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L i o n / 5
Event: Lt.Gen. Kenneth Minihan, USAF retired
Type of Event: Interview
Date: November 5, 2003
Special Access Issues: None
Prepared by: Lorry Fenner
Team Number: 2
Location: Commission's K St. Office
Participants — non-Commission: Lt.Gen. Kenneth Mini han, USAF Retired.
Participants — Commission: Col. Lorry Fenner, Gordon Lederman
(U) General Minihan was interviewed by the JI on 12 September 2002. We reviewed the
record of that interview as well as his Senate Governmental Affairs statement of 1998 on
Information Infrastructure protection.
(U) Gen. Minihan was a career intelligence officer with his time focused on tactical
support for fighter pilots in Vietnam to serving as a one-star at Tactical Air Command
Headquarters. He served in Squadron, Group, and Wing Commander positions before
serving as the Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency (the Air Force's Cryptologic
Service Element). He was the Air Force's Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence
(ACSI) and then Director of DIA for 6 months before Secretary of Defense Perry made
him Director of NSA (against his wishes) where he served from 1996 to May of 1999.
Lt.Gen. Hayden succeeded him. While at AIA he responded to pressure to transform AF
intelligence to support tactical operations coming out of DESERT STORM and he started
the Air Force Information Warfare Center (AFIWC).
(U) After retirement, he made a conscious decision to avoid the defense/intelligence
contractors and moved to the business sector with a private equity fund. And he is
chairman of a senior intelligence roundtable. He has no contractual relations with the
intelligence community (IC) or with DoD although he consults for some companies that
do business with them.
(U) THE IC'S TRANSITION AT THE END OF THE COLD WAR.
(U) When he started at DIA some thought that this was an organization from the Cold
War with massive analytic capacity that was no longer needed. It was totally misaligned
v i s a v i s new and future threats. He knew that a new leader usually had about a year to
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make proposals and then implement the vision. Two things he wanted to do, and started,
were to create an analytic environment that would "close with the new threats" using
modern tools like JIVA (Joint Intelligence Virtual Analysis) and to eliminate NOFORN
(to fight in a coalition environment).
(Sly Bill Perry and John White told him to go to NSA'Where the problem was the same
as DIA "but worse" in terms of transitioning from the _Cold War. This was coming from
the Scientific Advisory Board. For security, NSA was clinging to the "clipper Chip"
because they were drowning in encryption software: They were also clinging tor —I
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(U) THE VISION FOR NSA AND THE CHALLENGE OF MULTIPLE BOSSES
(U) Gen. Minihan knew the word "National" does matter in NSA. DIA is, owned by the
CJCS, but when you are DIRNSA three people think they own you - SECDEF, CJCS,
and the DCI. You have three totally different constituencies with different needs.
However, DoD has the money.
..„(5/S.1) First he took the "clipper chip" off the table and moved Information Assurance to a
Service Commercial Structure to"address the new challenges (instead of fiOting a
rearguard action with the chip): He also wanted to move the Agency from
' and go after the internet. He brought CIA in and got a CIA
person as his Deputy DDO. He also wanted to move from hiring less than 100 persons
per year to expanding that. Finally, he believed NSA had moved to a "technology
ghetto" having declined from a 1 5% R&D investmentdown to 3%. (Note:
GROUNDBREAKER was the projectto outsource infrastructure).
(U) His vision puthim atodds with all 3 bosses and there was no money for any ofit.
He also wanted to change his partnerships within and outside the IC and they were
"messing with his authorities" [NFI].
(5/Str Instead of inheriting a modern outfit from ADM. O'Connell, the Agency was in
the 10th year of a 3% program decline. They had given up on modernizing and were just
trying to hold their own. The downsizing had a "halo effect" on investments. Moreover,
between his rejection of Clipper Chip and going after the internet he was already $6-10B
in the hole.
