CONFERENCE REPORT ON S. 2834, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT, FISCAL YEAR 1991
(House of Representatives - October 24, 1990)
Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 523 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 523
Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider the conference report on the bill (S. 2834) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 1991 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, for the Intelligence Community Staff, for the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes, and all points of order against the conference report and against its consideration are hereby waived. The conference report shall be considered as having been read when called up for consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hertel). The gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Gordon] is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I yield the customary 30 minutes for the purpose of debate only to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon], pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. GORDON asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 523 waives all points of order against consideration of the conference report on S. 2834, the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 1991. Under the rules of the House, conference reports are privileged and are considered in the House under the 1-hour rule with no amendments being in order. The rule also waives all points of order against the conference report. In addition, the rule provides that when the conference report is called up for consideration, it shall be considered as read.
Mr. Speaker, S. 2834 is the House-Senate conference agreement for the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 1991. Like its House counterpart, H.R. 5422, this conference report addresses all intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the U.S. Government in the coming year.
Mr. Speaker, due to the classified nature of the conference report's contents, all funding and authorization levels are included in a classified annex to the conferees' joint explanatory statement.
The conference report includes changes in the House bill, H.R. 5422, in the areas of funding and assistance to Angola and Cambodia. The conference report also calls for the repeal of the Hughes-Ryan amendment of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Mr. Speaker, this is a noncontroversial rule allowing for the full and expeditious consideration of this very important conference report. Members will have the opportunity to fully debate the merits of the conference report during general debate.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to adopt House Resolution 523.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
The rule before Members is quite simple. It waives all points of order against consideration of this conference report, and all points of order against the conference report itself.
This is essentially the same rule we will be seeing later when the conference report on the Defense authorization bill is brought up here tonight. I will not debate against this rule even though I must object to this business of blanket waivers. This kind of approach to rulemaking, if that is the correct word, really does violence to the letter and spirit of our House rules, which we continue to break day after day, night after night, in the waning moments of this 101st Congress.
However, I am much more concerned with the bill itself, because the conference report on Intelligence authorizations is not, in my view, a good piece of legislation. It started out fine when it first came to this body as reported by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The authorization bill was an acceptable one, and I commend the chairman of that committee, the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson], formerly from Brooklyn, for the good job that he does on that committee, as well as the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the ranking Republican. They really had done a good job. The amendent process here on the floor pushed the bill in the wrong direction, and the conference report made the bill even worse, and I mean worse. My personal hope is that the President will veto this conference report. I know that a veto has, in fact, been threatened. But I am also told that the administration may hold its nose and let the bill become law, despite the very serious objectionable provisions that this conference report contains.
Mr. Speaker, there are several provisions in this conference report which chart new dimensions in the congressional micromanagement of foreign policy, something we have no business doing because it infringes on the constitutional right of the President of the United States, whomever that might be, of whatever political party. Angola and Cambodia are two such issues contained in this conference report.
However, the most sinister aspect of this conference report is to be found in the statement of the managers. I know that in the rush to adjourn probably 95 percent of the Members of the body have not read the statement of the managers. Specifically, there is a section in that statement which attempts to rewrite two decades worth of history concerning what it means for the President to provide timely notice to Congress about covert operations. It is a very serious issue.
The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the distinguished ranking Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, will have more to say about that later when he arrives here to carry the bill. Suffice it for me to say right now that the crude attempt at revisionist history which is contained in the statement of managers is a blatent distortion of the historical record. The statement of managers would have Members believe that the only situation in which the President of the United States is not required to provide timely notification to Congress about covert operations is one in which time is of the essence. In other words, the timing of the thing is all important. No other criteria such as strategic necessity or diplomatic sensitivity are to be considered. I believe that such an interpretation of the legislative history on this issue is a grotesque misunderstanding of the facts. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] will discuss this in detail a little bit later. For now let me just conclude by saying that Members should feel free to do whatever they want to do on this rule, but there is no way I can support the conference report.
The issues of intelligence gathering and covert activities are too important than to be made subject to this kind of what I would call frivolous legislating, primarily done by the other body.
Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Louisiana, [Mr. Livingston], a distinguished member of the Committee on Appropriations, and a current member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman has mentioned a number of points which, of course, detract from the overall benefit of this intelligence authorization conference report.
I might only add that the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] has, on a number of occasions over the last many years, offered some suggestions on how we could strengthen the integrity of the process of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has come up with some very good ideas, and he has produced before this House a wealth of evidence that shows that members of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and members of the executive branch are not protecting the secrets of this Nation.
Even though he has come forth with a number of good suggestions of how we might improve upon the process, those improvements have not been adopted, and in fact have been categorically rejected by a denial by either the Rules Committee, the authorizing committee, or the leadership of this House. Specifically, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] has recommended first that the House Intelligence Committee be joined with the Senate Intelligence Committee and that we have just one committee for both Houses.
Any number of times, the gentleman suggested that we shrink the size of the committee. Not only have we not heeded his advice in that regard, but over the last 4 to 6 years, since I was initially appointed to serve on the committee, it has actually expanded by 50 percent.
The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] also recommended that members who are appointed to the Intelligence Committee as guardians of the top secrets of this country should be compelled to undergo a security clearance; yet that idea has not yet been adopted.
Finally, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] suggested, as I think would be exceedingly proper, that we go through the same process that we compel upon our witnesses, that is, before we undertake our responsibilities at the beginning of each congressional term, we be sworn to secrecy as members of the committee. That has not been adopted.
As a result, I must say that we continue to have an appalling lack of an ability to keep our secrets. Just since this conference report was adopted, there have been four violations of secrecy. There have been no official public statements at all, and yet we see an article dated October 14, 1990. by Jim Drinkard, commenting on the House and Senate negotiators reaching agreement with respect to Angola.
Second, we see an article dated October 24, 1990, that Afghan and Cambodia covert aid is cut, according to the conferees' report.
Third, we see a New York Times article dated October 24, 1990, that the Congress is claimed to end covert aid to the rebels in Angola.
Fourth, an article by George Lardner of the Washington Post talks about the covert program to Angolan rebels.
I would like to make all these a part of the Record, if I may, Mr. Speaker.
The point is that here the ranking Republican of the Intelligence Committee has come time and time again to the well of the House and proposed four very concrete, well-intentioned and sensible suggestions to protect the integrity of the secrets guarded by the Intelligence Committees of the House and the Senate; first to combine the committees, second, to shrink the committees and the numbers of members and staff on those committees; third, to provide security clearance for the members and staff, and fourth to compel the members who take their seats on those committees to be sworn to oaths of secrecy. Yet none have been adopted and we continue to see evidence of Members of Congress and/or staff leaking vital secrets that have been referred to in confidence, all because of loose lips.
I think it portrays a gross lack of integrity of the Congress, and sooner or later we are going to have to address this grave problem. I would hope that while we do not address it in this conference report, maybe next year we will.
The articles referred to follow:
Agreement Reached on Intelligence Bill
Washington: House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last Friday on an intelligence bill that would provide for a suspension of covert lethal aid to rebels in Angola if the Marxist government agrees to elections, sources said.
The bill, agreed to after day-long talks between the two intelligence committees, also would phase out a covert aid program to Cambodian rebels and trim roughly $50 million from the administration's $300 million request for aid to rebels in Afghanistan.
The changes reflect dwindling support on Capitol Hill for proxy wars in the Third World that were a leading feature of President Reagan's anticommunist crusade. With thawing relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and reduction of Soviet support of client groups, much of the rationale for U.S. involvement in those conflicts has evaporated.
On Angola, the committees agreed to provide that military aid to the UNITA rebels--about half the total $60 million annual support--could be suspended if the president certifies that the Luanda government schedules free elections in which the rebels are free to participate.
But members deleted key provisions passed by the House earlier this week that would have permitted Congress to make the decision to suspend military aid if the president did not.
On Cambodia, the roughly $13 million aid program for non-communist resistance factions fighting the communist Phnam Penh government would be ended early next year and converted to an open program of humanitarian aid, the sources said.
And aid to the mujaheddin rebels fighting the Soviet-supported Afghan government would be cut by about $50 million, said officials who spoke only on condition of anonymity. The cut was a compromise between a Senate-passed $100 million cut and the full $300 million the House adopted.
The negotiators also left in place a House-passed provision that would disburse the Afghan rebel aid in two six-month installments, U.S.-Soviet talks result in a withdrawal of aid by both superpowers.
Also included in the compromise bill were changes that arose out of the Iran-Contra scandal, incluidng a new requirement that presidential authorization for covert operations must be in writing.
Money for various programs covered by the bill is provided in various parts, some of them secret, of the defense appropriations bill. The sum spent for intelligence activities of all kinds is believed to be about $30 billion.
From the Washington Post Oct. 24, 1990
Afghan, Cambodia Covert Aid Cut
CONFEREES' REPORT SETS OUT NEW RULES FOR CIA OPERATIONS
Senate and House intelligence conferees agreed yesterday to cut covert aid to anti-government forces in Afghanistan by more than 10 percent, and also ordered a reduction in secret funding for the non-communist resistance in Cambodia, according to informed sources.
