Congressional Record: October 5, 2005 (Senate)
Page S11060                   

                         AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, my staff received a telephone call this 
morning, less than an hour ago, indicating Ambassador Negroponte would 
not be coming today because the leader or his people indicated he 
shouldn't come.
  We have these very important elections taking place in Iraq on 
October 15. This is an opportunity for Members to visit with Ambassador 
Negroponte, who is, if not the expert on what is going on in Iraq, 
certainly one of the two or three top people in the world to tell 
Members what is going on there. This briefing is open to all Senators, 
Democrats and Republicans. There certainly is no reason we should not 
be able to do that. It is an important oversight responsibility we 
  I hope the distinguished Republican leader has not been part of 
telling Negroponte and his people not to come up here for that briefing 
at 3 to 4 o'clock. I had a meeting this morning at 9 o'clock. I invited 
all Senators to come who were with me. We are going to have good 
attendance at that meeting. This is not a meeting in any way to do with 
anything other than find out what is going on. We have a responsibility 
to find out what is going on. I would like to have the Ambassador come 
often. I don't know why we can't go ahead with this briefing.
  Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, with regard to a briefing which was 
initiated on a partisan basis by the other side of the aisle in spite 
of their knowledge that we do have an all-Senate briefing that is 
bipartisan in the tradition--we have had over 20 different briefings, 
including one very useful one last week, one the week prior to that. On 
a partisan basis, an all-Senate briefing was scheduled; a counteroffer 
was made. We already have a meeting scheduled with the Ambassador here 
in 2 to 3 weeks.
  I will continue to work with the Democratic leader coming back and 
forth. These all-Senator briefings we have, which are on a classified 
basis, have proven to be a very useful vehicle for all Senators to 
participate, to be able to ask questions of various representatives, 
and is a very good model.
  I will continue to work with the Democratic leader. As he knows, 
Ambassador Negroponte is coming in about 2\1/2\ or 3 weeks--I don't 
know exactly what that date is for that particular all-Senate briefing 
initiated on a bipartisan basis and not on a partisan basis, which this 
last meeting was.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I know the distinguished Republican leader 
has a statement to make, but just on this subject, on a more personal 
basis, the Republican leader and I had a number of meetings the last 
several weeks, certainly the last few days, and this issue has never 
been raised.
  I don't see how we can have too many briefings on what is going on in 
Iraq. Negroponte has simply not been here. I have the greatest respect 
for him, but in a briefing--in 2 or 3 weeks, the elections will have 
been over in Iraq. That is one of the reasons people are losing faith 
in what is going on in Iraq--because we do not have the information to 
convey to the people. The administration says just stay the course. We 
want information.
  Negroponte, if he is told by the Republican leader not to come, he is 
not going to come. It is too bad. It is a perfect day for this. The 
Jewish holiday is still on. Most Members would have the opportunity to 
come here. Senator Lieberman and a couple of others would not be able 
to, but we already have on my side about 20 Senators willing and 
wanting to come.
  I am disappointed this will now have to become a political issue. It 
shouldn't. I like Negroponte. He is good. He is good for the country. I 
told the President personally that this was a great choice he made to 
lead this new intelligence agency.
  There is no need to belabor the point other than to say I am terribly 
disappointed that my Senators--and anyone else on the other side of the 
aisle--want to come and listen to a presentation prior to the elections 
and now are going to be unable to have this briefing. That is too bad.
  Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I am a bit offended when the Democratic 
leader knows last week we had defense, we had Generals Myers, Abizaid, 
and Casey brief Members extensively in a bipartisan way in a tradition 
we have set up that is working very well. We have the Secretary of 
State, which he knows, coming on October 19 to have a very similar 
briefing, addressing issues in Iraq, in Afghanistan. And Negroponte is 
coming, as I said, the following week.

