Congressional Record: January 14, 2003 (Senate)
Page S281-S283


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise today with some degree of 
reluctance, I might say, to discuss the apparent disagreement and the 
difference of opinion within the Select Committee on Intelligence with 
regard to staffing. This is the kind of disagreement that is obviously 
taking place in many of the committees in the Senate. We have heard a 
lot about this. We probably heard too much about it, to the point this 
whole business is now at the leadership level and is holding up the 
appointment of committee chairmen, not to mention the business of the 
Senate. This is not only regrettable but, as this drags on, I think 
this really represents the kind of sandbox silliness--that is my term--
that prompts folks outside the beltway to wonder if this body is the 
Senate or a partisan romper room.
  Given the importance of our Select Committee on Intelligence and our 
obligations and our responsibilities during this time of vital national 
security threat--and I am talking about the war on terrorism, I am 
talking about Iraq, I am talking about North Korea, not to mention any 
number of other national security threats by state and nonstate 
terrorists--and given the committee's 26 years of history of 
bipartisanship--that means no majority, no minority, no Republican, no 
Democrat approach or viewpoint--we should not be having this dispute. 
The Select Committee on Intelligence is very different from any other 
committee in the Senate. In fact, it is a committee that serves the 
entire Senate; it is your committee, my colleagues, and the leadership, 
and given its importance at this particular time in our history this 
committee, above all others, should be spared this kind of public spat.
  Senator Rockefeller, our very distinguished vice-chairman-to-be, 
myself, the incoming chairman--I hope, I hope we can get past this--our 
leadership and the entire Senate should not be party or bystanders to 
what has been going on in the Senate for the last week or so. It is 
untoward. That is the nice way of saying it. In Dodge City, KS, we 
would say we should not be part of this hell-for-leather ride down a 
partisan trail of obstructionism like a herd of cattle milling about in 
confusion and delay in a box canyon. That is about what it looks like 
in my hometown.
  But here we are, and the leadership tells me the Intelligence 
Committee, the Senate's select committee, the committee that really 
belongs to us all, is at loggerheads. I don't know that because I have 
not been part of the negotiations. But the leadership tells me this is 
now a separate issue.
  In saying this, I don't question the intent of the distinguished 
Senator from West Virginia. I want to point out he is a good man. He is 
a good Senator. He is a personal friend. I look forward to working with 
Vice Chairman Rockefeller. We have already discussed mutual goals, 
possible long-term structural reform within the intelligence community, 
not to mention the regular business of the committee with regard to our 
oversight responsibilities--and they are pressing responsibilities. We 
should be meeting this week.
  The truth of it is we simply have a different--an apparent difference 
of opinion on how the Intelligence Committee should be organized. So 
here I am on the floor of the Senate, making one of those "I had not 
intended to make a speech" speeches.

  The larger issue is whether or not the duly elected majority will be 
able to run the Senate. We should not be laying down organizational 
demands, demands for more space--this space, that space; different 
rules on how this body will consider the confirmation of judges. The 
next thing you know, it is going to be majority and minority restrooms. 
That is about where we have come to.
  But I believe the issue involving the organization of the Select 
Committee on Intelligence is important because of what is at stake, and 
what is at stake is our national security. The difference, as I 
understand it--and as I say again, this has been at the leadership 
level for about a week now, and I think it can be summarized quite 
easily. We should preserve the committee's 26-year history of 
bipartisanship. We should preserve our Intelligence Committee staff as 
a single unified staff that works for the committee as a whole under 
the supervision of the chairman and the vice chairman. Let me repeat 
that, the chairman and the vice chairman.
  The minority--or I guess we should call them the temporary majority, 
I hope it is temporary--apparently wishes to divide the committee staff 
for the first time in history into a majority/minority or partisan 
camps. To the contrary, we should preserve the committee's 26-year 
history of nonpartisanship by keeping to a minimum

[[Page S282]]

those staff who are designated as partisan. The minority apparently 
wishes to increase the ranks of partisan staff.
  We should structure the committee staff in accordance with the 
committee's rules and custom and practice. We should not repeal the 
committee's rules and ignore our custom and practice of working 
together with one single staff.
  As I said before, the Select Committee on Intelligence has been a 
unique institution in the Senate and was envisioned from the start to 
operate under different rules than any other committee. The 
Intelligence Committee was created by S. Res. 400 over 25 years ago. 
The resolution actually grew out of the intelligence abuses of the 
1970s which were highlighted by the Church Committee.
  There were a number of proposals for the creation of the Intelligence 
Committee--numerous hearings, lengthy debate and multiple amendments. 
In the end, the Senate agreed to create a bipartisan committee with--I 
underscore this--a permanent professional nonpartisan staff to serve 
the committee as a whole.
  The intent was to limit sharply the number of designated partisan 
staff. In fact, our rules really contemplate only two positions to be 
wholly partisan. This is not well understood apparently by those who 
have a difference of opinion.
  The only positions that are wholly partisan are the minority staff 
director and the minority counsel. The rest of the staff works for the 
"committee as a whole."
  That is a quote from S. Res. 400--under the direct supervision and 
control of the staff director on behalf of the chairman and the vice 
chairman--both of us.
  The Senate report accompanying S. Res. 400 emphasizes the bipartisan 
nature of the committee. I am quoting here:

       The unique importance and nature of the matters [of] the 
     committee will make such bipartisanship essential. The 
     existence of trust and confidence between the executive 
     branch and the committee will enable the committee to 
     exercise more effective oversight. This trust and confidence 
     will only be achieved if the committee does act in a fully 
     bipartisan manner.

