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Dennis C. Blair
Director of National Intelligence
155 Landon Lecture
February 22, 2010

 

General Myers, thank you for that kind introduction. It is a great pleasure to have such a distinguished K-State grad as a former colleague and, as you heard, such a good friend. I'd done a little intelligence on this occasion, and I was told that bomb threats were primarily an exam-week phenomenon. (Laughter.) So I thought I was safe, but obviously, that wasn't very accurate either.

But thanks very much to all of you for your flexibility in changing venues, and for sticking with it. I'll be signing class excuses to miss the rest of the afternoon, here, right after these remarks -- (laughter) -- for those doing it. But as someone who's spoken here before, General Myers knows the pressure I'm feeling right now, having to follow in the distinguished footsteps of such renowned public servants as Senator Bob Dole, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.

I might add, these were native Kansans, who had an inherent advantage. I grew up as the son of a sailor, so Kansas is a little far from the coast for my normal run. But President Schulz, Dr. Reagan, thank you for this opportunity to get the word out about the good things that the U.S. Intelligence Community is doing now.

But back to General Myers. I think most of you know -- and we heard in the introduction -- that Dick is a fighter pilot, which means that even when he's on the ground, he likes to drive fast in his Corvette around northern Virginia. And you've probably seen him at the annual Harley Days football game, riding his bike around the Bill.

Well, he's also pretty well known in the D.C. area for riding that bike during the Rolling Thunder Run, which is when hundreds of thousands of bikers converge on our nation's capital on Memorial Day, and they ride together to show support for the efforts to find veterans who are still missing, from our past conflicts. When General Myers was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on those days, he always left his black SUV back home, would ride his Harley in, and rode around with those who were supporting the veterans.

Now, I'm not a biker myself, but I can appreciate the intelligence that General Myers gathered on the road. And I recently found a document in his own office that I swiftly declassified, just so I could share it with you. That's one of the things I do. (Laughter.)

It was called "Richard's Rules of the Road," and it contained a number of nuggets of wisdom distilled over the ages, such as, when you're riding in the lead, don't spit. (Laughter.) Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck. There are those who have crashed, and those who will crash. If you really want to know what's happening, look at least five cars ahead. And never be ashamed to unlearn an old habit. So Dick, thank you for all the wisdom, and of course, for the friendship over many years.

It's wonderful to see other leaders here from many fields -- academia, business, government -- and I'd like to recognize a few other friends who are with us: Randy O'Boyle of the ICE Corporation, who worked with me in the Pacific Command and then headed the Air Force ROTC program here for several years; Dale Herspring, Dale -- also there -- a colleague, again, of many years, who invited me for my first visit here to Kansas State, in 2002. Dale is a very distinguished scholar of the Soviet Union and of Russia. We once took a trip together over to Russia. So again, great to be back, great to be back with friends.

I need to say a special welcome to those from the K-State ROTC program, from Fort Leavenworth, and all the soldiers here from the Big Red One at Fort Riley, and often, who are here by way of Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe the headquarters is actually in Iraq right now. So my background is Navy, but, with joint assignments, I have learned to speak a little Army: Hoo-ah. (Laughter.) And you honor us all with your presence; we thank all of you for coming. (Applause.)

And I understand that this sort of warm greeting is actually typical of the way our troops are supported in this area, day-in and day-out. Junction City and Manhattan have become famous for their hospitality and their care for the Big Red One -- really, a remarkable relationship. And right here at K-State, I understand that there are partnerships between the sports teams and First [Infantry] Division units -- with personal visits back and forth, to see what it's like to be in the other person's shoes, or cleats, or boots. And videos of the latest games that are sent out to the units when they're on deployment. The football team is partnered with the 1st of the 28th Infantry Black Lions, the baseball team with the 2nd of the 16th Infantry Rangers, the women's basketball team with the 1st Sustainment Brigade, and the men's basketball team with the 1st of the 7th Field Artillery, 1st Lightning. This is the only place I've heard that has such a wonderful program -- simply amazing and wonderful. And President Schulz, thank you, and we all appreciate it, who have served time in uniform.

So ladies and gentlemen, it really is a special privilege, as you can see, for me to be here at Kansas State University. I've been tremendously impressed by this institution -- not just the beautiful limestone campus, your many Rhodes Scholars, your nationally ranked Security Studies program -- but I'm really impressed by the breadth of what you do, this broad range of issues that you engage the life of the university. Grounded in Kansas, offering an outstanding education to young Kansans and other students from around this country and around the world, you're working on the big issues that face our country -- both here at home and internationally.