Aid to rebel groups in Afghanistan was pegged at $250 million, a reduction of $30 million from last year's level, the sources said. In addition, they said, half the money is be held in reserve, its release subject to futher congressional approval.
The covert aid allocations were contained in a classified section of the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act, which conferees reported out yesterday along with a 75-page public report.
The report sets out new rules for the conduct of Central Intelligence Agency covert actions and calls for less duplication of effort in military intelligence agencies. It also contained rare public discussions of the CIA's aid programs in Angola and Cambodia, although details and funding levels remained classified.
Under the new rules for covert action, the president must approve each such action in writing and may not retroactively approve covert actions that have taken place. But excluded from the definition of `covert action'--and thus from the need for explicit presidential approval--are disinformation and propaganda programs, `traditional counterintelligence activities' such as double-agent operations, `traditional military activities' such as hostage/rescue operations and activities whose `primary purpose' is to collect intelligence.
The conferees assistance to the non-communist resistance (NCR) in Cambodia may not include weapons and must comply with existing law prohibiting support for the Khmer Rouge, with which the NCR has been allied. More than a million Cambodians died when the country was under Khmer Rouge rule from 1975 until the Vietnamese invaded in 1979.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted last summer to cut off all funds for the NCR, estimated at $10 million for military training and supplies, but the House committee restored some of the funds.
The conferees agreed to keep covert aid alive, but emphasized that it should be used to `promote the Cambodian peace settlement' and be transformed soon into `an overt, acknowledged program of U.S. assistance.'
Congressional support for the Afghan rebels has been diminishing since Moscow withdrew it troops last year and Islamic fundamentalist factions of the resistance began expressing increased hostility toward the United States. There is also growing concern about reports of heroin trafficking by some Afghan guerrillas and Pakistani military officers.
The conferees authorized a full $60 million in CIA aid for Jonas Savimbi's rebel army in Angola, sources said, but ordered half of that amount put in `a restricted account.' The two intelligence committees would have to act separately on any administration request for release of the money.
In an effort to encourage the Soviet-backed regime in Luanda to move toward a settlement, the conferees also provided for suspension of lethal aid to Savimbi's forces--now slightly under $30 million a year--if President Bush certifies that the Angolan government is moving toward a cease-fire, proposes `a reasonable and specific timetable' for free and fair elections and that the Soviet Union has withdrawn its military support and advisers from the country.
If Bush does not make such a certification by next March 31, the conferees require him to submit a report explaining why and what additional measures are needed for certification.
The New York Times, Oct. 24, 1990
Congress To End Covert Aid to Rebels in Cambodia
Washington, Oct. 23--House and Senate negotiators agreed today to end secret nonmilitary assistance by the Central Intelligence Agency to anti-Communist rebels in Cambodia, and ordered that future aid to the rebels be allotted publicly through other Government agencies.
The action, taken as the two sides agreed on a bill to finance intelligence agencies for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, was part of an unusual package of restraints imposed on three of the C.I.A.'s most controversial programs to affect the behavior of foreign governments, known as covert operations.
The negotiators agreed in a closed meeting to cut $50 million from the agency's largest covert operation, a $300 million-a-year program of military aid to rebel forces fighting a Communist Government in Afghanistan according to an official who insisted on not being identified.
They also voted to put legal curbs on a $60-million-a-year program of assistance to anti-Communist guerrillas in Angola, but Congressional officials said the restrictions were unlikely to substantially affect the C.I.A. program.
All actions were said to reflect increasing impatience by members of Congress with the American support for prolonged civil wars in the three nations.
`We've heard all the Administration's arguments before, and they just don't wash any more,' an official said.
All three C.I.A. programs are aimed at toppling Communist Governments supported by the Soviet Union, and Congressional backing for such anti-Soviet crusades has waned, two officials said, as Moscow's influence `has disintegrated before our eyes.'
The Soviet Union supports peaceful settlements of all three wars, and separate negotiations to end the conflicts are all reported near conclusions.
The Bush Administration opposes the restrictions, but it is uncertain whether the President will veto the legislation.
The changes in the Cambodia program, which allots about $20 million in aid annually to non-Communist guerrillas, are the most radical.
They follow a proposal by Representative Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, that were inserted into the House bill this week.
The provision prohibits further aid through the C.I.A. Instead, on official said, the State Department probably will allot the aid subject to public debate and Congress's approval.
It also bars aid to rebels who assist the Khmer Rouge, a brutal Communist movement loosely allied with the non-Communist guerrillas backed by the United States.
More than a million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge's rule in the 1970's, and they have become the strongest of the rebel groups now inside Cambodia.
POWER TO SUSPEND SAVIMBI AID
Critics contend that American aid is indirectly helping to restore them to power.
The Angola restrictions immediately allot less than $10 million in humanitarian aid and some $25 million in military aid to the United States-backed Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or Unita.
The remaining $25 million will be held for release by the two Congressional intelligence committees at the President's request.
The agreement also allows Mr. Bush to suspend aid to Unita if he certifies that a peace accord is effectively reached between Unita and Angola's leftist Government, and if the Soviet Union agrees to end its $800 million in annual military aid to the Angola regime.
The provision was backed by House Democrats led by Stephen J. Solarz, Democrat of Brooklyn.
Mr. Solarz tried last week to put tighter curbs on the Angola program, and his supporters said today that they had scored a symbolic victory by imposing any legal curbs on the assistance at all.
But other Democratic supporters of the program said Mr. Bush already had authority to suspend the Angola aid and that the new restrictions would have no practical effect on the civil war.
From the Washington Post
Covert Lethal Aid to Angolan Rebels Is Curbed; Cease-Fire Would Suspend It
House and Senate intelligence committee conferees have decided to limit covert lethal aid for Jonas Savimbi's rebel army in Angola and to provide for its quick suspension if there is a cease-fire in the 15-year civil war and firm progress toward free elections.
The restrictions, first enacted by the House last week, were modified in conference after warnings of a possible presidential veto. But administration officials were still uncertain last night whether the compromise would be acceptable.
Lethal aid to Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), sources said, is slightly less than half of the $60 million of covert aid in the classified section of the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. The conferees said the flow of weapons should be suspended if the Soviet-backed Angolan government is willing to accept a cease-fire and proposes `a reasonable timetable' for free and fair elections and if the Soviet Union indicates it has ceased to provide the regime with lethal aid and has withdrawn its advisers from the region.
The leading sponsor of the suspension plan, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), said in House floor debate last week that it was designed to prod the regime in Luanda to reach a settlement in the war.
The House enacted the Solarz proposal last week with a provision stating that either the President or Congress by joint resolution could certify that the conditions for a suspension had been met. But sources said the conferees dropped the congressional certification language after the State Department said it might recommend a veto.
`The administration is still extraordinarily skeptical of what is going to emerge [in the conference report],' one source said last night. `A lot depends on the fine print.'
The conferees also agreed to overhaul the laws governing U.S. covert actions and make the president personally responsible for keeping Congress `fully and currently informed' of U.S. intelligence activities.
The new rules, growing out of the Iran-contra scandal, include several provisions sought by the American Civil Liberties Union, according to informed sources.
One of the changes, sources said, will be to make it clear that any covert action undertaken by the CIA or any other component of the government must be in support of `identifiable foreign policy objectives.'
`That has never been in the law before,' one source said. For instance, he said, harking back to the Iran-contra scandal, `if our policy is to isolate Iran and not sell them weapons, you couldn't sell them weapons covertly because that would run counter to an identifiable foreign policy objective.'
The new rules, approved by the Senate in August and modified by House and Senate intelligence conferees over the weekend, would require written presidential approval of covert actions undertaken by any unit of the government in addition to making its the president's duty to keep Congress informed of his decisions.
Current law, which would be repealed, applies only to the CIA's covert actions and is ambiguous about whether the president must approve them in writing. The existing rules also make it the CIA director's responsibility to keep Congress informed about these and other U.S. intelligence activities.
In their final 1987 report on the Iran-contra scandal, the select House and Senate investigating committees said that `covert actions should be consistent with publicly defined U.S. foreign policy goals.' In the Iran-contra affair, the committees said, the covert operation to supply military aid to the contra rebels in Nicaragua `was carried out in violation' of an explicit congressional ban on such aid and the secret arms-for-hostages deals with Iran were carried out `in violation of the country's stated policy against selling arms to Iran or making concessions to terrorists.'
The provision requiring that covert actions be in support of identifiable policies is still open to manipulation, several sources said.
`There's always going to be a problem with that--like saying what you're doing is in support of the containment of communism or the release of hostages or something like that,' one source said. The new rule, he said, is `a minor step forward, but a new step.'
Broader than current law, the new rules define covert action as activity `conducted by an element of the United States government to influence political, economic or military conditions abroad so that the role of the United States government is not intended to be apparent or acknowledged publicly.'
The ACLU and other critics attacked the Senate version in August because it would have `explicitly authorize[d] the conduct of covert activities' for the first time. Sources said the conferees changed this to a negative formulation, saying the president may not authorize such actions unless he finds them `necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives' and `important to the national security.'
