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Select Intelligence Oversight Panel

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Speaker, I wanted to raise one premise that no one has talked about, and that is this blind belief in everything the 9/11 committee says, and apparently individual Members as well.

The 9/11 Commission was a bipartisan group of good people, some who served in the House. They are intelligent people who have been involved in public policy, but I am not aware that they were top-notch CIA or FBI or intelligence community members. I don't know of them having risen up through the ranks of the intelligence circles or the antiterrorism circles that makes them absolutely experts on everything on what is now a 2 1/2 -year-old report.

I wanted to bring that up because I think it is important when you consider that when the 9/11 Commission came out, this Congress on a bipartisan basis implemented 39 out of the 41 recommendations. We did not implement all the recommendations, but we had hearings on them and they were bipartisan and there was a lot of discussion, unlike what we have here today. What we have here today is a recommendation, a recommendation not made by the 9/11 Commission but, from what I am hearing, one Member wandering around the Hall said, Yeah, this is a good idea. Now, that is hardly the way to make a major step in the way we approach intelligence in the House. It doesn't make sense at all.

This bill today has not had a hearing. The Rules Committee did not hear of any amendments that could or would be offered or debated. I think, frankly, the thing that is ironic, and I have got to say as I see over there many of my very good friends, many institutionalists, people who have great respect for the institution, you know that on intelligence we have generally been bipartisan here in the Capitol. Certainly there are times when intelligence like everything else devolves into partisanship, but generally speaking we have conducted this body in the wake of 9/11 itself in a bipartisan manner, and yet today we don't have that. We do not have those amendments which people could come together on.

So I just wanted to raise that because, as I sit as an Appropriations Committee member on the Defense Subcommittee, and I sit there and I listen to so many people like Mr. Obey, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Young, the folks I would consider the sage folks in the back room who at the end of the day do the pragmatic thing and put the best interests of the Nation forward, in this particular case that has not been allowed to happen. So I find myself a little perplexed by this because it has not been thoroughly vetted, and I am going to vote ``no' on it because of the process itself.

Now, there are a lot of other issues that are important, and it is important to me that the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security, of the Rules Committee, of the Intelligence Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Judiciary Committee are all resoundingly against this.

Madam Speaker, I have in my hand a ``Dear Colleague' letter which I have read and reviewed, and I submit for inclusion into the RECORD that has been written by them, and I think the points that they have raised are very, very important.



Washington, DC, January 9, 2007.

DEAR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUE: Today the House is scheduled to consider House Resolution 35, a resolution purporting to enhance intelligence oversight authority. We are writing to you to outline our strong concerns with the current version of the resolution and to ask you to join us in opposing this resolution.

As a response to the 9/11 Commission recommendation to streamline intelligence oversight, Speaker Pelosi proposed the select panel on Intelligence oversight within the Appropriations Committee to consolidate intelligence oversight. Unfortunately, we believe this proposal is wholly inconsistent with any notion of a more streamlined and rigorous intelligence oversight process. In fact, we believe the proposal will make oversight more complex and less effective.

The 9/11 Commission recommended creating a single committee with both authorizing and appropriating authority. The House of Representatives did not agree with this recommendation, and instead worked to ensure proper oversight by creating a new oversight subcommittee within the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and by improving coordination and cooperation between the authorization committees and the House Appropriation Committee. The new proposal undermines these efforts by adding a duplicative and seemingly powerless panel to the process. Instead of consolidating our oversight responsibilities, we will be diffusing them, making three entities within the House for oversight of the intelligence community instead of the current two.

It is also apparent that the oversight parameters and responsibilities are not clearly defined. If this panel is supposed to be conducting oversight, it is unclear whether the panel will get into intelligence operations. We have worked hard to limit the unauthorized dissemination of highly classified and sensitive programs, and we are concerned about the practical implementation of the panel.

Finally, if the proposed oversight panel is charged with reviewing and studying the entire intelligence community, why are the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, and Judiciary Committees not represented on the panel? The 9/11 Commission specifically recommended members from the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary Committees also serve on the joint authorization appropriations committee. The purpose of the recommendation is to ensure adequate input and review by the appropriate authorization committees. If the purpose of the panel is too afford more aggressive oversight, why were these equities and jurisdictions overlooked?

If this proposal had gone through the normal committee process, which House Rules Ranking Member Dreier requested, we would have had an opportunity to address these serious concerns through regular order.

Given these serious concerns, we do not agree this would be a responsible revision of the current intelligence oversight structure. We respectfully request you join us in voting ``no' on H. Res, 35.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, Ranking Member, Appropriations Committee; Rep. Duncan Hunter, Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee; Rep. Peter King, Ranking Member, Homeland Security Committee; Rep. David Dreier, Ranking Member, Rules Committee; Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Ranking Member, Intelligence Committee; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Lamar Smith, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee.

But I have to say, this is just not the right step in terms of addressing the national security needs of our Nation.


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