Top intelligence nominees for DoJ and DHS questioned at Senate confirmation hearing

Confirmation hearing
Confirmation hearing
for Carlin and Taylor
on February 25, 2014

After the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), playfully welcomed John Carlin as a “very young-looking nominee” to head the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and then welcomed retired USAF brigadier general, Francis Taylor, as a “slightly more mature” nominee to become the next under secretary of DHS for intelligence and analysis, the Senate committee launched into a largely courteous and civil confirmation hearing for both nominees on Feb. 25.

Carlin and Taylor each told the panel that they see their role essentially as a “bridge” or a “link” between their respective departments and the broader Intelligence Community.

Carlin said in his prepared testimony that the DoJ’s national security division “serves as a bridge between the Intelligence Community and the Department of Justice, to support the approach the Congress embraced when it removed legal and structural barriers to information-sharing among intelligence and law enforcement professionals.” Those structural barriers were largely dismantled in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “This bridge has allowed us to maximize our disruption options and offers our best chance to prevent the next attacks,” Carlin observed.

He noted that Justice’s national security division was created to unite the Department’s national security elements to bring all tools to bear in the fight against terrorism.

“NSD lawyers play an indispensable role in ensuring that the Intelligence Community is able to consider all legally available options to detect and disrupt threats to our nation’s security while scrupulously adhering to complex and evolving legal requirements,” Carlin added. “If confirmed, I will remain committed to supporting this all-tools approach, and to ensuring that as we adapt our intelligence practices to stay ahead of our adversaries, our critical operations are conducted within the bounds of the law and consistent with our nation’s values. I recognize that these values include protecting vital civil liberties, privacy, and the rule of law.”

Taylor made a similar point in his prepared statement presented to the same committee during the same confirmation hearing. “This position and the team I would be privileged to hold and to lead, if confirmed, constitute crucial links between both the Federal Government and the Intelligence Community, and our State, Local, Tribal, Territorial (SLTT) and private sector partners who are on the front lines every day protecting our country and our citizens from an ever-evolving threat,” said the retired general, who most recently has services as the chief security officer for the General Electric Company.

“As envisioned by the Congress, I&A’s role is to enable effective information sharing among the Federal Government and its State, local, tribal, and private sector partners, ensuring all involved have a clearer understanding of the nature of the threats that we face collectively,” Taylor told the Senate panel. “I remain haunted by the fact that at least one of the 9/11 hijackers was engaged by local law enforcement before the attack, and the fact that there was certainly potential for action against that individual before the attack.”

To see a video of the complete confirmation hearing on Feb. 25, 2014, click here.