[Congressional Record: September 23, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S9267-S9268]                         

                         INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT

  Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, on September 11, the senior Senator from 
Missouri, Mr. Bond, came to the floor to introduce a resolution which 
suggests that the Appropriations Committee should establish an 
Intelligence Subcommittee. While I don't agree that this would be 
beneficial to either the Senate or the Nation, the Senator, of course, 
has a right to his opinion.
  I would inform my colleagues that the leaders of the Appropriations 
Committees, Senators Byrd and Cochran, who are responsible for the 
division of labor on the committee addressed this matter in a letter 
they sent to Senators Reid and McConnell earlier this year.
  Rather than debating this matter I would just point out that the 
chairman and ranking member make a very compelling case in opposition 
to this proposal articulating the significant damage to intelligence 
oversight that could result from the proposal offered by Senator Bond. 
I would like to highlight one observation from their letter. They point 
out that the proposal that the Senator makes would have the effect of 
further limiting the number of members who have access to the details 
of intelligence programs. It would put all decisionmaking into fewer 
hands. They suggest that for intelligence programs in which the general 
public, the watchdog groups, and the press must be denied access to the 
information, the absolutely worst thing the Congress could do would be 
to further constrain oversight and eliminate the benefits that come 
from having more individuals share responsibility in the decisionmaking 
process. I share their view that the proposal made by the Senator from 
Missouri would not improve congressional oversight of intelligence.
  My colleague from Missouri spoke eloquently and passionately about 
the tragedy of 9/11 and the impact it had on him and this institution. 
On a personal note, I would like to thank him for the kind words he 
expressed about me and my role as chairman of the Defense Subcommittee. 
Senator Bond and I have served together on the Appropriations Committee 
since he joined us in 1991. He has served the committee in a number of 
key areas including on our Defense Subcommittee, but most notably as 
chairman of the former VA-HUD Subcommittee and currently as the ranking 
member of the Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. On the Appropriations 
Committee we have come to count on him for his expertise and sound 
judgment in these areas. As such, I must say I was surprised by some of 
the characterizations he made regarding action on classified programs.
  Senator Bond noted that billions of dollars has been spent on 
technology programs which, as he described, ``never get off the 
ground.'' I concur with this description and share his concern. He 
rightly blamed executive branch officials for many failures. But in so 
doing he failed to note that the Congress, including the Intelligence 
Committee, reviewed these programs for several years and authorized 
funding for them.
  He discussed a program that he referred to as a ``silver bullet.'' If 
I am right in assuming which program that is, I would point out that 
the Intelligence Committees, Appropriations Committees, and the 
intelligence community all originally supported the program. While the 
Senate Intelligence Committee soured on the program a few years ago, it 
remained supported by the House oversight committees, the Senate 
Appropriations Committee, the Director of National Intelligence, the 
Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, 
and the Chairman of the Strategic Command. But, yes, it was expensive. 
When a new DNI, new Secretary, and

[[Page S9268]]