The rules do not define `currently informed,' but the Senate and House select intelligence committees say they expect to be notified before the initiation of any covert action except in emergency situations where notice can be withheld for `a few days' after the president decides to act.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan], a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. DORNAN of California. Mr. Speaker, it is just redundant around this Chamber to say what an honor it is to serve on the Intelligence Committee and to compliment Members on both sides of the aisle on how it works, generally in a very effective bipartisan way.
I am disgusted with the leaks. I bumped into one of the ambushes by one of the inside-the-beltway newspapers at the foot of the stairs on the second floor. He came at me and said, `Have you decided the Angola thing yet?'
I resorted to a white lie, frankly. I told him `No, we haven't decided anything yet.' That is the fast way. Just move on. No, it is all confusing, nobody has decided anything.
But I read a pretty good account of what took place the next day on the front page story in that paper.
That is not the main reason I am going to go against this conference. I guess the White House is going to sign it. I am voting against it as a protest against the whole budget summitry process that the Majority Leader, the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. Gephardt] so effectively put down in the well in the most forceful speech he has given in this Chamber in 14 years, when he said, `I'm tired of this line, hold your nose and vote this way or that way.'
The problem with this conference report is that it was done in October instead of July, August, or early September, in a slower, more thoughtful way, with more White House input about protecting their prerogatives when it comes to covert programs, particularly covert programs against Communist forces.
There are a lot of people in this Chamber who never lifted a pinky in the fight against communism, who all their lives thought being called an anti-Communist or calling someone an anti-Communist was a worse insult to be stuck with that title than racist, bigot, anti-Semite, that nothing was worse than being called an anti-Communist, and ran from that term if it was ever applied to them.
Communism has collapsed, not just from its own dead weight inside its own brutality, Stalinism, the Gulag Archipelago of slave camp labor, the slaughter of 4 to 7 million kulaks. How do you lose 3 million people and scholars arguing over the head count?
It lost partly in measure because of anti-Communist efforts in what we loosely refer to as the free world, and there are a lot of people who took exception to that term.
So hopefully next year we will have a conference a little slower, a little more deliberate, with a slightly better work product, putting the final nails into the effort of communism around the world, supporting some worthy covert programs, and we will do it in a timely fashion, not 6 weeks late and rushed, trying to jam our meetings in-between all these other emergency meetings.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, let me just conclude by saying that we do have the problem in this Congress with leaks, whether they are intentional or not intentional. I certainly would hope they are not intentional, and that is why we fought so hard against the so-called Boxer amendment. These 24- or 48-hour notification requirements before any covert activity can be undertaken just do not work.
If we had had that kind of law on the books at the time when our American hostages were being held in Iran and the Canadian Embassy there was giving secret haven to some American citizens, those people would probably be dead today, instead of being rescued. That is why we are so opposed to this kind of legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I will not go any further except to say that I am opposed to the bill itself; however, I am not going to call for a vote on this rule, because we need to get on with our business. I would just hope that the bill itself is defeated after the rule does pass.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.
The previous question was ordered.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I call up the conference report on the Senate bill (S. 2834) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 1991 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the U.S. Government, for the intelligence community staff, for the Central Intelligence Agency retirement and disability system, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hertel). Pursuant to House Resolution 523, the conference report is considered as having been read.
(For conference report and statement, see proceedings of the House of October 23, 1990.)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson] will be recognized for 30 minutes, and the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] will be recognized for 30 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson].
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report to accompany S. 2834, the fiscal year 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. The funding authorized is set forth in the classified schedule of authorization, which is incorporated by reference in the conference report. The schedule of authorization is described in detail in the classified annex to the statement of managers which accompanies the conference report. Both of these classified documents are available for review by Members in the offices of the Intelligence Committee. I urge Members, particularly those concerned with the disposition by the conferees of the amendments adopted by the House on Cambodia and Angola, to take the time to examine the classified schedule of authorizations and the classified annex.
The decisions by the conferees on authorization levels reflect what I believe was the shared understanding of the two intelligence committees about the need to adjust the budgets of our intelligence agencies to reflect the changed fiscal and geopolitical realities that we face. The conferees recommended a level of authorization which, while lower than requested by the President, is sufficient to ensure that adequate funding is provided for all essential intelligence programs and activities. These funding levels, and the report language which accompanies them, are intended to convey the willingness of both committees to assist the intelligence agencies in their transition to the post-cold war era.
The conference report contains a number of legislative provisions. I want to advise the Members that all legislative provisions which were contained in the House bill are found, in some form, in the conference report. To reach agreement with our colleagues from the Senate, however, modifications had to be made to the provisions adopted by the House on Cambodia and Angola.
With respect to Cambodia, the conferees agreed to what I believe were the essential elements of the House position: First, that any program of non-lethal assistance to the non-Communist resistance should be structured so as to promote a Cambodian peace settlement;
Second, any assistance program should be able to be transitioned to an overt, acknowledged U.S. effort; and,
Third, the Congress should have the ability to openly and expeditiously consider the scope of an overt United States assistance program to facilitate a Cambodian peace settlement.
In addition, the conference report contains a provision, similar in intent to language adopted by the House, which is designed to ensure that no assistance is provided to any Cambodian resistance organization that the President determines is engaged in tactical or strategic cooperative activities with the Khmer Rouge in their military operations.
In my judgment, the effect of the provisions in the conference report is to place the United States squarely in support of efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement to the fighting in Cambodia. The administration has assured Congress that the prospects for a settlement in that regional conflict are good, but that success is not yet ensured. The provisions in the conference report are not intended to upset the progress toward peace in Cambodia.
With respect to Angola, the conference agreement is composed of two parts, each intended to encourage the parties to the civil war to work seriously toward a political settlement.
First, half of any lethal assistance which may be authorized for UNITA is to be placed in a special reserve account from which it may not be withdrawn without the approval of the intelligence committees.
Second, a certification system is established through which the President may measure the commitment of the Government of Angola to the process of negotiation. Indicators of that commitment include:
First, the willingness of the Government to accept a reasonable ceasefire, peace settlement, and timetable for free and fair internationally supervised elections in which UNITA would be free to participate;
Second, the degree to which the Government has ended its reliance on outside sources, such as the Soviet Union, for lethal assistance and certain types of technical assistance, advice and training which are involved with the planning or execution of military actions in Angola; and,
Third, the lack of the initiation by the Government of a significant military offensive against UNITA. If the President certifies that the conditions set forth in the conference report have been met, any lethal assistance to UNITA shall be suspended. The suspension could be revoked if the President certified that the conditions on which the suspension had been based ceased to be true, or credible evidence indicated that an offensive by the Government against UNITA was imminent.
I believe this provision represents an effective compromise which should encourage both UNITA and the Government of Angola to actively engage each other in the search for a peaceful end to the civil war. It disadvantages neither side, while retaining with the President full discretion to decide if lethal assistance should be suspended.
The conference report also contains several important modifications to the intelligence oversight provisions contained in title VII of the Senate bill. These modifications, which were suggested by the House conferees, will ensure that the system of congressional oversight of intelligence is strengthened considerably. While my colleague from New York, Mr. McHugh, will discuss the oversight section in more detail, I want to note that the improvements made by the conferees have been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which was concerned by some parts of title VII in the Senate bill, and which has a long record of working helpfully and effectively with Congress on this particular issue.
With the enactment of the conference report, many of the weaknesses which the Iran-Contra affair identified in our intelligence oversight system will be corrected. Among the positive changes are requirements: that the President determine that a covert action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States before it is authorized; that findings be in writing and not retroactive; and that when notification of a covert action is made to the congressional leadership group instead of the intelligence committees, such notification will be followed by submission of a written finding to the intelligence committees.
Under current law, notification of intelligence activities, including covert actions, may be made to the congressional leadership group, rather than the intelligence committees, when the President determines that extraordinary circumstances so dictate. The conference report expands membership in that group from the current number of eight to such additional members of the congressional leadership as the President may include. As an example, this provision will permit the House majority and minority leaders, both of whom are ex-officio members of the Intelligence Committee, to be treated in a consistent manner with respect to the notification provisions of the National Security Act of 1947.
The oversight section also contains a provision which deems a request by the U.S. Government to a nongovernmental third party to conduct a covert action to be, in and of itself, a covert action. This will ensure that early notice is given to Congress of the use of third parties in covert actions. It will also prevent the conduct of a covert action specifically requested by the United States in a way that bypasses the normal process of congressional consultation and review.
Finally, I would like to note language which appears in the statement of the managers accompanying the conference report commenting on proposals to reorganize the way in which the Defense Department pursues intelligence and intelligence-related activities. Budget constraints will affect all defense programs in the coming years, including intelligence. The conferees strongly believe, however, that any decisions in these areas must be based on conclusions resulting from comprehensive hearings and thorough reviews. To attempt to prejudge those conclusions by establishing a premature goal for personnel ceilings is, in the judgment of the conferees, ill-advised.
