NEW YORK, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by CIA Public Affairs:
It's a pleasure to be in New York, to spend some time with this very distinguished group, and to talk about the organization I am privileged to lead--CIA.
It's an organization with a clear objective: to protect the American people. We have a number of missions that feed into that, and one of them we share with the Council: to help our policymakers make sense of global events.
The range of issues before us is as wide as the world we study: nuclear proliferation, emerging security threats, the rise of new economic centers, the scramble for natural resources, and much more. Our nation counts on us to have the expertise and insight to flag the risks and opportunities that lie ahead. And to keep our eye on all the critical international concerns facing our nation right now.
Of the subjects we cover, none commands more attention than terrorism. It's unlikely there will ever come a time when a CIA Director visits New York and his or her thoughts aren't shaped by 9/11. We are at war, and this city, strong and vibrant, has been a battlefield in that war.
I don't make a lot of public speeches--that's probably the way it should be in my line of work. But I asked to speak here today. Like anyone who feels deeply about the safety and well-being of his countrymen--and the value and integrity of his colleagues--I believe there are things that should be said. And sometimes our citizens should hear them straight from the person who's running their Central Intelligence Agency.
This afternoon, I want to talk to you about the Agency, the new kind of war that our nation has asked us to fight... and the question of space.
If you take nothing else from what I say, I hope it will be this: CIA operates only within the space given to us by the American people. That is how we want it to be, and that is how it should be.
That space is defined by the policymakers we elect and the laws our representatives pass. But once the laws are passed and the boundaries set, the American people expect CIA to use every inch we're given to protect our fellow citizens.
So first, let's talk about that space.
The intelligence services of free societies operate within strict limits. To my way of thinking, those boundaries reflect the principles of our Republic that are most worth defending. We at CIA work hard to live up to them, even as we operate in the shadows of espionage.
That sets up natural tensions, but for us they're simply part of doing business. Our Agency is absolutely convinced that it's our obligation to conform to the needs of a free society, not vice-versa. That's the society we all signed up to defend. No matter the external threat, we at CIA feel just as strongly as any American that our DNA as a nation cannot be altered.
But, unlike most Americans, it's our responsibility to confront that external threat unceasingly, every minute of every hour. That too is an obligation we at CIA feel acutely.
Let me make very clear how my Agency views the fight at hand--I think it speaks to what a lot of Americans believe as well. Our nation is in a state of armed conflict with al-Qa'ida and its affiliates. It is a conflict that is global in scope, and a precondition for winning it is to take the fight to the enemy wherever he may be.
From my vantage point, as measured by the required intensity of effort and the profound nature of the threat, it's hard to see this fight as anything less than war. I've seen public references to "the so-called war on terrorism" or "the Bush administration's war on terrorism." But for us, it's simply war. It's a word used commonly and without ambiguity in the halls of the Pentagon and at Langley.
We who study and target the enemy see a danger more real than anything our citizens at home have confronted since our Civil War. Even when you consider the Cold War and mutually-assured destruction--in which the potential danger was catastrophic--the fact is, the destruction never came.