President Carter's 2nd News Conference
00:07:07 - 00:10:52
CIA ACTIVITIES Helen Thomas: Mr. President, do you think it was proper for the CIA to pay off King Hussein and other foreign leaders, and what steps are you taking to make yourself more knowledgeable and more accountable for what CIA does?
Carter: Well, I've adopted a policy, which I am not going to leave, of not commenting directly on any specific CIA activity. But I can tell you that I have begun a complete analysis, which will be completed within the next week, of all activities by the CIA. I've received substantial reports already. I've reviewed the more controversial revelations that have been publicized in the last few days, some quite erroneous, some with some degree of accuracy. These same operations have been reviewed by the Intelligence Oversight Board, an independent board, and also by my predecessor, President Ford. I have not found anything illegal or improper. If in future assessments, which will come quite early, I discover such an impropriety or an illegality, I will not only take immediate action to correct it but also will let the American people know about it. I might say this: This is a very serious problem of how in a democracy to have adequate intelligence gathered, assessed, and used to guarantee the security of our country. It's not part of the American nature to do things in secret. Obviously, historically and still at this modern time, there is a necessity to protect sources of information from other nations. Sometimes other governments cooperate with us fully; sometimes they don't. But I will try to be sure and so will Stan Turner, who will be the next director of the intelligence community. He will try to be sure that everything we do is not only proper and legal but also compatible with the attitudes of the American people. One other point I'd like to make is this: It can be extremely damaging to our relationship with other nations, to the potential security of our country even in peacetime, for these kinds of operations, which are legitimate and proper, to be revealed. It makes it hard for us to lay a groundwork on which we might predicate a successful meeting of a threat to us in time of war if we don't have some degree of secrecy. I am quite concerned about the number of people now who have access to this kind of information. And I've been working very closely with the congressional leaders, yesterday and today, to try to reduce the overall number of people who flare access to the sources of information. But within the bounds that I've described, propriety, legality, and the American attitude towards secrecy, I will do the best I can not ever to make a mistake. And I am also assuming on a continuing basis a direct personal responsibility for the operation of all the intelligence agencies in our Government to make sure that they are meeting these standards.
Helen Thomas: Mr. President, if there has been erroneous information, wouldn't it behoove you to correct the record?
Carter: In some ways we are correcting the record, but if I began to either dispute or confirm every individual story that's written, whether correct or erroneous, on every matter relating to the CIA, then these matters which are necessarily secret would no longer be secret. So, I am not going to comment on individual items that relate to intelligence.