DNI Clapper delivers address discussing transparency in intelligence
On September 9, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke at the AFCEA/INSA National Security and Intelligence Summit. An excerpt from his remarks, entitled “Transparency in Intelligence: ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’” is below:
Yes, we have to protect our secrets: our sources and methods, our tradecraft; but we have to be more transparent about the things we can talk about, because now, the American public expects us to talk about how we’re using the power of U.S. intelligence responsibly. And again, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
That’s a lesson I personally believe we didn’t learn quickly enough, and that “we” certainly includes me. So that’s why, more-and-more, we’re discussing our work: to correct misunderstandings and to try to help people grasp what we do, to show that we’re worthy of America’s trust, and to prove that we make worthwhile contributions to the security of Americans and our friends and allies around the world.
It’s why, over the past two years, the Community has declassified more than 5,000 pages of documents about our work and, importantly, about the oversight of our work conducted by all three branches of government. And by publishing those declassified documents on our Tumblr site: “IC on the Record” and pushing them out on Facebook and Twitter, they reached millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.
That includes, of course, our adversaries, who have learned a lot from our transparency. But we have come down on the side of – transparency is worth the cost. We declassified those documents to show that we follow the law, and when we do make mistakes, we do our best to live up to that line Stan Lee wrote just a few months before I joined the intelligence business: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
We understand the truth in that line. It’s why the President challenged us in a speech, in January of last year, to formalize privacy protections for our signals intelligence efforts, at home and abroad, and to be more transparent about how we implement those protections. This past January, we published a comprehensive report, answering the challenges the President publicly gave us in 2014.
We also supported the USA Freedom Act, which authorizes increased reporting of how the IC exercises some of its authorities. And this past February, we published the “Principles of Intelligence Transparency,” and we stood up an IC Transparency Working Group, with senior representatives from all over the IC. I meet with these great people. Their purpose is to transform those principles into action.
A copy of the full remarks is available here.