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Public Statements

Intelligence Reform

Location: Washington DC

Nov. 20, 2004


Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, we are now in a serious quandary and a quagmire in some part due to the fact this institution, and our counterpart across the Hall, has difficulty in effective collaboration. With that said, I want to talk about what I think is really one of the outstanding examples of what can happen when our Chamber and our friends in the House of Representatives decide there is an issue important enough to collaborate on to do something important for the people of America.

We have had, over the last 15 years, a series of the most serious failures of American intelligence in our Nation's history. It didn't just start with September 11, 2001, and it didn't end with the circumstances that led to the war in Iraq. Going back over the decade of the 1990s we had the World Trade Center attack in New York, we had attacks against our embassies in Africa, we had failure to detect that India and Pakistan had become nuclear powers, we had the loss of the USS Cole in Yemen-all of those, which should have been detected, preempted, and the tragedy avoided by the effective professional work of our intelligence agencies. We didn't get what we thought we deserved.

I wish to particularly commend this evening Senators COLLINS and LIEBERMAN as well as Senators ROBERTS and ROCKEFELLER for the outstanding leadership they have given in trying to overcome this vulnerability, this unnecessary vulnerability.

When I look at a final piece of legislation, I approach it in this manner. First, what were the problems-or maybe, what were the missed opportunities that led us to believe it was important that we develop this legislation? And now, at the end of the process, how well does the final product solve or at least substantially mitigate the problem that had led to our concern in the first place?

As it relates to the status of our intelligence agencies, we have had a number of problems that have each contributed, in their own way, to this series of failures. We have had the problem of the difficulty in the intelligence agencies adapting to changing adversaries and the changing global threat environment. The Cold War was the most fundamental historic event in the history of the American intelligence. Our intelligence agency had been focused for the better part of 45 years on the Soviet Union. We knew their languages. We knew their cultures. They were an entity very similar to the United States of America. We could almost anticipate what their actions would be.

Today, we have a massively asymmetrical adversary. Groups such as al-Qaida and Hezbollah and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, nations which are not nation states or tribes of tribes driven by extreme religious beliefs. We have not adapted to that change, and we have paid a high price for that failure to adapt. I am pleased to say there are provisions in the Intelligence Reform Act-and I hope we will soon take it up-which will begin to alter that situation.

We are establishing a strong Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, who will be able to provide overall leadership and direction. He or she will not be responsible for the management of a line agency, as is the case today, where the Director of Central Intelligence is also the Director of the CIA. But, rather, he will be able to focus on those issues that will affect the entire community of intelligence and will have the responsibility to assure that we are sensitive and responsive to new developments.

I believe one of the areas in which we will face the greatest challenge in this responsiveness will be in our domestic intelligence. The FBI has been one of the agencies finding it most difficult to respond to a new environment. There has been a pattern of continuing to follow the culture of law enforcement when we need a new culture of intelligence to best protect our domestic vulnerabilities.

I am pleased at some of the progress Director Mueller has made. I believe we should continue to explore other alternatives to see if they will better protect our domestic security. I am pleased that under this legislation, the FBI, while not a unit of the Department of National Intelligence, will be still under the direct control of the FBI but will be considered part of the intelligence community family. I hope at an early date there will be an analysis of what should be our mission statement for domestic intelligence and then what changes in the FBI or further organizational changes will be required in order to fulfill that mission.

A second major problem has been the failure of the intelligence community to provide the big picture, strategic intelligence. Our former colleague, Pat Moynihan, used to regularly complain that, while we knew a great deal about the telephone system inside the Kremlin, nobody had observed the fact that the Soviet Union was near collapse. We have had similar failures to see the big picture, in terms of the failure to recognize the presence of terrorist cells within the United States, cells which were supported by terrorist entities or those supported by foreign governments. In the runup to the war in Iraq was another massive failure to give appropriate strategic intelligence. It is hoped the strong Director of National Intelligence will now have an opportunity to focus on these strategic issues. It is also hoped, as this legislation gives a heightened priority to source information-that is information that is available through public documents, newspapers, and other means-that it will receive a new importance in terms of arriving at overall intelligence conclusions.

There also has been a serious failure in human intelligence. We have many people in the intelligence agencies who understand the culture and the language of Russia. We are grossly inadequate in terms of people who understand the culture and language of the Middle East and central Asia. This legislation supplements legislation that we have already passed in the Defense authorization bill which would establish a framework for what I would refer to as a ROTC, Reserve Officers Training Corps, except in this case not for the military but, rather, for intelligence purposes.

We have a sound foundation upon which to base the reform of our intelligence agencies. The problem we face tonight is that sound foundation which probably would pass this body by a vote of almost that which passed a few weeks ago, which was 96 to 2, and by a substantial majority in the House of Representatives, is being held up by a few Members of the House who wish to see the status quo retained or have other goals which are unrelated to the reform of the intelligence community that they have been unable to secure incorporation in this final conference report.

It would be a very sad conclusion of this session of Congress if one of the most pressing issues facing our Nation and the security of Americans; that is, provision of an intelligence capability that will allow us to understand our new adversaries will allow us to preempt the activities of those adversaries and will put us in a position to do what President Bush stated was our goal when he said our goal in the war on terror does not end with al-Qaida; it only starts there. It extends to all terrorist groups which have global reach. We will find them. We will stop them. We will destroy them.

We cannot carry out the Bush doctrine in the war on terror unless we have substantial enhancements in our intelligence community.

This is not something that just came upon us a few months ago. There is literally a stack higher than my desk of reports that have been written just since the end of the Cold War pointing out consistently the limitations in making recommendations to enhance our intelligence capability. These were totally ignored until 9/11. Even after 9/11 we were extremely slow to appreciate the urgency of reform of our intelligence agencies. We had to go almost to the third anniversary after 9/11 before serious consideration was being given.

For us today to announce we again have failed to take action to protect the American people would be a tragic condemnation of this session of Congress, and an unnecessary condemnation. We have an excellent proposal which has been endorsed by the 9/11 Commission, by leadership, and by the families of the tragedy of 9/11. For us to walk away from this opportunity that we now have to demonstrate that through bipartisan and bicameral actions this Congress is able to identify a serious national problem, deal with that problem, and enact it into law would be itself yet another tragedy.

I hope when we reach the week of December 6 and the House returns that the House will resolve its internal disputes and the President will continue his involvement. I personally urge the President to particularly direct attention to the Pentagon where I think much of the energy for recalcitrance has emanated and that we will, before this year is over, pass an intelligence reform bill which will serve the interests of the American people and will bring honor to the Congress.

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