate
which conducts spying operations and covert action operations. It has
intelligence officers in embassies overseas who recruit foreign
sources to provide intelligence, and then it--it's been involved,
really almost since its beginning in one way or another, in the
exploitation of science and technology for--for intelligence purposes,
both the collection of intelligence and its analysis. And that became
the basis for the creation of Directorate of Science and Technology.
LAMB: How big is CIA in--in personnel and budget?
Mr. RICHELSON: It's probably now somewhere--I'd--I'd say around
18,000. It used to be a little bit over 20,000, and then there were
cutbacks after the end of the Cold War. And there have been some
increases as far as I understand, so about 18,000 would be my best
estimate. Its budget is probably around $3.1 billion to, say, $3.3
billion a year. There--there was a goof in congressional records a
few years ago and--and they printed--wound up printing the exact
figure, which was $3.1 billion.
LAMB: Where is it located?
Mr. RICHELSON: It's at Langley, Virginia, at least the--the main
headquarters. But--particularly, the--the wizards--the wizards of
Langley, the d--S&T people are--are also spread through northern
Virginia. There are obscure buildings in Tysons Corner. There used
to be a building in Roslyn, the Ames Building. That was a CIA
facility. When the directorate was responsible for photo
interpretation, there was a building in the Washington Navy Yard
called National Photographic Interpretation Center, which had all its
windows bricked up. So it--it--its main headquarters are in Langley
but there's also a number of offices throughout the--particularly the
LAMB: Does the NSA do anything that the CIA uses?
Mr. RICHELSON: It does lots that the CIA uses. It collects signals
intelligence, which is a very important aspect of all source
intelligence, meaning intelligence that's produced by looking at
imagery and signals intelligence and humans and open sources. There's
also a degree of overlap, or has been over the years, between the NSA
and CIA, because the CIA had its own signals intercept operations,
particularly aimed at--at intercepting Soviet and--and then Russian
missile telemetry and Chinese missile telemetry, which are the signals
that missiles send back when they're in their test stage and it allows
people to intercept the--the data, to get an assessment of--of the
missile's capabilities. And in addition, the CIA cooperates with NSA
in a--in a joint operation called the special collections service,
which are eavesdroppers stationed in embassies and consulates around
the world. And it originally both had separate operations but
eventually they were--they were merged into this--this special
LAMB: How long ago did you start on this book?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I did an article that was--must have been five
or six years ago, which sort of further gave me the idea to do this
book. Actually working on this book full-time s--essentially began
about four years ago.
LAMB: What do you do for a living full-time?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, partially that and partially I'm--I'm a senior
fellow at the National Security Archive in--in Washington.
LAMB: And what's that?
Mr. RICHELSON: That's a non-pro--a non-profit private organization
that seeks to get g--documents declassified concerning various aspect
of national security affairs and then it publishes them either on its
Web site in the form of what they call electronic briefing books and I
just posted one on--on the Directorate of Science and Technology, and
it also produces document sets which consist of maybe 15,000 pages of
declassified documents on microfiche along with a--a guide that
contains a chronology and a--and an essay about the topic. And those
are sold to university research libraries.
LAMB: I know that the--the--these are very serious topics, but you
tell a story in here that I want to ask you about because when I read
it, I couldn't believe it. The acoustic kitty.
Mr. RICHELSON: I knew you were going to say that.
LAMB: How did you know that?
Mr. RICHELSON: Because that's the first thing everybody asks me.
LAMB: Tell us about that, and I don't ask it because it's a
superserious question but it was so interesting, I thought it might be
interesting to bring up.
Mr. RICHELSON: Yes. This--this was a project in--in the--about the
mid-1960s. And the CIA wanted to get a better system, better means of
bugging a--a conversation. And the problem with the bugs at that time
is if you put one in a room, it picked up not only the words but every
stray noise and that pretty much drowned out the conversations that
they wanted to--to listen to. So there was a case of a--a Chinese
diplomat in France, for example, and they had bugged his couch, but if
people just sat there and moved around, it wiped out the conversation.
So they thought what we need i--is something that has a means of
filtering out irrelevant noise, just like a human being's ear does,
and they decided to use--try to use a cat. And they wanted to get--be
able to send the cat to, say, eavesdrop on two people sitting on a
park bench talking about something that they considered very serious.
And so they performed surgery on this cat who--to allow its--the
conversations to be transmitted back to, say, a van. They then
further operated on the cat so that they made sure that it didn't walk
off the job because it got hungry or bored or--or anything else. And
then they sent it out to--to try to bug two people, but before the cat
got there, it got ran over by a taxi. And that was the end of the
project fortunately for the world's population of cats.
LAMB: Because you quote somebody by the name of Victor--Is it
Marchetti (pronounced Mark-ETTI) or Marchetti (pronounced
Mr. RICHELSON: Marchetti (pronounced Mark-ETTI).
LAMB: ...Marchetti who used to work at the CIA.
Mr. RICHELSON: Yes.
LAMB: They put him out of the van and a taxi comes along and runs him
over. There they were, sitting in the van with all of this--those
dials and the cat was dead.
Mr. RICHELSON: Yeah, exactly. And that--that, as I say, was
fortunately pretty much the end of the project.
LAMB: How long has the CIA been around?
Mr. RICHELSON: Since 1947.
LAMB: How long has this--the CIA Directorate of Science and
Technology been around?
Mr. RICHELSON: Since 1963.
LAMB: Why was it started in '63, and who started it?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, since it was--from the point it was created,
it--through about 1962, the CIA had gotten involved more and more in
the scientific and technical area. It had developed a U-2 spy plane.
It had overseen the development of the Corona spy satellite. It had
been a--become involved in electronic intelligence operations. As a
supplement to NSA, it had done scientific intelligence production,
studying the nuclear weapons programs of foreign countries. And there
were--there were two key si--CIA advisers. One was dec--Dr. Edwin
Land of Polaroid; the other was--was James Killian. And they pushed
very strongly to put all these activities in one directorate rather
than having them be in the intelligence directorate and the operations
directorate and then having them not be the primary focus of those
directorates. They wanted them all in one place so that the CIA could
better, you know, exploit science and technology.
And so that ev--that eventually resulted in 1962 in the--in the
Directorate of Research which had--which was responsible for overhead
reconnaissance and--and electronic intelligence. But that--there were
problems in terms of both opposition within the CIA and other parts of
the intelligence community. And when the head of that directorate
resigned--Herbert Scovo resigned in--in '62, they pushed for a--an
even more definitive statement of CIA interest in this area. And as a
result, Albert Wheelon was appointed the head of a new directorate,
called the Directorate of Science and Technology, which took over all
the functions of the Directorate of Research but also took over some
additional functions like the Office of Scientific Intelligence.
LAMB: Where are you from originally?
Mr. RICHELSON: New York City.
LAMB: Where did you go to school?
Mr. RICHELSON: New York and f--undergraduate at City College of New
LAMB: What did you study?
Mr. RICHELSON: Political science.
LAMB: Let me ask the two of you on the--the--the big question of the
day, how often--I don't know how many times we've heard in the last
few days that the intelligence failed us in what happened in New York
and here in Washington. What would you say to that?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, any time you have a massive terrorist incident
like this, I think you have to say it--it definitely did fail. The
question is whether anything could have been done to--to prevent it.
One issue that you have right know is that NSA and a lot of the
intelligence community was geared for the Cold War. It spent almost
50 years fighting the Soviet Union and targeting that. Switching
gears to this new world where we're not facing a--a lambaste giant of
a country with fixed transmitters and so forth is much more difficult.
If you're trying to go after people that are switching countries
and--and--are hiding out in caves, basically, not using a lot of
communications, it makes it much more difficult.
I--in terms of whether this was a failure, comparing it to--to Pearl
Harbor, I think it was a--a far greater failure--failure because in
Pearl Harbor we were able to break the--the--the Japanese code
and--and we were able to intercept the--one of the key messages at the
last moment. And it was just a--a matter of mechanics, getting the
message to Hawaii late, because of the way they were sending it. They
actually had to send it through Western Union because of the
atmospheric conditions. But they were able to get the information
decoded and--and get it there almost in time. And in this case,
however, they were caught completely by surprise. And they didn't
even have notice in terms of days or weeks beforehand. So
it's--in--in addition, there are probably at least twice as many
people that were killed so I think this is far worse of a--a surprise.
Mr. RICHELSON: Certainly, by definition, they failed to provide
warning that this was going to happen and there were rather drastic
and dramatic, serious consequences. I think the question that comes
up, though, is what exactly they could have done differently, if
anything. And that's something that's really going to de--really is
going to have to be investigated by Congress, by the intelligence
community internally, maybe by an outside review panel because these
are very, very hard targets and it--I think it's not just that we
used--we--we prepared and developed all these systems for the Cold
War; it's that any type of technical collection may be defeated if you
don't do anything outside that can be photographed. If you don't put
anything--any communications in the airwave that can be intercepted,
then there's nothing that those systems are going to turn up.
And I think one of the questions for investigation is wh--Did we get
anything? Did they do anything that was detected that should have
been read as a warning? Did somebody produce a warning notice of any
sort that was not properly paid attention to? And that's
something--until there's an investigation, we don't--we don't really
know for sure. You know, you--the--the systems we have, as--as Jim
said, and--and others have said, are--were very good for the Cold War
and they're very good for--for many things now, but it may--it--it may
just be beyond the laws of physics to develop a terrorist detection
satellite. There's--there's--they don't give off any signatures
that--that can be seen.
LAMB: But you both, when you--as you total the numbers, you total
that up and you've got approximately $4 billion here and $3 billion
there, that's $7 billion. And we've heard for the last several years
that there's $30 billion on intelligence-gathering. Where's the rest
of it come from?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, you have other agencies--the National
Reconnaissance Office has $7 billion.
LAMB: What's that?
Mr. BAMFORD: That's the agency that builds the satel--the spy
satellites, puts them up into space and controls them once they're up
there. Then there's another agency that actually reads the data
that's--the images that's produced by the imaging satellites. That's
LAMB: What's that called?
