Sep 21 2004

SHELBY URGES STRONG NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR

Shelby Statement on Intelligence Reforms

U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, today gave the following opening statement during a mark-up of the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004:

“Madame Chairman, I want to thank you and Senator Lieberman for the tireless effort that has been put into the bill we are considering today. These are important issues and the reforms we are discussing are essential to the long-term effectiveness of our intelligence community and more importantly, to our national security.”

“I believe that the charge of the 9/11 Commission and the recommendations borne from their labors are vitally important to our nation and to the memories of those who lost their lives on that tragic day. However, it is equally important that we not simply react but that we take specific, decisive action based on a broad range of knowledge and expertise in order to accomplish the goals set forth. I truly believe that decisions made hastily and without a full appreciation for the consequences may ultimately create more problems than they actually solve.”

“I know that you, Senator Collins, along with Senator Lieberman have put an enormous amount of thought and effort into this legislation and you are to be commended. For a number of years I have advocated for significant structural reforms to our intelligence community - reforms that comport with many of the findings of the 9/11 Commission and many of the provisions you have included in your legislation.”

“That being said, Madame Chairman, I believe that we must take the steps necessary to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated because of a failed attempt to reform our intelligence community. We must do everything in our power to ensure that we undertake thoughtful, deliberative and meaningful reform of the intelligence community.”

“As I have said many times throughout our discussions on this issue - change for the sake of change will do nothing to truly reform the entrenched bureaucratic behemoth that is our intelligence community, nor will it correct the failures that led up to September 11th, 2001.”
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“It is my view that we should create a new National Intelligence Director that is a cabinet member, has strict budgetary control and management authority over elements of our intelligence community.”

“While I believe that the bill before us makes significant strides toward creating a National Intelligence Director with broad authority, I do not believe that it goes far enough. Budgetary control is important but it is not enough to compel personnel to take necessary action. The C.I.A. Director has much of the same budgetary control that we are discussing here today but he did not have the management authority necessary to compel action.”

“Based on my reading, the proposal before us today essentially creates a budget officer with no real personnel authority. This scenario leads to a murky delineation of who answers to whom and - most importantly - who is ultimately responsible for the successes and failures of the intelligence community.”

“I believe that reforming our intelligence community is one of the most important things that we can do in order to ensure that our country is in fact safer, stronger and wiser. Madame Chairman, the American people cannot and should not tolerate the status quo because Congress didn't have the will to mandate significant and sweeping reform of our intelligence community.”

“These are extremely important issues and I look forward to a full and spirited debate on the merits.”