Mr. Speaker, the conference report represents the best efforts of the conferees to reach agreement on a number of difficult issues. I believe that it is an effective and workable compromise between the concerns of Congress and the administration. I urge that it be adopted by the House.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, as the House version of this legislation emerged from the Intelligence Committee, it was, for the most part, acceptable. During the markup process, the committee struggled with, but resisted, the strong temptation, which is a visceral yearning of Congress, to micromanage the President's conduct of foreign affairs. However, when it reached the floor, I regret that, by the absolute barest of majorities, the House was unable to resist the urge to micromanage, and with the tie-breaking vote of the Speaker, the House adopted the Solarz-Miller amendment on Angola. It was so convoluted that its multiple certifications, reporting requirements and intertwining conditions resembled a wilderness of mirrors. Actually, Mr. Miller's amendment improved, but did not perfect a damaging legislative intervention.
What is most tragic about this congressional indulgence in micromanagement is that it strikes at a critical juncture in an extremely sensitive, painstakingly developed diplomatic effort to achieve peace at long last in Angola. After lengthy, careful and arduous efforts, the executive branch succeeded in reaching a workable agreement to phase out the Cuban and South African military support roles in Angola and to achieve a related peaceful political solution in neighboring Namibia.
Now, the Administration is just inches away from the climax of this regional tragedy--agreement on a process for a peaceful settlement of Angola's long and bloody civil war. The administration has worked to obtain some constructive contributions from the U.S.S.R. and the former colonial power, Portugal. It has coaxed and cajoled the opposing parties to the negotiating table and persevered in the face of foot-dragging and periodic bad faith by the MPLA. But then, with the Solarz amendment, the House tried to rewrite the script, in the midst of this virtuoso diplomatic performance, to tie legislatively the President's foreign policy shoelaces together and, in so doing, risk changing a dramatic success into a failure. Or to put it another way, it's as if a skilled doctor is performing brain surgery and an intern bumps his elbow.
Many of us looked to the conference on this bill as an opportunity for Congress to retreat from this unhelpful meddling with the President's conduct of extraordinarily sensitive and important negotiations. But regrettably, the conferees were not up to the task. Some recognized many of the needless risks posed to important U.S. national interests by the Solarz amendment, but, in critical circumstances where Congressional patience and self-restraint were clearly indicated, a majority of the conferees could not resist the temptation to do something, even if it is wrong. Hence this conference report.
The best that can be hoped from this approach is that it will prove irrelevant to the sensitive Angola negotiations. Unfortunately, it bears the seeds of a possible disruption of this delicate peace process, at least for a period of months. It may well encourage the MPLA to dig in their heels for a while longer to see if the United States will finally lost its resolve to frustrate an MPLA military victory. The MPLA is certainly aware of this congressional second guessing. Some information on the treatment of the Angola issue in the classified annex to the joint explanatory statement of managers was published in the press even before this conference report was filed. Now that is timely notice, but to the wrong people. Each month, indeed each day, of delaying a peaceful settlement means more lives will be needlessly lost.
With respect to Cambodia, Congress suffered the same affliction, another irresistible attack of micromanagement. During floor consideration of the House bill, we acted responsibly. We adopted the excellent amendment of the gentleman from New Mexico [Mr. Richardson]. That statesmanlike amendment preserved the necessary degree of flexibility for the President and did not set a date certain for terminating any contemplated option for covert aid. Most importantly, it was carefully drafted to avoid undercutting U.S. negotiators seeking to promote a peaceful, negotiated settlement among the various factions. Once again, however, the conference was unable to refrain from meddling. In the classified annex to the joint explanatory statement of managers, the conferees have spelled out some procedures which in all likelihood will undercut the administration's diplomatic efforts, for no good reason, at a time when we have finally seen some progress toward a workable settlement.
The conference report includes a slightly modified version of title VII of the Senate bill, which rewrites the existing statute governing intelligence oversight. With the possible exception of the new and more accurate definition of `covert action,' the remainder of the title is probably unnecessary in light of the reforms already made by the executive branch in its procedures for approval, review and reporting of covert actions.
However, there is troublesome language in the joint explanatory statement of managers discussing the application of the provision for giving Congress notice in a timely fashion of covert actions in those undefined situations where prior notice has not been given. It is troublesome, because it is inaccurate and misleading in its characterization of the existing legislative history of the notice in a timely fashion language which is in the existing 1980 oversight statute and is reenacted in the rewrite of the statute in the conference report. More importantly, this nonstatutory language is a highly questionable back-door effort to rewrite, ex post facto, the legislative history and practice interpreting the purposely ambiguous statutory alternative for `notice in a timely fashion.' It seeks to assert an interpretation which is inconsistent with the actual statutory language retained. That inconsistent interpretation states that the Congressional notification option of `timely notice' in lieu of prior notice is only available to the President in exigent circumstances, that is to say, only when time is of the essence. It is based primarily on a comment of former Senator Huddleston and ignores the contrasting comments of Edward Boland, the first chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Clem Zablocki, the then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and his ranking Republican counterpart, Bill Broomfield, and Les Aspin, who as then a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Statement of Managers seeks to characterize the legislative history surrounding the 1980 act with regard to the notice in a timely fashion option as follows:
The legislative history of this language makes clear that its drafters intended that prior notice could be withheld only in exigent circumstances when a quick reaction to events was necessary and that notice would be forthcoming in a few days.
With all due respect, the legislative history on this provision in the 1980 act is not at all clear. This assertion of clarity appears to rely largely on a statement by Senator Huddleston during the floor consideration in the other body of the conference report on the 1980 act. However, this supposed strict limitation that timely notice could be provided in lieu of prior notice only in exigent circumstances is plainly inconsistent with a number of statements made by our Intelligence Committee members and House conferees during consideration of the same conference report on the House floor. For example, then HPSCI Chairman Boland, a House conferee, specifically stated that the provision permitting notice to only the so-called gang-of-eight leaders, not the timely notice exception, was `* * * the provision which responds to the concern of the executive branch that certain covert operations will be of such urgency that time will be of the essence * * *.' In fact, when Chairman Boland was asked about the circumstances under which timely notice could be provided instead of prior notice, he made no reference whatsoever to limiting that statutory option to exigent circumstances. Rather, his only explanation of the circumstances where prior notice would be withheld and notice given instead in a timely fashion was `* * * if the President believed that he had constitutional authority to withhold information and not supply prior notice. Then that would be a circumstance under which it might be done.' Clearly exigent circumstances are not present in such cases.
Similarly, Congressman Broomfield, also a House conferee, described the legislative intent of the notice in a timely fashion exception as:
* * * just allowing him, that is, the President, to postpone his reporting in those rare instances where, for example, prior disclosure would jeopardize the lives of the personnel or the methods employed in a particular covert action activity.
Mr. Broomfield continued that his understanding of the application of the timely notice option is consistent with the executive branch practice between 1974 and 1980 under the Hughes-Ryan amendment when notice in a timely fashion was the only statutory standard for notifying Congress of covert action. He stated:
Since the passage of the Hughes-Ryan amendment in 1974, there has been only one known covert action that was not reported to Congress prior to its initiation. Our committee was subsequently briefed on that action and learned that the reason for the deferred reporting was because the President felt such prior notification would jeopardize the lives of the personnel involved in that action. Moreover, participants in this successful operation--which we all applauded when we became aware of it--agreed to participate in the action only after being assured that there would be no prior disclosure to Congress.
Of course, we now know that the gentleman from Michigan was referring to the covert action involving the daring exfiltration of American diplomats from the Canadian Embassy in Tehran. Again, this is an interpretation of the timely notice language which is not at all consistent with limiting that provision only to cases where time is of the essence. It took some 3 months during the execution of that covert action before President Carter determined that it was timely to notify Congress because the risk to American and other lives had diminished sufficiently.
In describing the purpose of the timely notice exception, Congressman Zablocki, another senior House conferee, also made no reference to limiting it only to cases where time is of the essence. On the contrary, Chairman Zablocki used the broader phrase extraordinary circumstances to describe cases in which `* * * advance information on covert operations might be withheld * * * provided the President informs the committees in a timely fashion * * *.' Concomitantly, he justified the inclusion of the timely notice exception as `absolutely essential to a strong intelligence community and important for U.S. security * * *' and stated that `[s]uch exceptions will also help the American intelligence community to maintain the extraordinary secrecy necessary in intelligence activities and promote cooperation from the intelligence communities of friendly countries.' These are explanations of legislative purpose far too broad to support a conclusion that the timely notice exception was intended in 1980 to be limited only to exigent circumstances.
Chairman Zablocki went on to describe the timely notice exception to prior reporting as `* * * fully consistent with the Committee on Foreign Affairs amendment to Hughes-Ryan.' `I therefore welcome its inclusion in the conference report,' he continued. This is significant because the similar Foreign Affairs Committee amendment he understood to be consistent with the timely notice provision at issue here was one which specifically defined the circumstances in which prior notice could be deferred to include `* * * circumstances affecting the vital interest of the United States or * * * essential to avoid unreasonable risk to the safety or security of the personnel or methods employed.' This formulation had in fact been approved by the House when it was adopted as an amendment to the House foreign aid authorization a few months earlier by a vote of 325-50, as Mr. Broomfield reminded the House during this same floor debate.