(U) His bosses each had their own issues with "the vision". Each thoughthis power was
(U) OSD was doing a Bottom Up Review and was insensitive to his
technological dilemma with the Information Revolution. It was "not their problem". The
best he could do was arrest the decline. He requested "overguidance" and he let it be
known on the Hill (as he sat next to John Harare) that he was not in agreement with the
President's Budget. His request for guidance generated tension with the EOP. The Hill
liked it when he asked for overguidance.
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(U) CJCS was focused on the "warfighter" noton "national"./ CJCS had no
interestin other customers. From 1 996 to 1 999 there was a real growth in tactical needs
and technical issues came into play as in Bosnia, etc. So CJCS Wanted more.
(U) The DCI had Community responsibilities. He was notan advocate for
investmentbutonly for budget. They were torn between software encryption (cost) and
"we". But90% ofthe time when the DCI says "we" he meantCIA, which occurred
when the DCI moved from F Streetto Langley.
(U) Gen. Minihan actually knew his bosses' power was not absolUte butdiluted and he
had to try to balance them. He knew thatthe SecretaryofState should have as much
influence as the SECDEF, and thatmany thoughtthat forj you should be able to do
anything; no one should be complaining aboutgetting more money. You did have to get
things outto the CINCs (and visitthem) or they would go to the CJCS. Whereas the
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would cutdeals with the Deli IDIRNSAs O' Connell and Hayden
met/meetwith the SECDEF every week, butduring Minihan' s time they only meta
couple times a year — reflecting receding interestby the SECDEF. With the DCI there
were converging interests across programs. The Da thought"Ken wants more than his
fair share". Minihan knew his one mission with the DCI was to make sure Tenetwasn' t
surprised. He did notgetmany phone calls. The Deputy SECDEF was NSA' s touch
point, butwas too busy. Hamre wanted to have NSAwork for ASD/C3I, ArtMoney,
along with NIMA, DIA, etc., which Minihan resisted and convinced Hamre to resist. The
Staffers, the Hill, the DCI all thoughtthey knew more than DIRNSA. He told John
Harare "don' tdiminish NSA" and Hamre said he was "nothaving fun with the budget
issues" and wanted to push those to Money. John White and Bill Perry were more active
than Harare and Bill Cohen.
(U) The staffworked with the CINCs and they would have working groups for "Specials"
like Bosnia. The CINCs would go directto the CJCS and he would getcalls directly.
Minihan tried to help the CINCs, butsometimes he also told them "no".
(WRY- Gen. Minihan responded to a requestto give an example ofwhen he mightplay
bosses offagainsteach other. He responded thatsince DoD was the 8001 b gorilla (about
money) he would always go to Defense first, then he' d go to DCI ifhe didn' tgetthe
answer he wanted. He would only respond to the Hill ifthey asked for him. He did have
to block bosses who wanted him/NSAto do something illegal. He also mentioned in one
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I- NSAand CIAbumped into each other
because oflack ofinformation sharing and their operation was compromised.
(U) FISAAND INFORMATION WARFARE (IW).
4SiSir He had no trouble with FISAsuch as problems from having to go through DoD or
DoJ. [This is contrary to Hamre' s JI interview Hamre thoughtthatwas the only control
he had over NSAwas to threaten to withhold FISAand his GC had to sign them all?].
Minihan said FISA was a magnificent process, but it took hard work and it had to be done
right. He was not uncomfortable with FBI doing SIGINT, but it had to be coordinated.
He said DoJ always signed the FISAs. Minihan briefed the Supreme Court and went over
each case including the ones that didn't work out. They were very thankful for the
' briefing. Ron Lee ran the program (GC) and the NSA lawyers were great. They did fear
the "halo effect" if FBI messed up.