Mr. BAMFORD: The National Imaging and Mapping Agency, NIMA...
LAMB: Did you say that's got like 9,000 people that work there? Is
that the one?
Mr. BAMFORD: I--I don't mention NIMA in my book, but definitely...
LAMB: I think Mr. Richel--yeah.
Mr. RICHELSON: Start off with 9,000. It's--it's been cut back a
little but it was formed from merging the Defense Mapping Agency with
the Directorate of Science and Technology's National Photographic
Interpretation Center plus some additional agencies throughout the
LAMB: How does the Defense Intelligence Agency fit into all this?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, they--they have about 7,000 people and I think
their budget is probably around $1 billion a year. Their primary
function is intelligence analysis, whether it's on terrorism or
proliferation or the military capabilities of China. They also
operate a defense human service which are the Defense Department
spies, and also are responsible for something called the Central
Masses Organization, which is a organization that, sort of, is
involved in funding and advancing and--and helping in the analysis
of--of what's called measurement and signature intelligence, which are
things like seismic signals fro--from nuclear tests.
LAMB: How's the FBI get into this?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the FBI has a role in its foreign
counterintelligence activity. They're basically the counterspies.
They look for--for spies like Robert Hanssen or whatever.
They're--they're the people going out trying to find if somebody's
passing secrets to the Russians, or some other foreign agency. But in
addition to that, the--each of the military services have their own
intelligence agency. And the State Department has an intelligence
agency. So I think there's more than a dozen agencies out
there--intelligence agencies that will push it up to 30 billion, and a
lot of that is also tactical intelligence. It's intelligence
collected on the ground by--by the military and so forth. It--it's a
tremendous amount of money, $30 billion.
LAMB: Have either one of you added up the total number of people that
might be involved in intellience--intelligence gathering?
Mr. RICHELSON: I think it comes to probably somewhere around
100,000. It used to be much more. It was--I think in the 1970s it
was about 131,000.
LAMB: Who changed it?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, there were cutbacks...
LAMB: When did it start--when did the cutbacks start?
Mr. RICHELSON: In the--in the...
Mr. BAMFORD: In the 1990s, I think. Yeah. The NSA's cut back by a
third since 1990, both in terms of personnel and budget, and I--I
think Jeff can tell you about the CIA.
Mr. RICHELSON: Yeah, the--there two cutbacks. One was the 1970s
cutback where there was complaints there were so--this 135,000 or so
people involved in intelligence, and then the post-Cold War cutback
where they were cutting something between 17 percent and 22 percent
of--of civilian personnel, so the CIA went down from about 22,000 to
LAMB: We've been warned about terrorism in this country for years.
Did anybody at any of the intelligence agencies take it seriously?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, they all take it seriously. The--the--the--the
point is, it's a very new thing to a lot of these people. First of
all, in this incident here, nobody had--had ever seen suicide bombers
like this in the United States. We'd seen them in the Middle East,
but not in the United States. They've never seen really educated
tourists--educated terrorists who would actually go to school for up
to years--several years to--to learn to be a pilot, for example, for
the sole mission of killing themselves, along with maybe a dozen or
two dozen other people. And so all these are--are--are fairly new.
Not all this should have been a surprise. The--the--Osama bin Laden
certainly wasn't a surprise, the fact that he's involved in terrorism.
There had been other terrorist incidents where terrorists had hijacked
planes with the intention of either blowing them up or using them
as--as weapons. There--there was a case out in the--where there was a
plot to--to hijack, I think, a dozen aircraft at one point. And there
have been a number of suicide bombers. We had a suicide bomber
in--in--off Yemen when--when a suicide bomber blew himself up and blew
a 40-foot hole into the USS Cole. And there were bombings at the
embassies in East Africa and so forth. So--so putting all that
together, it shouldn't be--be a total surprise that this might have
happened, but the extent of this and--and the--the boldness of it, I
think, took everybody by surprise.
LAMB: You referred a couple times to humit--human intelligence.
Mr. RICHELSON: Right.
LAMB: Do you have any idea how many people are in that business, out
of all these intelligence agencies?
Mr. RICHELSON: I'd say it's probably se--a few thousand.
LAMB: How does that work?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, the most important human effort for--for
this--for the US is--is the CIA's director of operations, and they
have people in embassies and consulates, and some undercover as in--as
what was called NOCs, non-official cover, throughout the world. And
they try to recruit people--I mean, largely you're targeting people in
foreign governments. That's tradi--traditionally the way it--it's
been done. Some of them you may meet on the diplomatic circuit
or--or--or elsewhere. And so they try to find people who either are
willing to spy for the US for money or are disaffected with their
government and can be recruited on that basis. And that--there--there
were a number of successes, you know, particularly during the Cold
War. The problem, of course, was that you had people like Aldrich
Ames coming along and blowing them all out of the water.
I think the--the difficulty with humit today in dealing--in dealing
with terrorism is that you're deal--trying to recruit people who are
complete fanatics, who know each other, who have blood ties in many
cases, who if you want to--if somebody's going to be a part of
that--that terrorist cell is gonna have to commit some heinous crimes
to begin with. So it--it's--it's not only--it's not something that's
necessarily susceptible to--to having money thrown at it. And--and I
can think back to the--the Pearl Harbor question, because there were
complaints, remember, on the floor of--floor of the US Congress just
after Pearl Harbor about how we had--didn't have any spies in the
alleys of Japan and the geisha houses and so forth. And, of course,
you aren't gonna get any useful information there. You needed the
spies in the Japanese military, and that also was the situation where
this is the nature of this society--this is the rachel--racial
differences--it would've been tremendously hard to recruit anybody.
And that's really, you know, the crux of--of a lot of the problem
Mr. BAMFORD: Recruiting spies in the Cold War with Russia was having
people who were there under diplomatic cover recruiting other people
who were working for the Russian government. For example, a lot of
times it was people that would volunteer to work for the US for--for
money and, you know, they would spy, pass information on through
dead-drops and so forth to US intelligence agencies. Intelligence
agents posing as diplomats and so forth.
But--but with terrorists now--and the big complaint is that the CIA
can't convert these--this--this kind of covert clandestine service
from being, sort of, attending cocktail parties and--and trying to
recruit foreign officials to actually get people who--who look Middle
Eastern, who speak fluent languages of the Middle East and to live
in--in the mountains of Afghanistan for five years. And so one of
the--the alternatives then is to use intelligence services in the
area--maybe the Pakistani service, for example. They'd be in a better
position to infiltrate people into--into Afghanistan, or even
cooperation with Russia, where Russia may infiltrate people, and then
we would, through liaison offices, get the information.
LAMB: Let me say for a minute that I'm president of the United States
and I'm sitting in the Oval Office, and what happened this week
happened. Who does he look to--is it fair for him to look at somebody
and say, `You let me down'?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, sure. That's what I'm sure they're gonna to do.
They're gonna--they're--they're gonna to look for somebody who made an
error in judgement and let this happen.
LAMB: Where would it be, though? Would it--what--what agency would
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, to some degree, I think that would be
scapegoating this whole thing. I think it's been a--a--a failure of
policy over a long period of time. I mean, we're--we're just talking
about here the--the--the failure to sort of recruit people who are
indigenous to that area or--or--or really work hard to get people who
will fit in to get into those--those little organizations. And the
other thing is that there's been too much emphasis on collecting
technology and not--collecting information with high technology and
not enough on actually analyzing all that--that's been collected.
LAMB: Who would he--who would the president look to immediately,
Mr. RICHELSON: The--the director of central intelligence. He's
responsible, at the end of the day, for providing the president with
strategic intelligence, with intelligence warning of an attack from
a--by a foreign country on US interests on major terrorist attacks.
LAMB: Who is he?
Mr. RICHELSON: He's George Tenet.
LAMB: George Tenet comes from where?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, he's--his previous position, he was--he was
deputy director, and before that, he was a Senate staffer. And he, in
fact, wrote the--wrote the presidential directive on intelligence
priorities that was signed during the Clinton administration.
LAMB: Working for?
Mr. RICHELSON: For the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
LAMB: May--in--in terms of the town, he's a Democrat, was asked to
stay on by this president?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I don't know his political affiliation, but
he--he was--he was certainly a Clinton appointee and--and was asked to
LAMB: I haven't heard anybody point a finger at him or anybody else
this week yet. They just say intelligence. Will that eventually
happen? Will there be hearings in this kind of thing? Will he be
called up and asked, `Why didn't you know this'?
Mr. RICHELSON: I think on a--there'll--there'll certainly be closed
hearings and probably some open hearings as well. There might be one
of these outside review groups that have been appointed fairly
frequently to look into intelligence failures, like after the--the
Indian tests. There have been some people on the Hill from what I--I
read in the paper who have been raising the possibility that he should
resign, but I don't think that's--that's gonna happen, certainly
LAMB: How do we stack up against the other intelligence-gathering
outfits in the world?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, we're far superior to--to--to most of them in
terms of technology. We've always been far superior to the Russians
in terms of the quality and--and the product of the
intellige--the--the satellite intelligence that we produce. I think
they've been better than the US in terms of human intelligence and
they've been able to penetrate the--the US government far better
than--than the US has been able to penetrate the Russian government.
Perfect example is--is Aldrich Ames and the recent spy from the FBI.
Mr. BAMFORD: Bob Hanssen, yeah. You know, if--if--during the--the
mid-1980s to 1981, we had at least a dozen human spies that were
working for us in the Russian government, passing information and so
forth. The only problem was--was that Aldrich Ames had given those
names all to the Russians, so whatever information they were passing
us--to us, the Russians knew who they were, and they were--they killed
a few of them and put a few of them in jail, and--and the rest they
could have used to pass disinformation. So they've always been better
at--at--at penetrating US government than we've been at penetrating
their government. So I think the US has led the way in terms of
technical intelligence and they've lead the way in terms of human
LAMB: Jeffrey Richelson, what motivated to write this book? What'd
you want to happen as a result of publishing this book?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I--I was certainly hoping that that would
be--you know, one effect would be to ha--engender a better
understanding of what the director did and provide an example of how
much has been locked away, sort of, behind closed doors and stamped
secret about the history of--of the agency, and particularly that
effort, that really needs to be brought out because it's a very
interesting story and it's a very important part of the history of the
Cold War. Because without these type of intelligence capabilities,
particularly reconnaissance satellites and--and the ability to--to
monitor Soviet missile tests, the--there--there would have been a lot
more uncertainty in the minds of US leaders, both in--in normal
situations and--and in crisis situations, and that could have had a
very serious effect in terms of the maintenance of the peace.
