Committee on Government Reform
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome the opportunity to testify today -- not as a Republican looking for a target of opportunity to attack the Administration, but as a Member of Congress concerned about the politicization of national security matters and retribution against government employees who stood up against it. In fact, it was my efforts to bring bipartisanship to the national missile defense debate that brought me here today.
In 1995, the congressional leadership committed to passing legislation that would mandate the timely deployment of a national missile defense system. Unfortunately, that debate began on a highly partisan note -- bolstered by the President=s repeated public insistence that the United States was no longer targeted by Russian missiles. Concerned about the Administration=s attempts to downplay missile threats and the lack of alternative information on threats and systems to defend against them, I established the bipartisan Congressional Missile Defense Caucus with John Spratt, Peter Geren, and Duncan Hunter to educate members and the American public about the issues.
Through hearings and briefings, the regular distribution of materials, and in speeches across the country, I worked aggressively to increase awareness of threats and to counter misrepresentations that were being made. Soon, people were coming to update me on threat developments, asking that I follow through so that critical matters were not overlooked. Sadly, I also became a conduit for agency employees whose findings were being squelched by the Administration. That is how I first learned about the Administration=s aggressive campaign of distortion -- when a former DOE employee came to my office in 1995 to discuss the deterioration of Russian nuclear security.
In 1991, Jay Stewart, Director of DOE=s Office of Foreign Intelligence, commissioned a panel of DOE specialists to assess the control, safety, and security of Soviet nuclear weapons. Later that year, results indicating a loss of control were briefed to Secretary of Energy James Watkins, and the CIA. Stewart made continued monitoring of this urgent situation -- known as the ARussian Fission@ program -- the office priority. In December 1992, he led a classified conference on this subject matter at the National Defense University [NDU], which was widely attended by the military, intelligence and policy communities.
Hazel O=Leary was briefed on this situation in February 1993, and asked that Secretary-General of NATO Manfred Woerner be briefed immediately. Suddenly, after marshalling the highest levels of support from the U.S. government and NATO, the program was terminated by the newly appointed Director of DOE=s Office of Intelligence and Arms Control, Jack Keliher. All papers, briefings, agendas, conference video and audio tapes were seized, locked up -- and ultimately destroyed. Keliher said that the Secretary told him the program was Apolitically sensitive@ and could Aembarrass the President.@ He said that Aif any materials from the NDU conference ever leaked to the press, somebody would be fired.@ He then said Stewart=s work was Aill informed,@ contained Ainaccurate assumptions and conclusions@ and should not be referred to because it Agave the wrong impression of the situation in Russia.@
Refusing to buckle under to political pressure and tow the party line, Stewart and his deputy were both removed from all DOE intelligence and management duties. Facing a future in dead-end positions, both quietly left DOE. Jay was an outstanding career employee of the Department of Energy, who worked his way up the ranks to serve as the First Director of Counterintelligence, and as Director of Foreign Intelligence. Among the many professional awards he received were the National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation, the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award, and ultimately, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.
Concerned that the Administration would try to bury this information, and astounded by the lengths to which it went to dispose of the findings, I initiated an Armed Services Committee investigation of this matter. Most Department employees Acircled the wagons,@ preventing us from obtaining physical evidence of politicization. However, Jay=s story was ultimately corroborated by three brave DOE employees, and was later backed up in the book One Point Safe. I subsequently held several hearings in the Armed Services Committee on this matter which confirmed the validity of the Russian Fission effort -- including the testimony of Brookings Scholar Bruce Blair, Russian Academician Alexi Yablokov, General Alexander Lebed and former KGB agent Stanislav Lunev. The Stewart case was my first foray into Clinton Administration politicization of national security matters, and a stunning lesson in just how far this White House would go to bolster its own policy agenda. I still find it absolutely galling that someone of Jay Stewart=s caliber, just doing his job, could be so effectively trashed by political appointees and run out of town.
National Intelligence Estimate 95-19:
Later in 1995, the Administration released , NIE 95-19 AEmerging Missile Threats to North America During the Next Fifteen Years.@ This assessment flatly ruled out a rogue missile threat to the U.S. for the next fifteen years. On December 1, as the Senate was debating the Defense Authorization bill which directed the deployment of a National Missile Defense, the Administration in an unprecedented move released a letter citing these conclusions. Two weeks later, President Clinton vetoed the Defense Authorization bill, stating that the Administration did not see a missile threat to the United States in the coming decade.
Previous intelligence estimates showed that threat could emerge much sooner, and many Members questioned assumptions in the classified assessment -- such as the exclusion of the missile threat to Alaska and Hawaii. I knew from my own monitoring of Russian security developments that the estimates ignored the disintegration of the Russian military and the breakdown of command and control. Given these doubts, my Committee tasked the GAO to evaluate the soundnes of NIE 965-19. GAO determined that its conclusions were overstated, and noted numerous analytical shortcomings in the report. Former Director of the CIA Robert Gates, who headed an independent review of NIE 95-19 said it was Apolitically naive@ Arushed@ and that the exclusion of Alaska and Hawaii from the threat analysis was Afoolish from every perspective.@
After pursuing the Russian Fission matter and the much more publicized NIE, Mr. Chairman, the floodgates literally opened. I was routinely hearing of developments -- that Congress should have every right to know about -- that the Administration was not likely to share. In too many cases, professionals who had the gall to press the point on matters that defied the Administration=s Aline@ were being penalized. Each of these cases is every bit as compelling as those above. In the interest of time, I will try to summarize a few of them for the Committee=s consideration.