Now, this afternoon, I'd like to talk about the Intelligence Community: who we are, what it is we do, and some of the issues that we're dealing with right now. And then, before leaving this room, I'd like to make a shameless pitch to some of you to come join us in the important work of intelligence.

First, a quick description of the Intelligence Community that I lead as the Director of National Intelligence -- Intel 101.

As General Myers mentioned, we're 16 different agencies -- mostly parts of other departments of our government, but one, the Central Intelligence Agency, independent. The CIA is responsible for human intelligence -- recruiting spies -- and also for taking the information collected by all the agencies to produce analyses for policymakers and for American officials in the field.

Four of the biggest agencies are in the Department of Defense -- the National Security Agency, responsible for gathering communications intelligence -- voice, video, data -- from around the world; the National Geospatial Agency produces analyses, pictures taken by satellites and aircraft, stills and videos, and turns them into reports and maps; the Defense Intelligence Agency also produces all-source intelligence, primarily serving military officers, military officials and units in the field; the National Reconnaissance Office launches and operates the satellites that collect intelligence information from on orbit.

Two organizations in the Intelligence Community focus on the United States: the FBI, responsible for gathering intelligence on threats within the United States, and the Intelligence and Analysis division of the Department of Homeland Security, which is also responsible for tracking threats in this country, and for working closely with state, local and tribal law enforcement organizations.

So that leaves [nine] other members of the community. They include the intelligence organizations from each of the five armed forces and from the State Department, a financial intelligence organization within the Department of the Treasury, a nuclear intelligence agency in the Department of Energy, and the intelligence arm of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

So just this simple description of the different parts of the Intelligence Community illustrates the complexity involved in bringing them together. And the key is to integrate these 16 organizations so that the amazing, different capabilities and skills that they bring are focused on the right missions and that they can work together. And that's really my job as the Director of National Intelligence.

The first step is to set the overall goals for the intelligence enterprise, and we've done that in our National Intelligence Strategy. There are four. The first is to enable wise national security policies. We do that by continually monitoring and assessing the international security environment, so that we can warn policymakers of the threats; we can also alert them to the opportunities.

We provide daily intelligence briefings to the President himself, and we're a member of the teams in Washington that work out policies on everything from North Korea and Iran through cyber-security, climate change negotiations. And remember that our job isn't to decide these policies, but our job is to make sure that there's the best possible information so that those who do can make wise policies.

Now, our second goal is to support effective national security action, and that means delivering actionable intelligence to diplomats, military units, interagency organizations in the field, and to domestic law enforcement organizations. And this includes literally thousands of intelligence officers supporting our embassies in Kabul, in Baghdad, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military units that -- right now -- are driving the Taliban out of Helmand province.

Our third goal is to deliver balanced and improving capabilities so that the future intelligence community can be even more effective than today's. We need to make tough choices to invest in the right new satellites, supercomputers, information networks, surveillance aircraft and software programs, to make our intelligence officers even more capable in the next generation.

And our fourth strategic goal is to function as an integrated team.

Now, these four goals for the Intelligence Community seem fairly straightforward. Back during the Cold War, when our fundamental intelligence organization was put together, they probably would have been relevant.

What's changed?

Well, there have been three major seismic shifts since that time that have made a fundamental difference to the Intelligence Community. These hinge points have affected all of our national security organizations, but they've been especially important for intelligence. Let me take you back to the very first words even uttered in a Landon Lecture, in 1966, by Governor Alf Landon himself. He said, "We must face the challenges of new realities of international life today."

Twenty-three years after he spoke those words, there was a big new reality -- the Berlin Wall came down. Before then, our intelligence mission was to steal secrets about the Soviet Union. We recruited spies and educated analysts to understand its leadership intentions, its military capabilities, its actions around the world. We trained thousands of Russian linguists. We dug long tunnels to tap the central phone exchange in East Berlin. We built a huge ship and disguised it as a manganese mining vessel just to pick up a single Soviet submarine on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

When the Cold War ended, it affected our entire approach to intelligence. For example, in the 1980s, our primary focus in intelligence on Latin America was on what the Soviets were doing in Cuba and Nicaragua and Grenada. But now, after the Cold War, we have to understand the countries and trends in the region much more deeply in their own terms, as well as in terms of the threats and the opportunities they offer for the United States.

