[Congressional Record: July 28, 2009 (Senate)]
[Page S8202-S8203]


      By Mr. FEINGOLD:
  S. 1528. A bill to establish a Foreign Intelligence and Information 
Commission and for other purposes; to the Select Committee on 
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, the legislation I am introducing today 
would establish an independent, bipartisan Foreign Intelligence and 
Information Commission to significantly reform and improve our 
intelligence capabilities. On July 16, the bill was approved, on a 
bipartisan basis, by the Senate Intelligence Committee as an amendment 
to the Fiscal Year 2010 Intelligence Authorization bill. The bill is 
similar to the one I introduced in the last Congress with Senator 
Hagel, which also had bipartisan support in the Intelligence Committee, 
and it is my hope and expectation that it will soon become law. The New 
York Times has also expressed its support for the commission.
  The work of this commission is critical to our national security. For 
years, our intelligence officials have acknowledged that we lack 
adequate coverage around the world and that we have gaps in our ability 
to anticipate threats and crises before they emerge. The 2006 Annual 
Report of the Intelligence Community described how current crises 
divert resources from emerging and strategic issues. In 2007, the 
Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection testified that 
we need to ``pay attention to places that we are not.'' In 2008, the 
DNI testified that current crisis support ``takes a disproportionate 
share'' of intelligence resources over emerging and strategic issues. 
Earlier this year, during his confirmation process, the current CIA 
Director expressed his concern about the broad set of issues to which 
insufficient resources are being devoted. The problem, in other words, 
is not new, nor is it unique to any administration. It is systematic 
and it results from structural problems in how we develop priorities 
and allocate resources.
  These structural problems afflict the Intelligence Community, but 
they are also much broader. Around the world, information our 
government needs to inform our foreign policy and protect our country 
is obtained openly by State Department officials. Yet there is no 
interagency strategy that integrates the capabilities of our diplomats 
and other embassy personnel with the activities of our clandestine 
collectors. The result is big gaps in what we know about the world--
gaps that don't necessarily require more spying.
  This information pertains to instability and civil conflict, threats 
to democratic institutions, human rights abuses and corruption, and 
whether we can count on the support of a country for our policies. This 
information is also directly related to the threat from al Qaeda, its 
affiliates and other terrorist organizations. The 9/11 Commission 
recommended that our government identify and prioritize actual or 
potential terrorist sanctuaries. Yet, as the Director of the National 
Counterterrorism Center testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee, 
``much of the information about the instability that can lead to safe 
havens or ideological radicalization comes not from covert collection 
but from open collection, best done by Foreign Service Officers.'' The 
solution, then, is to ensure that, if State Department or other U.S. 
officials are best suited to gather this kind of critical information, 
they have the capabilities and resources to do so.
  At the core of the commission's mandate is the need for an 
interagency strategy that asks and answers four key questions: ``What 
is it that the U.S. Government needs to know?'' ``How do we best 
anticipate threats and crises around the world, before they emerge?'' 
``Who in our government, within and outside of the Intelligence 
Community, is best equipped to get this information, report on it, and 
analyze it?'' ``And how do we develop missions and provide resources so 
that we are using all of our capabilities on behalf of our national 
security?'' The commission will provide recommendations on how the 
government can and should develop this strategy and whether new 
legislation is needed to clarify the authority of existing executive 
branch entities or create a new one. And it will provide 
recommendations on how to ensure that the budget process reflects the 
best and most efficient means to collect, report on and analyze 
intelligence and information, rather than the influence of individual 
  The reform recommendations made by this commission will provide a 
critical and welcome boost to everyone, in the executive branch and in 
Congress, responsible for defending our national security. The 
Intelligence Community, as its own leadership has attested, needs 
guidance if it is to reprioritize global coverage and long-term 
threats. It also needs help in areas that need not be its top 
priorities: if State Department or other U.S. officials outside the 
Intelligence Community are best equipped to obtain certain information 
and are given sufficient resources, the IC can focus on areas where 
clandestine collection is most needed. The State Department will 
benefit from an interagency process that recognizes the critical 
reporting capabilities of the diplomatic service and allocates 
resources accordingly. The President will be provided with 
recommendations on interagency reforms that extend beyond the purview 
of any one department or agency.
  Implementation of the commission's recommendations will allow the 
congressional intelligence and foreign relations committees to conduct 
oversight of the Intelligence Community and the State Department in the 
context of a clearly defined strategy. The

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budget committees and the appropriators as well as authorizers will 
have an interagency strategy that explains the rationale for the 
President's budget request. Congress as a whole will be provided 
recommendations on whether new legislation is needed to reform the 
  This is not just a step toward good governance. It will ensure that 
taxpayer dollars are used more efficiently and effectively. Most of 
all, it will make us safer. This bill is not partisan, and it has 
nothing to do with who is in the White House. The commission will not 
investigate anyone, nor cast blame for long-standing structural 
problems. It seeks only to identify the reforms still needed and to 
provide recommendations, to the executive branch and to Congress, on 
how to achieve them.