J,SiSiNinihan hired more lawyers during downsizing to work IW issues. His lawyers
were conservative and wanted new laws in this arena. In the early 1990s Minihan had
created the Info Warfare Center for the AF to respond to the new technology
environment. Gen. Minihan felt the IC needed a new analytic process rather than new
laws. The problem was the lawyers didn't know the technology. Minihan wanted to go
after a person whether that person used a phone or email, rather than simply going after a
phone number. He taught his lawyers the technology and then they got it. He started the
Information Operations Technology Center (IOTC) at NSA also. He wanted to foster
Computer Network Attack (CNA). By the same token, he wanted to transform the
Information Assurance Directorate (with ISSP money). No one was interested really but
he got Hamre and CJCS to buy the ELIGIBLE RECEIVER exercise allowing him to
attack the DoD information infrastructure. When NSA was successful, the leadership
finally understood and thought about money for defense (IAD) and offense (I0 (CNA)).
The lawyers insisted that they obey the law.which they did. They did not cheat on the
domestic side, as an enemy would, and they still crashed the system quickly. Once the
lawyers understood the technology and followed the scenario they got it. They realized
then that they didn't need new laws even for offense.
(U) Gen. Minihan said he never once ran into a problem with the laws in trying to do his
(U) MID-LEVEL MANAGEMENT, TERRORISM AND TRANSFORMATION AT
(U) Gen. Minihan illustrated the difference in how the workforce sees its senior
management by saying, at DIA they called him "our Director" while at NSA they said
"this Director" — meaning NSA people can wait out Directors and their ideas until a new
one comes. Minihan said he got on TV (NSA closed circuit) and went down to the
loading docks based on a recommendation from the IBM CEO. He said you had to
surprise the mid-level managers. When he tried to implement change, many would
respond to him by saying, "great idea boss, but we have no money". At the time, the
Department of State was happy with what they were getting and Defense wanted near-
real-time intelligence support.
(U) For one part of transformation, Minihan founded the Unified Cryptologic
Architecture Office (UCAO) for integration and common standards which were resisted
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(U) Minihan also recounted how he created a model u sing terrorism for using "how we'd
like to be". He asked' Ito re-roll money ($500M - B) to go against a
vision — "terrorism is hurting us and we're not postUred properly they are living in our
seams"(see below). He stood up a CT shop and moved people there. The workers were
happy, the mid-level managers said there was no money, and the NSA seniors were not
smart enough to get where he wanted NSA to /go and implement needed changes.
(Si-STYGen. Minihan clarified that NSA was reacting to the threat as they saw it evolving,
not from direction from above. Miniharc/said NSA understood the terrorists were using
the internet and wireless. While he was director, NSA found UBL SATCOM
communications and was in the early/stages of understanding technologies the terrorists
`were using, against which NSA only had a rudimentary system.
( Gen. Minihan explained, inore about the terrorists "living in the seams." As
DIRNSA, he started to change" the old A (Soviet), B (PRC) and G (Rest of World) Group
power structure and nut the,6ounterterrorism effort in W Group in Transnational Issues
i under! ,/ tnterviewed 6 November). Previously, NSA was organized
geographically and the terrorists were transnational; NSA was interceptinj land
as non-state actors, terrorist communications could primarily be found'
NSA was organized to respond to its customer base, but there was
not a real. customer emanding CT strategic intelligence.
(U) In Minihan's view things were changing in the late 1980s and early 1990s but even
he was slow to see it. After WTC 93 he thought nothing had disrupted his job in national
security and that the bombing was a crime problem. However, his father, a WWII vet,
said "we've been attacked". NSA had no focus on WTC 93 except to help the FBI when
they asked for it. Gen. Minihan has some charts that show how we moved from viewing
terrorism as a crime to viewing it as an attack [Can we get this briefing?).
(U) Minihan spoke of how the bombing of Khobar Towers in 1996 had an effect on him
personally. His son's room was where the bomb exploded at Khobar, but he was out.
Terrorism did affect Minihan's portfolio then with attacks on the military at Khobar and
on the USS Cole and on civilians at the East African embassies.
