Congressional Record: December 20, 2005 (Senate)
Page S14120-S14122

          Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006

  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I have asked to address the Senate on 
a national security matter of great concern to me. I call my 
colleagues' attention to the Senate's inexplicable failure to pass the 
fiscal year 2006 Intelligence authorization bill.

[[Page S14121]]

  The bill was approved and reported by the Intelligence Committee on 
September 29, and it has been available for Senate action since 
November 16. This legislation is too important to be allowed to 
languish in legislative limbo. That is where it is. I am at a loss to 
understand why the Senate cannot complete action before we adjourn on a 
matter of national security that is this important.
  As I understand the current parliamentary situation, the Intelligence 
authorization bill cannot be brought up or be passed under unanimous 
consent because of Republican objection, and the majority leader has 
decided that it does not merit the minimal amount of floor time needed 
to approve the bill, which would pass quickly.

  I am informed that one or more Republican Senators object to the 
inclusion of amendments offered by Democratic Senators even though 
Chairman Roberts has accepted those amendments--and those amendments 
were agreed to by the full committee. If there is opposition to these 
provisions, I urge the majority leader to allow us to bring up the 
bill, debate, and vote on the amendments. Our side is willing to agree 
to very short time agreements to each of the three amendments.
  The unwillingness to consider this bill is more puzzling because of 
the bipartisan effort that has gone into the development of this bill.
  The Republican objection is preventing us from considering this 
critical national security legislation. The Intelligence Committee is, 
after all, an exceedingly important committee which is burdened with 
heavy responsibilities and which needs to have an authorizing piece of 
legislation underneath it. I hope, whatever the objection is, the 
majority leader and Senator Roberts can find a way to overcome it 
before we finish our business for this session.
  The recent revelations related to surveillance and intelligence 
collection within the United States and the lack of effective 
congressional oversight of that program make passage of this 
legislation even more critical. One of the important themes of the bill 
is the improvement of oversight, both within the intelligence community 
and by Congress itself. That would include the Intelligence Committee, 
which needs to be having intelligence oversight hearings on a number of 
matters, which it is not now doing. This theme is embodied in several 
sections of the legislation--in the classified annex and specifically 
amendments offered specifically by Senators Kennedy and Kerry.
  In both the public text of our bill and the associated classified 
annex, the committee also has included language requiring the provision 
of information to the Intelligence Committees, specifically about 
something called detention and interrogation, which has a fair share of 
public attention. Additionally, the amendments offered by Senators 
Kennedy and Kerry, each of which has been agreed to, as I have 
indicated, by Chairman Roberts and the full committee, also will 
require additional information Congress needs in order to oversee 
detention and interrogation programs, something the Intelligence 
Committee should be doing.
  The Kerry amendment, my colleagues will recall, was added to the 
Defense authorization bill without objection, only to be dropped in 
  Finally, an amendment offered by Senator Kennedy and accepted by 
Chairman Roberts will require the Director of National Intelligence to 
provide the congressional Intelligence Committee all Presidential daily 
briefs, or portions of them, from the beginning of President Clinton's 
second term in January of 1997 until March 19, 2003, when our troops 
actually crossed into Iraq on that day, which refer to Iraq or 
otherwise address Iraq in any way, shape, or form. This information 
will fill an important gap in the Intelligence Committee's access to 
all intelligence available prior to the war in Iraq.
  If we do not act on this legislation, it will be an unprecedented 
  Since the Intelligence Committee was created, we have had an 
unblemished record of 27 years of completing work with this critical 
authorizing legislation. Never once have we failed. The annual 
Intelligence authorization bill has rightly been considered ``must 
pass'' legislation. That is exactly how we should view it.
  I call upon the President to weigh in and break this impasse. The 
President has been critical of bipartisan concerns voiced about the 
PATRIOT Act conference report but has been curiously silent about the 
Republican roadblocks preventing passage of this critical piece of 
national security legislation.
  If the Republican objection to the unanimous consent agreement cannot 
be overcome, I hope the majority leader will change his mind and allow 
the Senate to consider the bill under a short time agreement with votes 
on any issues in contention.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, many of us had hoped the Senate would 
take up the Intelligence authorization bill and allow us to offer an 
amendment to require the Director of National Intelligence to make the 
presidential daily briefs on Iraq available to the Intelligence 
Committees of the Senate and House, beginning with the last term of the 
Clinton administration and ending on the first day of the war in Iraq 
in 2003.
  Unfortunately, an unidentified Republican has a hold on the bill to 
prevent Senate action unless the amendment is withdrawn along with two 
other amendments on secret detention facilities.
  It is obvious that some of our Republican colleagues are bent on 
avoiding the truth about the war. To prevent debate on this all-
important issue, the Republican majority is apparently willing to let 
the whole intelligence bill fail. I don't agree with that tactic. It is 
a blatant coverup.
  President Bush has repeatedly claimed in recent weeks that Congress 
had access to the same intelligence he did in deciding to go to war in 
Iraq. As President Bush specifically stated in his Veterans Day address 
in Pennsylvania last month, ``. . . more than a hundred Democrats in 
the House and Senate--who had access to the same intelligence--voted to 
support removing Saddam Hussein from power.''
  He repeated the claim on November 14, November 17, and again in his 
December 14 address to the Nation on the war in Iraq. In fact, he had 
made the same statement 98 times between March and October 2004, when 
his decision to go to war was under serious challenge in the 
presidential election that year. It is hardly surprising, therefore, 
that the President is now dusting off the same talking points today, 
when his decision to go to war is again under serious challenge.
  Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Hadley have made 
similar claims.
  How they could all make such an obvious false claim is beyond belief. 
It is bad enough that they distorted the intelligence on the need for 
the war. Now they are blatantly distorting the facts about how much 
access Congress had to the intelligence.
  Someone on the White House staff obviously needs to correct the 
President's talking points before he parrots them in another speech.
  President Bush should have taken a close and comprehensive look at 
the intelligence, rather than building a case for war based on cherry-
picked intelligence It is not enough to recognize now that the 
intelligence was not accurate. Whatever flaws existed in the 
intelligence were far outweighed by the devious way the administration 
manipulated the intelligence to support its preconceived desire for war 
and ignored the serious doubts that we now know undermined the 
  The administration claims the intelligence wasn't deliberately 
distorted to justify the war. But how can they possibly pretend that 
Congress had access to that intelligence?
  The White House has access to thousands of intelligence documents 
that Congress never sees. According to a December 14 report by the 
Congressional Research Service, ``The President, and a small number of 
presidentially-designated Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice 
President--in contrast to Members of Congress--have access to a far 
greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive 
intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence 
sources and methods. They, unlike Members of Congress, also have the 
authority to more extensively task the intelligence community, and its 
extensive cadre of analysts for follow-up information.''