  So we will work together. I do want to make it clear their invitation 
was initiated in a partisan way, with a letter I was not a part of, not 
asked to be a part of, in the letter itself, the initial letter. I 
think we need to continue to work together to continue these briefings, 
which are very important, as we go forward.


Congressional Record: October 5, 2005 (Senate)
Page S11061						  

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, let me say this. Ambassador Negroponte came 
to the Senate the last time this past May. Did he talk anything about 
what was going on with intelligence in Iraq or what was going on in 
Iraq, period? No. He talked about international terrorism. It is not as 
if we have been bothering the Ambassador having him come here all the 
  But I am disappointed to have to report to the American people this 
is what is going on with this administration: You never get to what the 
issue is. Put it off. Do not talk about it. Stay the course.
  In Iraq we have some problems: almost 2,000 dead Americans; 15,000, 
16,000 wounded, many of them very badly.
  I in no way say this to disparage the managers of this bill, one of 
whom is a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Senator Dan 
Inouye; the other served valiantly in World War II as a pilot. But 
their job would be much easier if they had a Defense authorization bill 
prior to coming here to this floor with an appropriations bill. It 
makes their job, if not impossible, extremely difficult.
  Let me explain what I am talking about. You authorize funding in the 
Congress, and then it goes to the all-important Appropriations 
Committee, and they determine what of the authorization bill deserves 
money. That is basically what it amounts to. There has to be some limit 
to spending, and that is what the Appropriation Committee's job is; to 
determine whether the money should be spent.
  Well, here there is no authorization bill. There is legislation in 
the authorization bill that deals with retirement pay for the military, 
with pay raises for the military, with all kinds of programs for the 
veterans, the National Guard and Reserve. The Appropriations Committee 
does not have the benefit of that. They will be working, in effect, on 
last year's law.
  I do not know how we could ever--I am sure it has happened sometime 
in the far distant past. I am sure it has happened. I hope it does not 
happen in the future that they try to do this jury-rigged system, where 
you take an appropriations bill without having done an authorization 
  There are matters in that authorization bill dealing with prisoner 
abuse. A number of people want to offer amendments. They cannot offer 
an amendment on the appropriations bill dealing with prisoner abuse.
  I see my friend, the Senator from South Carolina, in the Chamber, the 
mover of the legislation to have a look at what has gone on in Abu 
Ghraib and other prison facilities the military has. I think the author 
of the bill, Senator McCain from Arizona, may have a little bit of 
expertise on prisoner of war abuse. I think he may have a little bit of 
authenticity when he comes before the Senate and says he wants to take 
a look at that.
  John McCain spent years of his life in a prison camp in Vietnam, not 
days, weeks, months but years--try 5\1/2\ years--most of it in solitary 
confinement. So he wants to offer an amendment. He cannot do it unless 
he gets unanimous consent that he can have a vote on it. He can offer 
it, but it falls similar to everything else. But I will bet he is going 
to get unanimous consent because we want him to be able to debate this 
issue. Who has more standing than the Senator from Arizona to raise 
this as an issue?
  Mr. President, we--I repeat--had a scheduled briefing at 3 o'clock 
today to find out what is going on in Iraq dealing with intelligence. 
We have never, ever had a briefing by Negroponte since he has assumed 
his duties as head of the so-called DNI on April 21 of this year. We 
have not been briefed by him on Iraq since he assumed his position. So 
I do not think we are being greedy taking an hour of his time.
  Ducking debates about our national defense has become too topical and 
typical in this country because we are unable to bring matters before 
this floor. No amendments, no votes, no debates--that is not the way to 
do a bill in the Senate.
  Why didn't we finish the Defense authorization bill the first time? 
Because we went to gun liability. So this process is unacceptable. We 
are a nation at war. We have troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We have an 
opportunity to have an open, honest debate about our national defense.
  Our troops and the American people deserve better, and that is not 
what we are having here. And the distinguished majority leader said he 
was offended because I asked for a briefing by the Intelligence 
Director of this country. Offended? I am sorry he is offended.