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Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This is a good day for the United States, certainly a good day for the men and women who serve so proudly in our intelligence services that work tirelessly to keep America safe. This is a good day to bring the fiscal year 2012 intelligence authorization bill to the floor today. This will be our second intelligence authorization bill since January of this year, when I became chairman and my ranking member took his position as well for the House Intelligence Committee, and it will be the 29th bill in our committee's history.

This bill is a vital tool for congressional oversight of the intelligence community's classified activities and is critical to ensuring that our intelligence agencies have the resources and authorities they need to do their important work.

Passing an annual intelligence authorization bill is vital to keeping the laws governing our intelligence operations up to date. The FY12 bill sustains our current intelligence capabilities and provides for the development of future capabilities, all while achieving significant savings.

The U.S. intelligence community plays a critical role in the war on terrorism and securing the country from many threats that we face today. Effective and aggressive congressional oversight is essential to ensuring continued success in the intelligence community.

The intelligence authorization bill funds U.S. intelligence activities spanning 17 separate agencies. This funding totaled roughly $80 billion in fiscal year 2010. The current challenging fiscal environment demands the accountability and financial oversight of our classified intelligence programs that can only come with an intelligence authorization bill.

The bill's comprehensive classified annex provides detailed guidance on intelligence spending, including adjustments to costly programs. This bill funds the requirements of the men and women of the intelligence community, both military and civilian, many of whom directly support the war zones or are engaged in other dangerous operations to keep America and Americans safe.

It provides oversight and authorization for critical intelligence activities, including the global counterterrorism operations, such as the one that took out Osama bin Laden; cyberdefense by the National Security Agency; countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; global monitoring of foreign militaries and weapons tests; research and development of new technology to maintain our intelligence agencies' technological edge, including work on code breaking and spy satellites.

This has been a strategy for a tough fiscal climate. After passage of the Budget Control Act, the committee revamped the bill it reported out of committee back in May to double its budget savings. As a result, the bill is significantly below the President's budget request for fiscal year 2012 and further still below the levels authorized and appropriated in fiscal year 2011. These savings--and this is important, Mr. Speaker--were achieved without impacting the intelligence community's important mission, as the cuts of the 1990s did.

The bottom line is that this bipartisan bill preserves and advances national security and is also fiscally responsible. The secrecy that is a necessary part of our country's intelligence work requires that the congressional intelligence committees conduct strong and effective oversight on behalf of the American people. That strong and effective oversight is impossible, however, without an annual intelligence authorization bill. And I want to thank both of the staffs for the Republicans and the Democrats, and the members from both the Republicans and Democrats on this committee for coming together in a bipartisan way on the important issue of national security. And I thank my friend, Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member, for his leadership in getting us not to one, but to two authorization bills within just 10 months. And that's no small accomplishment, as you might know, Mr. Speaker.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I appreciate the gentleman bringing up the issue of cybersecurity, an incredibly important issue, one that this committee spends a great deal of time on. And the ranking member and myself and many members of this committee have co-authored a bill--and many Members of this House--to give that first important step to protecting Americans' networks from both economic espionage and attack of those particular networks.

I can't think of anything that is more pressing than that particular issue, and I appreciate the gentleman's working with us on that particular issue and being a leading voice here in Congress on that particular issue.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The ranking member brings up an important point about how complex this bill is and the level of threats and the degree of threat that this great country faces every day and really the importance of our investment in the technology that we need to keep ahead of enemy nations who seek to do us harm.

This bill embodies the fact that there will be members of the intelligence community whose job it is to find those Russian spies--like the illegal alien Russian case that was here--that are attempting to do bad things to the United States. The same with Chinese spies and Iranian spies, and the list is very long. And, unfortunately, it's not a spy novel; it's not a movie. These things are real. They happen every day in the United States, and we are a target of those nation-states as they seek to steal our secrets.

This bill provides those protections, and that means that we have to invest in space. It means that we have to invest in our cybersecurity capability. It means that we have to invest in our HUMINT collection, meaning recruiting others who will help us identify and ferret out those who seek to do us harm.

It means that we have the challenges of trying to make sure that al Qaeda, who has expressed an interest in a radiological bomb, doesn't get their hands on those types of materials. It means that we have to be careful about nuclear weapons being proliferated around the world by either force security or, worse yet, nation-states who encourage that type of activity.

It is no simple job being an intelligence officer or being in the intelligence community here in the United States.

I think this bill is an accurate reflection on how we move to the next place, but also an important reminder of the important work that they do, often in the shadows. The men and women who conduct this important work certainly deserve our support and all of the resources that we can muster to make sure that they're successful in their endeavors.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I appreciate the gentleman and look forward to continuing to work with the gentleman from California on those activities when it comes to our overhead architecture. There are programs worthy of investment, and the technology that we apply to this particular effort is incredibly important.

We always need to stay ahead. America always needs to be number one, and this bill reflects that. I think the work of the gentleman certainly is reflected in this bill as well, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to make sure that we don't have crowd-out when it comes to future technology. I think it's incredibly important.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I want to thank the members of the committee, both Republican and Democrat, for their fine bipartisan effort on this national security bill of real significance. Many, many hours on behalf of both the Democrat staff and the Republican staff to get this right. When we had to trim back some finances from the community without impacting the mission, that is no small challenge, and I think this product is a testament to all of the work on behalf of both staffs, and both members, Republican and Democrat, to get us here.

I want to take this time to thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Chambliss for their work as well on this particular bill. We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for that bicameral and bipartisan effort, again, on this national security bill.

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