(U) THE DCI'S 1998 DECLARATION OF WAR
(U) Gen. Minihan said he got the DCI's memo and NSA was onboard. No one said
"what will this cost us?". Minihan tried to re-roll NSA's money and asked for
overguidance. His customer base was happy with the intelligence they were getting, so
he couldn't stop doing anything in order to move resources and he got no new money
from the DCI. CIA got some extra money. He got some money (-SIB) from Congress
but it was "taxed" by DCI, CMS, and DoD so he took home about $4-500M. Since it
was more than what he had before, he didn't complain.
(U) Gen. Minihan said the rest of that story is that the NSA program went over well on
the Hill. Speaker Gingrich thought it had some traction and scheduled 3 meetings.
Barbara McNamara (DDO) and Minihan went to the HPSCI and got the $1.5B
supplemental which was then taxed. The fact that Minihan was also re-rolling NSA's
money got the Hill's attention. For instance, he used intelligence (CCP) money for the
IOTC and they yelled foul. He told them, "this is our responsibility." [NH] NSA did not
need Congressional approved for re-rolling under a certain threshold, but politically had
to obtain Congressional acquiescence.
(U) COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT
(U) Gen. Minihan thought the Community Management Staff operated better when they
were located on F Street, when "we" meant the IC rather than the CIA. He said when
there were IC debates, the debate occurred in the open. NSA made their argument and
they won some and lost some. Now since the DCI resides with the CIA, there is more of
a "natural tendency to be with that outfit". Gen. Minihan believes that the DCI should
trust DIRNSA to keep track of his program, but that the DCI is now more invasive with
the apportionment of resources. He also believes that there is not an open debate; final
decisions are just being made in the DCI's office when the CIA presents their case.
When NSA lost under these conditions (when the debates were not open and fair), he
would try to get one of his other two bosses to fight the decision. He said CIA has a
"normal organizational impulse to put the DCI in the middle". He believes it is a
problem to have the corporate staff embedded in one of the business units of the IC.
(U) WORKING TOGETHER WITH THE CIA
• (S, Gen. Minihan believed that two major changes were needed in his partnerships.
He thought the foreign partners needed to be realigned rather than being considered 1 st ,
2d and 3d party. The stable relationships of the Cold War are no longer as useful. So he
took on Strategic Relations in his own portfolio as DIRNSA. The second was to apply
the same transformation to relations with CIA, particularly since it belonged in one of the
after the internet infrastructure together
Gen. Minihan thought they needed to be able to go
er (IOC and IOTC).
major areas of emphasis
(U) Gen. MinihanThought the seniors in the IC should have a CAPSTONE-like course
together like thernilitary so they would become closer/network and know more about
each others' buSiness. He said he told John Gordon (ADCl/S&P), "I'll start it, and you
take credit for it." Gen. Minihan also said he hired a CIA operations officer as his Asst
Deputy Director of Operations. His DDO, Rich Taylor said, "I'll never be able to go on
trips now:" So Gen. Minihan said he told Taylor, "Didn't I tell you, you're leaving
tomorrow for a 3 week trip" to nip that kind of thinking in the bud. Unfortunately this
arrangement wasn't renewed. [We did not get to ask why or by whom?]
.cs/strOn information sharing, Gen. Minihan said NSA'
'was fine with sharing.- - He said CIA always suspected there was
more they weren't being given.'
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Gen. Minihan said he didn't have regular access to it, but he wasn't worried, when he
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needed it "it got fixed". He was always comfortable with CLANSIG even though the
NSA seniors were not.
