Tenet, Kerry Keynote GEOINT Conference

By Joe Francica

Former CIA Director George Tenet and Former Senator Robert Kerry addressed the 1800 conferees of the GEOINT 2004 meeting in New Orleans this past week. Tenet (pictured at right), in his keynote address stressed the imperative of innovation, accuracy and timeliness of geospatial information to the intelligence community. He remarked that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has enormous responsibility for providing the intelligence community with information to support the war against terrorism.He praised the work of Gen.James Clapper (Ret.), currently the director of NGA and recognized him for his contributions in helping to manage the changes that come with developing a new agency and using his resources to assist many government organizations with various mission objectives.He also said that, in his conversations with General Tommy Franks, Director of Central Command and the leader of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that 80% of the information necessary to prepare the battle plan came from the NGA.

The majority of Tenet's speech was focused on the work of the intelligence community in the global war on terror: the ability to analyze shifts in demographics in Moslem countries that may lead to increases in terrorism, the covert work of the CIA in dismantling the infrastructure of A. Q.Khan's network of nuclear proliferation from his operations in Pakistan; and the ability to gather the information needed to confront Moammar Khadafi so that Libya would be forced to dismantle their nuclear programs.

Tenet said that he thought the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the best job in the world and felt honored to have led "the most selfless individuals Americans will never know." He contends that the CIA has been revitalized and still finds it painful to discuss the events leading to his departure from the agency.His remarks received wide applause and other speakers lauded him as having served the agency with distinction.

Senator Kerry (pictured at left), a member of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the events leading to the attacks on the World Trade Center, emphasized the unique importance that geospatial information will have on future intelligence gathering activities."Since I am no longer an elected official I have no reason to pander this audience...You are going to be the key." He admitted to knowing little about Osama bin Laden prior to the attack in New York City and Washington DC.He now feels that the failure to deliver information to Congress that had been obtained by the intelligence agencies led them not to act when they had the opportunity to destroy his bases in Afghanistan in the late 1990's.

Kerry believes that one factor in improving intelligence gathering and analysis is simply "good management" and making the "day in and day out work just a little better." He commented that he disagrees with Tenet's assessment that it will take four to five years to rebuild the intelligence infrastructure to combat today's threats of terrorism."I think George did an exceptional job as DCI...but if we try to rebuild we'll get it wrong. What we need is an whole new organization." Kerry is referring to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to create a National Intelligence Director that oversees all domestic and international intelligence gathering with the budget and personnel authority to make the changes necessary in protect the U.S.in the new era of global terrorism.In addition, Kerry said that, "you are not going to be able to defend our homeland if you only look at our borders as the end.The planet is the border."

Both speakers offered sobering comments with respect to the potential for terrorist attacks in the future and that the geospatial technology provides a pivotal element in protecting US interests here and abroad.

Published Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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