Yet another senior majority member of HPSCI, Congressman Aspin, explained his understanding of the timely notice exception in terms that belie the present assertion in our statement of managers today that this exception was always clearly intended to apply only in exigent circumstances. During the 1980 floor debate, the gentleman from Wisconsin had the following comments regarding the interpretation of the timely notice option:
There is, second of course, the possibility, and I guess the statutory possibility that the administration can, in effect, just waive the whole thing. I think it is vague under whether [sic] the administration does have the constitutional authority or under sources and methods to, in fact, not inform the committee.
We had a chance in our bill here to make this very specific and to clear
up once and for all that matter. We could not clear it up because there was
an irrevocable difference as to what the Constitution gives the President. We
could not, in effect,
come to any agreement on that, so what we have done in this language is, in a sense, still left it vague. I think that is unfortunate.
In short, an examination of that law and its surrounding legislative history reveals an ambiguous picture that was painted very carefully by legislators who clearly recognized the constitutional implications of the problem they confronted. The overriding concern was to avoid a head-on collision between the interests and responsibilities of the executive and legislative branches. Consequently, what emerged as law amounted to a classic legislative finesse of a vexing issue.
Blithely ignoring the ambiguous reality of the contemporaneous legislative history of the 1980 act, the statement of managers accompanying the conference report before us today tries nevertheless to foist the following bogus ex post facto legislative history on the House:
The conferees * * * state unequivocally that the `timely fashion' provision of the conference report means that in exigent circumstances where the President needs to implement a covert action immediately to protect United States interests, the President may do so without first notifying the intelligence committees. But then must notify the committees within a few days. [Emphasis added.]
There is nothing in the actual statutory language of the conference report to support in any way this pseudo-interpretation that the timely notice alternative to prior notice may only be invoked in exigent circumstances. As the statement of managers itself notes with respect to the actual statutory language in the conference report, `* * * the conferees essentially restated the current provisions of law requiring notice in a timely fashion in those rare cases when prior notice is not given.'
If the conferees wished to restrict the timely notice exception to only cases involving exigent circumstances, they should have included wording to that effect in the actual statutory language of the conference report essentially reenacting the existing provision of law. But, the most recent piece of legislative history explains why they did not. Last year's Senate intelligence authorization bill (S. 1324) was the immediate predecessor for the statutory oversight language in today's conference report. The timely notice provision in S. 1324 was virtually identical to the actual bill language before us now except that when S. 1324 reached the floor in the other body, it did include a phrase restricting the timely notice option to circumstances `* * * when time is of the essence.' However, that limitation was struck from S. 1324 by a floor amendment which was publicly explained as necessary because, as part of the compromise' between proponents of this oversight legislation before us now and the President, they specifically agreed to drop this time is of the essence' restriction from the bill. It was dropped in exchange for a commitment from President Bush to provide a letter spelling out written assurances as to how he intended to provide notice of covert action to Congress in a manner sensitive to our concerns about prior notice and timely notice. For that same reason, the time is of the essence, or, if you please, exigent circumstances, restriction was also purposely left out of the statutory language of this conference report.
The President kept his part of this agreement. The text of President Bush's letter, embodying the agreed-upon assurances, is printed in the statement of managers. On the other hand, the conferees who signed the conference report appear to be trying to renege on this gentleman's agreement through fictional legislative history revisions relegated to the statement of managers language I quoted earlier. They are trying to interpret the remaining statutory language on timely notice as though it still included language specifically rejected by an earlier vote in the other body and not resurrected in the bill language of this conference report.
How do those conferees attempt to justify this dubious exercise in revisionist legislative history making? They feebly suggest it is somehow necessary to indicate congressional rejection of a 1986 Justice Department memorandum. That memorandum concluded that the notice in a timely fashion language of existing law should be read to leave the President virtually unfettered discretion to choose the proper moment for notification under that provision.
There may be many persons who believe that virtually unfettered discretion is arguably a bit too expansive a formulation for the broadly ambiguous scope of the timely fashion provision. However, it is a vast, and unsupportable, leap to the other end of the spectrum to assert that this provision can only be invoked in exigent circumstances. Besides, this is unnecessary. As is obvious from the President's letter, if in some rare instance, notice to Congress of a covert action is withheld beyond a few days, he says that withholding will be based on his constitutional authorities. He clearly implies he will use those constitutional authorities instead of relying on any particular interpretation of the statutory provision.
This wholly unpersuasive, highly restrictive view asserted in the statement of managers is so plainly inconsistent with both the realities of the actual, existing legislative history of the language involved and with the spirit of the agreement with the President that it boggles the mind. To quote Lord Russell:
This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possible adopt them.
Frankly, it is doubtful whether these remarks in the statement of managers have any validity at all as legislative history. However, if the President has any concerns that they might be read as restricting in the future the alternative of timely notice to only situations where time is of the essence, he would be perfectly justified in vetoing this authorization bill.
Finally, let me say something positive about this conference report. The conference agreed that a provision in the conferenced DOD bill for a 25-percent reduction in intelligence personnel was not justified by currently available information. After discussion with the Senate Armed Services Committee, where the proposal originated, we also determined that this provision does not require the initiation of five yearly cuts in next year's budget submissions, or in outyear plans.
The Intelligence Committees already had planned hearings on the structure and efficiency of DOD intelligence organizations. Thereafter, the committees themselves will consider the proper levels for intelligence manpower.
The President will sign this conference report, but because of my disappointment at the excess of congressional meddling in matters best left to the administration, I will vote `no.'
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 10 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New York [Mr. MCHugh], our very valuable chairman of our Subcommittee on Legislation.
(Mr. MCHUGH asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. MCHUGH. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report and urge my colleagues to support it. The report contains reasonable accommodations with the Senate on funding levels for those programs on which the two authorization bills differed, it retains or improves upon the nonbudget legislative provisions enacted by each House, and it deals with the troublesome issues of Cambodia and Angola in a manner which supports current diplomatic initiatives while sending clear signals that Congress wants our participation in these tragic civil wars phased out.
The conference report also contains important provisions that are designed to strengthen congressional oversight of intelligence activities, and I would like to take a few moments to discuss those provisions.
In recent weeks, an organization called the Christic Institute has conducted an ill-advised and factually inaccurate lobbying campaign that has characterized these oversight provisions as granting the President broad new authority to conduct covert actions and as reducing the effectiveness of congressional oversight of such actions. The fact is that both the intent and effect of these provisions are precisely the opposite. These provisions would for the first time in statute impose the following restrictions or requirements:
First, a Presidential finding to authorize a covert action would have to be in writing, and no funds could be spent on a covert action until such a finding is signed by the President.
Second, a Presidential finding could not retroactively authorize a covert action which has already occurred.
Third, the President would have to determine that the covert action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States, and such detgermination would have to be set forth in the President's finding.
Fourth, a Presidential finding would have to specify all government agencies involved in the covert action and whether any third party will be involved.
Fifth, a Presidential finding could not authorize any action intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media.
Sixth, a Presidential finding could not authorize any action which violates the Constitution of the United States or any statutes of the United States.
In addition, these provisions define a covert action for the first time, thus eliminating some confusion as to what actions must be approved by the President and reported to the Congress, as well as insuring that the definition applies uniformly to all government agencies. They also restate and clarify the current
procedure for notifying the Congress of covert actions. More specifically, they provide that, first, notice must generally be given to the Intelligence Committees prior to commencement of the covert action; second, prior notice may be given to a more limited leadership group only `in extraordinary circumstances affecting vital interests of the United States'; and third, notice prior to the initiation of a covert action may be dispensed with only `on rare occasions', and then notice must be given to the Intelligence Committees', and then notice must be given to the Intelligence Committees `in a timely fashion.'
Let me now turn, Mr. Speaker, to the history of these provisions and try to put them in context.
As you may recall, the Iran-Contra scandal engendered considerable debate over the precise meaning of the statute enacted in 1980 governing congressional oversight. That statute provides that the President must generally give prior notice of covert actions to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees or, in extraordinary cases, to the eight-member leadership group--the so-called gang of eight. However, the law recognized that in some cases, left undefined in the statute, the President could withhold prior notice, and thereafter give notice `in a timely fashion.' The legislative history underlying the 1980 statute makes clear that prior notice should be dispensed with only when the press of events requires action before Congress can be notified, and that notice must then be given soon thereafter.
In the Iran-Contra affair the President authorized and initiated a covert action without giving the Intelligence Committees or the gang of eight any notice whatsoever; no one in Congress learned of the policy until it was revealed in a foreign newspaper 10 months later. The Department of Justice thereafter issued a legal opinion concluding that the President had complied with the 1980 statute because the President had `virtually unfettered discretion' in deciding when to provide Congress with notice of a covert action.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees responded to these events in 1988 by reporting bills which, among other things, would have permitted the President to dispense with prior notice only when time was of the essence, and would then have required notice not later than 48 hours after the President had authorized the covert action. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 71 to 19, but it never reached the House floor.
In addition to the foregoing provisions relating to notice of covert actions, the 1988 legislation contained provisions that reformulated the 1980 oversight statute and added valuable new procedures regulating Presidential authorization of covert actions. Those provisions, which are essentially incorporated in this conference report, were included in the intelligence authorization bill passed by the Senate last year. The House conferees, of whom I was one, declined to accept the Senate provisions last year because they did not include the notice provisions previously described. In their absence the House conferees believed that the Senate bill did not adequately address the failure of the President to give proper notice in the Iran-Contra case and the fundamentally wrong interpretation of the notice requirement contained in the subsequent legal opinion rendered by the Justice Department. The Senate bill simply restated the current law calling for notice `in a timely fashion.' The committee report accompanying the Senate bill sought to deal with the notice problem by stating the Senate committee's belief that notice `in a timely fashion' meant a delay of not more than a few days.
