REFORM OF U.S. INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES (Senate - May 23, 1996)
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I would like to briefly discuss the need for reform of our intelligence agencies. This is a subject that has occupied the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least since I was vice chairman during the mid-1980's, and I am encouraged that the Congress and the administration are making progress on this. I applaud the work of Chairman Specter and Vice Chairman Kerrey for their efforts in this area.
I do not think there is any longer a serious question that our intelligence agencies need reform. The issue is what kind of reform, and how much.
For over 40 years, the CIA, the DIA, the State Department's Intelligence and Research Bureau, and every other agency or department that has ever had any pretensions of playing a role in national security or foreign policy, geared their intelligence activities to the necessities of the cold war. The entire structure, which was poorly coordinated, duplicative, inefficient, and often ineffective, was set up to respond to the Soviet threat.
Billions of dollars were spent on activities which today have little relevance to our intelligence needs or budgetary realities and more importantly, failed to even predict the greatest event since World War II--the disintegration of the former Soviet Union.
Appalling lapses have only recently come to light, the Aldrich Ames case being the most notorious example. The CIA's payment of thousands of dollars to a Guatemalan colonel who it had reason to believe had been involved in the murder of an American citizen, is another. Unfortunately, there are others.
But beyond these widely publicized lapses in judgment and intelligence analysis, a culture developed within the intelligence community that at times resulted in intelligence officials withholding crucial information from other officials in the administration and Congress who were formulating and implementing policy. There are examples of station chiefs failing to disclose information to our ambassadors about a matter of grave importance. In Guatemala, the CIA station chief reportedly failed to inform our Ambassador of information relating to the murder of an American citizen by Guatemalan soldiers. The Ambassador, left in the dark, told the victim's family that the Embassy had no information about this crime.
I did not rise today simply to point out the failures of the intelligence community. Our intelligence agencies are comprised of hard working, dedicated people who often provide critical and accurate information to the Congress and the executive branch. However, since the end of the cold war our intelligence needs have changed dramatically while our intelligence agencies have not.
The U.S. intelligence community must reinvent itself to address more effectively the growing threats to our national security, including regional conflicts, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and terrorism. In order to do so effectively, the intelligence community must reduce duplication between agencies, increase efficiency, create a greater accountability for the Director of Central Intelligence , and increase the role of oversight to ensure that the reforms are cost effective.
In response to the changing role of U.S. intelligence, in 1994, former Senator Dennis DeConcini and the senior Senator from Virginia, Senator John Warner, proposed the creation of a bipartisan commission made up of Members of Congress, the administration, and the private sector to review the current condition of the intelligence community and propose ideas for how best to make lasting reforms. The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995 created the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community chaired by former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin. Unfortunately, Les passed away several months after his appointment, but his enthusiasm and hard work were not lost on the Commission's members or its staff.
The Commission's goal was to review the role of the U.S. intelligence community in the post-cold war world. After almost a year's work, the Commission issued its findings and recommendations on March 1, 1996.
The Commission recommended that U.S. intelligence agencies should integrate intelligence into the policy community, expand cooperation between agencies and the Congress and create greater efficiency in order to meet the intelligence requirements of the 21st century. I strongly support these goals.
But the Commission did not go far enough. I am convinced that substantive reforms will not take root unless the Director of Central Intelligence is given more authority and control over the entire intelligence budget.
I have no doubt that Director Deutch is one of the CIA's finest Directors. However, he does not have sufficient resources at his disposal to fully reform the many different intelligence agencies throughout the Federal Government.
Although Director Deutch is responsible for approving the annual budget for our national intelligence agencies, over 95 percent of the intelligence budget is funded through the Department of Defense and 85 percent of the intelligence budget is utilized by agencies not under his control. This must change.
I am encouraged that the Senate Intelligence Committee recently took a step toward providing the DCI with greater control over the intelligence budget. On April 24, the committee supported the Clinton administration's proposal to declassify the amount spent on the intelligence budget. More importantly, the committee supported proposals to give the DCI a role in appointing the heads of all the intelligence agencies and greater control over the entire intelligence budget, including those intelligence agencies within the Pentagon. I applaud the committee's actions and while I hope the Senate will debate this further, I urge the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to support the Intelligence Committee's goals.
In addition to providing the DCI with more control over the intelligence budget, I believe that the cloak of secrecy should be removed from the intelligence community to as great an extent as possible. As a government that prides itself on its openness, the United States should not restrict access to information that does not jeopardize national security.
Mr. President, I have the greatest respect for the senior Senator from New York, Senator Moynihan, the former vice chair of the Intelligence Committee. Senator Moynihan's knowledge of history and his experience both before and during his service in the U.S. Senate give him tremendous insight into how the intelligence community should be reformed.
I agree with Senator Moynihan's concern about secrecy in the intelligence community. The extraordinary and excessive efforts to classify harmless information wastes money, discourages informed debate, and leads to inaccurate information treated as fact by the people who are responsible for crafting U.S. foreign policy. In reality, much of what is deemed to be secret can be found by picking up the morning paper or watching CNN.
I hope that the Congress and the executive branch will work together to reform the U.S. intelligence community. The report on the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community is a good place to start, but its proposals should not be the only reforms discussed. We must continue to work to ensure that the intelligence community becomes cost effective and addresses the intelligence needs of the 21st century.
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