Let's look at just one country: Colombia. It matters because it's the primary source of cocaine coming into the United States. The Intelligence Community is expected to provide analyses of the drug organizations there, the government, armed forces, Colombia's relations to the region, social and economic trends. This intelligence is essential to solid American policies for Colombia. In addition, the United States has assisted and is still assisting Colombia to defeat the FARC organization. And intelligence plays a role there.

So although the end of the war lifted a huge threat from the United States -- the threat from a global competitor that could destroy this country -- it actually made the job of intelligence agencies much more complex, and in many ways, more difficult. We'd been set up to focus relentlessly on a single adversary over a long period of time. All of a sudden, we had to keep watch on the entire world in a much more detailed and dynamic way, uncovering threats to our national interests, being alert for opportunities to advance those interests.

For example, since the end of the Cold War, depending on how you count, the United States has been involved in about 15 major deployments of military force. Many of them have been to places that we would not have predicted in the 1980s -- Bosnia, East Timor, Iraq, Panama. And for all these military engagements, and for many more areas in which there are crises and tensions, but which we did not take military action, the Intelligence Community has been called on to understand the society, the issues, the country, the region, as presidents and their advisers have made decisions about whether we should use military force, diplomatic tools, economic tools.

And then once a decision is made that the United States will act, then the Intelligence Community was called on for very fine-grained, detailed intelligence important for the work of diplomats, international development workers, and soldiers -- to bring crises to an end, to stabilize troubled societies, and to establish longer-term arrangements to put those countries on their feet.

The second hinge point, turning about the same time that the Cold War was ending, has been the information revolution.

In the 1980s, the first information networks began to be deployed in a serious way. Now, it's not surprising that an information revolution would shake the business of intelligence to its very core. After all, intelligence is about information -- collecting it, sharing it, using it.

Networks changed our access to information and they changed our access to one another. And they totally changed how we do business -- building and using data sources, sending e-mails, sharing audio and video files -- so that we can work collaboratively and quicker, and so that we can leverage virtual teams of intelligence officers linked together around the world.

Like most catchphrases, the term "connect the dots" is overused, often misused; but it has a large grain of truth. And there are so many data sources, some of them that intelligence agencies themselves maintain, like our files of satellite imagery, which go back decades. Some of them are available in the public domain, like research papers on societies in faraway countries. And the challenge is to find the right information, to understand its validity, and to put it in context, and to get that done in time for a policymaker in Washington or an officer in the field to be able to use it.

We use many of the tools that are familiar to you at K-State. We have an A-Space, or Analytic-Space, where communities of interest are formed by analysts from different agencies who follow a particular issue and can post information and ideas. It's like MySpace or Facebook. We use Web sites that look very much like what you probably use to keep up with your particular fields of interest, RSS feeds coming in with new information on the subject, hyperlinked access to previous work that had been done on that subject.

But unlike the open academic world, we in the Intelligence Community have some constraints on working together collaboratively, sharing information. The more we link our intelligence data sources together, the more they become vulnerable. One enemy spy inside the community can do much more damage than one could years ago. One hostile intelligence penetration of one of our networks can extract huge amounts of valuable information. So while we take advantage of all of the tools of the information revolution, we have to build security features on our data sources and on our connections. And these are expensive; they slow us down some.

So the information revolution is giving us better tools to do our job. As important, because the information revolution has spread around the world, it's fundamentally affecting our collection of intelligence, as well as our sharing and analysis. Increasingly, the information that we want, in order to find out what others are thinking and what they're doing, is stored and shared in their networks.

And so that's where we go to get it. Foreign governments communicate on networks. Terrorist organizations like al-Qaida use the Internet to put out their messages. Drug traffickers have to communicate to send their shipments and receive their payments. Organizations that we're very much interested in store their information electronically, not in paper and file cabinets.

So one of the real major growth areas in the business of gathering intelligence is penetrating foreign networks, bringing that information back to analysts to write the reports, to inform our policymakers and action officers. In this area, I can't give you many specific examples, since they're classified; but it's not difficult to imagine the value of being able to read the e-mails of some foreigner who's involved in a plot against the United States.

Now, the third hinge point of American intelligence was 9/11, and its effect on us has been profound.