This year, the House Intelligence Committee again did not include the oversight provisions in H.R. 5422. While a majority of the committee had previously supported a bill incorporating the 48-hour notice requirement--and presumably continues to do so--we recognized that the President would not sign such a bill. We therefore attempted to reach an accommodation with the White House. The chairman of the committee and I offered to terminate our efforts to legislate a 48-hour requirement if the President would agree to a statutory provision requiring that when prior notice is not given, notice would be provided within a few days. We also sought a statement from the President rejecting the Department of Justice `unfettered discretion' opinion. Regrettably, this compromise was rejected by the White Hosue. However, the President did reaffirm in a letter to the chairman his intention to provide prior notice in almost all instances, to provide notice within a few days when prior notice is not given, and to rely entirely on his assertion of constitutional authority
if he withheld notice for a longer period--a constitutional authority Congress has never conceded.
As we approached this year's conference with the Senate, we were again faced with the dilemma of whether to accept the Senate-passed oversight provisions, the substance of which the House Intelligence Committee had also reported in 1988, but which still did not include the strict notice provisions of the 1988 bill reported by our committee. We could have waited for another day in the hope that we could eventually convince the President to accept the statutory language we preferred. However, we made the judgment to accept the Senate provisions this year. Since we do not have the votes to override a Presidential veto of a bill containing the stronger notice requirements, the Senate provisions are the best we can get in statute. Moreover, the President's letter to Chairman Beilenson, a copy of which is included in the statement of managers, sets forth a procedure for providing notice which is generally acceptable.
In accepting the Senate provisions, two points need special emphasis. First, as the conferees stress in the statement of managers, we categorically reject the 1986 legal opinion of the Justice Department which concluded that the 1980 statutory language requiring notice in a timely fashion gives the President virtually unfettered discretion to choose the right moment to notify Congress of a covert action. Second, the conferees clearly intend that in those rare cases when the President withholds prior notice of a covert action, the President has an obligation to provide notice within a few days, the timeframe President Bush himself outlined in his letter to Chairman Beilenson.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would note that the House conferees succeeded in strengthening the Senate oversight provisions in a number of important respects. Rather than cast the new requirements for a Presidential finding in terms of an affirmative authorization of covert actions, as the Senate bill did, the conference report states that the President may not authorize a covert action unless the requirements are met. One of the requirements added by this conference report is that the President determine and include in the finding that the covert action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States. The conference report also adds a provision including within the definition of a covert action a request by any department, agency, or entity of the United States to a foreign government or a private citizen to conduct a covert action on behalf of the United States. Finally, the conference report eliminates a provision in the Senate bill which noted an intent not to interfere with the power of the President to initiate intelligence activities in a manner consistent with his constitutional powers. As I indicated earlier, Mr. Speaker, the President claims an inherent constitutional right to withhold from Congress notice of a covert action for as long as he deems appropriate. Congress has never accepted this claim of constitutional prerogative, and the conferees eliminated reference to the President's constitutional powers contained in the Senate bill so as to avoid any implication that Congress might be conceding the constitutional prerogative claimed by the President.
Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of the conference report.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Shuster], a member of the committee.
(Mr. SHUSTER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, first let me emphasize the tremendous respect I have for the distinguished chairman, the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson], and the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], and express what a privilege it has been to serve with them on this committee, as well as with every member on both sides of the aisle. Indeed, the Committee on Intelligence in the House crafted what in my judgment was a very good bill. We brought a good bill to the floor. Unfortunately, there were some changes made to it. I have difficulty with the micromanaging, which has already been referred to, but I have even more difficulty with what I can only characterize as a rewriting of history, which is in the statement of managers which has come back in this conference report.
Let me emphasize that I agree with my good friend from New York, the previous speaker, who was very critical of the previous administration in not giving timely notice on Iran-Contra. There should have been timely notice. This was a breakdown, it was a mistake, a very serious mistake, and I agree completely with his criticism of that particular mistake.
But to suggest that because a mistake was made in that instance that it follows that the only reason a President may withhold notice of covert action is because of exigent circumstances, because of the timeliness of the event, the rapidity with which the event is unfolding is to rewrite history. For some to assert in the statement of managers 10 years later that it was the legislative intent back in 1980 when the legislation was written that the only reason a President could withhold notice to the Congress of covert action was because of the quick reaction that was necessary and the events unfolding too quickly to notify us simply is a grossly misleading statement of what that legislative history said at that time.
Let me be specific. Congressman Zablocki in the legislative history very clearly indicated that `there could be extraordinary circumstances' which could serve as a basis for the President not notifying us upon the commencement of a covert action.
Congressman Aspin, who was a member of the Intelligence Committee at that time said,
We had a chance in our bill here to make this very specific with regard to the timely notice and to clear up once and for all that matter. We could not clear it up because there were irrevocable differences as to what the Constitution gives the President. We could not in effect come to any agreement on that. So what we have done in this language is, in a sense, still leave it vague.
So for somebody to assert 10 years later that the legislative history back in 1980 very clearly spelled out precisely the only single reason which the President could use for withholding notification flies in the face of what that legislative history shows.
Let the record show that the legislative history on covert action notice does not intend that the prior notification could be withheld by the President only in these circumstances, but in other circumstances as well. And of course, the very specific example which we are all aware of is the situation in Iran when Americans were being hidden in the Canadian Embassy, and for a matter of several months this was a matter which the committee was not notified of, of our covert action to attempt to get those Americans, those American diplomats out of that Canadian Embassy. And indeed, the Canadians would not have cooperated with us had this information been disseminated to the Congress, they informed us, and in fact American lives were involved, and it is a very precise and very specific example of a very good reason and of circumstances in which the President had every right not to notify the Congress.
So I think the record should be clear on this. I thank the gentleman for yielding the time, and I shall vote against this report.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz], a distinguished member of our committee.
Mr. SOLARZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report.
Let me first of all pay tribute to the very distinguished chairman of the committee for the thoroughly professional manner in which he facilitated the passage of this bill, first through the committee, then on the floor, and then in conference. With his unfailing good will and good humor, he jollied all of us along, and issues that might have been controversial were worked out. Others were somehow or other resolved. I think he really deserves the gratitude of the entire House for the way in which he discharged his responsibilities.
I would also like, Mr. Speaker, to comment briefly on the provisions in the statement of managers concerning both Cambodia and Angola.
In the case of Cambodia, there is a statement to the effect that no assistance shall be provided to any Cambodian resistance organization that the President determines is engaged in tactical or strategic cooperative activities with the Khmer Rouge in their military operations. I think this provision is a very welcome addition to the legislation.
The whole purpose of our assistance program for the noncommunist resistance is to diminish the possibility that the Khmer Rouge could battle their way back to power in Phnom Penh, and it would, therefore, be literally unthinkable for us to provide assistance to any resistance movement which was in fact engaged in tactical or strategic cooperative activities with the Khmer Rouge in their military operations.
But what I want to emphasize, however, is the fact that the word `activities' in this paragraph clearly implied that what would be necessary to trigger a prohibition or suspension of any aid to the noncommunist resistance would have to be more than the isolated act of a single individual, or for that matter even of a unit acting against the professed policy of the leadership of that organization.
To the extent that there is any kind of a pattern of tactical or strategic cooperative activities with the Khmer Rouge in their military operations, this prohibition or restriction would clearly be triggered, but I do not believe it was the intention of the conferees to trigger the restriction if there is an isolated incident here or there which takes place in spite of the commands of the leadership of these movements that their followers not engage in any military activities with the Khmer Rouge. And I am pleased to say that we have received communications from the supreme commanders of both the ANS and the KPNLF indicating that they have in fact instructed their followers not to engage in any cooperative military activities with the Khmer Rouge.
Insofar as Angola is concerned, the statement of managers says that:
Any lethal assistance to UNITA shall be suspended if the President certifies: that the Government of Angola has expressed a willingness to accept a reasonable ceasefire and political settlement and proposes a reasonable and specific timetable for internationally supervised free and fair multiparty elections in which UNITA would be free to participate.
The purpose of this provision was to try, by providing an incentive to the MPLA, to elicit from them a reasonable proposal for a cease-fire and political settlement and for a specific timetable for an internationally supervised free and fair multiparty election in which UNITA can participate. It does not obligate the MPLA to accept whatever proposal Mr. Savimbi puts forward. We certainly hope that the negotiations will lead to an agreement, but the purpose of this paragraph would be satisfied if the MPLA comes forward with what the President in his judgment determines is a proposal for a reasonable ceasefire and political settlement and a proposal for a reasonable and specific timetable for an internationally supervised free and fair multiparty election in which UNITA would be free to participate.
