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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here on New Year's Eve.
I first wish to make an announcement with respect to the availability of the classified annex to the bill under consideration for the Members of the House. This is to reinforce a previous announcement I made to Members last evening.
Madam Speaker, 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 Visitor Center. The committee office will be 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.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the House is considering this intelligence authorization bill today, the last day of the year. If passed and enacted, this will be our third intelligence authorization bill since I assumed the chairmanship and my friend the gentleman from Maryland became the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In May, the House overwhelmingly passed, by a vote of 386-28, an intelligence authorization bill which is the same product as the bill that is before us today. I appreciate the ranking member's hard work on this year's bill and that of our colleagues in the Senate to achieve a bipartisan result between the two Chambers.
This is indeed a rare occurrence in this town these days, but this is truly a bipartisan, bicameral product that moves forward when it comes to protecting the United States and putting us in the best national security posture we could imagine.
The intelligence authorization bill is vital to ensuring that our intelligence agencies have the resources and authorities they need to do their important work. The intelligence community plays a critical role in the war on terrorism and securing the country from the many threats that we face.
The annual authorization bill, which funds U.S. intelligence activities spanning 17 agencies, is also a vital tool for congressional oversight of the intelligence community's classified activities. Effective and aggressive congressional oversight is essential to ensuring the continued success of our intelligence community, and therefore the safety of all citizens of the United States. 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 FY 2013 bill sustains our current intelligence capabilities and provides for the development of future capabilities, all while achieving significant savings and ensuring intelligence agencies are being good stewards of our taxpayers' money.
This year, the bill is significantly below last year's enacted budget but up modestly from the President's roughly $72 billion budget request for fiscal year 2013. It is also in line with the House budget resolution, which provides for a modest increase of defense activities above the President's budget.
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 Americans safe.
It provides oversight and authorization for vital intelligence activities, including the global counterwar on terrorism and efforts by the National Security Agency to defend us from advanced foreign state-sponsored cyberthreats. And I can't tell you enough, Madam Speaker, how in this Chamber we have acted to stand up in the face of a growing cyberthreat not only to government networks but to private networks as well. We have, in a bipartisan way, given the first step on how we stand up our defenses here in the United States to protect us from nation-states like China and Russia--and now Iran--who seek to do us harm using the Internet. We will again aggressively pursue next year, with the help of my ranking member, actions needed, I believe, to protect the United States against what is the largest threat we face that we are not prepared to handle, and that is the growing threat of cyberattack and cyberespionage.
Countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is also a critical, important mission of our intelligence community, and we made sure the resources were available to that end, as well as for global monitoring of foreign militaries and advanced weapons systems and tests, and for research and development of new technology to maintain our intelligence agencies' technological edge.
And like the House-passed bill, this bill promotes operating efficiencies in a number of areas, particularly in information technology, the ground processing of satellite data, and the procurement and operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms. The bill holds personnel levels, one of the first and biggest cost drivers, generally 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, and personnel for certain other programs that will increase cooperation and training with our foreign partners in the critically important role for our intelligence agencies as we move to protect ourselves from threats all around the world.
The bill authorizes increased funding for intelligence collection programs, including increased counterintelligence to thwart foreign spies. It also increases funding for our intelligence community's comparative advantage--cutting-edge research and development. This is an incredibly important investment for the United States. If we are going to continue to lead in the ability to detect before they can do harm to the United States, we have to make the investment in research and development of high-end technological advancement.
While I cannot get into the specifics of a lot of these programs, it's important to mention them as we are going through the process each year in conducting oversight of intelligence activities and making funding recommendations that will help the community meet its mission in the most effective, fiscally responsible way.
The bipartisan fiscal year 2013 intelligence authorization bill we are considering today preserves and advances national security and is also fiscally responsible. The secrecy that is a necessary part of this country's intelligence work requires that the congressional Intelligence Committees conduct strong and effective oversight on behalf of the American people and even our colleagues here in the House. That strong and effective oversight is impossible, however, without the advancement of these bills.
I want to thank all of the members of 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 want to thank both of the staffs for working together to produce this bill. This truly is a collaborative effort both from staff and Members in this Chamber and in the Senate, proving that you can work in a bipartisan way to accomplish the best interests of the United States and, in this case, particularly when it comes to national security.
One final note: I want to congratulate Mrs. Myrick on her years of great service to the Intelligence Committee. She will be leaving us this year. This will be her last authorization bill that she will participate in. I am pleased to see that a provision she championed in May concerning the protection of the United States information technology supply chain is included in this bill. She has done great work in her time with the committee, and she certainly will be missed. She has been a true champion of the national security interests of this country. She is a great friend of mine, and I wish her well in her new endeavors.
I thank all who participated. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my chief counsel for celebrating his birthday today on the House floor with us on New Year's Eve day. I appreciate that very much.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
The gentleman and I have had these conversations, and I respect his position greatly and the work he does in Congress.
I have some disagreements, and I'll tell you why--and I hope that the gentleman will consider voting for this bill today. The amount of oversight that the ranking member and I have increased on programs that may have concerns on behalf of Americans, because we have the same concerns. There are tools that America engages in, including air strikes. Air strikes have been something that we have used since we could figure out how to get something off the ground and throw something at the ground. They have been used as a tool. It's not a policy of the United States; it's a tool of the United States to make America safe.