  That comes from the Senate Report 94-675.
  In order to ensure the committee would act in this fully bipartisan 
manner, committee rules provide for a single unified staff that works 
for the committee as a whole under the supervision of the chairman and 
the vice chairman. No other committee is advised by a nonpartisan and 
also integrated staff.
  Committee rules also provide the minority extraordinary powers 
through the vice chairman. Our rules emphasize and confirm the unique 
authorities of the minority and the bipartisan nature of the 
Intelligence Committee and its distinction from the other committees of 
the Senate. Let me give you some examples.
  Rule 2 of the committee's Rules of Procedure permits the vice 
chairman to preside over the committee.
  Rule 2 also permits meetings to occur without the presence of a 
majority member of the committee.
  Rule 6 actually permits the vice chairman to authorize a committee 
  Rule 7 actually permits the vice chairman to issue a subpoena.
  Rule 8 actually permits the vice chairman to authorize witness 
interrogation by committee staff.
  Rule 9 requires that both the chairman and the vice chairman agree to 
authorize disclosure of or access to committee information. That means 
both the majority and the minority are made aware of requests by any 
member of the Senate to review any committee document, and either can 
prevent it.
  Rule 10 requires all staff work for the committee as a whole. Thus 
the chairman or the vice chairman may direct any professional staff 
action through the staff director.
  Rule 10 requires all staff assist the minority in the writing of any 
minority or additional views.
  I know. I have had them help me when we were in the minority; more 
especially in a report on the USS Cole.
  Rule 11 requires staff members brief both majority and minority 
members, which means there are no secrets from the minority.
  These authorities and privileges enjoyed by the vice chairman 
illustrate clearly the unique nature of this committee and the 
importance of these authorities in maintaining its nonpartisan nature.
  Some have argued this structure has not worked in the past. And I 
would argue that it has worked--and it has worked well--when the 
chairman and the vice chairman want it to work. It requires 
cooperation, and one cannot foster a spirit of cooperation by proposing 
to fire all of our current professional staff, split the committee's 
staff in two, and rehire on a partisan basis. The unique bipartisan 
nature of this committee is its greatest strength and is essential to 
the ability of the committee to develop a consensus product and to 
avoid all of the politics of our Nation's intelligence activities. That 
would not serve our Nation well, and that could occur.
  The legislative record reflects that the Senators who really created 
the Intelligence Committee believed--this is so important--that the 
less partisan nature of the committee would serve to make the 
intelligence community more willing to keep the Congress fully and 
currently informed of highly sensitive intelligence activity. For a 
quarter of a century, this has permitted the committee to fulfill its 
primary responsibility: Oversight of the intelligence activities of the 
United States Government. My 6 years on the committee tell me that is 
absolutely true.
  I remember the years when Dick Shelby was chairman, Richard Bryan was 
vice chairman, and Bob Kerrey was vice chairman. We got along well. It 
isn't that we didn't have any differences of opinion, but we acted in a 
nonpartisan, bipartisan way in the interests of the United States.
  The incoming vice chairman has argued that under our rules the vice 
chairman has access to only two staff, and the chairman, which would be 
myself, would control the rest. That is not true. That is absolutely 
incorrect. Under our rules, the entire staff works for the chairman and 
the vice chairman jointly.
  I do not know how many times I have to say this. In fact, the vice 
chairman actually controls the committee's only truly partisan staff 
because everybody else works for the committee as a whole.
  That is the concept that is hard, I guess, for some people to 
understand. He has two minority staff. Those are the only partisan 
staff. The rest of the entire committee works for the committee as a 
whole, including myself and the vice chairman.
  It is about the eighth time I have had to repeat that. I hope it 
finally sinks in.
  My advice to my good and excellent friend from West Virginia is you 
should never take to "sawin' " on the branch that is "supportin' " 
you unless you are going to be hung from it.
  We are not hanging anybody. This is not Judge Bean. We have promised 
a bipartisan approach to all issues on the Intelligence Committee.
  You have my word that will be the case. As chairman, I have no staff 
which works exclusively for me. I cannot understand how one can argue 
the minority is unsupported when the entire staff, excluding the 
designated minority staff, works for the vice chairman as well, and his 
designated staff works exclusively for him.
  The proposal, as I understand it, is to split the staff into a 
majority-minority camp. That is contrary to the 26-year precedent for 
the operation of the committee, the bipartisan spirit of the 
committee's enabling legislation, S. Res. 400, the rules of the 
Intelligence Committee for the management of the staff, and the intent 
of the Senate.