Insofar as the reference to an internationally supervised free and fair election is concerned, let me observe that last month Mr. Savimbi, the President of UNITA, said that free and fair elections should be `observed by reputable international organizations.' UNITA also demanded last April in their call for a free and fair multiparty election that these elections should `be monitored by the international community to ensure fairness.'
I think that what we are calling for here, on the assumption that we are not trying to be more Catholic than the Pope and are not calling for more than Mr. Savimbi himself has called for is that willingness on the part of the MPLA to permit international observers--whether they are from the OAU, or the United Nations, or the United States Congress, or the British Parliament, or human rights groups, or any other organizations--to come in to monitor the electoral process, the campaigning, the casting of the votes, the counting of the votes, in such a way that it gives everyone reasonable assurances that it will in fact be a free and fair election.
I do not believe this was calling for the Government of Angola to agree to permit some international agency to usurp Angolan Government sovereignty and to actually run the entire election, because that is not what Mr. Savimbi himself is calling for.
Let me just say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that my good friend, the gentleman from Illinois, has said that he was concerned that this amendment would encourage the Angolan Government to dig in their heels and that it might possibly, therefore, derail very delicate efforts now being conducted by the administration to get an agreement which will end this conflict. I want to say to my friend that we all agree that the only way to end this war is through a negotiated agreement, but I must say that in our view the purpose of this amendment is not to derail the negotiations but to enhance the prospects for their success. I believe it does that by giving a positive incentive to the MPLA to make the very concessions that the administration is asking them to make, namely, to state a willingness to have a free and fair election within a reasonable period of time, and to accept a reasonable cease-fire and political settlement.
If this is successful in getting them to make such an offer, it will clearly facilitate an agreement.
Mr. Savimbi himself told some of us a few weeks ago that the main obstacle to a settlement is getting the MPLA to put on the table a reasonable timetable for the election. This is what this amendment asks them to do. If they do not do it, the aid to Mr. Savimbi continues. If they do do it, then if the other conditions are met in the judgment of the President, the aid would be suspended. But under those circumstances, presumably, the parties would be able to reach an agreement, so I think this facilitates an agreement rather than obstructs it.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss].
(Mr. GOSS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, my distinguished colleague, the ranking member, for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I think that I am the only former CIA clandestine services officer in Congress. If there is another, they have done a better job than I of keeping their secret.
I think from that posture I can offer a somewhat unique perspective of the sensitivity of our intelligence secrets and the damage from divulging those secrets through the open political forum of the U.S. Congress. One thing is clear, the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, intentional or otherwise, has a very profoundly harmful effect on our Nation's ability to collect timely and accurate information necessary for our leader's decisionmaking, and that leader's decisionmaking has been particularly critical, whether we are talking about Iraq, Panama, or any event of the past year or any event we can reasonably anticipate for the future years.
I do not in any way wish to preach. I wish to underscore my concern. I think in the past week or two I have seen one, two, three, four articles talking about covert operations, things that probably under the national security act in Great Britain would be grounds for treachery if they had been read in the British press, 30 years ago, when I was in business.
Today now it seems that we talk about these things. I do not know why. This is not new to read these articles. Just last year I did something that got picked up by a number of people, a piece called Hush Up, Congress. It was stressing the same concern I had last year about leaks, about questions of clearances.
Again, I am not pointing fingers, but what I am saying is this: people who have not been trained in intelligence operations in the handling of sensitive information do not know how to handle the information, and they do not realize the consequences of abusing or misusing that information. There are consequences that go to our national security, for sure. There are consequences that go to our Nation's ability to do business overseas, to negotiate quietly, discreetly, and intelligently on behalf of our national goals.
Of course, there is the life question. There truly are lives involved, quite often, in intelligence operations, and the last thing anybody would want to do is, through a slip of the tongue, release information that would somehow yield somebody's life through not knowing what they were about.
The U.S. Congress I have been impressed in an
area where there is an extraordinary accumulation of information of very sensitive nature. By definition, we have to have it. We have a selected intelligence committee that needs to have that information, but having that accumulation of sensitive information, we need extra precautions. We need extra clearance provisions, and we need certainly extra provisions for the discussion and handling of how we deal with this material.
I think that we have had some good proposals in the past to begin this question of how we can do better handling this sensitive information and making sure only those who need to have it have it, and that they understand that when they have it, how they treat it.
I believe a question of a smaller, surer committee, I would call it, a better informed committee that is perhaps trained in some of the training that I have been privileged to have and others in the Intelligence Committee. I think a greater degree of nonpartisanship. I think the one-vote edge as they do in the other body; I think these are reasonable suggestions and thoughts that ought to be pursued, because I think we all want to do the best we can on behalf of the intelligence activities that this country funds and engages in for the benefit of our national security.
I know that intelligence activities are not always what they seem, and when I pick up one of the Nation's newspapers and see basically an activity outlined on its pages in an article that says, `The U.S. Government is debating in Congress whether it will do $30 million,' or something else or whether it will deliver at a certain time schedule or something else, that is not a covert operation anymore. That never was a covert operation when it got to that point.
I think we have got an obligation in this institution to do a better job. I commend the chairman. I commend the ranking member for the steps they have taken to review this.
I am very concerned about it still, and I think it deserves our attention, and I am hopeful that you all understand, or that all the Members understand, that if we are going to ask the President to let us get into the micromanagement of the intelligence industry, we darn well better know that those here who are participating from Congress' side have got to know what they are going.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh].
Mr. McHUGH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment briefly on the remarks of the preceding speaker.
I agree with him. I think the gentleman makes a very valid point, and I think all of us who are responsible for intelligence matters agree that Congress has an important responsibility in maintaining classified information secrets.
But I think it is important to put into perspective the fact that the executive branch, the members of which are larger, who have access to this classified information are often the ones who are responsible for these leaks. We have had testimony before our committee from executive branch officials including members of the agency that that is the case, that the executive branch is responsible for more leaks.
Second, I would say that it is important for the President himself to be cautious about these covert operations. We have had a big debate on the floor about Angola, but the Angola program was announced by President Reagan, and every time there is a vote coming up on our Intelligence Committee or in the Senate or on the floor, Mr. Savimbi appears and is on network television talking about the covert operation.
I think that the executive branch has a very large responsibility here, and that leaks are not the sole responsibility of the Congress.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss].
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I will use this minute to respond, because I think the gentlaman's remarks are very much on target.
The point with leaks is that we do not want to sit around here and point fingers and say, `Well, it is OK to have leaks, because they have leaks, too.' The thing with leaks is you want to plug them up. My point that I was trying to make is not who is responsible for all the leaks; I am not pointing fingers.
What I am saying is, we can plug all the leaks.
The second point is, the most important way to manage intelligence is to know what we are doing. I am concerned that there are people here, well-intentioned, who just have not got a good enough background or enough understanding of the sensitivity of some of the material that comes through.
Mr. McHUGH. If the gentleman will continue to yield, I agree that the executive branch of the Government and the Congress both have responsibility. I simply need to emphasize that the leaks that are out there are not all congressional leaks.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston].
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman yielding time to me. If the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] would like to come to the podium, I would just like to point out that during the rule, I actually introduced into the Record four articles which I found reflected leaks of Congress. A close inspection of those articles reflects that they were about a conference between Members of the House and the Senate. Now, the executive branch was not a party to that conference. They may have access to the information, but quite frankly, in reading those articles, it certainly looked to me as if Members or staff were talking openly to the press about what had transpired in the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Therefore, it strikes me that all of this rhetoric back and forth is nice, but we really ought to be thinking about ways that we could remedy the situation. As the gentleman pointed out, we ought to start plugging the leaks. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] for years has been trying to form a joint committee between the House and the Senate to shrink the sizes of the committees, yet the House committee has grown by 50 percent in the last 6 years. He's also proposed to do security checks of Members and staff, and to ask the Members who are vested with the authority to serve on these committees to take an oath of secrecy.
Now, the gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh] is the chairman of the legislative committee, and I invite him to take a look at those proposals. It would seem they might help address what I believe to be an incredibly serious problem and defect in the U.S. Congress.
Mr. McHUGH. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield, if the gentleman is asking for a comment, I have not seen the articles the gentleman introduced during the debate on rules. I can only say that I agree there needs to be more sensitivity on the part of anyone dealing with classified information.
However, I need to point out, because the gentlemen on that side of the aisle tend always to focus on the leaks that allegedly come from Members of Congress, I am concerned that the executive branch is more responsible.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh], if he wishes to finish his statement.
Mr. McHUGH. Mr. Speaker, I think I made my point. However, let me say it again, that we have heard from the executive branch in our committee that there are more leaks in the executive branch, and that is not an excuse for any congressional leaks, but when we talk about this problem, we need to see it in perpective. All the leaks that appear in the newspaper or media are not attributable to congressional leaks.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I agree completely. The executive leaks like a sieve, but so do we. How can we clean our own stable, and hope and pray the executive does the same? It seems to me we are very chary of lifting a finger to tighten security around here, and that is something we can do and have omitted doing.
Mr. HcHUGH. One of the articles which my friend from Louisiana gave me that he referred to in the rules debate relates and has a headline, `Covert Lethal Aid to Angolan Rebels Is Curbed, Cease-Fire Would Suspend It.'
