Comments on Occasion of Security Affairs Support Association Meeting

William O. Baker

May 3, 1984


The high honor of participation in this genial and eminent gathering is, in fact, enhanced by function as a proxy. There are many kinds of proxies, of which I am only one and, therefore, we should indicate which one. There are corporate proxies about which the DCI, following his patriotic and distinguished service in the Securities and Exchange Commission, is an expert. There are proxies which are the name of a genus of heteropterous insects. (By the way, these species are said to be few in number and are both carnivorous and phytophagous.) I am not believed to be one of those. Then there are the proxies of the poets. One of these comes a little closer to this evening, when there are so many human stars in this assembly. For Keats in his poem, Lamia, wrote about the heavenly stars:

"Will not one

Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune

Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?"

Now we are getting closer, because I do have the privilege of being a proxy for a host of stars—talented and spirited men and women who have both served and supported the United States intelligence community. It is for that sometimes nameless, often unseen and unheard, as well as here visible and present community, that I am so honored to be a proxy, and to say a little. But let there be no doubt that I am their agent, not just doubled, but theirs in many multiples, to receive the kind and generous words of this evening and, above all, to see the cherished and respected features of our friends and associates present here tonight.

For here we celebrate together not only the historic contributions of our official intelligence community to the security and well-being of our free nation. But also we share warm gratitude in how it has been possible, through the foresight and energy of that community and its leadership, to mobilize vital elements of our whole national science and technical and engineering strengths. These elements now serve the historic missions of intelligence in an era in which miscalculation or misinformation could lead to derangement of the planet and its living creatures.

Merciful, even magnificent it has been, that along with the role of science and engineering in providing nuclear and rocket propelled defenses of our freedom and humanism, it has been possible for this intelligence community and its sponsors at the top of our government, our chiefs of state, to apply equally new and effective science and technology to gathering and using knowledge which has so far substituted for the violence of our primary nuclear shield. Virtually all of you here have had a part in this epoch in which we have known from intelligence either what we were threatened by, how much and when, or what the hostile ideologies assumed we had or would do. And so far, for a length of time unsurpassed in recorded history, total war (whose horrors were already demonstrated in both nuclear and non-nuclear forms in the mid-century), has been deferred, and perhaps—just perhaps—even supplanted. If supplanted, the major element will have been information so alert and so incisive that no aggressor could be assured of the ancient and classic victory by surprise, by confusion or command disruption.

But however this turns out, and its turning out may be the fate also of modern life, we are grateful that the structure and principles of our national intelligence community have enlightened and applied the best in all science and engineering for the acquisition and communication and use of knowledge. Nowhere else in our public and private enterprises has there been more or better linkage of the findings about waves and matter, about electrons, photons and crystals, about Shannon's theorems of information and communication, to national needs.

Accordingly, we have seen an unsurpassed exercise throughout the intelligence community, including all forms of communications—graphics, human actions and, indeed, conditions upon and outside the whole planet, where classic methodology, already intensely developed, has been augmented. This has ranged from advanced computers and other digital machines through sensors, high performance materials, communications circuits and systems, photonic and electronic signaling and a host of other capabilities of the frontier of science and technology. Even the launch, guidance, and navigation systems for earth and space vehicles, which have been based on the new solid state and digital systems techniques with which we have had nearly a half century of scientific association and developmental responsibility, have been early connected with intelligence implications.

Thus, it is fair to say that world-wide human actions since the mid-Century involving some application of modern technology or derivative machines, have been also accessible to national official observation and interpretation. Even activities with the nuclear nemesis we cited as altering the bases for war and peace, for deterrence and stability, for freedom and tyranny on earth—the bomb weapons and the control of atomic fission and fusion, yield information factors such as trace radioactivity and elemental components of the atmosphere and oceans. These join the information technology and underlying science available to the intelligence community through the extraordinary mobilization of resources that you have fostered, and that we are marking through this activity of the Securities Affairs Support Association.

Yet another aspect of the combining of industrial, academic and governmental knowledge in the furtherance of the intelligence agencies has been the common base thus created among other organs of national security. Namely, the missions and personalities that have been active in, and distributed among, the various centers of these technical and scientific doings have been historically effective in stimulating overall defense innovation and efficiency. Thus, for example, Bob Hermann in his DOD Airforce and NSA roles, Hans Mark in his Airforce and NASA functions, Bobby Inman in his naval, NSA and CIA functions, Carl Duckett in his multiple CIA responsibilities, Les Dirks in his, Bud Whelen in his, to mention but a few of the numerous specifics we can cite, have all had profound influence in spreading new patterns from intelligence, production and usage. The community has combined the role of knowledge in security affairs and the impact of the Information Age on how government tasks are best accomplished.

General John Morrison epitomizes this matter of the personality and individual extending the capabilities of a particular service into the larger technical and operational domain. This simply would not happen in less pluralistic or more highly formalized and rigid community function than the one with which the USA is blessed.

Of course, it is quite impossible at this time to cite the real scope of participation in this crucial aspect of our intelligence resources. Nevertheless, we should use these specific examples as symptomatic of what is utterly necessary for the success of this heterogeneous system. I speak with feeling about the versatility of our community and its personnel after two decades of collaboration and a quarter century of friendship with Al Grooms, who embodies admirably the human warmth and insight of how people must work together. That is the indispensable element of joining far-out, tentative, but revolutionary science and engineering with the careful, cautious, contained, secret and vulnerable sociology of workers in CIA, NSA, DIA, and all the rest.

