THE NOMINATION OF MORTON HALPERIN (Senate - October 29, 1993)
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I wish to briefly address the Senate with respect to the pending nomination of Morton Halperin to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, for Democracy and Peacekeeping, in the Department of Defense. I think it is important to keep the Senate informed on the various steps being taken by the Armed Services Committee in connection with that nomination--I repeat, the Armed Services Committee, because somewhere along the line the misimpression resulted that the Intelligence Committee was brought into this. The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and I, as the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, understand and agree that the Intelligence Committee has no jurisdiction over this nomination, which was referred to the Armed Services Committee. Under the leadership of Chairman Nunn and ranking Republican Thurmond, the Armed Services has the full and exclusive authority to work with this nomination.
The distinguished chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator DeConcini, at my personal request, was prepared to assist other members of the Armed Services Committee and me, with the appreciation of all concerned, in setting up a meeting with the Director of Central Intelligence that ultimately did not occur. But all inquiries on this nomination have been handled within the framework of the committee of jurisdiction, namely, the Armed Services Committee.
I should like to indicate I have had the opportunity to meet with Director Woolsey and speak with him in connection with this nomination on several occasions. Indeed, yesterday, during the course of a routine meeting that the Director of Central Intelligence has with the chairman of the Intelligence Committee and me, as the Intelligence Committee's vice chairman, I took the opportunity to draw to his attention that certain correspondence would be directed to the executive branch of Government and, hopefully, would come to his attention at the earliest possible time, which contained a specific request by myself and other members of the Armed Services Committee for a further search for information that could be in the possession of the CIA. We feel this information, if it exists and can be found, is very pertinent to a careful, fair, and objective assessment by the U.S. Senate of this nomination if, indeed, it comes to pass that the full Senate considers that nomination.
Yesterday, Armed Services Committee Chairman Nunn and the ranking member, Mr. Thurmond, myself, and others had a meeting with respect to the nomination. Having worked as ranking member of this Armed Services Committee for many years, this nomination, like all others, is being handled, by the chairman and the ranking member with joint preparation to the extent possible. There are certain areas in which a cooperative spirit in
this nomination, as in all others, is beneficial, particularly in keeping both the chairman and the ranking member fully informed with respect to certain procedures that are being followed, the initiation of certain correspondence being forwarded, and the timing of possible consideration by the full committee of the nomination.
The chairman and ranking member can best speak for themselves, but it appeared to me, at the conclusion of that very successful meeting, that it would be the hope of the chairman and ranking member to go forward with a hearing on the nomination, again, if it turns out that the committee must consider that nomination. That hearing would occur following the conclusion of the committee's work with the first priority, namely, the conclusion of the conference between the House and Senate on the annual Defense authorization bill.
I have approached this nomination, as I have all other nominations, with an open and fair mind. I still maintain an open and fair mind. But it seems to me it is timely for the President and the Secretary of Defense to take a second look, and a very careful look, at this nomination. This is a piece of constructive advice from one who has been deeply involved in Department of Defense Presidential nominations for 20 years--15 in the Senate and 5 in the Navy Secretariat. There seems to be a case, which at this point in time is not yet complete in preparation, but it is a strong case, indicating that this individual in all probability is not suited to assume this heavy responsibility. His career of controversy has showed that he possesses a strong intellect but has applied it to advance philosophies that are inconsistent with becoming one of the trustees of the Nation's security. The trail of unanswered questions grows longer.
Yesterday, a second letter to the Director of Central Intelligence seeking information relevant to the nomination was sent under the signature of the ranking member, Mr. Thurmond, to supplement the letter sent on October 4, 1993. This second letter sent at my request to the executive branch requested that the Central Intelligence Agency go back and examine certain areas of its filing system to determine the existence or absence of certain information. I urge the Director to act as expeditiously as possible on that search.
At the request of this Senator, by the earlier letter of October 4, 1993, forwarded through the ranking member, Mr. Thurmond, a search was conducted and, as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee advised the Senate just a day or so ago on the floor, the Senate received a communication back from the executive branch to the effect that the first search for this material did not show the evidence was in existence.
Having just received information from certain witnesses when the communication from the executive branch arrived, I gave the information to the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and indicated that this additional information could help the Director of Central Intelligence and his subordinates in going back to look into other files with the hope of ascertaining the existence or absence of the information sought. The ranking member then sent yesterday's letter to the Director of Central Intelligence requesting a file search, to which I referred earlier.
I noted from press reports today that a distinguished member of the majority side of the Senate Armed Services Committee has now joined with the Republicans in expressing some deep concerns about the advisability, and I say the suitability, of this individual in assuming this important post.
I joined with other members of our committee in placing a hold on the Senate proceeding to consider the intelligence authorization bill for fiscal year 1994 (S. 1301). I intend to continue to maintain that hold until the second letter, yesterday's letter, has been answered by the executive branch, presumably based on the Director of the Central Intelligence's having carefully surveyed the files to determine whether or not the information sought exists.
I hope that is done in as expeditious a manner as possible. The main purpose for my addressing the Senate this morning is to give this Senator's impression that the Republicans are proceeding in what I view as a fair manner, a diligent manner, and proceeding because, quite aside from the issue of the particular item for which CIA is searching, based on yesterday's request, information is coming to us which, in my judgment, justifiably puts in our minds the question of whether or not this individual is suitable to take on this very important responsibility.
I assure the Senate of my full cooperation in moving this nomination, if it is to go ahead, in an expeditious and fair manner for the consideration of the Armed Services Committee and the Senate. But again, I urge the President and Secretary of Defense to reexamine the advisability of this nomination in light of a considerable amount of information which is coming to the attention of the committee as a whole.
I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. DeConcini). Under the previous order, the Senator from Alaska [Mr. Murkowski] is now recognized to speak for not to exceed 15 minutes.
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