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Public Statements

Issue Position: Intelligence Reform

Issue Position

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"I thank Speaker Pelosi for her vision in creating and continuing this important oversight panel, which will help ensure that our intelligence community collects good intelligence in ways that are consistent with American values, determination, and ingenuity. I am honored to serve again as chair of the panel, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the important intelligence issues facing our nation." -Rush Holt

Rep. Holt has served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 2003. In January 2007, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Holt to head the newly created Committee Select Intelligence Oversight Panel (SIOP), which he chairs today. The panel helps write the budget for and provides oversight of the U.S. intelligence community.

Holt's work on intelligence issues has focused on improving our intelligence collection capabilities to help prevent another 9/11-style attack, restoring strong Congressional oversight of the intelligence community, protecting the American people from illegal government surveillance, and expanding the pool of Americans who are fluent in the languages and cultures of both our friends and our foes.
In this section:

Improving Oversight of the Intelligence Community
Foreign Surveillance
Treatment of Detainees
Strengthening Foreign Language Capability

Improving Oversight of the Intelligence Community

As chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, Rep. Holt leads a mix of members from both the House Appropriations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to review the operations of the intelligence community and recommend changes in policies and funding levels where necessary.
Foreign Surveillance

Rep. Holt has worked to provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs to conduct surveillance of foreign targets outside the United States, while restoring individual rights protections. He has opposed domestic surveillance legislation, such as the Protect America Act and the FISA Amendments bill, that does not protect the communications of all Americans from illegal searches and seizures.

He continues to work to revise federal law to ensure that the United Stations has the tools to collects good intelligence against our adversaries, while maintaining the principle that the courts--and not an executive branch political appointee--decide whether or not the communications of an American citizen can be seized and searched, and that such seizures and searches must be done pursuant to a court order.
Treatment of Detainees

Like all Americans, Rep. Holt was appalled at the images and accounts of the abuse of detainees in the custody of American military and intelligence personnel at places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. He believes that America's detainee treatment laws must provide a clear set of guidelines consistent with American principles - such as in the revised Army Field Manual - apply to all U.S. Government personnel (including contractors and intelligence agents) on how to treat prisoners in ways that preserve our principles. He supports President Obama's Executive Order in January 2009 to close Guantanamo within a year and end torture of detainees.

In an effort to maximize intelligence derived from interrogations and help prevent detainee abuses, Rep. Holt has sponsored legislation to require the videorecording of each strategic interrogation of any person who is in the custody of the DOD or under detention in a DOD facility. These records would be kept at the appropriate level of classification, and would be available to intelligence personnel who could examine them for any potential intelligence benefit. Videotaping of interrogations is one of those mechanisms and has already been implemented by law enforcement organizations across the country. Videotaping has proven to be extremely effective at preventing not just abuse of detainees but also false allegations of abuse by detainees against their interrogators. Holt secured inclusion of a detainee interrogation videorecording provision in the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009.
Strengthening Foreign Language Capability

The Government Accountability Office, the 9/11 Joint Inquiry, and multiple media outlets have all catalogued the American government's severe shortage of trained linguists fluent in the languages spoken by al Qaeda's members. Enlarging the pool of linguists fluent in the languages spoken in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world is vital both to our national security and our public diplomacy generally.

Rep. Holt successfully enacted legislation to require the federal government to invest in the creation of a workforce possessing requisite language skills needed to combat al Qaeda and its affiliates. Holt's initiative established:

* A Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in the Department of Education. This executive-level officer will provide leadership in directing efforts aimed at international and foreign language education.
* Grants for foreign language partnerships between local school districts and foreign language departments at institutions of higher education.
* Grants to institutions of higher education to develop programs that combine foreign language with science curriculum.

Additionally, through his role as chairman of the SIOP, in 2008 Rep. Holt secured a $10 million increase for foreign language training through the National Security Education Program and a $2 million increase for the National Security Language Initiative.

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