EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - April 21, 2005)
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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, the successes of the intelligence community are never really known to the American public. But the spectacular failures of the last few years have been apparent to us all. Blue-ribbon panels, presidential commissions, and common sense have all told us that the intelligence community needs reform. In recent months, with action by Congress and the administration, we've begun to see progress. With the vote on John Negroponte's nomination today, we will take an important step in giving life to the structural reforms we've debated for so many months.
John Negroponte faces a daunting challenge as the country's first Director of National Intelligence. It will be his responsibility to make intelligence reform a reality, to break-down the barriers between intelligence agencies, and to restore the credibility of the American intelligence community. There once was a time where the word of the President of the United States was enough to reassure world leaders. After the intelligence failures of the last few years, that is no longer true.
In his confirmation hearings, Mr. Negroponte identified ways to improve the intelligence process--formalizing lessons-learned exercises across the community; utilizing ``Team B'' analyses to avoid self-reinforcing analysis premised on faulty assumptions; improving inter-agency and community-wide cooperation; and removing barriers between foreign and domestic intelligence. He must also be able to work effectively with Secretary Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense--and its 80 percent of the intelligence budget--to really reform the community. Many of us in Congress will support his efforts, and I urge President Bush to be steadfast in this regard as well.
But Mr. Negroponte's most immediate and urgent task will be to speak truth to power. When the intelligence does not support the policy goals or ambitions of the administration, Mr. Negroponte must never flinch, never waiver, never compromise one iota of his integrity or the integrity of the intelligence. He must also be willing to push analysts to challenge assumptions, consider alternatives, and follow the evidence wherever it may lead them. And when they do, he must back them with the full authority of his office.
Today we face many threats, the dangerous legacy of the Cold War in vast nuclear arsenals, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of terrorism, lingering disputes in various regions of the world, and new forces, like globalization, all crying out for leadership by the United States. The decisions policy makers make are influenced by many factors. But on issues of war and peace, on protecting this country, on determining our long-term national security needs and the direction of our foreign policy, there is no substitute for intelligence that is accurate, timely, and trusted.
Mr. Negroponte will shape the role of Director of National Intelligence in fundamental ways. He will be judged on whether or not America is safer at the end of his tenure than when he starts. For the sake of us all, I hope he succeeds.
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