Now, to the extent that that article is attributable to anybody in the congressional committees, I deplore it. However, would the gentleman agree with me that when this action was initiated during the last administration, members of the administration, including the President, made very public comments about the initiation of the covert action and about its implementation over a period of time?
Mr. HYDE. Absolutely, and there is such casual treatment of convert action by members of the executive and Members of this House that we become very overt.
However, confirming it from a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is a corroboration that is not altogether helpful. However, we could go around in a circle for a long time. We both need to do something about it.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Wolpe].
(Mr. WOLPE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. WOLPE. Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with the remarks made earlier by the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz] with respect to the Angolan provision.
- Mr. Speaker, I wish to register, in the strongest possible terms, my endorsement of the conference report provision on Angola, That provision follows quite closely the amendment which Congressman Solarz offered to the House intelligence bill on October 17 and which I wholeheartedly supported.
- Mr. Speaker, while there has been some limited, recent advance in exploratory talks between the Angolan Government and UNITA, it is a very incomplete progress which falls far short of a major breakthrough. In terms of United States policy toward Angola, more needs to be done to eliminate all external arms flows to Angola and to bring evenhanded pressures upon both sides to reach a cease-fire and a negotiated settlement involving free and fair elections.
- The Angolan Government and UNITA have met, face-to-face, in four rounds of talks. Interestingly, the most important factor promoting these negotiations has not been United States aid to UNITA; rather, it has been that the Angolan Government and UNITA have lost much of their external military support in the last 2 years.
- The Angolan Government has witnessed the withdrawal of three quarters of its Cuban forces; all will have departed by June 1991. In addition, Soviet military aid dropped from an estimated $1.4 billion in 1988 to $500 million in 1990.
- UNITA has lost almost all of its South African aid, which up to April 1989 exceeded $200 million annually, more than three times the reported size of the United States program. Nor can UNITA rely any longer on South African forces to intervene directly in Angola on its behalf.
- Despite these changes and some positive movement by both sides in the talks, the Angolan Government and UNITA are still mired in profound distrust and bitterness. They are still far from a political settlement.
- The Angolan Government fears that UNITA, with the military backing of the administration, is not truly prepared to lay down its arms and reach a nonmilitary, negotiated settlement.
- UNITA, for its part, fears that the Angolan Government, with continued Soviet military backing, is not truly serious about recognizing UNITA and agreeing to free and fair elections.
- In the midst of this deadlock, the Angolan Government and UNITA each continue to cling to the vain hope that by bludgeoning the other side through one more round of fighting, it can improve its military position before compromising politically. Tragically, continued external military flows only feed this terrible dynamic.
- Mr. Speaker, some dramatic step is required to push UNITA and the Angolan Government out of their deadlock. This war has gone on too long. Angola has experienced enough weapons, enough ammunition, enough senseless death and suffering. Famine created by war and drought has seriously worsened this year, to the point where almost 2 million Angolans will soon be at risk of starvation.
- UNITA's President Savimbi has openly said that UNITA is prepared to cease fighting, if the Angolan Government recognizes UNITA and presents a reasonable timetable for multiparty elections. The Angolan Government has indicated it is willing to move in the direction demanded by UNITA, if it has a reasonable hope that UNITA will turn away from warfare. Fair enough. Let's force each party to live up to its commitments; the Angola provison in the conference report has that exact aim.
- By adopting the Angola provision, we will test the true intentions of UNITA and the Angolan Government, while also testing the Soviet's openly expressed desire to cooperate with the United States in ending all external military flows to Angola.
- If we do not adopt the Angola provision, more time will pass, more opportunities for United States-Soviet collaboration will pass by, and I fear that, this time next year, we will again find ourselves bemoaning the tragedy and intractability of the Angolan war. Let's do something today, by supporting the conference report on this bill.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Nebraska, a member of the committee [Mr. Bereuter].
(Mr. BEREUTER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, first I would like to associate myself with the reservations or concerns expressed by the ranking member, the distinguished gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] concerning Angola. I have many or all of those same concerns.
Second, I would like to continue the discussion on the improper handling of classified information initiated by our colleague from Florida [Mr. Goss]. I think he has made an important contribution here today through his comments. This Member is a former counterintelligence officer, as is the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Shuster], and I have long been concerned about the manner in which the member and staff of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Congress, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence handle classified information.
I well recall how emphatic the chairman of the Intelligence Committee and its ranking member were earlier this year in their warnings against the release of classified information when the committee was discussing covert activities. Yet, we know that, unfortunately, classified information and discussion about it during the committee markup appeared in the news media. That I reiterate was despite as emphatic a warning and expression of concern by the chairman as I could imagine. I can only conclude that that information was either intentionally, or, in all probability unintentionally or inadvertently leaked by members of the committee or staff. My judgment is that it was an inadvertent leak. Our membership perhaps does not understand how we are manipulated by the news media in seeking such information. We have to resist that manipulation. That is particularly true of members of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Therefore, I thank the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston] for his contributing to the debate, and the ranking member, Mr. Hyde, and the gentleman from New York [Mr. McHugh] for making important points which together really ought to suggest to Members that we must take some reform action. Part of that reform is legislative, and part of it is a greater concentration or effort to recognize how one can manipulate a member or a number of members to inadvertently disclose classified information.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his valuable contribution.
I yield the remaining 3 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton], and as he approaches the podium, I would like to say to my friend, the gentleman from New York that I have a classified book of leaks I would be delighted to share with the gentleman whenever he has time.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I approach this issue on Angola with a little bit of trepidation because I worked with the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz] in trying to craft an amendment which would protect UNITA and their rights toward getting free and fair elections in Angola. However, when the State Department opposed the amendment because they thought there were too many uncertainties regarding the amendment, I withdrew my support.
The reason I am concerned about it is on page 35 of the conference committee report. There still are some problems with the process. If Members who are interested in this would look on page 35, it says:
The conferees further agree that any lethal assistance to UNITA shall be suspended if the President certifies that the Government of Angola has expressed a willingness to accept a reasonable cease-fire and political settlement, and proposes a reasonable and specific timetable for internationally supervised free and fair multi-party elections in which UNITA would be free to participate, and that the Soviet Union has indicated that it has ceased providing lethal assistance.
Now, while there are some safeguards on that language, I believe that there is a lot of wiggle room for the Communist MPLA to wiggle out of any kind of an agreement that would lead to a cease-fire and free and fair elections.
Furtheremore, I think the President is going to be under severe pressure to certify that these requirements have been met, and the President may, through pressure from my colleagues on that side of the aisle and the media, may succumb to that pressure and say that the conditions have been met, and that the lethal assistance we have been giving to UNITA should be at least temporarily suspended.
Therefore, for that reason, I think that this conference committee report should be rejected. We have been supporting Dr. Savimbi and UNITA for many, many years. It has been the policy of this Government to support UNITA and Dr. Savimbi until free and fair elections have been achieved.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. HYDE. Does the gentleman remember when Mr. Gorbachev said that they were no longer sending weapons to Nicaragua, and yet we had evidence that for almost 2 years longer, weapons were continuing to be sent to Nicaragua? They would send them to Cuba, transship them down to Nicaragua?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. The gentleman is absolutely correct, and the same thing could happen in Angola.
Therefore, I would just like to say to my colleagues that we have made a commitment to Dr. Savimbi and UNITA that until there are free and fair elections in Angola, I think this legislation could circumvent that commitment
and lead to a further extension of that conflagration that is taking place over there. There are a lot of people dying because of famine. A lot of people are dying because of that war. We should be very clear and concise with any legislative action that we take regarding a suspension of support for Dr. Savimbi, until free and fair elections have not only been promised but guaranteed, with a definite timetable. This legislation does not do that.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to again say that it has been an enormous privilege for me to work with the members of the House Intelligence Committee. They are an excellent group, an excellent bunch, Members on both sides of the aisle, especially if I may say so, my friend and great colleague, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], who is a real gentleman and a great help to me and to the entire committee, and for that matter a person who has contributed greatly to many portions of this bill, even though there are some portions, as the gentleman has rightly pointed out, that he himself is not all that fond of.
Mr. Speaker, we do believe that this is a good conference report and I urge Members to support it.
Mr. SYNAR. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BEILENSON. I yield to the gentleman from Oklahoma.
(Mr. SYNAR asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SYNAR. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference agreement.
I would only say to my colleagues, and especially to my Democratic colleagues, as to the references on Angola there is probably no Democratic Member of this body who has fought more for support of UNITA and in support of measures to help resolve that terrible conflict in Angola.
I do believe that the conference report is better than the Solarz amendment which came out of this body. I believe there are many areas in this and many safeguards which are superior to the Solarz amendment. I voted against the Solarz amendment, but I believe that this conference report is a valuable step forward.
I believe that Senator Boren, who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was a major contributor in insuring that there is language that satisfies many of my concerns.
I will just point out that on page 36 that in each of these areas there is some very good language that says, `Intelligence has indicated, Intelligence has indicated.' That is a term of art we need to remember. That is a very important insertion in this language. Because of that, I believe that we are actually better than what we started out with coming out of the House.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the conference report.
The previous question was ordered.
The conference report was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
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