Mr. METZENBAUM. Mr. President, last week the executive branch submitted to Congress part of its intelligence budget request for fiscal year 1994. This was an event many of us were looking forward to, because President Clinton had made a major campaign promise to trim $7 billion from that budget.
If recent press stories are to be believed, however, we and the American people are in for a rude awakening. Last Thursday, the New York Times reported:
President Clinton has asked Congress for authority to spend even more money on spy agencies, satellites and other intelligence activities in the 1994 fiscal year than it allotted for 1993.
The story went on to say that the budget request for the National Foreign Intelligence Program was for $17.8 billion, compared to $17 billion in the current fiscal year, while the budget request for tactical intelligence and related activities would be roughly at last year's appropriated level.
Thursday's story included a classic example of budget spin doctors at work. Let me quote:
* * * the administration has concluded that at least a short-term increase in * * * intelligence spending is needed before * * * deep reductions can be made in the budgets of the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies.
Now, I have to ask, Mr. President, why does intelligence need `a short-term increase?' And what does `at least' mean?
The cold war is over, yet the intelligence budget is more than double what it was in 1979. Its growth was unbridled for a decade, and we have just begun, in the last couple of years, to pare down the fat.
Does U.S. intelligence need a budget increase today? This Senator's answer is, `No way.'
Thursday's New York Times story noted some distress on the part of lawmakers and predicted a sharp debate on the intelligence budget. It
quoted Representative Dan Glickman of Kansas, the very able chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as saying, `I'm not going to be thrilled about an increase.'
I want to commend Representative Glickman for his stance. He is not slamming the door in anybody's face, but he is sending a message that Congress had good reasons for trimming the intelligence budget, and that any budget presented to us had better be consistent with President Clinton's promises to the American people.
Mr. President, we are working with a new administration that I was delighted to help elect, and I have supported and will continue to support the administration even when I have some personal misgivings. But it gets awfully difficult when you read an Associated Press story on the intelligence budget that says:
The Clinton administration is * * * hoping Republican support in Congress will help overcome outspoken Democratic objections.
I will give the President the benefit of the doubt and go along with some tax breaks I do not care for. I will accept passive loss changes for the real estate industry, even though I do not think they are right. I will even hold my tongue when western Senators are able to hold onto their precious mining and grazing subsidies.
But if the intelligence budget presented to us turns out to be nothing more than warmed-over George Bush, then I am off the reservation.
The New York Times story says that the total intelligence budget request will be about $28 billion. I do not know what it will be, because the full request has yet to be submitted. But let us assume that the press story is right.
Is $28 billion a lot of money? To those people who think only in terms of the total Federal budget, it may not seem like much. Even as a proportion of the defense budget, it is only about 10 percent.
But $28 billion is still more than the Federal Government spends on education and the environment
combined. And as is well known, we just defeated an effort of this administration and many of us on this side of the aisle to pass a jobs program and an economic stimulus program of only $12 billion, less than half of that $28 billion. And to this point it has been defeated. It is more than twice what we will spend on putting Americans back to work if my Republican colleagues allow us to conclude debate on the President's stimulus package. And I will bet that it is even more money than Ross Perot has.
So it makes sense, Mr. President, to spend intelligence money wisely. Last year, when the Senate Intelligence Committee looked at that budget, we not only trimmed more than a billion dollars off it; we also saw that cut sustained in the defense budget, rather than being used to fund other programs. And the appropriations found even more to cut.
This year, as we ask Americans to pay more taxes in order to pare down the deficits of the cold war and the high-living 1980's, we have an even greater obligation to make sure that every penny we put into U.S. intelligence is money that is truly needed, money that will be spent wisely and effectively.
I will listen closely to see whether intelligence officials can make that case for a budget increase, but I will tell my colleagues frankly that for now, I just cannot believe it.
Let me turn now from the substance of the intelligence budget to the fact that its size is being debated. I may disagree with the administration over what the budget should be, but I am delighted that we are talking about it, so that the American people can influence that decision through our democratic political process.
Unfortunately, Mr. President, the playing field for this contest is a bit tilted. When the administration decides to push for a bigger budget, they get to tell the New York Times all about it. As I noted earlier, the Intelligence Committee had not even received all of the budget when the New York Times ran its front-page story.