As the 9/11 Commission stated, it exposed these internal barriers to sharing that prevented the Intelligence Community from understanding that threat that was forming against us in the months leading up to that attack. Our enemies were seamless; we were compartmented.

There were pieces of intelligence that were held by agencies that weren't shared, weren't analyzed to warn of the attack so that we could stop it. The difficulties of sharing between agencies that were focused on foreign intelligence on the one hand and those that were focused on law enforcement and domestic security on the other hand were laid bare by that incident.

In addition, we discovered, as a nation, that our Armed Forces didn't defend us against every threat, that our nuclear weapons did not deter every enemy from attacking us. It was those 9/11 attacks and the investigations after them that led to legislation in 2004 that reorganized the Intelligence Community in fundamental ways. The position of Director of National Intelligence was established at that time, in order to bring together a more integrated and agile intelligence community and to address these new threats that were emerging.

For the first time, domestic law enforcement and security organizations -- the FBI, the new Department of Homeland Security -- were included in the Intelligence Community so that we understood threats across these traditional boundaries. And new organizations within the community -- such as the National Counterterrorism Center, the National Counterproliferation Center -- were established to focus different agencies on cross-cutting missions that all needed to work together to solve.

So here we are, 20 years since the end of the Cold War, well into the information revolution, eight years since 9/11, five years since the Director of National Intelligence was established. How's it going? Are we really as integrated and agile as we need to be? Are we on top of developments in China, Iran, Afghanistan, as well as al-Qaida, the Sinaloa drug cartel, global warming? Can we both enable wise policies in these areas and support effective action?

My answer to you, after a little over a year on the job, is that we're doing well, but that we're not satisfied and we still have to continue to evolve and improve.

Let me start with the subject of integration of the community, the sharing of information and teamwork. Overall, we're more unified as a community than we were five years ago. We do a better job of sharing intelligence and building mission teams, to work on problems that we need the different skills of different agencies to solve.

As General Myers knows probably better than anybody, the Armed Forces went through something similar, starting in 1986 with the Goldwater-Nichols Act. This legislation told the Armed Forces to work together as a joint team. It really took decades after that legislation to overcome all the negative aspects of inter-service rivalry among the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

I remember very clearly when that move happened. I'd been in a Navy uniform for about 18 years, and like most of my contemporaries, I was not very enthusiastic about joint operations with other services. I figured there was an obvious solution to inter-service problems: Just bring the other services up to Navy standards and we'd be fine. (Laughter.) But I have to tell you I was wrong. The Armed Forces are much more effective now because they're working together than they were when they were fighting separately -- mostly over who was in charge rather than against the common enemy.

I see this same progress in the Intelligence Community. Like the Armed Forces, we've made it a requirement that an intelligence officer serve for a time outside of his or her parent agency in order to reach a high position within the Intelligence Community. And every day, I see the effects of this widening of perspective of our senior leadership as it serves around the community.

And while there are still instances in which intelligence is not shared with other agencies, they're fewer than before. They're more the exception than they are the rule. So as "Richard's Rules of the Road" reminded us, never be ashamed to unlearn an old habit. This primary lesson for the Intelligence Community out of 9/11 was that we needed to share information.

Our preliminary investigation of the unsuccessful bombing over Detroit on Christmas Day of a Northwest Airlines flight did not find that information was being held. In fact, it was being shared. The National Counterterrorism Center has access to over 50 different intelligence data sources. The problem was that we were unable to put these different pieces of information together in time to be able to issue warning to stop the threat. And we're working on that problem. So that's integration.

What about the agility of the defense -- of the Intelligence Community? Are we able to flex our resources as new threats and priorities arise and as world events ebb and flow? I believe we can. Perhaps we can't quite look five cars out ahead in the road, the way "Richard's Rules of the Road" would have us do. But we are looking ahead more than one or two. And we're adjusting to what it is we see.

Last year, when the swine flu epidemic was a frightening threat that we didn't understand well, the Intelligence Community mobilized to gather the best information available on it. We found experts to make sense of it. We provided solid assessments to national decision-makers on the potential extent of the epidemic under various conditions.

Although we did not keep Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab off the flight into Detroit on Christmas Day, last year we stopped Mr. Najibullah Zazi from an alleged plan for an attack in New York City. We arrested David Headley, who was involved in planning attacks on our friends and allies. And we arrested several other Americans inspired by radical ideologies who were planning to blow up public buildings right here in the United States.

