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Public Statements

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Mr. Chairman, I first wish to make an announcement with respect to the availability of the classified annex to the bill for the Members of the House. This is to reinforce a previous announcement made to Members by the Committee on Rules on May 23, 2012, and an informal announcement by leadership.

Mr. Chairman, the classified Schedule of Authorizations and the classified annex accompanying the bill remain available for review by Members at the offices of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in room HVC 304 of the Capitol Visitors Center. The committee office will open during regular business hours for the convenience of any Member who wishes to review this material prior to its consideration by the House.

I recommend that Members wishing to review the classified annex contact the committee's director of security to arrange a time and date for that viewing. This will assure the availability of committee staff to assist Members who desire assistance during their review of these classified documents.

Mr. Chairman, we're especially pleased with this year's fiscal 2013 Intelligence authorization bill and its presence here on the floor today. This will be our third authorization since I assumed the chairmanship and my colleague, Mr. Ruppersberger, assumed the ranking member position on the House Intelligence Committee.

The 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.

The Intelligence authorization bill funds U.S. intelligence activities spanning 17 separate agencies. This bill is significantly below last year's inactive budget, but up modestly from the President's roughly $72 billion in the unclassified number budget request for fiscal year 2013. It is also completely in line with the House budget resolution, which provides for a modest increase of defense activities above the President's budget.

The FY13 bill sustains our current intelligence capabilities and provides for the development of future capabilities, all while achieving significant savings and ensuring the intelligence agencies are being good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. The U.S. intelligence community plays a critical role in the war on terrorism and securing the country from many threats that we face. Effective and aggressive congressional oversight is essential to ensuring continued success in the intelligence community. 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 but important programs. The bill funds requirements of the men and women of the intelligence community, both military and civilian, many of whom directly support the war zones and are engaged in other dangerous operations designed to keep America safe.

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

To stay competitive amidst declining budgets, the IC must wring out cost in all realms of operations--collection, processing, analysis, logistics, and ``back office'' operations. This bill promotes operating efficiencies in a number of areas, particularly in information technology, the ground processing of satellite data, and the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance departments. The bill holds personnel levels, one of the biggest cost drivers, at last year's levels. Even so, the bill adds a limited number of new personnel positions for select, high-priority positions, such as FBI surveillance officers to keep watch on terrorists.

The bill contains additional funding for intelligence collection programs, including increased counterintelligence to thwart foreign spies. The bill also increases funding for our intelligence community's comparative advantage--cutting-edge research and development.

While we're on the subject of funding our intelligence agencies, I think I would be remiss if we didn't briefly discuss the looming threat of sequestration and the devastating consequences it would have for our vital intelligence operations. The intelligence community and the congressional intelligence oversight committees have worked together over the last year, in recognition of the current challenging fiscal environment, to find efficiencies in the intelligence budget. And we've done that. We've actually done more in certain areas by finding efficiencies in other areas and reducing the overall cost of our 17 agencies.

Unlike the dangerous, across-the-board cuts of the 1990s, however, these funding cuts were carefully selected to ensure that no important operational intelligence capabilities were impacted. Let me be clear: The intelligence community has given until it hurts to produce better budget efficiencies, but we have done this without adversely affecting the mission, which is critically important.

All of this careful work, however, will have been done for nothing if Congress doesn't avert the sequestration train wreck. Sequestration will require a devastating cut to defense spending that will also entail dangerous across-the-board reductions in intelligence funding. The across-the-board nature of the sequester means that there is very little discretion left to our intelligence agencies on how to apportion these reductions.

Let me give you just a few examples of the dangerous impact this would have. Thousands of intelligence officers and specialized technicians will be laid off, to include those working around the world, and around the clock, to stop terrorist plots before they arrive on U.S. shores. The National Security Agency would have to significantly reduce its ability to intercept, translate, and analyze terrorist communications about their plans to attack the United States and Western targets. This would significantly reduce our odds of detecting and disrupting those terrorist plots. Intelligence community support to our soldiers and marines in harm's way in Afghanistan would significantly be curtailed. Also, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency would be forced to cut back the number of satellite images that it analyzes, reducing our odds of detecting significant foreign military activity, such as North Korean preparations for an attack on our troops in South Korea.

Our intelligence agencies and the important work they do is our first line of defense against the many threats around the world to our national security. Sequestration would be dangerous and irresponsible for many reasons, not the least of which is the threat to those vital intelligence capabilities, and Congress must act to avoid it. The House has put an offer on the table that would avert this disaster. We passed a bill earlier this month with responsible spending reforms that will bring down the debt without endangering our national security. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up

this bill without further delay.

The bipartisan fiscal year 2013 Intelligence authorization bill preserves and advances national security and is also fiscally responsible. We have proven it can be done. 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.

I want to thank all of the members on the committee for their bipartisan effort to find agreement on a bill that saves money and moves forward smartly on protecting the interests of national security for the United States.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. First of all, this is a motion to recommit. Let's not fool ourselves. And I understand this is the loyal opposition portion of the debate. It happens in each and every bill; I get it.

We've spent a lot of time in a bipartisan way getting the bill, and I think it's one of our better products given the detail with which we went over every budget line and operational detail in this budget. So when I read this, it looks like it was prepared fairly quickly in order to meet the time demand here, and it's very concerning.

In some of the things that we've done--even in this Chamber, we debated the cybersecurity bill and people had strong passions on both sides of the aisle of that bill about protection of civil liberties and just making sure there were checks and balances on our ability just to share information, a very small little piece. When you read this bill, that makes our cybersecurity bill look like a walk in the park. This is an expansion of the government involved in the Internet in a way that I find a little bit scary and shocking that they would allow it to get this far. Let me read it:

The intelligence community shall take all steps necessary to protect and ensure that--

Sensitive information pertaining to economic, financial, and consumer information is protected from cybersecurity attacks.

That means you've got to reach way out into the Internet. Now you've just empowered the intelligence community--the very people we said we want to keep separate--into the Internet. This is dangerous. That's what happens when you get in a hurry and try to have a political amendment on a very bipartisan bill, and that's unfortunate about this.

The first paragraph, I would submit, we should make as a part of the ``department of redundancy department.'' All of that already happens. We do that as a matter of course and mission.

Again, it's a little bit surprising that they would allow this. I would even hope that your Members would take a very close look at this. You have just put your Members in a pretty bad spot about making them vote on something that will actually have the government involved in your Internet. Welcome to the laptop near you. Very concerning to me.

I will passionately oppose this, would urge all of my colleagues to passionately oppose this, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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