ALDRICH AMES SPY CASE -- HON. LARRY COMBEST (Extension of Remarks - May 16, 1995)

[Page: E1047]



in the House of Representatives

TUESDAY, MAY 16, 1995

On February 21, 1994, Aldrich Ames was arrested and charged with violating U.S. espionage laws and spying for the former Government of the Soviet Union and the Government of Russia. Since that date, the Committee has conducted an aggressive inquiry to determine what went wrong in the Ames case and how to fix it. In November 1994, we issued an exhaustive report that had specific recommendations for remedial action. The Intelligence Community and the FBI have taken significant steps to address problems we highlighted in our report. The remedial actions have had a positive effect on counterintelligence issues.

One issue, in particular, surfaced during our inquiry that necessitated additional follow-up: that is, whether the CIA violated Section 502 of the National Security Act of 1947 and whether that violation was intentional. Section 502 requires that the Congress be informed of `all intelligence activities . . . including . . . any significant intelligence failure.' At a full committee hearing on February 7, 1995, and in correspondence with this committee, Acting Director of Central Intelligence Admiral Studeman has stated that the CIA failed to meet this statutory obligation.

The CIA's admission of its violation of Section 502 led us to the next question, whether this failure was intentional. The Committee has interviewed a wide range of current and former CIA officials involved in the Ames case. We also reviewed the voluminous reporting that we have received on the Ames case. This examination produced no evidence that any former Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, or Deputy Director for Operations made a decision to withhold information about the loss of Soviet assets in 1985 and 1986 and the resulting investigation from this Committee.

At lower levels of the CIA, where the counterintelligence investigation was being conducted, it appears that no one ever thought to bring this matter to the Committee's attention. Five Members of this Committee asked precisely the right questions about espionage problems at CIA during the CIA's own investigation: former Chairman Anthony Beilenson; two ranking Members, Representatives Henry Hyde and Bud Shuster; and two Committee members, Representative Dick Cheney and Larry Combest. At a minimum, what is clear is that, at certain levels, CIA officials did not understand the requirements of the law. The CIA is taking steps to ensure that all employees are aware of Section 502. Moreover, it is important to note that it is not the responsibility of the Committee `to ask the right questions.' The onus lies with the Intelligence Community to be forthcoming vis-a-vis its oversight responsibilities.

The Committee is taking the following additional actions:

We have prepared a letter for the new DCI, John Deutch, drawing his attention to Section 502 and the transcript of the February 7, 1995 hearing. We are confident that the new DCI will be vigilant in ensuring that the mandates of Section 502 are followed. Notification is not merely a matter of law, but is also a matter of common sense. Senior CIA officials must bring matters to the attention of the Congress when there is any `significant intelligence failure.' This raises the corollary issue of ensuring that all officers of the CIA understand that they will be held accountable for the management of their operations, as Admiral Studeman has already informed personnel of the CIA. The new DCI has also pledged to make accountability a focus of his management policies.

The Committee has a continuing interest in the Ames case. A full briefing on the results of the Intelligence Community's damage assessment will be received later this year. Following that briefing, the Committee will determine if there is additional legislative or other remedial action that is required.

The Committee will also continue to monitor the counterintelligence reforms that have been put in place by the CIA, the Intelligence Community and the FBI to ensure that there is no backsliding on this matter.