Opening Statement
Chairman Christopher Shays
Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs
and International Relations
Committee on Government Reform

July 18, 2001

Thank you, Chairman Horn. Like you, the members of the National Security Subcommittee would much rather conduct a hearing about constructive oversight findings than about obstruction to our oversight process. But when faced with persistent institutionalized agency resistance to legitimate inquiries, we're compelled to reassert our authority under the rules of the House to review the operations of government activities at all levels.

In 1994, the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, adopted a self-described hard-line approach to congressional oversight inquiries, particularly General Accounting Office, GAO, reviews not initiated by the Select Intelligence Committee. The policy attempted to draw a bright line between sharing intelligence products with congressional committees and submitting to any oversight which the agency believes will compromise the sources and methods of intelligence gathering.

Based on that dated, distorted concept of oversight, CIA refuses to discuss its approaches to government-wide management reforms and fiscal accountability practices. Other intelligence agencies share information freely. Blinded by its own bright line, the CIA often stands alone in refusing routine congressional requests for data, even going so far as attempting to persuade other agencies to resist as well.

The CIA's position that congressional oversight jurisdiction is limited to the Select Intelligence Committee is not supported by the law, is not supported by House rules, is not supported by sound public policy. National security will be enhanced, not undermined, by the full exercise of congressional oversight authority.

We have no interest in examining the sources and methods of intelligence gathering and analysis, but we do have a keen interest in how effectively and efficiently the CIA and other intelligence agencies manage human capital, manage fiscal resources, and meet statutory programs and objectives. The bottom line: The source of all CIA funding is the American taxpayer, and the methods of management, efficiency and accountability must be within the purview of this and other committees of Congress.

Symptomatic of the CIA's misguided perception of its responsibility to Congress, the agency would not even cooperate this morning by providing a witness to discuss why they won't cooperate. I find that outrageous. But we do welcome a panel of most distinguished witnesses to discuss the indispensability of broad-based and far-reaching oversight of the Intelligence Committee. Every one of our witnesses is very qualified to speak on the subject. And I, as the chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, am grateful to each and every one of you for being here and regret deeply the lack of cooperation by the CIA in even responding to basic questions about cooperation.