) In reference to the "NOFORN" classification caveat, Gen. Minihan said he voted to
eliminate the caveat as Director of DIA and as RNSA (he signed the staffing proposal
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Minihan said the IC needs a new
classification model now. NSA is global and they need to get rid of the NOFORN caveat
in order to function properly. The rubric of protecting "Sources and methods" should
give way to protecting "accesses" since people already know we do HUMINT and
SIGINT/Satellite collection; it is the access information that should be withheld. While
DIRNSA, he instituted "write to release" dissemination of SIGINT reports and he
believes expanding this type of dissemination would help sharing with Law enforcement
as well as foreign partner1 In reference to NOFORN, 1W and the IOTC got out in front
A coalition of 10 -20 countries were working military-to-
military without the NOF RN caveat.
(U) THE DCI'S AND BUDGET
(U) Gen. Minihan said that while budget execution authority is with the DoD, Defense
doesn't understand the IC anymore. DoD only knows what they don't want. Minihan
argued that rather than Defense getting stronger, there has actually been a diminution of
DoD authority and its portfolio. The SECDEF in Minihan's time (Perry) understood the
"national" intelligence portfolio, but this declined over time and he as DIRNSA had to
fight from being put under ASD/C3I. At that earlier time, SECDEF wasn't just a
consumer but was also the "custodian" who was responsible for what the IC should be
doing. Now Gen. Minihan believes no one is the custodian and the IC does dumb things
with its money. If NSA needed money and DoD refused, he would ask the DCI.
(U) Gen. Minihan did not agree with John Deutch' ideas for reorganization, but said we
should approach any recommendations for change in "consumable bites". We don't need
to reorganize but we need to "get the charters right." The Charters are from the Reagan
era while that geopolitical situation doesn't exist anymore and because of massive
technology changes the IC is misaligned. Reorganization consumes too much energy.
The real issue is "what do you want these people (each agency) to do." The issue is not
budget execution but rather who has responsibility. The DCI needs to be.in charge since
SECDEF is not "custodian" anymore. Gen. Minihan does not think the DCI should sit at
Langley, and the DCI should not be the head of CIA. Gen. Minihan cited the example
that in some debates the vote was 8-3 in favor of a position NSA was supporting but CIA
opposed. If CIA was one of the three in opposition the lesser side won. Gen. Minihan
proposes that the IC needs a vision of "where we're going" not "what's wrong." Whether
it's under a DCI or DNI we need decisions and all the business units need to be co-equal
in debates. Right now there is no strategic vision from the DO. The person in charge of
the IC needs to be de jeure.
(U) Gen. Minihan's vision is that we had a great organization (IC) during the Cold War
and its legacy of success is at risk. The IC needs to transform from a passive to an active
posture to aggressively hunt down the adversary in the intelligence space. We have
farmers when we need hunters. His vision is about systems and processes, and collection
management is both. During the Cold War we were regionally focused and looked at
trends; now we have to be global and look for anomalies. And once we have the
intelligence/information we have to be able to do something.
(U) Gen. Minihan thinks the IC's analytical model should be like Gen Clapper's new
imagery model. Instead of taking a picture of what has happened; we need to build a
template on which to base action. Now our collection is aligned to show us a picture
rather than prompting action.
(U) Gen. Minihan believes oversight is a function of charters. He does not think anyone
can/should run the day-to-day operations of NSA except DIRNSA. DIRNSA should be
given an appropriate charter, and with theElthe DCI should trust him to run that
business unit of the IC. If he does not,-run it properly then the DCI should fire him. .
(U) Gen. Minihan believes NSA has dumbed-down its people and NSA lives in a techno
ghetto now. Gen. Minihan said it is hard to develop NSA's personnel in modern
technology and context. He mentioned that the IBM CEO told him, "I don't hire NSA
people anymore"; they ,used to be cutting edge. IBM is hiring NSA's IAD people but not
SID. Gen. Minihan.thinks that DIRNSA doesn't have sufficient personnel authorities; he
wished he'd had the DCI authorities. Things he could do under DCI nuthnri
couldn't do under DoDI
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(U) Finally, Gen. Minihan said that the IC we built in the 1960s and 1970s gave us our
success in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s; but we are having trouble now (and will in the
future) because of neglect in the 1990s.
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