[[Page S14122]]

  But, the principal document that Congress doesn't see is the 
presidential daily brief, the so-called PDB, which is prepared 
specifically for the President. It contains very important classified 
intelligence, and equally important information about the credibility 
of the intelligence. It is therefore an extremely valuable document.
  President Bush receives the PDB every morning and is given an oral 
briefing on it by top intelligence officials. The practice began in the 
Johnson administration and is intended to give each President a 
detailed overall view of national security concerns, including 
terrorist threats against the United States.
  As the administration well knows, Members of Congress certainly do 
not receive this daily briefing document. In fact, when Congress has 
sought copies of PDBs, the requests have been denied.
  In the case of Iraq, as part of its investigation of the pre-war 
intelligence, the Senate Intelligence Committee specifically asked to 
review the PDBs relevant to the key issues of Iraq's weapons of mass 
destruction and Saddam Hussein's links to terrorists. The White House 
flatly denied the request.
  The committee is now working on the second phase of its 
investigation, which is whether the administration distorted the 
intelligence on Iraq in order to strengthen the case for war.
  So far, however, instead of providing the PDBs as part of an effort 
to find the truth, the White House continues to hide behind a veil of 
secrecy by refusing to disclose these briefs. It is difficult to 
believe that there is any sound national security reason for the 
administration to continue stonewalling Congress by denying access to 
these PDBs. The obvious explanation is coverup.
  Members of the Silberman-Robb Commission appointed by the President 
to examine pre-war intelligence were given access to articles within 
PDBs on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. Four of the 10 
members of the 9-11 Commission were given PDB articles they requested. 
If these commissioners were given access, Congress should have been 
given access as well for its own investigation of the all-important 
questions about why we went to war and the way we went to war.
  The administration's drumbeat for war in Iraq began at the end of the 
summer in 2002. It was carefully staged. As White House Chief of Staff 
Andrew Card said on September that year about the plan for war, ``From 
a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in 
  Hardly by coincidence, the timing of the war also coincided with the 
final phase of the congressional election campaigns that year.
  One further point deserves mention. Initially, in the run-up to the 
war in 2002, the Administration did not produce and give Congress a 
National Intelligence Estimate--a document summarizing the collective 
expert wisdom of the intelligence community--to support its claims 
about Iraq's involvement with al-Qaida and its development of nuclear, 
chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction. When Democrats on 
the Senate Intelligence Committee insisted that an estimate be 
produced, it was finally provided on October 1, 2002, 2 days before the 
congressional resolution authorizing the war was brought before the 
Senate for debate. The estimate itself buried important dissenting 
views in the footnotes.
  The Senate adopted the war resolution on October 11, the day after it 
passed the House of Representatives--and after 6 weeks of an aggressive 
White House campaign replete with images of mushroom clouds over 
America, in a brazen attempt to pressure Congress to give the President 
the blank check he wanted for the war, and to do so before adjourning 
for the November elections.
  As we now know all too well, Saddam had no weapons of mass 
destruction and no ties to al-Qaida; 150,000 American troops are bogged 
down in a quagmire in Iraq in a war that America never should have 
fought, that has seriously undermined our respect in the world, and 
that has made the real war on terrorism far harder to win.
  It is time for the administration to come clean and provide the PDBs 
to the Congress.
  This is not a meaningless debate about documents. The issue is the 
quality and quantity of intelligence the President was looking at when 
he made the decision to go to war.
  It's essential to get to the bottom of the rush to war--not only to 
get the truth, but also because there are other threats on the horizon 
as well--in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere. America must get it right 
next time, and access to the PDBs is an essential part of doing so.
  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
Senate go into a quorum and that the time be equally divided between 
both sides.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.