LAMB: How many satellites do we have up there right now?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, we have about five photographic reconnaissance
satellites and somewhere around, I would say, maybe about 10
LAMB: NSA have responsibility for any of these?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it has the responsibility of the product--in
other words, the information that comes out of the--the signals
intelligence--the eavesdropping satellite. The--the National
Reconnaissance Office actually controls the--their orbits and--and
actually controls the satellites themselves, but NSA is in charge
of--of all the intercepts--the telephone calls and the faxes and the
e-mails that they pick up.
LAMB: How many telephone calls are we listening to around the world?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, one listening post, for example, will pick up
about two million pieces of communications an hour. Now, you use
computers to filter a lot of that using--you're looking for particular
phone numbers, particular prefixes in the phone numbers or particular
names or--or--or even words to some degree. So you have computers
that sift through a lot of that two million pieces of communications
and narrow it down to about 16,000 pieces that the people actually
there in the listening post will physically, using computers and--and
other tools, go through. And then from that 16,000, there'll be about
1,000 pieces of communications every hour that will be sent back to
NSA, where analysts will further refine it and--and maybe come up with
one or two reports out of all that. So it's a--the problem is--is
they're getting so much information fed into the system and there are
so few actual Arabic or Farsi or Lingala or whatever kind of language
you're looking at, the--thare--there are so few actual linguists and
analysts to analyze all that information, that's the problem here.
And they may have actually picked up some indications that this--this
event was gonna take place--this terrorist incident was gonna take
place. The problem is most of this information is not picked up in
real time or as it's happening; it's picked up by remote recorders
that record the information and then analysts over the next hours,
days, weeks goes over that information. And that's exactly what
they're doing at NSA now, is going through all the back information
that's been picked up that may in any way shed some light on this
incident, so they can see, you know, if there--there was something
that they did miss, or if there's something that may give them a clue
into what may happen next.
LAMB: You tell a story in your book about the attempt to getting rid
of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service. What is that?
Mr. RICHELSON: It's a open--what's called an open source agency
or--or office which is--doesn't do any overhead reconnaissance,
doesn't recruit any spies. It reads newspapers, essentially, and
listens to radio broadcasts, so it has people who are trained in about
55 different languages. It--one thing it would be certainly doing
today, with a very high priority, is listening to everything that's
broadcast in Afghanistan of any sort of a political nature, what the
Taliban is saying to its people...
LAMB: How do they do that?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, they have--you have simple listening posts on
top of embassies or consulates in various parts of the world that can
receive the--these type of communications. Some of it's done by US
facilities, a lot of it's done by the British and the British
Broadcasting Corporation, which has a monitoring service and has a
cooperative arrangement with the CIA, and this has been going on for
50 years now. And so the FBIS will look through--will read the
newspapers from these countries, will listen to radio and television
broadcasts, and it will report--prepare analyses about what's being
said and it will combine that, often, with classified information to
provide some sort of a further analysis of what a political party or
what a government is saying it's going to do or not going to do.
LAMB: Who tried to get rid of this?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, nobody tried to get rid of it, but when Ruth
Davey was the deputy director for science and technology, she was very
focused on information technology. That's--that was her background
and, in fact, some of the review groups that had proposed, you know,
changes in the director, it suggested that this was an area that they
should concentrate on. And she set up a couple of offices that--that
would focus on that. And--but the problem was that she wanted to take
their budget essentially out of the FBIS budget, and that caused a lot
of controversy within the agency and it also caused a controversy
outside because a lot of academics and other scholars really relied on
FBIS to provide--to work--which was something--basic intelligence to
them about what was going on in these foreign countries.
LAMB: What kind of information--or intelligence leader was George
Herbert Walker Bush?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, he was here only a short period of time. He
didn't really leave a mark. I think he was there either a year or a
little less or a little more than a year, so I don't think he left
much of a mark, although now the--the entire CIA is named after him,
the George Bush Intelligence Center, I think it's called. So I--what
specifically he's done, maybe Jeff knows more than I do.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, as--as Jim said, he was there for a very short
period of time. He did raise the morale of--of the agency 'cause he
was coming in at a very difficult time, after the Church Committee,
after the Rockefeller Commission report. CIA was--was under a lot of
pressure and--and--and receiving a lot of criticism, and he did raise
the morale. He did sign off, from what I understand, on a couple of
satellite projects that have since--since gone into orbit, but--but
he--he wasn't really there long enough to have some great, major
impact in the way, say, that Allen Dulles did.
LAMB: Which CIA--DCI, or director to civil--central intelligence, has
had the biggest impact in the last 20 years?
Mr. RICHELSON: That's...
LAMB: Either--either good or bad.
Mr. RICHELSON: I don't know if I could say offhand.
LAMB: Which NSA director has had the most impact?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I think the current one's having the most impact
certainly in--in--maybe of all time, or--or he's certainly within
the--a small group of people who've had the most impact, and that's
because he's--he's had to completely retool the agency from the--the
old days of the Cold War to this--this new--new world of the 21st
century, and it's a very difficult job.
I mean, NSA--in--in "Body of Secrets" I write where they had
intercepted Osama bin Laden for a long period of time--for a year or
more. And they were so proud of that, when they get a high--highly
cleared visitor from another intelligence agency, they would actually
play a tape of Osama bin Laden talking to his mother. And then a year
or--or more ago, they totally lost his communications. They lost
track of him entirely because he'd become far more sophisticated in
terms of communicating. And I think a lot of--when you're--when
you're dealing with cells, a lot of the information is--is transferred
by courier or--or just by word of mouth, and there's not a lot of
communications over international communications.
LAMB: Who would have been looking at these followers of his who are
in this country and have been educated in this country in how to fly
airplanes and all of that? Who would have been following that? Who's
Mr. RICHELSON: Well...
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's the FBI.
Mr. RICHELSON: Yeah, or--or the INS in so--in some cases. I mean,
part of this problem that--this disaster is, you know, maybe
attributable to either foreign or domestic intelligence, but part of
it is also sort of just completely outside the intelligence community
in terms of, there may be problems with--with INS. I mean, we know
that some of these people were on a watch list, and yet they--they
still participated in the hijacking.
Aviation security at the airports has nothing to do with any part of
the intelligence community. So in addition to whatever problems there
were, it wasn't intelligence, there clearly were problems outside of
LAMB: You want to add to that?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's true. I think a lot of these people have
been living here for--for many years, and NSA's restricted from
eavesdropping within the United States except in certain cases.
Terrorism is one of those exceptions. But the FBI basically has most
of the responsibility for looking for terrorists within the United
States, and as Jeff said, there's a lot of other agencies that--that
may have picked something up, like the Immigration and Naturalization
Service and so forth that--or simply airport security at--at the final
end. But in terms of long-term strategic--strategic looking for
events happening down the road, that's something that the intelligence
community completely missed in terms of what was going on in the--in
the bin Laden organization.
LAMB: If you had the--the opportunity, could you cut the di--the
intelligence budget by a certain amount? `Is there waste?' is what
I'm getting at.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I'm sure you--there's always ways to do
things--given a fixed amount of money, there's probably always ways to
do it somewhat better at less money, but...
LAMB: But it's not a big deal for you?
Mr. RICHELSON: No, I don't think so. I think that there's very
little give in the intelligence budget, because if you want to have
repetitive coverage, say, of nuclear testing facilities or terrorist
camps or Chinese missile deployments, then you need a certain number
of satellites. And say we have five now, and that--that's $5 billion
really--if you take one away, then you lose some coverage.
LAMB: Any waste?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I don't think so. I haven't seen a lot of real
waste. I think one problem may be the--the emphasis on too much
collection and not enough analysis, shifting money away
from--from--from just collecting too much information, more than
anybody can analyze, to--to putting more linguists in there. I mean,
you've got to have somebody down there at the bottom end
that's--that's eventually listening to this. You can--you can collect
all the information in the world, but if you only have 100 people that
can actually listen to it, then it doesn't do much good. So I
don't--I'm not in favor of cutting anything. I think I'm more in
favor of increasing the budget in different places. But I think there
also should be some looking into beefing up the--the analyst end,
which is--gets a lot less attention because it's far easier to sell
Congress on a--on a fancy satellite that can do twice as much as the
previous satellite rather than going in and saying we need 500 more
linguists or something.
LAMB: How do you think Congress deals with intelligence? In other
words, there are--how many committees up there? How's the
coordination? Do they get in the way? Do they help things?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, they certainly--there--there are two
committees, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and I think in some
areas, it's--it's--what they're doing is very useful because they
really provide an outside review of what the agencies are doing. And
in the case of NSA, which I'm sure Jim can tell you more about,
they've really held that agency's feet to the fire over--over many
years now--several years now, with annual reports saying that there
are these problems in terms of NSA's capabilities keeping up with the
technology of the--of the modern world. And that's something we as
citizens probably wouldn't know if it wasn't for--for these committee
LAMB: What about Congress?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I agree. The--Congress, especially Porter Goss,
who's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been really
driving a lot of the intelligence committee--community. He--he's a
former CIA officer himself and he's really been pushing the National
Security Agency to--to move from the Cold War to the present day, and
there's been a lot of people that have warned that this is gonna
happen, if they ha--if they don't me--move fast enough and--and change
quick enough. A lot of the--the discussion is changing the culture
from looking one way at a fixed immobile country to--to looking at
these--these organizations that are very mobile and--and going from
one place to another. But I think Congress has played a large role
in--in energizing and pushing NSA and--and, to some degree, the CIA
into moving to the new--new world here.