Last September, months of painstaking work by the Intelligence Community led to the announcement by our President, flanked by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of France, that the Iranians had been constructing a secret centrifuge facility to enrich uranium, and that they had been concealing it from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

And these are a few of the examples of the excellent work being done -- intelligence work on new areas. But I can assure you that none of us believes we can rest on our laurels. There is much work to be done. So let me turn to the future and tell you about the priorities for the Intelligence Community -- what it is we're working on as we look forward.

Some of our missions remain traditional -- exactly what you'd expect -- espionage-related intelligence, assessing the intentions and the capabilities of other nation-states. Even though the Cold War is over, we still need to know a lot about Russia, with its nuclear weapons, its new European security proposal, its vast energy reserves. We need to understand if it will work with us on common challenges like countering proliferation or violent extremism.

We also are working to learn a lot more about China, with its impressive economic success, its growing armed forces, its rising international profile. But Beijing is also our partner for dealing with such challenges as North Korea and Iran. I understand there are quite a few Chinese students here at K-State and that's excellent.

We need to have more Chinese and Americans understanding one another based on firsthand knowledge. It's going to be interesting when the Chinese students take their Wildcat traditions back to China. Can you imagine 1.3 billion people dancing around to "The Wabash Cannonball?" (Laughter.)

Now, Russia and China are not the enemies they were in the past. There are many areas, including intelligence, in which we cooperate. But we still need to know what they think and say about us in secret.

Of course, we're learning more every day about Iran and North Korea. These two countries in particular threaten regions where we have both allies and vital interests. We're learning every single thing we can about non-state groups that are powerful, international and threaten Americans and our way of life. I'm talking about al-Qaida, its affiliates, and the groups that are inspired by it; but I'm also talking about drug trafficking organizations, organized cyber criminals, nuclear proliferators -- those who try to sell the knowledge of the hardware necessary to make weapons of mass destruction.

We're exploring the mega-trends that affect American interests: globalization, the freer flow of people and technology around the world, economic threats to international exports like beef, pork, corn and wheat from right here in the center of the United States. We're staying abreast of international trade, the rules of the road that are being established by international organizations that deal with trade.

We have people who are setting implications of climate change. We need to be able to support humanitarian relief operations, such as those that are going on in Haiti right now -- where imagery from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is showing exactly where problems are located and where help is needed in that country.

We track international oil and gas developments. They can and do affect U.S. supplies and business, and have profound geo-political effects. We're working hard to stay current with technology trends in areas like information technology, biotechnology. These are two-edged swords, and we need to make sure that we use the edge of the sword that helps us, that benefits the country, and that we minimize the danger that the other side of the sword will hurt us.

Right now in both those areas -- in both cyber technology and in biotechnology -- the defenders have a much tougher job than the attackers. You have to spend more and work harder to enjoy the benefits of the Internet and biotechnology, without being vulnerable to those who could use them against us. And this is an area where threats could affect a typical K-State student or professor or resident of Manhattan or Junction City even more than what we think of as traditional terrorist attacks with bombs.

Nobody here wants to be the victim of some cyber or banking or ID theft. Nobody wants to have to worry about biological warfare, strikes against critical infrastructure such as power grids, the oil and gas industries or food crises. Heck, it was bad enough in Washington with the recent snowstorms. People panicked when they'd run out of chips and beer for the Super Bowl. (Laughter.) You could imagine what a real threat would have been like.

And I know here we have the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which is on its way to Manhattan. And despite the risks that have to be managed with something like that, that you as a community have embraced it. You understand that it's needed. And with the history and experience here, including the exceptional Biosecurity Research Institute right here at K-State, which already assists the Intelligence Community on bio-forensics, this is clearly the right community to host it. And I just want to say that I believe you're doing the country a great service by taking that on. As a reward, we'll send the money, but keep the bureaucrats in Washington. (Laughter.)

Now, the real challenge of all of these subjects that I've sort of reeled off is to understand the different types of interactions -- nation-states, international organizations, sub-national organizations, mega-trends -- how all these play out and will throw out crises, threats and opportunities for the United States to advance its interests. And they interact in interesting ways that make a big difference.