We have had, thanks to the ingenious knowledge of President Eisenhower, a leverage point for innovation and mobilization for intelligence in all the years except those of 1977-1981. In this period, my fellow members of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and our esteemed Staff Directors and associates, most of whom are with us (Pat Coyne, Jerry Burke, Wheaton Byers, now Fred Demech ...) have strengthened the role of the national intelligence in the supportive security and participation of citizens in that venture.

These instances of the variety of people and of modes of gaining knowledge for intelligence, and using it for our national welfare, are further accents on how powerful the strategy has come to be. As such, the strategy then offers further challenges for the future. It tends to diminish or remove a constant temptation of national leadership. This is to say “we didn't know” or “we didn't have a warning” or a suggestion about the needs, even survival of our nation. So modern intelligence, even beyond its conventional functions, verily puts on the Chief of State and Government a strong demand for excellence and responsibility.

And the success of modern intelligence in avoiding nuclear catastrophe and in guarding freedom is joined now with an even more subtle task. It is that of guiding our defense and security resources according to the policies of this Administration so that the economic and cultural aspects of adequate arms will be appropriately related to other national objectives, and, above all, to the evolving threats. In a period of strategic peace, yet with the underlying forces for chaos which are now in every present and potential nuclear arsenal and rocket bunker, this is a challenge for intelligence without historic precedent. We must be assured in each detail of weaponry and operations to have enough, yet we cannot afford to have too much.

From this issue there comes into intelligence the highest skills of science and technology, which then must aid in judgments of foreign and domestic weaponry and capabilities, the targeting skills, the reliabilities, the net assessment.

This confluence of events has moved intelligence from the vital, but conventional, element of command control and diplomacy to the central factor in civilized survival and the balancing of power without tyranny. Thus, we are thankful beyond our ability to say, that we have this leadership of the intelligence community, this DCI, this President, who sees and stands for the strengths for which we live.

And thus, we have needed to mobilize the minds and matter of all our nation, even far beyond the necessary invisibility and quiet of the esteemed professional community itself. Now to have a combination like the Security Affairs Support Association, where there is a blend of distinguished professionals and industrial bases, in turn linked with academic talents, is truly soul-stirring, even for a mere proxy for them all!

So I hope we see and feel what a high honor it has been to speak tonight, and to work over these decades, in behalf of these unique alliances. Indeed because of the circumstances of this century of communications, computers, information processing, solid state science, electronics and photonics, it is doubtful that any branch of government ever has had or is likely to have so broad a link with new knowledge and techniques, as does the intelligence community now. But happily it is also not a mere super-technological automaton, serving rigid missions.

It has been of high inspiration to us all to have likewise involved the patriots and humanists of the President's Foreign Intelligence and Advisory Board who have brought shrewd insights in behalf of these presidents. They have also brought, as demonstrated so eloquently by Ambassador Luce, a deep and wise compassion for the human condition, for the spiritual and humane meanings of America. Thus, she has vastly enhanced the operational and technical missions of the intelligence corps. So, from the depths of the seas to the reaches of the cosmos, from the computer to the cryptics, the transistor, laser and light beam, the intelligence systems have had it early and often used it first and best.

One further aspect of this national intelligence known to you all must be mentioned by this proxy. It is, if all these qualities are so promising, why is there often strident criticism and blatant assertions of failure in national intelligence? It is, of course, because intelligence operates in reality. It is subject to daily, even hourly test. It is intrinsic to the whole magma of actions in a noösphere around the earth. Thus, the incompleteness and imperfection which the entropy of existence ruthlessly, impartially, confers upon all events, whether in the nucleus of the atom or the politics of the Kremlin, shows up in the obligations that intelligence assumes. And as real, but essentially stochastic facts emerge, it is easy to see and to say what we didn't know at a given time. In contrast, we shall never know beforehand why a given missile missed its course, or a given army missed its command. But this is all the more reason why we salute the courage and commitment of our community, which ever runs a truly sporting course.

Indeed, this reflects a special congeniality between the world of intelligence and the world of science and research and engineering. It is that both pursue the unknown, both predict the unexpected, the earlier unfathomable, the uncertain. This congeniality is what you forward in the remarkable conjunctions here.

And so as always in the Community, we look to the future. Both opportunities and challenges remain unsurpassed. Best of all, our leadership is aware and ahead. The pluralism of resources such as the SASA is worthy of the chance there is to make the best ever achieved our balance between compelling security and defense capabilities and economic and social strengths. Along that path lies, we know, peace with justice, not only for ourselves but for most of the world.

Yet, the clear evidence of ideological and political tensions abolishes any pretext that all is well, that pious weakness can prevail. Rather, that Community so eminently represented here bears the awesome burden of informing our President, his government, and ultimately our people, in time and in truth, so that all the great defenses of our freedom—our military services, our diplomats and foreign service support, our academic and governmental leadership, our vast industrial capacities, our total abilities in science and engineering, and of course, ultimately, our people of America—can know when and how to act.

So, we are grateful, indeed, to have this occasion created by the SASA and its leaders, to say that ways have been made in the USA so that the unsurpassed spirit of our career intelligence community can be translated to insuperable spirit of our nation by extensions and combinations of the intellectual and technical essence of this Century—which is the gaining of knowledge, processing of information, organizing of records, and the transmission of understanding.