new Under Secretary assumed their posts, they determined that it simply 
wasn't affordable.
  The Senator from Missouri postulates that it didn't work. Since it 
was not completed, we will never really know, but no one involved in 
the program in DoD and the intelligence community ever contended it 
wouldn't work. It was cancelled because the executive branch determined 
it wasn't worth the continued investment. By cancelling the program as 
urged by the Intelligence Committee, the Government did, to use the 
Senator's word, ``waste'' billions of dollars. But this is not the only 
example of problems in this community.
  One notable program that was finally killed by the administration in 
the past few years on which significantly more funding had been spent 
was strongly supported by the Intelligence Committee from the program's 
inception. The committee had even suggested that this program could 
partially serve as an alternative to the program referred to above. It 
had been behind schedule and overbudget for years, but it continued to 
be supported by the executive branch and the Congress with the hope 
that it could be saved. Eventually, the administration realized that 
technically it could not be made to work, and it was cancelled.
  For the Senator to claim that it is the appropriations process which 
is so disconnected from the workings of the Intelligence Committee that 
billions of dollars come to naught puts the blame squarely on our 
committee for the failures which have occurred. This is not only 
unfair, but it is completely inaccurate.
  Mr. President, while the Senator and I may disagree on the relative 
merits of programs, and while I am not particularly proud of the 
Government's record in recent years, the responsibility for wasting of 
billions of dollars is shared by all of us, the executive branch, the 
Appropriations Committees, and the Intelligence Committees.
  The Senator attempted to link these past failures to a particular 
program which he advocates which was not funded by the Appropriations 
Committee this year. I would point out that the administration did not 
request funding for the program and that the Director of National 
Intelligence opposes funding the program. The funding sought by Senator 
Bond was not authorized by the House oversight committee. It was not 
recommended by the Intelligence oversight panel of the House 
Appropriations Committee.
  Moreover, I would disagree with his characterization of the action by 
the Defense Subcommittee on this subject. We recognize that several 
members of the Intelligence Committee feel this would be a worthwhile 
program. Senators Stevens, Cochran, and I considered the actions by the 
Intelligence Committee on this and many other programs very carefully. 
To address the concerns of the Intelligence Committee, we reallocated a 
substantial sum of money from other programs and provided an amount 
with which the intelligence community could fully fund the program that 
Senator Bond advocates. However, we didn't mandate that outcome. There 
is disagreement within the community about the proper approach which 
should be taken. In recognition that a new administration will be 
taking office, we requested that the program supported by Senator Bond 
be analyzed along with those of other contractors and the best option 
or options be selected next year.
  We felt we met the Senator halfway. We recommended sufficient funding 
which could be used for this program even though it was funded by 
neither the other intelligence oversight committees nor the 
intelligence community.
  We are familiar with the program in question. We believe it may have 
merit. We have confidence in individuals associated with the program, 
but we also are aware of those with great technical expertise who argue 
that the program will not work for technical reasons which I cannot 
discuss in unclassified session. We believed locking the intelligence 
community into another multibillion-dollar sole source contract when 
there are legitimate questions about its potential is probably a 
mistake. To imply that this program has broad-based support and that it 
is the Appropriations Committee which is out of step is categorically 
  It is somewhat ironic that the Senator from Missouri is urging 
support for responding to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission 
while at the same time he is telling the Senate to ignore the judgment 
of the Director of National Intelligence who was established and 
empowered to make such decisions as the principal recommendation of the 
9/11 Commission.
  Finally, I would note that the Senator claimed that the root problem 
is that the Appropriations Committee simply does not have enough staff 
to pay adequate attention to intelligence.
  The Defense Subcommittee has a small staff and the Intelligence 
Committee staff is fairly large. But I would point out that the 
Intelligence Committee has one professional staff member on the 
majority staff who reviews the budget for the National Reconnaissance 
Office; so do we. The Intelligence Committee has one professional staff 
member on the majority staff who reviews the budget for the National 
Security Agency; so do we. Moreover, the staff which the Defense 
Subcommittee devotes to overseeing the intelligence budget has far 
greater experience in reviewing budgets than does the staff of the 
Intelligence Committee for such programs. I would also point out that 
several other subcommittees on the Appropriations Committee have 
jurisdiction over portions of the intelligence budget. To single out 
the Defense Subcommittee misses one of the key points of the 
appropriations process: that many individuals have oversight over these 
  I don't want to stir up passions on this issue any more than I may 
already have. I have the greatest respect for the workings of the 
Intelligence Committee. Many of my younger colleagues may not be aware 
that I served as the first chairman of the Intelligence Committee. I am 
proud of my service on that committee. I believe the work that Senators 
Rockefeller and Bond do is extremely important to the Senate. I believe 
they have a very competent staff. Since I resumed the chairmanship of 
the Defense Subcommittee last year, I have directed my staff to work 
closely with the staff of the Intelligence Committee to ensure that we 
have the benefit of their expertise and to minimize any disagreements 
between our two panels, and they have done so. Our staffs attend many 
briefings together. Members of our staffs have traveled together to 
review programs. I believe we have established a good relationship that 
strengthens Senate oversight.
  For example, there are literally thousands of line items in the 
intelligence budget. Our staffs spend countless hours discussing items 
which one committee or the other believes should be adjusted. We 
carefully review the classified annex of the Intelligence Committee and 
provide recommendations to the Appropriations Committee which are very 
close to those of the Intelligence Committee. This year we had two 
issues out of hundreds of items under review on which we disagreed. On 
one we were able to reach an agreement easily. The other has been 
described in vague terms above.
  Last year, Chairmen Byrd and Rockefeller, Ranking Members Cochran and 
Stevens, and I signed a significant memorandum of agreement between our 
two committees pledging greater cooperation. Senator Bond chose not to 
be party to that agreement. Since that time the signers and their 
staffs have tried to live up to the letter and the spirit of that pact. 
I believe we have been generally successful and the Senate is better 
served that two separate panels are continuing to review the 
intelligence budget but working together and generally resolving our 
differences amicably.
  It is rare for me to openly disagree with another Member. I want to 
assure all my colleagues that I do not mean anything personally by my 
statements today. However, the assertions and implications that were 
levied against the Appropriations Committee earlier this month were 
simply untrue. At times all of us can become passionate on matters 
which we care about. Perhaps that explains why such inaccuracies were 
offered as facts. Regardless of the reason, I felt it was my duty to 
come to the floor today and correct the record.