WND falsely claims TSA nominee's views on diversity are "controversial"

››› ››› ADAM SHAH, BRIAN FREDERICK & ERIC SCHROECK

In an attack on Gen. Robert Harding, President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), WorldNetDaily falsely claimed that Harding's views on the necessity for diversity hiring in the intelligence community are "controversial." In fact, numerous officials -- including President Bush -- and intelligence experts agree with Harding that diversity hiring in the intelligence community is vital to national security.

WND attacks TSA nominee: Views on diversity "controversial"

WND claims Harding has "controversial views on diversity." In a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. From the article:

President Obama's pick to head the Transportation Security Administration long has pushed for "ethnic diversity" as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies, WND has learned.

[...]

WND found that in 2003, Harding submitted written testimony to a Senate subcommittee hearing on intelligence issues pushing for more diversity atsecurity agencies, going so far as to call diversity a "requirement."

[...]

Harding noted how he previously testified in Senate hearings while working at the Defense Department. He then applauded the senatorial committee for remaining "steadfastly clear about the need for diversity in the ranks of the CIA."

He urged the Defense Department to "build systems and incentives to attract, maintain and sustain a diverse group of gifted (human intelligence) operatives."

Harding maintained the military community "still needs senior folks with language and diversity at the top -- folks who feel a responsibility in a particularly focused way."

[...]

Harding, meanwhile, would not be the only Obama administration official with controversial views on diversity.

But Harding's views are not "controversial" or unique; numerous officials and experts have said diversity is vital to national security

Harding: Diversity in intelligence community is "an analytical necessity." In his 2003 testimony, Harding cited a report by Robert Callum, titled, "The Case for Cultural Diversity in the Intelligence Community," in which Callum argued, "While the leaders of the CIA, DIA, NSA and NRO have all acknowledged the lack of diversity and have created focused recruiting efforts, the acceptance of minorities into the IC [intelligence community] has been disappointing to date. The reason, in part, is that diversity has been viewed as a legal and moral imperative, and not as an analytical necessity." In his paper (purchase required), Callum also argued: "Diversity should be sought, not on legal or ethical grounds, but rather because increased diversity will lead to better intelligence analysis." After quoting a portion of Callum's argument, Harding said: "I sincerely hope that, given the current state of our analytical community, that we've collectively overcome that sentiment." Later in his testimony, Harding described the CIA's recent efforts to "ensure diversity of languages, skills and ethnic and cultural understanding" in its recruits as "a matter of survival."

Bush touted "cultural awareness" as "necessary to meet the threats of this new century." In remarks during the February 20, 2007, swearing-in of Mike McConnell as director of national intelligence, President Bush said of McConnell, "I've asked him to ensure that our intelligence agency focus on bringing in more Americans with language skills and cultural awareness necessary to meet the threats of this new century."

McConnell: "We have got to have more diversity." In remarks during a 2007 Border Security Conference, McConnell said, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity."

McConnell stressed need to hire "first and second generation Americans who possess native language skills, cultural insights." In remarks during his swearing-in ceremony as director of national intelligence, McConnell said, "[W]e will revamp security and workforce policies of past. Our nation requires that we have the best and brightest of our citizens in our ranks to fight a very different enemy. The old policies have hampered some common sense reforms, such as hiring first and second generation Americans who possess native language skills, cultural insights, and a keen understanding of the threats we face."

Rep. Reyes: "[I]t's in our best interests ... to focus on recruiting and giving opportunities to minority groups. On the August 13, 2007, edition CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "[W]hat we're trying to do is point out that there ought to be a greater outreach by the different intelligence agencies to minority communities. One of the lessons we learned after 9/11 was that we didn't understand the cultures, the languages, the customs of many communities throughout the world." Reyes continued, "So I think it's in our best interests to get the agencies to focus on recruiting and giving opportunities to minority groups."

Army Lt. Gen. Rochelle: "Diversity is a national security issue." A July 25, 2008, American Forces Press Service article reported that "diversity in the force now takes on a national security context and serves as a combat multiplier on the battlefield, Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the service's deputy chief of staff for personnel, said." The article quoted Rochelle as saying, "Diversity is a national security issue and one that every one of us should be concerned about, frankly, because it is a force multiplier for our soldiers."

NSA director: "[D]iversity is an area in which improvement is essential to sustaining our mission." In November 5, 2003, testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- the same hearing at which Harding spoke -- then-National Security Agency (NSA) deputy director William Black said that "NSA has made significant progress in hiring, recruitment, retention, skills mix, and training. Despite successes in these areas, NSA recognizes that its diversity is an area in which improvement is essential to sustaining our mission."

Former CSIS South America Project director: "Pursu[ing] diversity within the intelligence services ... is the smart thing to do." During the November 5, 2003, Senate hearing, Miguel Diaz, former director of the Center for Strategic & International Studies' South America Project, said, "[W]e should pursue diversity within the intelligence services because it is the smart thing to do." He further stated: "Minorities have much to offer in the way of language capability, social skills, and cultural sensibilities that have been sorely lacking in the past. Because of the variety of our national origins we look like the rest of the world, an important attribute in the intelligence business."

Former National Commission on Terrorism member: "America needs ... to draw Arabs and Muslims into our intelligence agencies." During the November 5, 2003, Senate hearing, Juliette N. Kayyem, a former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, stated that "America needs to begin a strategic recruitment effort to draw Arabs and Muslims into our intelligence agencies" because "our law enforcement and intelligence communities are woefully inadequate in Arabic translation skills, and are often forced to contract out these vital duties."

Supreme Court has noted military officers' views that diversity is a national security issue

Court noted officers' views that "highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps" is essential "to provide national security." In the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court noted that retired military officers said that a "highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps ... is essential to the military's ability to fulfill its principle mission to provide national security." From the Supreme Court opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger:

What is more, high-ranking retired officers and civilian leaders of the United States military assert that, "[b]ased on [their] decades of experience," a "highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps ... is essential to the military's ability to fulfill its principle mission to provide national security." Brief for Julius W. Becton, Jr. et al. as Amici Curiae 27.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
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WorldNetDaily
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