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Public Statements

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise to join Chairman FEINSTEIN in thanking my colleagues for their support of the fiscal year 2012 Intelligence Authorization Act. Over the past several months, the committee has worked hard to resolve the final details of the bill and concerns raised by other committees and individual Members. The end result of this effort is a solid bill that ensures vigorous congressional oversight and provides needed authorities to the intelligence community.

Of course, the vast majority of what the committee authorized is classified, so I cannot discuss specifics. I can say that the classified annex is designed to improve the operations of the intelligence community--from counterterrorism and counterproliferation to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and everything in between.

This bill also implements fiscal discipline. Difficult economic times demand austerity, but cuts in this bill are specific and targeted to eliminate waste while preserving the critical work the intelligence community does to protect our country.

In the unclassified area--and one of great importance to me--we reached an agreeable compromise with the Administration that gives the committee the information we need about the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees. As the recidivism rate among former detainees rises over 27 percent, it is critical that the committee have full insight into the transfer and resettlement process. The vast majority of detainees are free when they are transferred, and this committee needs to know whether the countries charged with monitoring them are capable and willing to do so. Several provisions in this bill will help the committee do that.

The bill also addresses concerns from other committees with national security interests and from the House. As we go forward, I hope the committees of the Senate will do a better job of making sure that committees with oversight of national security issues get the information they need, without automatic objections based on perceived jurisdictional lines. Too often, the intelligence committee includes other committees on receipt of reports or other products, but does not get the same treatment in return. That's just not good for oversight or for fulfilling our responsibility to the American people.

I am also pleased that we were able to reach reasonable solutions for authorities requested by the intelligence community. The bill allows for the reimbursement of burial expenses for certain government employees who are killed as the result of hostile or terrorist activities or die in connection with a risky intelligence activity. In these difficult financial times, we worked hard to make sure that the provision is in line with benefits for the families of fallen soldiers and with the funeral costs generally paid by ordinary Americans. We also ensured that individuals in the same agency, like the FBI, are entitled to receive the same reimbursement. The bill also refines the administration of the CIA's foreign language proficiency requirements and allows for more flexible personnel management by the Director of National Intelligence.

I thank Chairman FEINSTEIN for her hard work and leadership in getting this bill through the Senate. I also thank the committee staff for once again showing their dedication and commitment to protecting the national security of this country.

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