LAMB: I want to ask you whether this is a problem or a benefit. On
page 523, you say, in your book, Jim Bamford, `Likewise TRW hired
former NSA Director William'--Is it Studeman?...
Mr. BAMFORD: Studeman, yes. Huh-huh.
LAMB: ...`a retired Navy admiral, as its vice president and deputy
general manager for intelligence programs. The massive consulting
firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton, which frequently bids for NSA contracts,
hired Studeman's successor as director, retired Vice Admiral J.
Michael McDon--McConnell, and McConnell's former deputy director,
William P. Crowell, left NSA to become vice president of Cylink, a
major company involved in encryption products. Crowell had been
through the revolving door before, going from a senior executive post
at NSA to a vice presidency at the Atlantic Aerospace Electronics
Corporation, an agency contractor, and then back to the US--Nat--the
National Security Agency as chief of staff. Another deputy director
of the agency, Charles R. Lord, left NSA in 1987 and immediately
became vice president at E-Systems, one of NSA's biggest contractors.'
I could go on. There are a lot more that you mention in here.
You--you--you start by talking a lot about, you know, President
Eisenhower and--I know in your book, President Eisenhower and his
involvement with Jim Killian and all that. He warned us about the
military-industrial complex. Is this part of it? Is is a...
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, this is a crypto-industrial complex. It--it--it
could be a problem. I write about it in a somewhat non-perjorative
way. The--it--it--it happens. There's a--there's a small group of
companies out there that specialize almost 100 percent in providing
NSA with this equipment. And a lot of times, it's the sole source
of--of--of material. There's benefits and--and deficits for having
people use the revolving door like that.
I just made a note to make sure that, you know, people know that
there--there is this issue out there, and it--it's positive in the
sense that the outside corporations could use some of this expertise.
It's negative in the sense that you have an insider at NSA going to
a--a--a private corporation and maybe sharing inside information.
It's hard to say. So, I--I mean there's pros and cons, but it--it's
certainly something that Eisenhower worn--warned about in terms of
defense. And this is, again, what I call the crypto-industrial
LAMB: Again, you're president of the United States. What would you
say to your DCI when he comes in for a briefing tomorrow that you want
changed because of what happened this week?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think I'd tell him, `There are--there are
three things I want from you. I want warning if anything else like
this is planned, I want support for the military operations we're
gonna have to conduct and I want a report on my desk about what went
wrong.' And those are the three things that they--that he really needs
to be asking for and--and--and are the primary concern right now.
LAMB: Are you gonna be mad, angry, irritated?
Mr. RICHELSON: I think I'd want to know--all my assessment of--of
the--of President Bush is--is he probably wouldn't be, at least until
he finds out you know, what exactly went wrong. I think that's the
thing you have to--you have to ask before you have anybody--you know,
any--anybody sort of dragged up before Congress and subjected to a lot
LAMB: What would you say to your DCI tomorrow morning?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I would certainly want to know how we could
change it so it doesn't happen in the future, and I--I'd want to know
what--what efforts we're--we're making to--to penetrate these
organizations with human sources and what methods we're using to--to
try to find out what the--why they're communicating. How come we--we
lost bin Laden? Why did we lose all types of communications from him?
And what can we do to--to pick him up, find out where he is and listen
to his communications? So I'd want to know what went wrong and how we
can correct it in the future.
LAMB: Our guests have been James Bamford, author of "Body of
Secrets," about the National Security Agency and Jeff Richelson,
author of this book, "The Wizards of Langley."
LAMB: We're going to do something we don't normally do on BOOKNOTES,
and we've never done it in our 13-year history, and we're going to
have a call-in show with you two gentlemen, for an hour. And
actually, we've never done this program live either, so we've got a
twofer tonight, and we've never had two guests on here, with two
different books. The numbers are on the screen; it's--Eastern and
Central time zone, it's (202) 624-1111, and for Mountain and Pacific
time zones, it's (202) 624-1115. You can begin dialing now and we'll
take your calls for our two guests, who are going to be here with us
for another hour.
What is your biggest surprise of what you've heard this week,
listening to the media, about the event of last Tuesday?
Mr. BAMFORD: Biggest surprise in--in terms...
LAMB: Are we getting--are we getting the accurate amount of
information, or do you hear a lot of people saying things that you
would like to correct on television, or read in the newspaper, about
the intelligence part of this whole process?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, there really hasn't been that much that's been
said about the intelligence process. It's--it's been, you know,
a--sort of generic complaints about how did we miss this. So I
haven't really seen too much in terms of miscommunications about
intelligence; there really hasn't been much i--in terms of writing on
specific intelligence operations. I think overall, th--the--they've
got it right, and that there's a--a problem of not being able to
infiltrate people into these organizations, and--but I haven't really
seen too much in terms of bad information.
LAMB: Let's take our first call from Oakton, Virginia. Go ahead,
please; you're on BOOKNOTES.
Unidentified Caller #1: Hi. You mentioned before that INS might come
in for some blame in this. I was a--an INS agent for quite a number
of years. I--I'm no longer with the agency, but one thing I would
point out is that INS' interior enforcement efforts have been greatly
restricted over a number of years, and a--most of its efforts are
directed at the southern border, and that's usually by national policy
rather than INS' choice. The other thing I'd point out is
that--excuse me--a lot of the visa problems don't originate with INS.
They originate with the State Department; the State Department's very
generous in issuing visas. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of
these individuals were here legally, u--under INS law. Maybe they
could comment on what the prospect is for increasing INS' interior
enforcement, rather than restricting it, and restricting some of the
State Department's sort of generous impulses in handing out visas. I
think INS gets a lot of blame unfairly in these cases; they're just a
LAMB: OK, thanks.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think everything's going to be on the table,
and the points you raise are very good ones, and it--you know,
when--when all the facts are known about this, that's exactly what
LAMB: Let's go next to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Go ahead, please.
Albuquerque, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #2: Thank you. Brian...
Unidentified Caller #2: ...thank you so much for C-SPAN. It's the
most wonderful coverage of this terrible incident, if you can put
wonderful and terrible in the same sentence. My question is about--I
have twofold. First of all, the competition among the services, and
how they all are trying for the funds that are available. Secondly,
President Bush has been reinvestigating "Star Wars," and my feeling
is, listening to these gentlemen, that perhaps we should be investing
more in this area rather than "Star Wars."
LAMB: Thanks. Competition a problem among the services?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it's always a--a problem, but they've got it
fairly well laid out where the different agencies do very different
tasks, and there the--I think the competition problem has been
alleviated to a--to a large degree.
On the second aspect, I--I think the caller's 100 percent right. The
administration, and also a lot of people in the Defense Department,
have been focusing solely on--on weapons of mass destruction, which is
missiles being fired from North Korea or some other place and--and
then focusing on the "Star Wars" project--in other words, thinking too
high-tech and--and long-term and--and--while the--the terrorists have
been sort of sneaking under the--under the door.
LAMB: Washington, DC, go ahead, please. You're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #3: Yes, I'm curious, not so much about
competition, but lack of coordination and sharing of information along
the intelligence agencies and whether that had an impact on what we
saw last week. Secondly, are there implications for biological
warfare, given that it looks like we're going to war? Thank you.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think you may always find some breakdown
between, say, the CIA and F--FBI, that th--there has certainly been
that--that--that's certainly been the case with regard to
counterintelligence in the past. Th--there is, within the CIA, a
counterintelligence center which brings together people from the CIA
and the FBI a--and several other agencies, which attempts to get
around this problem. It--it may be that even more--more coordination
is needed. There's an organization that operates out of NSA which
brings together a lot of intelligence on s--on missiles and space
activities that receives SIGINT and--and everything else, and also
provides warning. And maybe there's a need to expand the
counterintelligence center to make sure that everything is flowing
in--counterterrorism center to make sure everything is flowing into
this two-in-one entity that's related to that subject.
LAMB: Who watches the biological warfare?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, all the agencies have a role in that. That's one
of the--the--these new things in the 21st century that they're trying
to get a handle on. It's much more difficult when you're talking
about taking in a couple flasks of--of germs or--or chemicals than
watching warheads come in, or--or high explosives. So it--it's an
extremely difficult problem, and that's what--I think that's one of
the--the--the key things that are gonna be on the horizon now, since
bin Laden has tried different approaches, sup--supposing that he's
been involved in all these previous incidents. It's always been
something different: blowing up a ship, blowing up an--an embassy in
a foreign country, blowing up a world trade center. And, you know,
everybody's worried that the next step or the--the step after that may
be either biological or chemical.
LAMB: Moreno Valley, California, go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #4: Yes. First of all, I'd like to say, it's a
great honor to be able to speak before these highly intelligent
gentlemen. I'm a sovereign citizen here in--in California,
representing Unity States of the America. And my question is: How
are your feelings on the application of the science technology to all
aspects in regards to truth in the language?
Mr. RICHELSON: I don't really understand the question.
LAMB: Let's go next to Richland, Washington. You're on the air. Go
ahead, please. Hello, Richland.
Unidentified Caller #5: I have a question for--I have a question for
Jeffrey Richelson. In terms of the US technical assets, the
intelligence community has been undergoing a--a decline in both
funding and the so-called graying of the all-source analysts. What do
you propose to be the solution for increasing technical information,
increasing complexity of information and decreasing numbers of
analysts a--and numbers of--amount of funding for them, and
the--dealing with much more information about much more complicated
and--and, in a sense, multiple lines of evidence leading to something
like the terrorist attacks for an organization like the CIA, which has
a--a--a history of--sort of a historic approach to intelligence
analysis, now will have to come up with a whole new paradigm?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, in terms of the technical assets, actually the
US has been deploying a--a really fair--fair number of them over the
1990s, starting from really about 1994 we've been launching signals
intelligence satellites and photographic reconnaissance imagery
satellites at a fairly impressive rate, and--and these have been
updated satellites, so--which partially results in the problem Jim
talked about of--of there being so much data coming down and not
enough people to analyze it.