This article was preceded, moreover, by a March 14 story on an executive branch `campaign to persuade Congress to protect the Nation's * * * intelligence budget' from the cuts being exacted in other programs, a story that quoted CIA Director Woolsey and cited `senior administration officials.' Fortunately, the story also quoted Representative Glickman and former CIA Director Colby, who saw room for `substantial cutbacks.' I ask unanimous consent that the text of both those articles be included in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington, March 13--Warning of crippling consequences to national security, the Clinton Administration has begun a quiet but forceful campaign to persuade Congress to protect the nation's $29 billion intelligence budget from deep immediate cuts.
The Administration's unexpected protectiveness toward spy agencies that grew up with the cold war stands in marked contrast to the views of Democratic lawmakers who believe that the agencies' budgets should now shrink in accordance with both the collapse of much of the Communist world and Congressional cost-cutting.
The Clinton policy, critics both in an out of Government point out, would leave spy programs with roughly as many federal dollars as are devoted to education and the environment combined.
Nonetheless, the new Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, has told lawmakers that it would be dangerously unwise in an unstable world to cut next year's spending by more than a relatively small amount.
The White House has not issued a final recommendation, but senior Administration officials said this week that Mr. Woolsey reflected its thinking in urging that any steeper cuts be delayed for at least the next few years.
The differences between Congressional budget cutters and the Administration reflect new tensions in a broad and unusually public debate about the future of American intelligence operations. After decades in which spy agencies spent two-thirds of their budget dollars to track the Soviet threat, no one disputes the need to settle on new missions and new budgets for the nation's vast spy enterprise.
But budget-cutting zeal has intensified disagreements about the pace and scope of change. More than at any other time since the Eastern Bloc's collapsed, Administration and Congressional officials say, the nation's spy agencies must newly justify their roles.
After tripling in size in the 1980's the agencies face their most direct assault from lawmakers who wonder why a shrinkage should not be similarly abrupt. As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dan Glickman, Democrat of Kansas, told Mr. Woolsey this week, `Times have changed.'
Mr. Woolsey says he shares that recognition. As overseer of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the entire, far vaster intelligence community, he told the committee that in the coming months he would offer a broad plan showing how spies, satellites and eavesdropping operations might be put to more efficient use.
Perhaps as much as $1 billion could safety be cut from next year's intelligence budget, Mr. Woolsey said. But he called on lawmakers to `avoid precipitous steps that may bring short-term budget relief but will cripple us in the long run.'
Cutting too much too fast would be `disastrous,' he added.
Other Administration officials predicted some minor wrangling in the weeks ahead as the Office of Management and Budget and others weigh in on final details of the intelligence budget. But the officials said the decision to spare intelligence agencies from sharp cuts this year reflected an agreement between Mr. Woolsey and Defense Secretary Les Aspin, in whose budget intelligence spending is buried. President Clinton's national security adviser, W. Anthony Lake, also supported the decision, they said.
Mr. Woolsey and his allies contend that the pressure to reduce the intelligence budget quickly reflects a misunderstanding among lawmakers and others. If intelligence agencies' main cause came to be the cold war, they say, that should not obscure that the agencies were created with Pearl Harbor in mind.
Even without a Soviet Union, Mr. Woolsey told lawmakers, the United States must still reckon with a bewildering array of threats, from terrorism to North Korean nuclear weapons, and at a time of great instability in the word. What might seem dispensable now could quickly become essential, he said, and it would be particularly unwise for intelligence agencies to be forced to dismiss those entrusted with their most sensitive secrets.
`We know from experience how costly it can be to react too late,' Mr. Woolsey said.
He urged that the United States maintain `cure capabilities' across the intelligence spectrum and said careful deliberations would be needed to identify what those should be. He also said the agencies should be permitted to reduce their staffs through attrition, as it now planned, instead of dismissals brought on by large budget cuts.
Mr. Woolsey's willingness to accept deeper cuts in the future appears more flexible than the stance of his predecessor, Robert M. Gates. He has also drawn influential support from others, including another former Director of Central Intelligence, Richard M. Helms. Mr. Helms, who served in the Nixon Administration, said recently that he believed that the changing world had left intelligence agencies with `more on their plates than they ever had before.'
But other respected professionals in the intelligence community say there may be excessive caution. William E. Colby, who was Director of Central Intelligence from 1973 to 1976, said recently that he believed there was room in the current budget for `substantial cutbacks, particularly in the area of high technology.
`We don't need to worry about Soviet forces busting through the Fulda Gap anymore,' Mr. Colby said, noting that monitoring troop movements had been among spy satellites' principal tasks. `We can go back to a much more relaxed and periodic look at the military forces of the world.'