Congressional Record: December 20, 2005 (Senate)
Page S14165 


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the fiscal year 
2006 Intelligence authorization bill.
  As every American knows, we are a nation at war--at war in Iraq and 
at war against radical terrorists. These are wars Democrats and 
Republicans agree we cannot afford to lose. These wars have demanded a 
great deal from our troops and our taxpayers and will require much more 
sacrifice before they are over.
  Given the stakes involved and the sacrifices required of so many, you 
would think that funding our troops and our intelligence community 
would be this Republican controlled Congress's top priority. You would 
think that our friends on the other side of the aisle would take up 
this must do legislation at the start of the Congress not at the end.
  Unfortunately, while the Republican leadership is fond of stating the 
importance of prevailing in these wars and taking care of our troops, 
they have not matched those words with action. In fact, the hypocrisy 
demonstrated by the Republicans in this Congress on national security 
matters is astounding. How else to explain that with less than a week 
to go before Christmas, in the waning hours of this session of 
Congress, our Republican friends have yet to complete action on three 
major pieces of national security legislation--the fiscal year 2006 
Defense authorization bill, the fiscal year 2006 Defense appropriations 
bill, and the fiscal year 2006 Intelligence authorization bill.
  In recent times, Republicans have been extremely fond of painting 
themselves as patriots and extremely quick to brand those who challenge 
their policies as traitors. Given the callous way Republicans have 
treated our national security and our troops, I feel I must speak out 
on the Republicans' hypocrisy.
  Although this point could be made with respect to each of the 
unfinished national security bills bottled up in this Congress, right 
now, I want to focus my remarks on the Intelligence authorization 
bill--a bill Republicans have not even seen fit to bring to the Senate 
floor despite the fact that the bill was reported out unanimously by 
the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  This bill should have been taken up months ago. And Democrats would 
have been more than willing to quickly debate and pass this legislation 
once it reached the Senate floor so it could go to a conference with 
the House. Democrats know that it is essential that we permit the men 
and women of the intelligence agencies to continue their critical work 
on the front lines of the war in Iraq and the war on terror.
  Unfortunately, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle 
apparently don't share that view. Republicans have taken months to move 
this bill through the legislative process. Once the committee acted and 
the bill was ready for the floor, an anonymous Republican placed a hold 
on the bill and prevented the Senate from working its will. As a 
result, the bill can't go forward. Vital intelligence operations are on 
hold while the bill languishes. And the men and women who selflessly 
serve are left wondering whether the Congress understands how vital 
their work is to this Nation's security.
  I hope the Republican-led Congress will eventually get its act 
together and get this bill passed before we adjourn for the year.
  In the meantime, to the men and women of the intelligence agencies, I 
say: Senate Democrats stand with you. We are proud of your bravery and 
your patriotism, and we thank you for your sacrifice working in silence 
and in the shadows against the threats America faces.