Hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Intelligence Reform

September 7, 2004

[excerpts on intelligence budget disclosure]


9/11 COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN LEE H. HAMILTON: [...] Mr. Chairman, we strongly believe that the overall budget of the intelligence community, as well as the top-line budget numbers for the component agencies of the intelligence community, should be declassified. Making these numbers public will improve accountability. There is much skepticism, even cynicism about the intelligence community among the American people.

Declassifying the budget is a step toward increased public understanding of the challenges facing the intelligence community and the manner in which they are addressed. We believe making these numbers public will help the Congress in its oversight responsibilities.


SEN. RON WYDEN: Mr. Chairman, can I ask one other question on this classification matter? I know my light is on.


WYDEN: Thank you, and I'll be very brief.

For Mr. Lehman, as you know with respect to your proposal that the overall amount of money being appropriated no longer be kept secret, I'd be interested in having you tell us how you'd respond to critics who say that declassifying that information is in some way going to harm national security. We've been hearing people say, "Western civilization is going to end if somehow this overall number is printed."

It seems to me you're right, they're wrong. But how would you respond to the critics on that question with respect to declassification?

9/11 COMMISSIONER JOHN F. LEHMAN: Well, frankly I think the biggest damage that would be done would be the shock that our enemies would have at seeing how irrational we are at allocating resources, if they really knew how little we spend on translators and on human intelligence sources compared to what we spend on hardware, redundant hardware and so forth.

Obviously there's a level of granularity that needs to be protected.

We don't want to tell them exactly how much we're spending on infrared satellites or particular SIGINT assets.

But the American public would be shocked if they knew the misallocation of resources between HUMINT and other aspects of our intelligence budget. They need to know that. How can you carry on a debate on the floor of the Senate without talking about those kind of gross numbers?

So we feel very strongly that certainly the top line and the rough allocation of resources between different parts of the community, not necessarily in fine, and certainly not down to the problematic level -- but we have not heard a compelling argument for maintaining overall classification. It's silly that you, when you go out and speak, have to quote Tom Clancy and can't discuss it in a rational way.

WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

ROBERTS: I'm not sure we all quote Tom Clancy.


There are other people we could quote. Let me just say that the committee is taking very seriously the proposal by Senator Wyden, Senator Lott, others. And it is a matter of the highest priority.