The responses of several Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee to Mr. Woolsey this week suggested he may have a difficult time winning them over. Even after the Director's warning, Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California and James Bilbray of Nevada indicated they would probably favor deeper cuts than Mr. Woolsey wanted.
And Mr. Glickman, while clearly sympathetic to Mr. Woolsey, gave him a stern lecture: `We want to provide you with the tools necessary to do your job, but only those tools which are absolutely necessary. We expect the community to reflect in its size and the focus of its activities the fact that times have indeed changed.'
Because the intelligence budget remains classified, discussions of it have usually been held behind closed doors. What is remarkable about the current debate is that it has been so public.
Even the C.I.A. has taken new strides toward specificity. As evidence that the agency was already changing with the times, a senior agency official said recently that its staff of Soviet military analysts had been reduced to 9 from 125. In addition, other Government officials have said that less than 1 percent of the C.I.A.'s $3 billion budget is now used for covert action.
In the Senate Intelligence Committee, lawmakers who last year talked about the intelligence budget only in private this year have already disclosed the precise figure, $1.9 billion, by which spending was reduced from its 1992 peak. Elsewhere, private experts have published authoritative accounts of how the remaining $29 billion is now divided, with the C.I.A. and its estimated 19,000 employees accounting for only about 10 percent.
According to these estimates, most of the rest is spent on satellites, eaves dropping operations and other technical systems; about $10 billion is devoted to military intelligence. The best-financed single agency remains the National Reconnaissance Office, which receives $5.2 billion and builds the imagery satellites on which the United States relied to monitor Soviet missile sites.
Mr. Woolsey and other intelligence officials say such budget figures should remain secret. But they are being advised by some lawmakers that as they think anew about what intelligence can do, they should do more of their thinking aloud.
As Representative Richard A. Gephardt, the House majority leader, told Mr. Woolsey this week, the world `is growing increasingly impatient with security and clandestine activity.'
Frankly, the Missouri Democrat said, `you have to sell your story to the American people.'
Washington, April 14: President Clinton has asked Congress for authority to spend even more money on spy agencies, satellites and other intelligence activities in the 1994 fiscal year than it allotted for 1993, Congressional and Administration officials say.
The request is hidden in classified sections of the Defense Department budget that on the whole reflects Mr. Clinton's plans for significant cuts in military spending.
But the Administration has concluded that at least a short-term increase in the intelligence spending is needed before similar deep reductions can be made in the budgets of the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies.
The new Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, had signaled earlier that the Administration would oppose sharp immediate cuts in intelligence spending. But the request for an increase has surprised some lawmakers because Mr. Clinton had promised to slash intelligence spending by $7 billion over four years.
Nearly all of the new spending, Administration officials said today, is to be devoted to launching one or more spy satellites that can take the place of several older ones, saving money in the future.
While some members of both parties have expressed support for such an effort, other lawmakers have privately voiced some distress at the proposal for an increase in the post-cold-war intelligence budget. The request is expected to be the subject of a sharp debate next week when members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees meet behind closed doors to review the budget.
While the size of the nation's vast intelligence budget remains an official secret, Administration and Congressional officials disclosed today that it would total about $28 billion if the increase requested by Mr. Clinton is approved. They said the previous estimates putting the figure at $29 billion had been exaggerated.
Of the total, the officials said Mr. Clinton had proposed that $17.8 billion be set aside next year for the C.I.A. and other agencies whose mission is to provide policy makers with information about the world. That request represents an increase at nearly double the rate of inflation from this year's final appropriation of about $17.0 billion, they said.
At the same time, Congressional officials said Mr. Clinton proposed only minor cuts in the other component of the intelligence budget, the military programs intended to gather the information used in battle. They said that total remained about $10.1 billion.
By comparison, after accounting for inflation, Mr. Clinton proposed a 5 percent reduction in overall military spending.
Administration officials have told members of Congress that the upward blip in intelligence spending will allow agencies to consolidate programs and make deep cuts in the years ahead.
They also argue that Mr. Clinton has not violated his budget-cutting pledge because his request represents a substantial reduction from the figure President George Bush had planned to spend in 1994. Mr. Bush had set aside $19.0 billion for the C.I.A., the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and other national intelligence programs.
Because Congress last year authorized about $400 million more for intelligence than it finally appropriated, an Administration official said last night, the White House intends to portray its proposal as a freeze, not an increase, once inflation is taken into account.
