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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - May 20, 2008)

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Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, the Feingold-Hagel bill establishes an independent Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission, appointed by Congress, to review strategies for collection, analysis, and reporting of intelligence and diplomatic information from our outposts around the world. The Commission would have a 2-year lifespan.

We must ensure that the United States is prepared to face the challenges of the 21st Century. Our intelligence agencies and diplomatic outposts must provide policymakers with information that helps anticipate threats before they loom large, and our efforts must not be focused solely on the ``threat of the day.''

As observers and veterans of the intelligence community--including theƐ9/11 Commission--have noted, the U.S. Government and intelligence community obviously have to focus on current threats, many times at the expense of having the ``strategic depth'' to analyze and anticipate potential threats and surprises lurking over the horizon. The focus mainly on current reporting has been cited within the Intelligence Community as inhibiting its ability to forecast significant longer term problems.

With the creation of the Director of National Intelligence, DNI, and the National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC, Congress helped move the Intelligence Community in the right direction, but we need strategic intelligence not just on terrorism, but many other threats that our intelligence agencies and policymakers must anticipate.

This bi-partisan Commission would enhance--not supplant--the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's oversight of intelligence.

``Strategic depth'' in collection and analysis is an issue that cuts across the oversight responsibilities of both the Senate's Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. This Commission would examine diplomatic as well as intelligence reporting, which would help provide an in-depth analysis of issues that are not entirely within the scope of responsibilities of the DNI. The Commission would be able to probe these areas in depth and would have two years to issue its final report.

We have seen how Commission reports can be useful tools to both Congress and the Executive branch to highlight needed reforms. For instance, the 2001 Carlucci Commission report on ``State Department Reform'' proved to be a tremendous resource for Secretary Colin Powell as he developed an action program to revitalize the State Department and make needed reforms. Secretary Powell studied the findings and recommendations of this and other panels. He met extensively with Carlucci and other members of various commissions, and relied on their detailed insights in formulating his reform efforts.

The Feingold-Hagel legislation's commission report would help the next administration evaluate and improve the effectiveness of key instruments underlying our national power. The Commission would provide recommendations on how to improve collection strategy, analysis, interagency information sharing, and language training.

A bipartisan group of respected intelligence and national security experts have endorsed the Commission, including former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski; Donald Gregg, former Ambassador and National Security Advisor to Vice President George H. W. Bush, and Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary Colin Powell. Earlier this month, in a bipartisan vote, the Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the Feingold-Hagel legislation setting up this commission.

This Commission would help Congress and the Executive to better position our intelligence agencies and diplomats to provide the information the United States Government needs to anticipate future strategic challenges, and I urge my colleagues to support this measure.

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