Mr. BOREN. Mr. President, in January 1987, Senator Bill Cohen of Maine became vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. With the close of this Congress he will step down from that position as his 8-year term as a member of the committee comes to an end. It has been my privilege to chair the committee and to work closely with Senator Cohen during these past few years. When the history of the intelligence oversight process is written, no one will have made more long lasting contributions to the fairness and effectiveness of that process than my colleague from Maine.
Working closely with another person on a daily basis on highly sensitive issues related to national security certainly gives an opportunity for evaluating that person and his performance. My experience in working with Senator Cohen these past 4 years has left me with the greatest admiration for his ability, his moral courage, and his true love for his country. Time and time again he set aside his own personal interest in order to protect the national interest. While we are of different parties and sometimes have honest differences of opinion, I have deep respect for him as a person and as a Senator. Senator Bill Cohen would easily make any list of the most capable half dozen Members of the Senate. He ranks with the best of those who have served in this great institution over the past two centuries.
From the very beginning Senator Cohen and I attempted to work together as a team to establish a bipartisan spirit in the Intelligence Committee. We knew that on issues of national security, we needed to think as Americans and not as Republicans or Democrats. In that spirit we created a nonpartisan policy in the hiring of professional committee staff.
Senator Cohen also strongly supported strict rules and policies to stop the leaking of sensitive information to restore confidence and trust in the intelligence oversight process. No compromise of any important sensitive information has occurred as a result of actions by committee members or staff during his 4 years, that Bill Cohen has served as vice chairman of that committee.
During the Cohen vice chairmanship, the committee has been restructured with periodic and systematic tracking and review of all covert action programs in force.
A new special audit unit has been formed as a part of the Senate Intelligence Committee staff to provide independent information about the operation of our most secret programs. This is the first time that the oversight process has had that kind of independent monitoring capability. The office of a statutory inspector general has also been established at the CIA.
Senator Cohen also assisted in negotiations with the White House on a series of reforms in the way in which covert action programs are initiated. Included in these reforms is a requirement that Presidential covert action orders or findings be written and nonretroactive, and include information about any involvement by other governments or private parties. These are the most significant reforms to result from the Iran/Contra hearings.
Senator Cohen has taken the lead in efforts to strengthen the counterintelligence program of our Government in order to reduce the costly compromises of technical and military programs of spies and foreign agents.
He has helped to begin a process for reshaping the CIA and the Intelligence Community to meet new challenges in a post-cold war environment. As economic competition begins to replace military competition and regional conflicts pose greater risks than superpower confrontations, the CIA will need very different capabilities especially in the area of human intelligence and analysis. Bill Cohen has made an important contribution to that process of change.
The Intelligence Committee is a unique committee. The members are asked to serve as trustees for the rest of the Senate and for the American people. It was established to make certain that the most secret programs of our Government would be carried out in an effective and cost-efficient manner, and above all in a manner consistent with the democratic and moral values of the American people. For the past 8 years as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and for the last 4 years as vice chairman, Senator Bill Cohen has measured up to the trust which has been placed in him. Without regard to party or faction, Senator Cohen deserves the appreciation of all Americans. He is a statesman in an era in which statesmanship has been tragically in short supply.
Mr. President, I thank my colleagues.
I yield the floor.
Mr. KERREY addressed the Chair.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Nebraska is recognized.
Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, let me add to the remarks of the distinguished Senator from Oklahoma.
I, too, share his admiration for the distinguished Senator from Maine, and observe that if the history of our intelligence operation of the United States of America were to be written today it unquestionably would identify Senator Cohen as being a leading figure in making certain that our intelligence operation is an effective one.
If it were to be written a couple of years from now it is apt to be the case that the distinguished Senator from Oklahoma would be identified as well as someone that has brought new credibility, and as well I think a new focus to the operation of our intelligence-gathering work. He certainly has made it an awful lot easier for those of us who are not on the Intelligence Committee to understand what needs to be done, to understand the relationship of this effort to our own efforts, and had made it an awful lot easier for us to be comfortable in fact that this operation is being done with the best interests of the United States in mind.
I applaud the efforts of the distinguished Senator from Oklahoma as well as the distinguished Senator from Maine whom he identified in his remarks.