The new Administration hopes such arguments and party loyalty might blunt any Democratic impulse to renew battles that party members fought and won with the Bush Administration to cut intelligence spending. But some Congressional Democrats have already made clear that they intend to fight the new request, even though it comes from a Democratic President.
An influential Democratic lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity said in a recent interview that the request for more money for spy agencies showed that the new Administration `just doesn't get it' in terms of gauging opposition to the proposal.
`This increase is just not going to happen.' the Democratic lawmaker predicted. `They're going to get cut severely.'
Even Representative Dan Glickman, the Kansas Democrat who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a recent interview that he had not yet decided whether to support the White House request. `I'm not going to be thrilled about an increase,' Mr. Glickman said, `but we'll have to see where the increases are coming from.'
Further evidence of the proposed increases is in a public version of Mr. Clinton's 1994 Defense Department budget request.
While the unclassified document leaves blank the spending requests for specific intelligence programs, simple calculations show that a research budget includes a request for a $150 million increase to be divided among the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the new Central Imagery Office, which handles requests for spy satellite photographs.
A separate Air Force procurement budget shows a $570 million increase for a category designated only as `selected activities,' a category that experts outside government said was used to disguise money set aside for the C.I.A. and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates spy satellites.
Mr. METZENBAUM. If those stories are accurate, they give a reader a fair idea of the fiscal year 1994 budget. But officially, those budget figures are still classified secret. So, while the executive branch and the New York Times may assert that the U.S. Government wants to spend $28 million for intelligence, we in the Senate are barred from telling the public how much of their hard-earned money we have been asked to authorize.
The secrecy accorded to the intelligence budget figure is, frankly, not befitting our democratic form of Government. And the same is true for a policy that says, `You can't talk about this, but we can leak it.'
Congress has twice called upon the executive branch to disclose the budget figure beginning this year. It truly pains me that the executive branch did not take advantage of the opportunity afforded by its fiscal year 1994 budget submission to comply with the will of Congress as we expressed it last year. I worry that some officials may find it easier to leak information than to disclose it openly and honestly.
I recently wrote a pair of letters to President Clinton, one on the need to trim the intelligence budget and one on why the intelligence budget figure should be made public.
My letter on the size of the intelligence budget pointed out the tremendous increase in intelligence spending after 1979. I went on to note some of the areas in which intelligence spending could be reduced. These include wasteful security programs, tactical intelligence systems designed to meet threats that have largely disappeared, and redundant administrative support costs.
My letter on making public the figure for the total intelligence budget emphasized that the end of the cold war has removed any security justification for keeping secret a figure that discloses no truly sensitive information at all. Thus, there is no longer any legitimate bar to disclosing how much we spend on this function of Government.
The President was generous and forthcoming in his response to my letters:
He acknowledged the need `to abide by the letter and spirit of the law' and to `make the congressional oversight committees a partner in deliberations regarding sensitive intelligence activities.'
He reiterated his pledge to `save a total of $7 billion over the years 1993-97' and promised `a budget plan that allows intelligence to pay its fair share in reducing the budget deficit.'
He pledged consolidation and streamlining of intelligence systems and management, and said that it was `time to reevaluate the onerous and costly system of security which has led to the overclassification of documents.'
And he did not reject the idea of disclosing the intelligence budget total, although he asked for time to evaluate the pros and cons and to determine his intelligence priorities before addressing this issue.
I was pleased by this response, Mr. President, and I ask unanimous consent that the full text of my two letters, one of which has been edited to remove all classified material, and of President Clinton's reply be inserted into the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
February 24, 1993.
The President of the United States,
The White House Office,
Dear Mr. President: Both public and congressional reaction to your excellent economic program has made clear the need for additional budget reductions. I encourage you to subject the intelligence budget to the same rigorous examination that you apply to the rest of federal spending.
Intelligence spending now stands at [...] billion, which is more than double what it was 14 years ago. As you know, the intelligence budget is divided into two parts: the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP), which includes CIA, DIA, part of NSA, and various smaller programs; and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (TIARA) budget, which combines the tactical intelligence programs of the separate military services. Both halves of the intelligence budget grew tremendously in the 1980s:
The NFIP budget rose 133 percent [from Fiscal Year 1979], before Congress began to trim it back. NFIP now gets [...], which is still an increase of 110 percent since Fiscal Year 1979.
The TIARA budget rose 141 percent from [...] 1979 to [its peak]. The FY93 TIARA budget [...] represents an increase of 98 percent since Fiscal Year 1979.