In terms of dealing with the complexity of data, that's an area where
information technology comes in, where attempts to take all this
complex data and look for patterns through a--a variety of--of
machine-assisted, computer-assisted programs can be very important.
Every--something as simple as the ability to take cables coming in
form overseas and sort through them by a machine so that you can find
the interesting stuff in three minutes rather than having the human
analysts take three or four hours to do it, which i--which is one of
the innovations in information technology that have--that have been
introduced. The question will still remain, of course, whether
there's information there to be found that's relevant to--to the
LAMB: Bristol, Connecticut, good--good evening. Go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #6: Yes, good evening. I really enjoy your
programming, Mr. Lamb.
LAMB: Thank you.
Unidentified Caller #6: My question was for Jeff Richelson, and it
regards this author Joseph J. Trento, who's written his third book on
the CIA titled "The Secret History of the CIA"--it's supposed to be
published next month--and he called Tuesday's attack `a massive
failure intelligence.' He points out that back in '95, that US
officials have known of this possibility because they had this
mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, a Ramzi Ahmed Yousef,
who was involved in that '93 incident; he was talking about hijacking
commercial jetliners and crashing them into major US buildings.
Apparently four suspects in some planned assassination of Pope John
Paul II were arrested in the Philippines, and this Yousef lieutenant
had this commercial pilot's license from a North Carolina flight
school, so it's maintained that this should have given our
intelligence people a little hint that maybe this type of approach
would be used to do some damage to US sites.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, if--if his reporting is accurate, that--that
would certainly seem to be the case, but--but even beyond what--what
they might have learned from Yousef, I mean, i--it simply--if people
had, you know, read or--or seen works of fiction and movies, the idea
is not anything that is really out of the blue. I mean, Tom Clancy in
"Debt of Honor" had a Japanese pilot crashing a--it was a 747--into
the Capitol. One movie had a plane being hijacked to drop biological
warfare agents on Washington. So none of this seems anything that
somebody shouldn't have thought of; the question is, you know, at some
point, do you have enough evidence to think that they're really doing
it, rather than it simply being a possibility? And that's really one
of the things that an investigation has to get at: Was there any
information that--that should have really led to this, an--and again,
i--it--you know, if Trento's reporting is accurate, then there would
seem to be a--you know, more than we knew about.
LAMB: How many--you say the NSA cannot listen to conversations inside
the United States.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, they're--most of the conversations it listens to
are overseas, but there's a small category, including terrorism and
counterintelligence, that it can eavesdrop on i--in the United States,
if it gets a special warrant.
LAMB: Can it listen using satellites in foreign countries?
Mr. BAMFORD: Oh, sure. Yeah. That's how it does a lot of its
eavesdropping, is with the satellites, satellites picking up
communications going out into space, like microwave communications and
other kind of communications.
LAMB: So can it listen to most telephone conversations around the
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, if there's a telephone conversation they want to
listen to, they could probably do it, one way or another, through one
method or another, such as a satellite. That's not to say they can
listen to all communications at all times at the same time, but
they--they certainly have the capability to target certain
LAMB: Can other countries listen to our conversations?
Mr. BAMFORD: Sure. They do. The--the Russians have a--probably one
of the largest listening posts in the world, just 90 miles off of
Florida, in Cuba. It's been there since the early '60s, in a place
called Lourdes, Cuba, and it eavesdrops on a tremendous amount of--of
satellite and microwave communications within the United States.
LAMB: Still to this day?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the--actually, there was a report, just in the
last few weeks or last few months, saying that the--there's a
possibility that the Russians may pull it out because they couldn't
reach an agreement on a new contract with the--with Castro.
LAMB: Great Valley, New York, you're next. Go ahead, please.
Ms. ALICE RESNICK: Yes, this is Alice Resnick in Great Valley. I
just was comment--would like to comment on all the theories that are
going on. I understand that a lot of these things and what they must
do, but the thing that isn't--that bothered me, and that I've thought
for quite some time, that they really should close all of our borders.
These people that were in here, according to this--reports that we've
had, studied here, lived here, acted like they were part of the
United--of--of the American society, and this is what they were here
for. And you cannot--you can talk about all the things and all the
ballistics and all the--the methods of trying to avoid these things,
but if you don't know who's in--in your borders, and you haven't got
any more control than we have of our borders, you're never going to be
able to do it, and I--this is not a surprise to me, because I came
from Long Island and I have thought, `If they ever blow up the bridges
down there, that's all they've got to do to--to--to create a whole lot
LAMB: Thanks. It's a little bit off the subject of intelligence,
which you two gentlemen are experts on. What do you think is going on
inside of all these intelligence groups that we talked about earlier
in the program today?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think one thing they're doing is reviewing
everything they already have, to find that--that might be relevant to
provide evidence of--of bin Laden's involvement, to identify anybody
else involved in these activities; to possibly warn of--of any future
attacks. So I--I think you just have a lot of people going through
everything that they already have, plus changing a lot of the
targeting, so that--whereas yo--we--we might have photographed a
terrorist camp in Afghanistan once a day, now every time a satellite
goes over, it's producing an image; shifting a lot of the intercept
targeting to Afghanistan, to--to--to Pakistan, to other areas where
that--that we're going to be very involved with.
LAMB: What can they--how close on the ground can they see something
from a satellite?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, resolution is--is somewhat under six inches,
meaning that you could see two objects six inches apart, or--or to
take the--the sort of example of a--of a license plate. People have
always said you could read a license plate from a satellite; well, you
can't read it, but if you took the sa--the license plate i--off the
ground and you put it on--on the road, and say it was a white license
plate, with the black-backed road, you would see that there was an
object, a--a license plate-type object there. So you can see an awful
lot; you can see--not only, say, that there's a tank there, but what
type of tank; not only that there's an aircraft there, but what type
LAMB: San Jose, California, go ahead, please, you're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #7: Hi. Thank you. I was wondering who would I
contact? As a taxpayer, I'd like to have access to some of the
information that has been gathered on the global imaging system in
regards to nuclear testing or contaminated nuclear areas,
nucle--excuse me, radioactive contaminated areas.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's a little out of my area. I--I don't know.
LAMB: How much of the--how much of what is gathered by the NSA is
ever published for people--for the average person to read?
Mr. BAMFORD: A--almost nothing. They--they have their own little
Web site where they have some information on there about the agency
and so forth, but the only way to get information out of NSA is to
submit a Freedom of Information Act and--request, and--and as Jeff
and--and--and many other people who have done this know, it's very
difficult to get any information out of NSA. I mean, I've had to work
very hard to get the information I needed for--for my book.
It's--it's--it's something that's--that's very difficult, and I'd like
to see it made a little bit easier, but it--it's--to answer your
question, it's extremely difficult.
LAMB: Because people tune into these things later, they--the National
Security Agency is located where?
Mr. BAMFORD: It's on Ft. George G. Meade, which is an Army base
halfway between Washington and Baltimore.
LAMB: So it's about--What?--30 miles from here.
Mr. BAMFORD: That's right, about 30 miles.
LAMB: Employs how many people?
Mr. BAMFORD: Oh, about 38,000, somewhere around there.
LAMB: And its yearly budget?
Mr. BAMFORD: About $4 billion, and then another $3 billion i--in
LAMB: You say i--in your book, though, that the president almost
never talks to the director.
Mr. BAMFORD: That's right. When I interviewed the director, I asked
him how many times in the past year he'd spoken to the president, and
he said, `Ne--never.'
LAMB: Tha--that means not just this president, but the previous
Mr. BAMFORD: And he said that that's not unusual. Yeah, the--the
director of CI--the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the
DCI, speaks with the president every day. But the director of NSA
mostly speaks through the national security adviser or through the
office of the national security adviser rather than directly to the
LAMB: College Park, Maryland, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #8: Thank you, yes. I suppose now that this act
has happened, I guess what I'm concerned about, and I would think most
people are concerned about, is how do you prevent a future attack? It
seems like this was particularly bold. I haven't--I go to the
Internet and I read the papers around different parts of the world.
It seems like there's no fear of the US. What--what does the
intelligence community know about the pressure points of groups like
this? You can't really use nuclear warheads, I suppose, in
Afghanistan and Iraq, but what type of things are they afraid of that
we could do that would prevent them from making future attacks like
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I don't know if there's anything that--that
they're afraid of. They seem to be--i--if you have people who are
willing to fly airliners into buildings, they're obviously willing to
die and take a lot of people with them, so it doesn't seem to be
anything that they're afraid of. The only solution, in--in many
cases, may be to do what the administration is apparently going to do,
which is find them and kill them.
LAMB: Tequesta, Florida, go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #9: Yes, should I give my views now?
LAMB: Yes, sir.
Unidentified Caller #9: I--I've been a--a--a avid listener of C-SPAN
through the last seven years in my retirement in Tequesta, Florida,
and hardly I've missed a Sunday program, let alone some of the weekly
programs--marvelous. There's 50 channels that I turn to since Tuesday
and been watching the television for maybe 50 hours a day. I have
never found a diverse view from any of the other channels to get a--a
complete picture of actually what's going on with bin Laden and the
Middle East. The only program where I get a conversation of
adversaries is your wonderful C-SPAN. My question to you--Mr. bin
Laden or Mr. Hussein or Timothy McVeigh--we've convicted and hung
whoever the culprit was that did the dastardly ac--attack on our--New
Can we come to negotiation with any of these people? In Vietnam, the
same situation is--exists when we went in there many, many years ago
and we did the five-day bombing on what we called collateral
terrorists. I'm originally from St. Louis, and there's a little town
between Kansas City and Branson, Missouri, called Knob Knoster,
Missouri. Several months ago, 30 attacks were carried out from
underground at Whiteman Air Force Base to Kosovo, 13 hours one-way and
13 hours back. We got Slobodan Milosevic to the World Court;
Kristen--or rather, Mr. Hitchens says we should take Mr. Kissinger
to the World Court, but we will not participate in the World Court if
it's any of our people.
LAMB: All right, sir, going to let you go. You--do either one of you
have an opinion on whether or not there's any chance to negotiate with
any of these people?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it doesn't look like it. These are people that
are willing to--to die. I think we're--we're well beyond the
negotiation stage at this point.