Spooking the CIA: 2 Cases of Foul Play
#1 - Just as the Russian Fission investigation was wrapping up, I learned that one of my staffer=s relatives -- an employee of the CIA -- was suffering undue harrassment after presenting analysis that conflicted with the Administration=s policy governing U.S. involvement in UN peacekeeping efforts. Assigned to the panel drafting Presidential Decision Directive 25 dealing with use of forces in peacekeeping efforts, this analyst revealed to his superiors an intelligence leak in Somalia that compromised U.S. security.
After objecting to intelligence sharing in international peacekeeping efforts and opposing U.S. troops involvement in civil wars, he was pulled off the PDD panel and reassigned to a lesser job. Managers complained about his writing and analysis, and he suffered continued harrassment. After he requested binding arbitration, he was asked to submit to a drug test, a medical exam for brain tumors, and a psychiatric evaluation. Ultimately, it took a seasoned attorney to bring an abrupt end to the harrassment, and to ensure his exoneration.
#2 - When Gordon Oehler, Director of CI ont face= "WP TypographicSymbols">=s Nonproliferation Center, provided Congress with detailed information on the scope of the Iranian missile threat, he effectively ended his twenty-five year career. Members were pressing for details on Iranian threat developments, concerned about their implications for our troops and Middle East allies. At the time, the Administration was maintaining that an Iranian medium-range missile capability was a decade away. To his detriment, Oehler provided Members with candid details about technology transfers from Russia and China to Iran that vastly accelerated the Iranian missile threat. His revelations not only undermined the credibility of the Administration=s threat assessment, but challenged its policy with respect to Russia and China. In my view, Oehler=s greatest sin was not in arriving at these assessments, but in sharing them with a critical Congress.
As the Committee was conducting numerous threat assessment hearings in 1996, I was approached by some DOE lab employees who suggested that I should get a briefing on some startling Russian strategic developments that had recently come to light. Given the sensitive nature of this brief, I would have to request it first. When the Department became aware of my interest, it prevented the expert on this subject from coming to brief me. Soon, I received a 3 sentence, unsigned note urging me to pursue that briefing. Only after challenging the Department repeatedly was I able to get that briefing -- accompanied by agency message masters.
On April 4, 1997, Lt. Jack Daly, a Navy intelligence officer serving on a joint U.S.-Canadian surveillance mission near Seattle, was shot in the eye with a laser beam while monitoring a Russian ship thought to be tracking our submarine fleet. The incident prompted a search of the ship days later, but our State Department provided twenty-four hour warning of the investigation which may have enabled the removal of the laser equipment. Only public areas were allowed to be searched.
Because this incident was perceived to be a potential stumbling block in our relations with Russia, it was kept secret for weeks and efforts were made within the Defense and State Departments to cover it up. The State Department never issued a formal demarche. The Canadian pilot, also injured by the laser, was never interviewed. This was not some low-level affair - it was discussed in the White House and involved National Security Assistant Bob Bell and Undersecretary Strobe Talbott. Daly=s superior told him AYou don=t know the pressure I am under to sweep this under the rug.@ Fortunately, the story was broken by Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, who exposed more details about it is his recent book Betrayal. While no acknowledgement has been made to this day that the Russians attacked a U.S. military officer, the fleet monitoring ships was ordered to wear eye protection against lasers. When he wrote me pressing for further investigation of this matter, Daly suffered professionally for pursuing this matter. Prior to the incident, he had received his highest rating for promotion ever. After the incident, that rating was reversed, and it became the worst evaluation of his career. He is now approaching his second review for promotion - and his career hangs in the balance. Mr. Chairman, I ask that you bring Lt. Daly and the Canadian pilot in for testimony following today=s session, and that all Members join me in expressing our support for a fair review of Lt. Daly=s promotion.
At a time when Congress was still questioning the validity of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, I obtained a copy of a DOE Agag order@ on one of the labs preventing circulation of documents without approval, and requiring notification prior to any congressional interactions. I took Secertary Federico Pena to task for this action, and called on him to protect the sharing of CTBT information with Congress.
Mr. Chairman, I could continue on with these horror stories, and I know that each of the witnesses can speak for many others. But I want to point out that I have been equally supportive of many agency people doing great jobs in a manner satisfactory to the Administration -- and I have not hesitated to applaud those individuals. I have on several occasions written to agency heads to applaud the work of professionals who help us do our job.
But today we must hear those whose voices have been shut out of the policy-making process. I know that none of our witnesses set out to embarrass the Administration -- they would have much preferred to quietly do their jobs with the professional support and courtesy they deserve. I also wish that this Administration had the courage of its convictions to justify its policies without resorting to the destruction of all conflicting information and those who deliver it. As long as our government snuffs out selective data, we will always question the soundness of its policies. That is no way for a democracy to survive.
The spinmeisters are going to try and convince the public that this is partisan political theater, because they want to deflect from the message we are hearing. Every one of us has a responsibility to hear what these professionals have to say, and more important, to support them when they are being unjustly attacked. This is not the first time Congress has heard the testimony of whistleblowers, nor will it be the last. As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, for example, Congressman Dingell frequently pursued similar cases and provided whistleblowers a forum to make Congress aware of troubling agency developments. I commend those efforts. Likewise, I think we should lend strong, bipartisan support to such hearings in this Congress -- because the message we are hearing is not partisan, it=s just the facts.
I urge Members to listen to these stories, and to come together on a bipartisan basis to establish additional protections for those who suffer due to policy disagreements. I am now considering some options to protect those dealing with classified matters and seek the support and advice of each Committee member. Thank you.
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