The amount of oversight that happens--and I will tell you this: if there is any air strike conducted that involves an enemy combatant of the United States outside the theater of direct combat, it gets reviewed by this committee. I am talking about every single one. That's an important thing. There are very strict reviews put on all of this material. There are very strict guidelines about how these air strikes may or may not occur, because we have that same feeling. If people lose faith in the ability of our intelligence services to do their work, then they will be ineffective, and, therefore, we will be less safe.
Our argument has been we want that oversight, we want aggressive oversight, and we want thorough review. I can tell you--and I think you'd be proud--of the very work that we do on the committee to that end. We never really did covert-action reviews, except for sporadically. Now we do regularly, quarterly, and monthly covert-action reviews on this committee to make sure that we get it right, that they get it right.
Mr. KUCINICH. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I would be honored to yield to the gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. KUCINICH. I have no question about the commitment of the chair and the ranking member to proper oversight, but what I do question is that the proliferation of the drone strikes puts such an extraordinary burden on our own oversight capacities. I'm wondering, looking retrospectively at the number of civilian casualties that have occurred, the oversight--there's a decoupling of the oversight capacity from the consequences of the strikes, and that's the point that I'm making here.
I would ask my friend going forward for the committee to be ever more vigilant on--if you're for these strikes and you are conducting the oversight, look at the consequences of civilian casualties to raise questions about the information that's being given you. That's the point that I'm making.
With that, I thank my friend for yielding.
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I appreciate that, and I reclaim my time.
I think this is very important. Again, I personally review and the committee reviews the material that comes to these committees.
There are many in the world who have political agendas about civilian casualties. I can tell you to rest assured that that is a point of review for any activity--I'm talking about any activity--that our intelligence community may or may not engage in. I think that you would be shocked and stunned how wrong those public reports are about civilian casualties, and I say that with all seriousness and with the very thought that every one of these events is reviewed.
If there is an air strike used as a technique anywhere in the world to keep America safe, it is reviewed if it comes within the purview of the intelligence community, both military and civilian, on this committee. Those reports are wrong. They are not just wrong; they are wildly wrong. And I do believe people use those reports for their own political purposes outside of the country to try to put pressure on the United States.
Mr. KUCINICH. If I may, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. KUCINICH. What I would like to do, Mr. Chairman, is to present to you and the ranking member reports that have been forwarded to me regarding these casualties. Maybe these are reports that you've seen, and maybe they aren't; but I certainly think that in the interest of acquitting our country's efforts that we make sure that every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties. So I will present those to you and the ranking member in the next few days, and I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. In reclaiming my time, I just want to assure the gentleman that every one of these is reviewed, and rest assured that the public reports about civilian casualties are not just a little bit wrong; they are wildly wrong.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Again, I want to thank my ranking member and both staffs on the Intelligence Committee for the long hours, hard work and thorough, detailed work on the budgets and on the classified annex of this report.
I think it should alleviate many of the good concerns of Mr. Kucinich and others who are concerned about these activities. I think it's important to reiterate that we have the same concerns, which is why we are so thorough and why we have joined together in a bipartisan way to increase the level of congressional oversight and to increase our impact and influence on the policies of the intelligence community in order to make sure it conforms with what this body and what I think the United States of America wants and needs in its intelligence services.
We have now done, as I said before, regularly scheduled covert action, which, I think, should rest assured Americans that it is serious, thoughtful and thorough oversight. For counterintelligence activities, we now have regularly scheduled oversight. Every department is required to proffer its budget request, and we go over it line by line, dollar by dollar, policy by policy to make sure it conforms with the concerns of everyone in this body.
As I said before, these are very brave Americans who are serving in really tough neighborhoods all over the world--trying to collect information, trying to take actionable intelligence to a point that it protects us from harm here at home. They deserve our respect, our encouragement, our high-five and pat on the back when they come home. They want thorough oversight. You wouldn't believe it, but they do. They want to know that the work that they're doing would make America proud for them risking their lives and being away from their families and putting it all on the line to keep America safe.
That's why we agreed to do this in a bipartisan way and to be so thorough in its congressional oversight, because without that--without that confidence, without that faith of the American people that they're doing something on behalf of this great Nation--they will lose their ability to do what they do, and they will lose the courage and confidence that they need to do it in the right way. So that's what this bill reflects.
I understand your concerns. I look forward to our further conversations on this; and in further conversations, I'd like to have the opportunity, if we can arrange this, to give you some examples--a peek behind the curtain as to exactly what goes on in the processes of making sure that we keep the good people safe and that the bad guys are brought to justice. I think you'd be proud of that work. This bill reflects that.
Again, thanks to the ranking member and to the staffs and to the members on both sides of this committee. Thanks to Senator Feinstein and to Senator Saxby Chambliss for their help in putting this bill together.
I hope we'll get a large show of support with a strong vote of bipartisanship for the men and women who are serving at our intelligence posts all around the world today. Let's send this to the President so we can go about the business of keeping America safe and maybe even look at some other details that the Speaker may have interest in dealing with today.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
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