Mr. RICHELSON: I--it may be possible to negotiate with Iran
or--or--or certainly Pakistan i--in order to--to get their assistance,
a--pos--possibly Iran and can't be sure about that. But as far as
the--the--the bin Laden group, I don't think there's any way to
negotiate. I mean, when a group wants to live in the 14th century and
believes that you should, too, and is willing to kill you if you
won't, there's nothing to negotiate about.
LAMB: Go back to an earlier question we had from a caller about
coordination. Is there a way to improve the coordination among all
these different intelligence-gathering organizations?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I think it always can be improved. In the past,
there has been a lot of problem in terms of coordination with
the--between NSA and CIA, there were--there were a number of years
where the NSA director and the CIA director would actually battle
because the--the CIA wanted more raw data coming from NSA, and the NSA
said--would say, `We don't send data, we'--which would mean the raw
intercepts and all that--`We analyze it and then give you the--the
analysis that we produce.' So there--there's competition back and
forth a--a--about that. But I--I think a lot of those problems
existed during the '70s and '80s to some degree, and they've been
worked out now. I don't think that's a--a huge problem, in terms of
coordination a--and cooperation.
LAMB: Do they ever meet, all these groups, at one time?
Mr. BAMFORD: Oh, sure. They have--they have meetings all the time,
over a lot of different issues. There'll be a meeting on this, and
there'll be a representative from each of the agencies discussing what
each agency can do; plus, each agency has people from their agencies
and other agencies. So there--there's a fair amount of cooperation.
Back in the days when J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI and there was a lot
of competition between FBI and CIA an--and--there wasn't a lot of--of
goodwill among the agencies then, but I think now a lot of that is--is
Mr. RICHELSON: There's a National Foreign Intelligence Board, which
is a--th--the senior forum for the intelligence community, and you
have the--the DCI and the heads of the other agencies meeting to deal
with certain issues, and then there's a whole series of committees on
specific topics like terrorism or--or advanced weapons systems, which
also consists of--of lower-level personnel who also meet on a regular
basis to try to coordinate efforts and--and to resolve disputes
LAMB: Honolulu, go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #10: Good afternoon. My question is to Mr.
Bamford. And my question is that do you think American movies like
"Air Force One" or "Under Siege" or other, you know, hijacking movie
that is produced in the US, have some negative impact on the American
people or society as a whole? And my second question is that do you
think that would teach the terrorists how to pene--penetrate the
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I think a--a lot of the movies ar--are pretty
farfetched when it comes to intelligence. The movie that dealt with
NSA was "Enemy of the State," and while it was very entertaining and I
enjoyed it, it didn't really have much to do with reality. They had
somebody running down a street with a cell phone, saying, `Turn that
satellite over and get a--get a picture inside this hotel room here.'
I--I mean, y--you know, it works for a movie maybe, but in reality,
i--it--it doesn't really work. I think what it does is maybe give the
public a false impression that the intelligence community can do
things that they really can't do. I mean, they'd love to have that
ability, but they--they don't have those abilities, so--a--and as I
think I mentioned earlier, the NSA, for example, has been very worried
about the treatment that some movies have given it, in that they show
the CIA responsible for--for spies--I mean, for--for assassins and for
killing people and so forth. So you know, movies are always going to
stretch the limits of reality, and I think they're entertaining, but
I--I'd take them with a grain of salt.
LAMB: If you just joined us, we're talking about two books that we
featured on BOOKNOTES tonight, "Body of Secrets" by James Bamford, and
the other one is by Jeffrey Richelson; it's called "The Wizards of
Langley." We're talking about intelligence, and we continue with
Chesterton, Indiana. Hello.
Unidentified Caller #11: Hello. And--and good evening, gentlemen.
And Mr. Bamford, I read "The Puzzle Palace" many years ago. My
question I direct to both of you: If either--if both of you are
appointed director of any of these intelligence agencies tomorrow, and
I woul--I direct this to both of you--what would your first directive
be for the agencies?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, if I was appointed d--director of--of the
C--you know, of the CIA, under these circumstances, my first directive
would be, `Tell me what went wrong; tell me what you know about what's
going on; and tell me how we can know more.'
LAMB: Mr. Bamford.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, if I was appointed director of NSA, which is
about as unlikely as a possibility there is, I--I--I would start
looking into--into the possibility of, as I mentioned before,
increasing the analysis capability; it's very difficult these days,
but increasing the number of linguists that we're bringing in, and
trying to concentrate on--on more analysis and--and less collection.
LAMB: Let's go to Wakefield, Rhode Island. Hello.
Unidentified Caller #12: Brian, I want to thank you for having this
forum. It's helping me to calm down a little. Let's see, once I get
this straight here: Two men that are on intelligence agencies' watch
lists buy tickets in their own name, board a plane, and we see the
results. What is the point of having these watch lists if they're not
distributed to--to airlines, to ports? D--do they have any purpose to
existing at all except to--to do their own little games?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, it's not the--it w--it was not an intelligence
community watch list. It wa--it was an INS watch list. But--but the
point--the larger point is valid that, again, this is one of the
things that's going to have to be looked at very carefully, i--is what
could have been prevented by--by--by p--maybe proper use of this
information or expeditious use of this information.
Unidentified Caller #13: I don't want to contradict you, but the New
York Times had a story that the--two of these men were on the FBI's
watch list, so...
LAMB: Caller, as you've been watching this whole week, you say help
you calm down a little bit, what's been your biggest frustration?
Unidentified Caller #13: Well, two things. I mean, obviously the
horror of all those people dying, but the--the--the joke which is
airline security. There were two things be--that--that really helped
the--this--this atrocity. One is the joke that is airline security
and--and the--the u--utter failure of the intelligence community in
my--and that's--that--you're helping with this partially because
you're--you're--you're making it clear that there's--they--they could
have done--they couldn't have done quite as much as--as I'm thinking.
But still, you know, these two men were on the FBI watch list, and
I'd--I'd like to know how they got on air--on an airplane.
LAMB: Jim Bamford.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I think those are the--some of the--the--the
questions that are going to answered--going to be asked very
aggressively this week of the intelligence agencies if the Congress
holds hearings and--and behind closed doors at the intelligence
agencies. There are certain restrictions, as I mentioned before,
on--on some agencies. The CIA, for example, can't work in the United
States at all. And NSA is restricted in terms of who it can eavesdrop
on in the United States. So the FBI is--is the agency that has the
primary responsibility in terms of keeping track of people who are
suspected of terrorist activities or whatever.
LAMB: Playa del Rey, California, hello.
Unidentified Caller #14: Hello. I had two questions. One, I'm
completely impressed with the work of both gentlemen in this area and
knowledge of our intelligence. On--on one side of it, is it possible
we could be--by providing this information, we could be providing
something to the other side or to the other sides about what we know
and certain spy satellites can pick up certain types of phone calls?
And--are we giving away anything here by--by this kind of
t--television dialogue? The other question is--I do work in public
health and have become--we have all become much more progressively
aware about the potentials for bioterrorism. And has there been
anything picked up in the--any of the intelligence communities for
that--those kinds of plans? Thank you.
LAMB: Giving anything away?
Mr. RICHELSON: No. There's certain fa--facts--basic facts that stem
from the laws of physics and from reporting for many years that are
well--that's well-known. You can fly a satellite in a low Earth orbit
and you can take a photograph if--if--if there's something there to
photograph. Anybody who puts any communications in the air, whether
it's by cell phone, radio, telephone, any other means, that can
possibly be intercepted, if you're--if it's targeted. So talking
about the fact that we have satellites and that can intercept all
these communications is--or photograph large areas of the world i--is
nothing new. Wha--when there can be a compromise is if somebody says
we intercepted this particular conversation yesterday. Then that
tells the person that--that he was being eavesdropped on. In some
cases he may not care, but in other cases he may care very much and
then take countermeasures.
LAMB: What about the--the question was about this forum being helpful
to a foreign government. But what about the books? Do you know of
foreign governments that have bought your books?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I don't know specifically, but I would assume so.
But in my book, for example, I don't get into the technology very
much. I--I talk mostly about the history; how the agency was formed,
what it does and how it works. And 90 percent of the information
comes from documents that the agency has released or have gotten from
the archives or have gotten somewhere from the government itself. And
the other percentage of information comes from interviewing the former
officials who currently work there or formerly worked there. So, you
know, they're--they're in a better position than--than I to decide
what is releasable and what isn't.
LAMB: His second question is about bioterrorism.
Mr. RICHELSON: I don't know of anything that--that's been picked up.
Certainly it's a--it's a high intelligence priority and--and--and some
people have said that one of the problems is that that's been--that
alone with chemical and nuclear has been such a focus in the last few
years that we've ignored this type of--the thing that happened on
LAMB: New York City, you're next. Go ahead please.
Unidentified Caller #15: Hello. Thank you for taking the call.
Either one of the gentlemen, is there any history of the--these
agencies working with private industry to offset some of the human
resource tasks, and do you see any collaboration in the future
with--with any private industry? And I--as one example I would say
perhaps some of these security companies--Kroll International comes to
mind--but those kinds of companies or any other companies to help out
with the human resources side, specifically on the analysis side.
LAMB: Jim Bamford.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, actually that's one of things that they're--the
NSA in particular is--is moving greatly towards is to what's known as
outsourcing. In other words, getting outside corporations to come in
and do a lot of the work. It's--they--they think it's financially
beneficial to do it that way and it's very controversial to bring all
these outside companies in to this extremely secret agency and have
them do a lot of functions. Mostly what they've been having these
companies do is work on personnel issues and non-critical intelligence
collection activities and leaving the intelligence collection to the
LAMB: When you talk about outside contractors, just one interesting
statistic that you had on page 522, in just one year, 1998: And in
Maryland alone, NSA ordered more than 13,000 contracts worth more than
Mr. BAMFORD: That's right. NSA contracts out for a lot of
information in terms of building their crypto systems and--and
actually operating some of the--or actually building some of the
eavesdropping systems, the signals intelligence systems. Most of that
is done by private corporations. The actual analysis, however, has
never been contracted out and that's left almost exclusively with NSA
employees. However, one other area, i--in terms of listening posts,
where they--they run these listening posts around the world to
intercept the communications, those are, and have been for a number of
years, contracted out to a variety of contractors. So i--it's--it's
like--it's a--it's a mix of--of private industry and--and government
agency and it's becoming more and more of a--involvement from the
LAMB: If you've just joined us, it's an unusual departure for us at
BOOKNOTES. This is the first live BOOKNOTES we've ever had in 13
years. First time we've ever had two guests on that have written two
different books. And the subject is intelligence. And we've got
about 25 minutes to go before we end our special two-hour show.
