John Brennan’s Georgetown Address


These “Remarks for Central Intelligence Agency Director John O. Brennan as Prepared for Delivery at the Conference on the Ethos and Profession of Intelligence, Georgetown University,” are from June 11, 2014.

Key tidbits and quotes include:

1) “I believe we must engage our fellow citizens and, to the extent we can, explain the work we perform on their behalf and articulate our motives, values, and objectives.”

2) “Today, and certainly not for the first time in our history, America’s Intelligence Community is at a crossroads. The transformational impact of technology and enhanced scrutiny and skepticism of the value, legality, and appropriateness of our mission have prompted a reexamination of the work of intelligence agencies, understandably and rightly so.”

3) “In this dangerous and dynamic world, intelligence and corresponding analysis are key to identifying, understanding, and successfully addressing the myriad national security issues that confront policymakers.”

4) “The fact is, good intelligence—timely, accurate, and insightful—is the cornerstone of almost every aspect of national security policy today, from military action to diplomacy to international law enforcement.”

5) “For all the technical wizardry that is currently available worldwide, nothing can replace the insight that comes from a well-connected human source. At their best, human sources go beyond the dry facts of an issue and help discern the intent of an adversary—precisely the edge that our policymakers are looking for. As former CIA Director Richard Helms once said: ‘Gadgets cannot divine man’s intentions.'”

6) “For the Intelligence Community, the cyber world is a double-edged sword. Digital footprints may enable us to track down a suspected terrorist, but they may leave our officers vulnerable as well.”

7) “As intelligence officers, we at CIA have a solemn obligation to safeguard not only the Nation we serve, but the sources and methods that enable us to do so. Stewardship is an essential element of our professional ethos, and we must honor it as surely as the oath we take to defend the Constitution.”


See the transcript at:



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