[Congressional Record: September 22, 2011 (Senate)]
[Page S5895-S5896]

                      TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL DAVIDSON

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I rise today to recognize Mr. 
Michael Davidson, the former General Counsel of the Select Committee on 
Intelligence, for his long and distinguished service to the U.S. 
Senate. Mike quietly retired from the U.S. Senate for the second time 
on Labor Day, September 5, 2011.
  At the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he worked for 8 years 
during his second career here in the Senate, he was always a source of 
wisdom and optimism. Mike was invariably calm, thoughtful and 
constructive. These qualities, in combination

[[Page S5896]]

with his brilliant legal mind and prodigious memory, made him an 
invaluable member of the committee staff. Indeed, Mike had a unique 
ability to recall past legislation, reports, or other parts of Senate 
history, and find them in archives and mostly forgotten records, to 
make sure that present day decisions were informed by the past.
  In addition, Mike was known and respected throughout Washington. He 
will be greatly missed, not only by our committee, but by the many 
people who have had the privilege to work with him from other offices 
in the Congress, the executive branch, and the private sector. I know, 
and am appreciative, that the Office of the Director of National 
Intelligence will be honoring Mike in October for his numerous services 
to the committee and the intelligence community.
  I have often been amazed at the varied backgrounds of Senators and 
Senate staff alike, and Mike Davidson is another example why. He grew 
up in Brooklyn, NY, where his father was a professor of theater at 
Brooklyn College, and where we believe his devotion to the New York 
Mets was born. Mike received his bachelor of arts in history from 
Cornell University in 1961 and his law degree from the University of 
Chicago in 1964. With law degree in hand, Mike became one of the first 
Peace Corps volunteers in Kenya where he served for 3 years. Upon his 
return to the United States, he worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund 
between 1967 and 1973, trying civil rights cases and arguing appeals in 
various Federal courts. From 1974 to 1977, Mike taught clinical law at 
the State University of New York at Buffalo. Moving to Washington in 
1977, he served as the chief staff counsel for the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia.
  In 1979, Mike became the Senate's very first legal counsel, 
representing the Senate in separation-of-powers and other litigation, 
and assisting committees in ethics, impeachment and other special 
investigations. One of the separation-of-powers cases Mike argued 
before the Supreme Court was INS v. Chadha. It turned out that Mike 
from his Peace Corps days actually knew the appellee Jagdish Chadha, 
who had been born in Kenya of Indian parents. Not only did Mr. Chadha 
not take personal offense that the Congress, through opposing counsel 
Michael Davidson, was trying to deport him, but because of his respect 
and admiration for Mike, Mr. Chadha brought a bottle of champagne to 
the Senate Legal Counsel's Office the next day to celebrate Mike's 
appearance before the Court.
  In 1995, Mike retired from the Senate for the first time, but he soon 
found himself directing or serving as counsel to projects led by 
current or former U.S. Senators, including a project at the Aspen 
Institute, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and 
Brookings Institution, and a project at the Constitution Project.
  Mike returned to the Senate in 2002 to serve as the general counsel 
for the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and 
After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. Mike's work for the 
joint inquiry involved not only fact finding about the conduct of U.S. 
intelligence agencies prior to the terrorist attacks, but also 
successful advocacy before Judge Leonie Brinkema in the case of United 
States v. Moussaoui. The appearance was necessary to ensure that the 
congressional Joint Inquiry had the testimony it needed to tell the 
story of the FBI's Moussaoui investigation prior to the 9/11 attacks 
without interfering with the Moussaoui proceedings or other pending 
criminal prosecutions and investigations. Shortly after the completion 
of the Joint Inquiry in 2003, Mike joined the Select Committee on 
Intelligence as minority counsel for then-Vice Chairman Jay 
Rockefeller. In 2007, he became the committee's general counsel, first 
for Chairman Rockefeller and later myself.
  As general counsel, Mike led the work of the committee on all 
legislation referred to it and reported from it. Mike's tireless 
efforts, and his skill in bringing people together to talk about the 
issues, even after others had given up, led to the passage of an 
intelligence authorization act signed into law in October 2010, the 
first authorization bill for the intelligence community enacted in 6 
  I can certainly attest that passage of that legislation was far from 
assured. The administration showed little enthusiasm for it, other 
committees objected to numerous provisions included, and the House of 
Representatives appeared insistent on two provisions--having to do with 
intelligence notifications to Congress and with investigations by the 
Government Accountability Office into intelligence matters--that were 
subject to veto threats. Mike was instrumental in resolving both those 
issues, and with working through countless other hurdles, in achieving 
  Within 9 months, the committee also saw passage and enactment of its 
second intelligence authorization act, with the fiscal year 2011 bill 
signed into law on June 8, 2011. We are well on our way with a third 
authorization bill in 12 months with the intelligence authorization act 
for fiscal year 2012.
  Mike's careful legislative approach was very much in evidence during 
the much more prolonged congressional consideration of the Foreign 
Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, during which he 
worked patiently to find legislative solutions that would satisfy the 
concerns of the intelligence community in modernizing one of the most 
important of its authorizing statutes, while also addressing a range of 
views in the Senate and the House and respecting the privacy and civil 
liberties concerns of Americans. Mike's painstaking attention to detail 
in the committee's reports and statements, with this act and throughout 
his tenure, has resulted in exemplary legislative histories for the 
bills we have reported--an important, and sometimes neglected, aspect 
in how our laws are implemented and interpreted.
  Mike also paid special attention to building the public record 
concerning the work of the Intelligence Committee. Because of his 
efforts, the committee has greatly increased the number of public 
documents available on the committee's website, from the committee's 
own biennial activities reports to the yearly legislative request from 
the executive branch. Behind the scenes, Mike sought systematic 
approaches to informing the public about U.S. intelligence activities 
to the maximum extent possible consistent with national security.
  Mr. Davidson was also essential in the committee's efforts to honor 
the sacrifices made by the men and women of the intelligence community, 
and their families, and to ensure that all intelligence agency 
employees received fair treatment and appropriate recognition by the 
Nation they served. All Senators understand the importance of taking 
care of their constituents. The Intelligence Committee attempts, where 
possible, to take care of intelligence professionals who often have no 
other place to turn. Not surprisingly to those who know him, Mike took 
special care with this responsibility. I recall one example--involving 
a legal dispute over a family member of an intelligence officer--where 
Mike's intervention led to justice being done, a family being 
preserved, and an intelligence professional being able subsequently to 
focus his attention on an absolutely essential operation.
  As I mentioned, Mike retired from the Senate very quietly, working 
away on committee business to the last minute of his last day on the 
job. We know, however, that he is relishing the chance to spend more 
time in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where he and his wife Karen 
have a second home near Denver, the home of son Jesse, daughter-in-law 
Ellen, and grandchildren Jordan and Garrett, and where his daughter 
Kate often visits. We fully expect, however, that with Mike's great 
energy and legal abilities he will continue to make a contribution to 
his country from his home here in the District of Columbia as well.
  With gratitude for his service to the Senate and the Nation, for 
myself and the many others who have benefited from that service, I wish 
Mike the very best in all his future endeavors.