[Congressional Record: November 15, 2010 (Senate)]
[Page S7887-S7888]


  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, Congress has acted to improve our 
Nation's intelligence community--and therefore our national security--
by passing an intelligence authorization bill and sending it to the 
  The President's signature will enact this bill into law and will 
implement several common sense solutions to problems in our large and 
unwieldy intelligence community that we have recognized for years. I 
believe the new Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, is the 
right leader at the right time, and this timely bill will provide him 
the authorities he needs to do this job well.
  The bill provides the DNI streamlined personnel management 
authorities throughout the intelligence community, including the 
authority to convert contractor positions to government jobs, move 
personnel from one agency to another, provide annual assessments of 
personnel levels for each agency, harmonize language training in 
different agencies, and conduct performance evaluations of personnel 
throughout the intelligence community.
  It provides the DNI streamlined oversight for major acquisitions--
perhaps most critically, to provide for interoperable information 
technology systems in different intelligence agencies--and strengthened 
budget authorities for his management of the intelligence community.
  Beyond these improved DNI authorities, which I believe will 
significantly improve intelligence integration among the 16 agencies of 
the intelligence community, this bill also makes three substantial 
improvements in the independent oversight of intelligence. This 
constructive oversight is necessary to ensure that secret intelligence 
activities are legal, effective, and serve the national security 
interests of the United States.
  First, the bill establishes a Senate-confirmed inspector general for 
the intelligence community who will have the authority to inspect any 
element or activity in any intelligence agency. Inspectors general play 
an important troubleshooting role in all agencies of our government, 
but nowhere is this role more important than in the intelligence 
community, where--unlike in government agencies whose activities are 
public--problems can often escape scrutiny.
  For instance, in 2004 the CIA inspector general's report on the CIA 
detention and interrogation program played a significant role in 
alerting the executive branch and the congressional Intelligence 
Committees to significant problems with the program.
  The new intelligence community inspector general that this bill 
establishes will complement and supplement the important work of the 
inspectors general of individual intelligence agencies.
  Second, the bill provides for access by the Comptroller General and 
the Government Accountability Office to information regarding 
intelligence activities. This access will be similar to the GAO's 
access to the Department of Defense's Special Access Programs. I 
believe that this agreement between Congress and the administration on 
this GAO provision bodes well for future cooperation on intelligence 
  On that note, the third--and, I believe, most important--improvement 
this bill makes to the independent oversight of intelligence activities 
pertains to congressional oversight.
  Constructive congressional oversight of intelligence activities is 
crucially important--both for our national security and our national 
identity. We are a transparent democracy, and there is a natural 
tension between transparent democracy and secret intelligence 
  The Congressional Select Intelligence Committees--which consist of 
representatives of the American people, selected from other specific 
congressional committees with jurisdiction over foreign policy, defense 
and judiciary issues--are vital to resolving that tension between 
democracy and secrecy.
  Simply put, these committees act as a board of directors who verify 
that secret executive actions serve the interests of the shareholders--
the American people.
  That is why title V of the National Security Act of 1947 requires the 
President to keep the congressional Intelligence Committees ``fully and 
currently informed'' on all intelligence activities.
  However, during the time that I was chairman and vice chairman of the 
committee from 2003 through 2009, I became very concerned about the way 
in which the executive branch interpreted this obligation. Rather than 
briefing the full committee, the executive branch restricted briefings 
about certain classified programs to the chairman and vice chairman 
  These restrictions impeded our oversight of these programs. This is 
not an academic issue; it is crucial to how our democracy makes secret 
national security decisions. Without the intelligence committees' 
meaningful independent review and oversight--the very reason for the 
committees' existence--intelligence programs are more susceptible to 
both mistakes and illegitimacy. This is the case regardless of which 
party is in the White House or which party has a majority in Congress.
  With this in mind, last year I offered an amendment to this 
authorization bill that will establish in statute new requirements 
regarding congressional notification. My intent was to strengthen the 
committees' constructive oversight relationship with the executive 
branch and the intelligence community.
  A bipartisan majority of the committee approved my amendment. While 
this provision has undergone some changes in the process of Congress's 
consideration of this bill over the past year, the key elements of 
these new notification requirements remain. The bill that the President 
will soon sign into law requires that:
  (1) the congressional Intelligence Committees and the President must 
establish written procedures regarding the details of notification 
processes and expectations;
  (2) the President must provide the committees written notice about 
intelligence activities and covert actions, including changes in covert 
action findings and the legal authority under which an intelligence 
activity or a covert action is or will be conducted;
  (3) the President must provide written reasons for limiting access to 
notifications to less than the full committee, and in such cases, 
provide the full committee a general description of the covert action 
in question; and
  (4) the President must maintain records of all notifications, 
including names of Members briefed and dates of the briefings.
  I strongly believe that congressional oversight of the executive 
branch's intelligence activities should not be adversarial; it should 
be a true, trusted and confidential partnership aimed exclusively at 
improving our Nation's collection and analysis capabilities, and 
ensuring the effectiveness and legitimacy of our covert action 

[[Page S7888]]

  I think these new requirements for congressional notification are an 
important step toward such a partnership.
  These new requirements--and this authorization bill as a whole--are 
the result of hard work and difficult negotiations after years of 
partisan divisions on intelligence issues.
  The President has not signed an authorization bill into law since 
December 2004, and the last time Congress passed an intelligence 
authorization bill was February 2008, when I was chairman of the 
committee. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush vetoed that bill 
because it banned the use of coercive interrogation methods by any 
agency of our government, and the bipartisan majorities that passed the 
bill were not large enough to overcome the President's veto.
  After all these difficult years, the bill that we are sending to the 
President today is exemplary of the bipartisan cooperation that is 
absolutely necessary for our intelligence community to perform as well 
as we need it to perform.
  I want to commend my Intelligence Committee colleagues, particularly 
Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Kit Bond and their staff, 
for sticking to it and completing the difficult negotiations with the 
administration and the House that brought this bill across the finish 
  This law will make our country more secure. Let us continue to build 
on this effort in the months and years to come.