  Other than that, it is a heck of a good idea.
  I believe the committee has worked well and effectively with the 
professional nonpartisan staff as originally intended and should 
continue to do so.
  I have faith. I am an optimist. I have faith that the incoming vice 
chairman, Senator Rockefeller, and I can continue a long tradition of 
cooperation personally and that has been taking place on the committee 
between the chairman and vice chairman in this unique and valuable 
institution. Once we get past this tiff, this spat, these differences 
of opinion--what shouldn't be but is now a big piece in this hole, or 
whatever we are into here--I would call it obstructionism, and I think 
any proposal to split the committee or increase the numbers of strictly 

[[Page S283]]

staff would represent a break with tradition. I think it would not be 
in the best interests of the committee, of the Senate, or of our 
national security.
  I want to say one other thing not related to Senator Rockefeller and 
our difference of opinion but something that is of great concern. It is 
becoming apparent in statements from some of my colleagues across the 
aisle over the past several days and weeks that there is a growing 
campaign of criticism aimed at the President, the war against 
terrorism, and what may be a necessary military confrontation with Iraq 
and Saddam Hussein, not to mention now the entire business with North 
Korea. It would appear to me as an individual Senator on the Armed 
Services Committee and on the Intelligence Committee that any criticism 
on foreign policy does not stop at the water's edge. It also appears 
now that is true of national security as well.
  In this regard, I don't question any Member's honest intent or 
difference of opinion relative to our national security, not to mention 
their patriotism. That is not what I am talking about. We need healthy 
debate. We have strong differences of opinion. That is our obligation 
as Senators.
  But when we hear statements that this Nation is no better prepared, 
intelligence-wise, than we were prior to 9/11, that is not right. 
Nothing hurts the truth so much as stretching it. And, boy, that is a 
stretch. That is not only not true but it borders on the politics of 
  Our job on the Intelligence Committee is to conduct serious, tough, 
proactive, and vigorous oversight, and to hold the intelligence 
community accountable, as well, I think, as being a champion for their 
mission and enabling the community to safeguard our Nation. That is why 
we should not allow the Intelligence Committee to split into partisan 
camps during these perilous times.
  Finally, in regard to this whole business of holding up the 
chairmanships and transfer of power and the Senate's business, we all 
ran through partisan gauntlets of sorts to gain the privilege of being 
here--some more than others. Yet the special fabric that binds this 
institution in purpose and in achievement is bipartisan.
  I am the first to admit that no political party has an exclusive 
patent on common sense or can lay claim to what is absolutely right. 
Personally, I try very hard to work with my good Democrat colleagues 
and friends. And, yes, they are my friends. Now, to be sure, we have 
our differences, but for the most part we work together, and we try on 
the other fellow's boots. Sometimes they pinch--sometimes they pinch 
really hard--but we get the foot to fit and we get something done.
  I try to be the best Member I know how to be. That is tempered by 
over 30 years of public service as a staffer and a House and Senate 
Member. I am a piece of old furniture around here.
  But to my friends now in the minority and acting as if you are in the 
majority, that is the rub. Part of what we are is what the other side 
allows us to be. And during these past 8 or 9 days, you have had us on 
short reins--in fact, no reins at all. And I know this: If this 
obstructionism keeps up--the space, the staffing, the ratios, the blue 
slips, the rules on judges, and Lord knows what is next--you will tear 
that special fabric that holds us together as the Senate of the United 
  If we do not end this business and get to the business of the Nation, 
and understand there is a majority and a minority and that the majority 
rules, we will open up a wound further that will not heal without 
significant price and scar, not to mention public ridicule for our 
  The sad thing is, I say to my colleagues, we did not have to go down 
this road.
  Mr. President, I always figure it is a good thing to be a little bit 
nicer than is called for. I do not think too many Members would call me 
too nice. But in trying to be a little bit nicer than is called for, 
you shouldn't take too much guff.
  My colleagues across the aisle, it is time to end the guff.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, before the Senator from Kansas leaves 
the floor, I just want to say to him that in all my years in the 
Senate, that is one of the finest speeches I have ever heard. And I 
think it came at a particularly good time, as we remind ourselves, once 
again, what this body is supposed to be like. No matter how bitterly we 
contest these elections, at the end of the day we are here to do the 
people's business. And to fail to even take the elementary steps to 
make it possible for us to get started in doing that is an enormous 
disservice to this institution and to the country.
  Beyond that, I think it is important to remember what the 
Intelligence Committee is all about. I think the Senator, by laying out 
the history of the committee, and the tradition of the committee, and 
the way it has protected sensitive information, and the way it has, in 
effect, insisted upon bipartisan cooperation, has done a great service 
for the Senate. That was a speech we needed to hear, given at precisely 
the right time.
  I thank my friend again.
  Mr. ROBERTS. I thank the Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Dole). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Alexander). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I judge the parliamentary situation is 
such that the Senator can speak as in morning business for not to 
exceed 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is no restriction at this point.
  Mr. WARNER. I thank the Chair.