For example, in Mexico, drug trafficking organizations are a threat. They can be even more of a threat if they're linked to violent extremists or computer criminals. But they're also an opportunity -- one for unprecedented cooperation between the United States and Mexico. International cyber crime is a threat, but it also represents an opportunity for cooperation, both with the private sector here in this country, and with many governments in Europe and the Far East that share our goals of having an Internet that's used for legal purposes.

At the technological level, we can also take the view that what's happened since 9/11 has been both a challenge and an opportunity. On the challenge side, al-Qaida uses globalized communications very effectively -- not just for propaganda, but also for recruitment, logistics, moving money and internal communications. And it's been helped by the spread of technology in areas like explosives and reconnaissance.

And related to that, the mega-trend of global media plays a very important role. Now, more than ever, one person causing a relatively small number of casualties, but in spectacular fashion, can have a huge impact on our country and the world. One man with dud explosives in his shoes in December 2001 changed airport security around the world, so now we have to take all our shoes off. And it helped the sock industry take off in terms of profits. (Laughter.)

But technology helps us, too. We can connect the dots like never before. Once we get a lead, we can quickly scour many data repositories for more clues. But as we learned on Northwest 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day, we still need to do that better. We need to make it easier to seamlessly search disparate data sources maintained by different agencies for different purposes. And we're working on that.

Let me turn to some concerns that I have for the future as we pursue these difficult and complex issues. One major concern is that the measure of success for the Intelligence Community in countering violent extremists has become nothing less than perfection. We are expected to find and to stop every plot before it proceeds.

Let's look at the reality of this. Perfection is an impossible target, given that the United States is the prime engine of globalization. In 2008, for example, we had 50 million legal foreign visitors who came here for many reasons, including to attend some of the world's best universities. Many foreign students came here to Kansas State. That's good for both the United States and for their home countries.

How much should we be expected to know about every person who seeks to enter our borders? What's the threshold? What's right? What's too much? What's fair for us to investigate?

And second, when it comes to Americans, a free society where we enjoy civil liberties and our citizens expect privacy, that kind of a society does run some risks.

We can eliminate risks with a government that has the right to gather unlimited information on all its citizens and turn that information over to intelligence services. But we do not want to live like that. Where do we want to draw the line between security, on the one hand, and personal freedoms on the other hand?

And here are some realities of terrorism when you strip out the fear and use some good old Kansas common sense: Last year, we had just over 14,000 homicides in this country. Do you know how many people were killed on U.S. soil whose deaths were tied in any way to international, violent extremist groups? Fourteen. And that number falls to zero if you're looking at those perpetrated directly by foreign extremists.

Success or failure shouldn't only be measured in lives lost. It also should be measured in lives saved. But that's probably harder to do than anything. And even one death caused by a violent extremist strikes right at the core of a free people. It's a violation of the highest order. It can't be treated solely as a number. When someone breaks into your house, it's not what he stole that matters the most; it's your sense of security.

So the standard for success in countering violent extremism has to be incredibly high, because the stakes are incredibly high. And I will tell you that no one is harder on us than ourselves about the times that we fall short. But I cannot promise you that the Intelligence Community will be able to discover and to stop every attack by a violent extremist group like al-Qaida.

But as a country, we cannot allow a successful attack to damage our resolve or to diminish our way of life. If that happens, then the violent extremists win. Remember again, General Myers' rules of the road: "There are those who have crashed and those who will crash." What we do with the one we survive is to learn from it, so it doesn't happen again. And then we get back on the bike.

Now, a related concern I have is to increase the openness of our work in the Intelligence Community without giving away secrets. It's part of the reason that I'm here giving this talk at K-State. I want to take some of the mystery and some of the menace out of the Intelligence Community. The American people should all feel as proud as I do about the work that we accomplish. And they should be reassured that we do it while respecting all the liberties and the civil protections and the privacies that Americans have under the Constitution, and that we act in accordance with American values in everything that we do.

I truly believe that the more open we are in the Intelligence Community, the easier it is ultimately for us to do our jobs, because then it becomes more apparent that we're providing safety, not trying to deceive fellow Americans -- that we're maintaining the moral high ground, and that we're doing our jobs under the law, without invading the privacy or infringing the civil liberties of Americans.

We're primarily focused on foreign threats, though of course we have to worry about it when they have connections with those who threaten this country from within.

