1996 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

Opening Statement of Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA)

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing on Intelligence
Analysis on the Long-Range Missile Threat to the United States
December 4, 1996

The hearing will come to order.

Roughly a year ago, the U.S. Intelligence Community published National Intelligence Estimate 95-19, entitled Emerging Missile Threats to North America During the Next 15 Years. The key judgments in that Estimate soon became public knowledge and were cited by Administration officials and others as justification for a policy of deferring the building of a nation-wide ballistic missile defense system to protect the people of the United States from long-range missiles. Those key judgments, and the underlying Estimate, were challenged by persons, including Executive branch officials, who believed that the Estimate understated a threat that was real, was increasing rather than going away, and had been cited by the U.S. Intelligence Community in previous Estimates and public statements.

In light of this controversy, which included concern that the Estimate might have been "politicized" in its content and/or its use by Executive branch officials, the staff of the Select Committee on Intelligence undertook an inquiry into the Estimate. That staff inquiry was completed some time ago, but the Committee has not had a public hearing focusing on the Estimate.

Today's hearing brings together officials who were involved in preparing the Estimate and those who have examined and/or publicly criticized it. Our hearing affords both sides in this controversy the opportunity to make their points regarding the judgments reached in the Estimate, how and why it may have differed from previous intelligence judgments, and how it was presented and used.

Our first witness will be John McLaughlin, Deputy Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which publishes National Intelligence Estimates. The Committee had invited John Deutch, the Director of Central Intelligence, to be our lead-off witness, but he has sent Mr. McLaughlin in his stead. We welcome Mr. McLaughlin as an official with direct knowledge of the Estimate in question, but we will also expect him to speak on behalf of Director Deutch today.

Our second witness will be Robert Gates, who was DCI from 1991 to 1993. Dr. Gates heads a panel of independent experts that was appointed by Director Deutch to review the Estimate, pursuant to section 1311 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997. We understand that Dr. Gates has to leave no later than 11:30, so we will ask our questions of him early in the hearing.

Our third witness, who will get here as soon as his plane lands, will be Jim Woolsey, who was DCI from 1993 to 1995 and who has been sharply critical of this Estimate in his public statements. Mr. Woolsey changed his travel plans to be with us today, and we appreciate that.

Our fourth witness, Richard Davis, is Director of National Security Affairs at the General Accounting Office. The GAO published a report in August that was rather critical of the Estimate, and Mr. Davis will present the results of the GAO review of the Estimate.

Our final witness will be David Oslas, National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs and Nuclear Proliferation. Dr. Oslas coordinated production of the Estimate, and we are pleased that Director Deutch has made him available to discuss the preparation of the Estimate and answer criticisms of it.