We go to San Diego next. You're on the air.
J.W. (Caller): Good evening, gentlemen. Hi, Jim. This is J.W. out
in San Diego.
Mr. BAMFORD: Oh, good seeing--good hearing from you, J.W.
J.W.: H--how you doing? I--I'm really enjoying this. I appreciate
the--the breadth and the width of your--your knowledge of these
agencies, but I've got a question for you, and I'd like to ask Jim.
What will--what will happen because of this with the relative power of
the three agencies? Who will gain, who will lose, who will remain the
same, and why? Thanks.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's a good question.
LAMB: What three agencies is he talking about?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I--I assume he's talking about the NSA, the CIA
and maybe the DIA or--or NRO or one of the other agencies.
The--the--the--the--the NSA has been gaining in--in--in power over the
years primarily because it collects a--a--a--a vast majority of
the--of the intelligence out there. And because it's so--so large
and--and so powerful in a lot of ways. The CIA started out with a lot
of the intelligence collection capabilities such as satellite
intelligence collection and so forth and th--that went to other
agencies. So there has been a sort of behind the scenes--some--some
power struggles between the--the NSA and--and--and CIA. I know there
was a lot of conflicts between Admiral Inman and--and the--the
director of the CIA, Stansfield Turner at the time. A lot of power
conflicts between the two.
Also most people don't realize it's the--that it's the Department of
Defense--it's actually the secretary of Defense who runs most of the
intelligence in the country--almost all of it. The CIA runs a very
small pa--portion of it, just the--the human agents that are sent
overseas. So there's a power battle between the--the CIA and the
Department of Defense that goes on all the time also.
LAMB: You told us that the National Security Agency is about halfway
between Washington and Baltimore.
Mr. BAMFORD: Yes.
LAMB: And the CIA is out in Langley, Virginia, out in McLean.
Mr. RICHELSON: Right.
LAMB: Where is the Defense Intelligence Agency?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's over at Bolling Air Force base across
the--the--on the other side of the Anacostia River from Washington.
LAMB: None of these outfits are closed. FBI's downtown...
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the other agencies--the r--the National
Reconnaissance Office is also out near Dulles Airport. So
they're--they're sort of scattered around, which is probably sensible
if--if you're worried about terrorist incidents, that they're not all
in one location.
LAMB: Chevy Chase, Maryland, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #16: Hi. I want to thank you for C-SPAN. It's a
fabulous show. I do have some questions, though. Can you tell me--do
you think that the conservatives are using this event to get what they
always wanted, which is domestic surveillance? And did George Sr.
lie before Congress when he was a CIA director regarding domestic
intelligence gathering and infiltration of student groups?
LAMB: Jeffrey Richelson.
Mr. RICHELSON: As far as the second, I have no idea. As far as the
first, domestic surveillance, I think what you're going to see
partially in response to this is people's preconceived notions about
what was wrong being--taking this event as--as proof that their
preconcei--ceived notions wa--was--was ro--were right about what gaps
or vulnerabilities e--existed. To the people who've been saying that
we don't have enough of a human capability, that we're not penetrating
these groups, they're going to take this event as--as proof that it's
true. People who want to spend more money on certain things are going
to take this as--as proof that--that they should spend more money and
those who want a tighter domestic surveillance are going to conclude
that w---previously are going to conclude that that's--that this
incident is proof that--that there ne--needs to be more of that
surveillance. And in some cases they may be right, and in some cases
they may be wrong. In so--in a lot of cases it won't be because of
the facts, it will be because of what they already believe in.
LAMB: How--how long have you been in Washington?
Mr. RICHELSON: Since 1982.
LAMB: And have you done any work for committees or for
Mr. RICHELSON: No.
LAMB: And the National Security Archive is how large?
Mr. RICHELSON: It consists of about, I guess, 30 people.
LAMB: And how long have you been with them?
Mr. RICHELSON: Since 1987.
LAMB: Who underwrites that organization?
Mr. RICHELSON: It's a combination of grants from, you know, your
usual foundations over the years. I think Ford and W. Walton Jones
and several others. And then it also makes money from the documents
that it sells to the university libraries.
LAMB: And, James Bamford, have you ever worked for politicians or
Mr. BAMFORD: No. I've testified before Congress, but I've never
worked for Congress.
LAMB: You wanted to say something?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I was going to mention--I--I agree that I think
some of these groups will use this incident as an excuse for pushing
for more restrict--or--or more use domestically of law enforcement
and--and intelligence agencies. I think the--there had been a fairly
nice balance before in terms of the balance of--of civil liberties and
the needs of the intelligence community. And I think this may
push--push it in--in--away from civil liberties, more towards domestic
use of intelligence agencies. For example, there's--there's now a
growing effort to restrict American use of encryption, for example,
and increase the use of--of eavesdropping and wiretapping across the
country. So I think there will be moves in those directions in the
next weeks and months.
LAMB: Colorado Springs, you're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #17: Hi. Thank you for C-SPAN. Yes, Mr.
Bamford, I've read your book.
Mr. BAMFORD: Thank you.
Unidentified Caller #17: And I was wondering--one thing that kind of
troubled me was some of the things that you said about Israel. In
light of the reports coming out from the London Telegraph and Fox News
about how the Mossad tried to warn our intelligence agencies about
several of these gentlemen, do you still stick by the statement that
Israel is not a very productive source of intelligence? Thank you
very much. Bye.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, that's what I've heard from other people in the
intelligence community that--that they don't get an awful lot of
intelligence out of I--Israel that's--that's tremendously useful.
LAMB: They don't give it to us or they don't produce it?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I--it could be one of--either or--either or both.
I mean, we get intelligence on some of the Middle East countries, but,
again, this is coming from people both at NSA and also at several of
the Defense intelligence agencies.
LAMB: You mentioned earlier Christopher Cox, congressman, is a big
name and--and active on the Hill in--in intelligence.
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, he was in--he was in charge of the report on
the dealing with--with the People's Republic of China and--and nuclear
LAMB: The reason I bring it up is who would you--who else in--in this
town is--do you think has strong views on intelligence and is active
and is--and is visible and you would suspect in the next couple of
months would be involved in some kind of a--a look at intelligence, a
relook at them?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well...
LAMB: Elected officials.
Mr. RICHELSON: Elected officials, I think the--the chairmen of the
committees are the--are the people who are going to do the--the
primary looking. Senators Graham and Shelby on the Senate side.
Porter Goss on--on the--on the House side. I think you have also
outside people. Admiral David Jeremiah has chaired several outside
reviews of--of various aspects of the intelligence community and it
wouldn't surprise me if he winds up doing another one.
LAMB: What about the presence--Foreign Intelligence Board? What does
that do? Does it have any power? Has had it had any influence?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it has a fair amount of influence. It's--i--it
was set up back in the Eisenhower Administration. And i--it supposed
to be--it's supposed to be a group of outside consultants, people who
have been in the government previously and some people have never had
any government experience. At one point they were sort of the--the
and best and brightest on the outside. There are--Edmond--Evan
Lann--Edwin Land who--who developed a lot of the camera lenses for spy
satellites and other people who knew a lot about technology and it's
changed over the years. But currently the group is used largely to
take a look at--at big issues and advises the president on--on how he
should deal with these issues. So the...
LAMB: How big is it?
Mr. BAMFORD: Chinese--Chinese espionage, of example, is one issue
they looked at a few years ago.
LAMB: How many people?
Mr. BAMFORD: It's--it's very small. It's--it's I don't know the
exact number right now. Maybe a dozen or give or take five or six.
LAMB: Has this president assigned somebody to that job as chairman?
Mr. BAMFORD: You know, I haven't found out whether he's appointed
new people to the job or not. Virtually every president appoints
various people. Some presidents have appointed sort of cronies in the
past, others have used it to appoint very brilliant people in the
scientific community. So it's very different and I'm not sure what
President Bush has done.
LAMB: Do you know...
Mr. RICHELSON: No, I don't who...
Mr. RICHELSON: ...who's--who's the chairman?
LAMB: Princeton, New Jersey. Go ahead please.
Unidentified Caller #18: Good evening. It's often been said that the
military leaders of any army are always superbly prepared to fight the
last war. And I wonder if it's a similar problem here with these
intelligence agencies, that they're essentially reactive and not
proactive. And when faced with a very intelligent and creative
terrorist organization they will not be--they will be behind the curve
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, that's certainly a problem, or that they are in
some ways ahead of the curve in that maybe the next attack will
be--you know, hopefully there won't be one, but maybe there will be a
chemical or biological or nuclear attack, when they--which they had
been expecting or feared. Now and--instead of the attack that we had
Tuesday. So really what we have to do is look at what all the
possibilities are and not just focus on just one particular
possibility or set of possibilities.
LAMB: Sonoma, California, go ahead please.
Unidentified Caller #19: My question--I have one question for each of
the gentlemen. I've read Mr. Bamford's book. The most--both of
them. And my question on the most recent one was--he made a very
provocative comment in there, if I understood correctly, and that
was--this is in regard to the Liberty incident. And that was
the--first of all, that the Israelis started the '67 War, if I
understood it correctly, and also that the Liberty was attacked as a
consequence of the information that we had and there was some other
things that he made. My--my question to Mr. Richelson is with regard
to the withdrawal of the SR-71, the successor to the A-12 spy plane,
by--and its impact on overhead reconnaissance and--and particularly in
a timely fashion.