Of all the secrets that exist, there are countless ones that we don't intrude on -- like how the TV series "Lost" is going to end. (Laughter.) And even though it's a mystery, we don't need to find out who Willie the Wildcat really is. Now, you may think that guy in the Jayhawk costume is a different story. (Laughter.) But we exist to protect him too. Unless he's a terrorist, of course. (Laughter.) Which we believe he is. (Laughter.)

So our world is a world of secrets, but it need not be a world of mystery. Our people join for patriotic motives. Their jobs are about protecting the lives, the freedom, the security of Americans. I want them to be proud of what they do; and I want you, the American public, to be proud of them too. Because we believe that if the public understands a little bit more about what we do and why we do it, we'll be a stronger, safer nation for it.

Yes, we interrogate those whom we detain because we suspect that they have conducted on attacks on the United States, or are planning attacks. No, we don't torture them. But we are investigating new ways to interrogate them consistent with our national values. Maybe we should have Coach Frank Martin go into a room and stare at them for a while. (Laughter.) I understand that's pretty effective. Or if we're really going for teamwork, put them on the 50-yard line in the Bill, have the KSU marching band play "The Wabash Cannonball," and have you all intimidate the hell out of 'em. (Laughter.)

As we often do in this country, the Intelligence Community is conducting one more magnificent experiment in American democracy. Can we operate a large, powerful, effective intelligence enterprise while adhering to the U.S. Constitution and American principles of openness, separation of powers, respect for privacy? We think we can. We think we are doing it every day.

And that brings me to my final point, because I want to take advantage of this lecture to do some shameless recruiting. All you outstanding young Wildcats out there, I really hope that as you decide where to begin your post-college life, as many of you as possible consider the intelligence field as an occupation.

Last year the Partnership for Public Service and American University's Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation came up with a list of the best places to work in government. Thirty-one organizations were on it, and the Intelligence Community was ranked number four.

More than half the people who now work in the Intelligence Community came to us after 9/11. They want to defend the country. They're patriots. They enjoy being part of an honorable profession. And they're a younger crowd than you might think. I don't understand all of their tribal structures. There are these rival Team Edward and Team Jacob clubs, I don't know. (Laughter.)

But we are among the most select professions in the United States -- pretty tough to get into. Among all of our 16 agencies, we can sometimes receive up to 5,000 applications a month. Some of our agencies find that only ten percent make it through the clearance process, which comes with background investigations, medical exams, psychological tests and a polygraph. Plus, you need some "mad skills."

But if you're interested, if you're good, I want to encourage you. Persistence is everything.

The stereotype is that we want brave men and women who are willing to go out on dusty streets at night, in hostile regions of the world ,to gain information about evil-doers. And we do need those people. But we also need linguists, criminal justice experts, lawyers, economists, researchers, historians, political scientists, cyber security specialists. We need engineers to work on advanced satellites, communications equipment, sophisticated censors, facial-recognition technology. We need business-savvy acquisition professionals who can buy all that sophisticated technology and make sure that Uncle Sam is not paying too much for it. We need smart analysts who can make sense of the flood of data that we collect every day.

So if you want to try to build high-performance surveillance devices that can be hidden in a pair of glasses, consider the CIA. If you want to be with world-class mathematicians and computer scientists, we've got them at the National Security Agency. If you're interested in building software to turn pictures from space into 3-D models of city blocks, think about coming to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. If you have designs on becoming a serious rocket scientist, there may be a place for you at the National Reconnaissance Organization. And that's only four of our 16 organizations; we've got a dozen more.

And for those of you taking foreign language besides engineering -- (laughter) -- I have just one thing to say: gracias, merci, danke, xie xie, arigato, shukran, shukriyah and spasibo. You may have -- you just have no idea how important that language skill is for today's Intelligence Community in collection, analysis, even engineering. It's also important in truly understanding another culture. So if you're a first or second-generation American who already speaks another language and already understands another culture, we'd definitely love to have you. You have something that no amount of training can replicate.

And if you're still not sure, but you're curious -- you're a senior or a grad student -- you might check out the online application for our national security analysis and intelligence summer seminar: 40 slots, two weeks in July in Washington, weather's delightful. (Laughter.) Travel expenses, room, board, 500 bucks in walking around money. Try it; you might like it. I think the deadline is coming up March 7th -- www.dni.gov/summerseminar.

So I'll stop right there. It's been wonderful to be here. Thanks for persisting through the small interruption.