LAMB: Thanks, caller.
Mr. BAMFORD: Yeah. In regard those two questions, I don't think
there's any question that Israel moved into Egypt before Egypt moved
into Israel in the '67 War. I mean, that's part of history now. The
other question had to do with USS Liberty. The Liberty was a NSA spy
ship that was sailing off the Sinai Coast during the 1967 War. In
broad daylight around two in the afternoon during the war, the ship
was attacked for--for more than an hour by Israeli aircraft and
Israeli torpedo boats. More than five torpedoes were shot at the--at
the ship, and--and the--the ship was extensively damaged by rocket
fire, cannon fire and napalm. Thirty-four Americans were killed, 171
All the evidence points out that there's no reason that the Israelis
should have mistaken that ship for anything other than what it was, an
American ship flying an--flying an American flag with a US--with its
US name o--on the back. And in the reports that I've seen from NSA,
there are a great deal of NSA people who--who thought the attack may
have been deliberate, and that includes the director of NSA at the
time, the deputy director, the deputy chief of--of operations, the
secretary of State, the--at the time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, Tom Moorer at the time. So there's a lot of evidence. It's
a very controversial topic. And my--my argument has always been that
there should have been a--a more intensive investigation and there's
still time to do an intensive investigation.
LAMB: He asked about SR-71. What's...
Mr. RICHELSON: Right.
LAMB: What plane is this?
Mr. RICHELSON: That's the A-12 ox cart, which is a single-seat
plane, and the SR-71 was a two-seat version of that. And the ox cart
only operated really from 1967 to 1968 when it lost--when the CIA lost
the bureaucratic battle with the Air Force and the SR-71s replaced the
A-12s, but they look very much the same. As far as the question
of--of the--the replacement, there were definitely replaced prior to
they're--they're having to be retired. Eventually the engines would
have given out and--and they weren't really good replacements, from
what I understand. But certainly they were retired prematurely
because the Air Force basically didn't want to pay for a national
intelligence system instead of--they'd rather pay for--pay for fighter
And the result was that--that we did lose some flexibility because a
plane like that can go from point A to B in a very fast amount of time
and cover all the territory in between with--with its rather
impressive photographic capabilities. Whereas the limitation of the
satellite is that it's orbiting the Earth as the Earth is revolving
around its axis. So to go from, say, one point in Syria to another
point in Syria would take you several passes of the satellite, whereas
the plane could do it in one--one mission.
LAMB: Omaha, Nebraska, you're next.
Unidentified Caller #20: Yeah. My question is what sort of oversight
or audit function is there on these agencies, and I'm thinking about
the whole gamut, financial compliance with the law and performance,
and--and how can it be improved or does it need to be improved given
the obvious restrictions because of the need for secrecy?
LAMB: James Bamford?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, the primary oversight body is the House and
Senate intelligence committees. You have oversight capability to some
degree in this PFIAB, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory
Board, but the--the main oversight is from the House and Senate. The
problem is you have very, very large agencies doing very, very secret
work and very complex work, as both Jeff write about in our books,
very highly technical work, and you have a very small committee in
Congress. So the--the actual congressmen and senators themselves
have--have many responsibilities. Many committees they're on, not
just the intelligence committee. And the staff is very small compared
to the large agency. So it gets to the point where it's a legitimate
question as to whether they can adequately oversea this enormous
intelligence community of a hundred thousand people or more with a
staff of, you know, less than 200 maybe.
LAMB: You both said earlier that there are about a hundred thousand
people in this government dealing with intelligence. Are they--how
well educated are those hundred thousand?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, some of them are very well educated. Certainly
if you're going to do work on designing technical collection systems,
you have to have advanced degrees in engineering and physics. And if
you simply look at the sort of ads for--for certain positions in the
CIA or NRO and--and what it takes, you have to...
LAMB: NRO stands for?
Mr. RICHELSON: National Reconnaissance Office. You have to be an
engineer or a physicist or a computer scientist. So the--these
are--you have a very--many people who are very highly educated.
LAMB: People want to go to work for these organizations today?
Mr. BAMFORD: Sure. Yeah. They've got a lot of people that--that
are applying for them. The problem they have, especially at NSA, is
that they want the same type of people that--that a lot of companies
in private industry want. They want electrical engineers, computer
scientists and mathematicians to some degree, and--and--and those
people are very highly desired by private industry who can offer more
money. So you've got a problem of competing with private industry for
these people who know how to design the--these huge satellites to
listen in and--and these big machines to break codes.
LAMB: Do they have people volunteering or--are they interested in
human intelligence gathering out there in the field, you know, trying
to--to break through around the world? I mean, is there much interest
Mr. RICHELSON: Do--do you mean are people coming to the CIA wanting
to spy for them?
LAMB: Working for one of our intelligence agencies and do the--the
field work out there around the world?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, sure. There--there are people who sign up for
the director of operations, and they are the people who go through
training at Camp Perry i--in Virginia and learn all these sort of
skills--covert skills that they need and then they're deployed out
into the field either under diplomatic cover or in some cases as
businessmen p--apparently businessmen who then go about the business
of spying when they're not doing their cover work.
LAMB: Again, the number of people you think are in human
Mr. RICHELSON: Out in the field, a few thousand.
LAMB: What are...
Mr. BAMFORD: One of the things that Director Tenet has done, I
think, in the s--fairly recently was in the last few the new recruits
that he gets into the clandestine service, which are the people that
are actually going out into the field, in addition to their training
down at, as Jeff said, Camp Perry, otherwise known as the farm, which
is their training ground. They have to jump out of a plane five
times, do parachute jumps five times. So I think they're--they're
trying to get them motivated into doing clandestine work.
LAMB: Cedar Fort, Utah, you're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #21: Yes, thanks for C-SPAN, first of all. And
you know the thing that is most devastating about this to me is the
fact that we were so defenseless. We talk about intelligence and
security. What happened to defense? We've allowed the Sarah Bradys
of the world to disarm the honest citizens of the US. And you look at
this damage that's been done, these buildings taken down, and
thousands of people killed, and realize it was done with box knives.
What is wrong with this picture, folks?
LAMB: Comment from either one of you?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, I think the leverage that hijackers had has
pretty much been lost in the future because I--I think in--in
this--these incidents probably all the people originally thought that
this was going to be the standard type of hijacking where they go land
someplace and it's an ordeal, but the odds are that everybody's going
to survive. The next time around, if anybody tries it, I mean, I--I
would just expect that everybody's going to jump him because
the--they--when you're--when you're s--when you essentially believe
that you're going to die in 25 minutes if you don't do something, then
the hijackers have no leverage.
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, it addition to the box cutters, I think they also
brought out these boxes that they said were bombs and they were going
to blow up the plane. I mean obviously they weren't but, that was one
other device they used to try to intimidate the passengers and--and
maybe the crew.
LAMB: How often in history have we had to deal with people who were
willing to commit suicide to get what they want?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, the...
LAMB: Has anything quite like this ever happened where you have 19
people that knew that they were going to die?
Mr. RICHELSON: Well, kamikaze pilots in--in World War II, but never
that I can think of do we have this many people willing to commit
suicide against these type of targets.
LAMB: Buckhannon, West Virginia, you're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #22: Thank you for taking my call. I would like
to know don't you think that there's been a huge diminishment of our
ability ever since the U-2 was shot down, and could not this all been
the beginning of what's happening now?
LAMB: Thanks. What year was it the U-2 was shot down.
Mr. RICHELSON: The U-2 was shot down in 1960 and it was replaced
within a month by the Corona spy satellite, which took more photos in
one day than the U-2 took in--in four years of operation. And we
still had U-2s flying around the world. So we certainly haven't lost
anything in capability. It's grown immensely. It's just that the
target is very different than the target for which the--the U-2 or the
spy satellites were originally designed for.
LAMB: Twin Forks, Colorado, go ahead, please.
Unidentified Caller #23: Yes. Mr. Bamford.
Mr. BAMFORD: Yes.
Unidentified Caller #23: On--your book on page 283, Saigon '68. I
used to go there to make a lot of phone calls home. Two questions.
Number one, I k--struggling for the remembrance of that facility,
right outside Tan San Nhut.
Mr. BAMFORD: The facility--the NSA facility?
Unidentified Caller #23: Yes.
Mr. BAMFORD: Yeah. I--y--I can't remember it right now myself
either. It's on the tip of my tongue. I just can't think of it.
LAMB: Caller, what point did you want to make?
Unidentified Caller #23: No, I just used to--used to drop my troops
down there sometimes on Sunday mornings and have everyone call home
and it was--signals people were great and we just enjoyed the
opportunity to communicate back with the States.
LAMB: Thanks, caller.
Let's go for our last call this program to Ft. Jackson, South
Carolina. Hello. You're on the air.
Unidentified Caller #24: Thank you, gentlemen, for taking my call.
My question quickly is, of the published intelligence reform proposals
during the 1990s, not including budget setting techniques, what
specific areas (unintelligible) the intelligence community now focus
on to prepare for the 21st century?
Mr. BAMFORD: Well, I--I--I think they've got to concentrate on two
things. One is, as we've talked about many times in the past,
increasing human capability to penetrate these--these new terrorist
organizations. And the second thing is to increase the ability to
analyze a tremendous amount of information they've been able to
collect in order to get a warning much quicker. It doesn't make much
sense to be able to--to pick up all this information and--some of
which may give you a warning of an attack but not be able to read it
until a week after the attack. So I think those are two of the
LAMB: What was your reaction from the CIA when--when your book came
Mr. RICHELSON: I haven't really had any yet. I know that some
people who I interviewed and were with the agency have read it and
liked it, but I haven't heard anything officially or--or even from any
people still in the CIA.
LAMB: We're out of time. And we have two books to show you. This
one is called "The Wizards of Langley." Jeffrey T. Richelson is the
author of that. The book has been out just about a month. And this
book has been out for the last several months by James Bamford called
"Body of Secrets." Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us on
BOOKNOTES, this special program.
Mr. BAMFORD: Thanks, Brian.
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