The intelligence budget has been protected far more than the overall defense budget. The defense budget--with all its pork-barrel spending--rose only 58 percent in real terms between Fiscal Year 1979 and FY85, and the overall rise in the defense budget since 1979 has been only 11 percent.
Recently the Congressional Budget Office published a book of possible budget reductions. Their suggestions included cutbacks in such TIARA programs as the FEWS satellite and SOSUS submarine monitoring, with an annual cost of $650 million. The Senate Intelligence Committee has recommended similar cuts for years. But we lack jurisdiction over TIARA and there is still no effective cross-service review of TIARA programs in the Executive branch, let alone any balancing of those programs against other intelligence expenditures.
Cutting the NFIP budget without harming the national security may not appear as easy as reducing the TIARA budget, but such surgery is both possible and necessary. The National Foreign Intelligence Program is beset by duplication of effort that we can no longer afford, especially in administrative support costs. And the public's money continues to be squandered on feckless projects, from ill-conceived and poorly run covert action programs to [...] `economic security' intelligence efforts that are hardly necessary to the national security, and could even harm it. [...]
Streamlining the tasks assigned to the many NFIP agencies--accompanied by a cutback in needless or conflicting security requirements--would result in substantial budget savings. As reported in a recent Community Management Review that was commissioned by then-DCI Robert Gates:
`The security system that underlies the entire Community is completely out of date and dysfunctional, and is the single greatest barrier to progress in realizing significant improvement in the management of the Community and its relations with consumers.
`Across the board the Community is burdened with too much middle management. The manager-to-worker, or headquarters-to-field personnel ratios are way out of line with efficient or effective management.'
It is not easy to combat wasteful and inefficient intelligence spending, although the Senate Intelligence Committee tries to do this. Just as in other parts of the federal budget, there are advocates for every program. And not only are the details secret; even the figure for the total intelligence budget and the statistics cited earlier in this letter remain classified.
I urge you to make public the size of the intelligence budget. If there was ever a security justification for such secrecy, it clearly vanished with the Cold War. Congress has twice recommended, moreover, that you make public the size of the intelligence budget when you submit your Fiscal Year 1994 request in a few months. The enclosed unclassified letter reviews the debate on this issue.
In summary, there is amply room for further reductions in intelligence spending. Some of those reductions will improve the national security by making U.S. intelligence agencies more efficient, while others will eliminate unneeded or even harmful programs. I urge you to mandate these needed reductions in spending, and also to make public just how much of the taxpayer's money is going to the NFIP and TIARA budgets.
Very sincerely yours.
Howard M. Metzenbaum,
The President of the United States,
The White House Office,
Dear Mr. President: For the last two years, the Intelligence Authorization Act has included the following provision regarding intelligence budget disclosure:
`It is the sense of Congress that, beginning in 1993, and in each year thereafter, the aggregate amount requested and authorized for, and spent on, intelligence and intelligence-related activities should be disclosed to the public in an appropriate manner.'
With the end of the Cold War, there is a new requirement to buttress public trust in U.S. intelligence. The old forces that once assured a consensus on the need for secret intelligence operations no longer exist.
A limited budget disclosure such as that which Congress has recommended would be an important, and simple, first step toward creating a new basis for that public trust. I urge you to take that step and tell the American people how much of their tax money is devoted to intelligence activities.
The arguments against any budget disclosure are old and discredited. A few people still fear that the disclosure of even one or two numbers will give our enemies useful information that they would not otherwise get. But Admiral Bobby Inman and others have assured the Senate Intelligence Committee that this is highly unlikely.
The intelligence budget total has been called the worst-kept secret in town, moreover, and of course that's true. Last year, in the heat of battle, intelligence officials and Committee leaders called its cut in the National Foreign Intelligence Budget both a $1 billion cut and a five-percent cut, thus informing the public that the NFIP budget request was roughly $20 billion. And last month, a Washington Post article based at least partly on an interview with outgoing Director Gates included a detailed chronology of the cuts made in the NFIP and TIARA budgets--to the nearest $100 million.
Other people fear that a little disclosure will beget more--as though Congress and the Executive branch were incapable of reaching agreement on how much to disclose. But we reach agreement on far more sensitive matters all the time; that's what you and we are paid to do.
Some people in the Intelligence community worry that even such a limited budget disclosure will lead Congress to handle the intelligence budget as a separate item from the defense budget, and that this will lead in turn to lower intelligence budgets. Such results are far from a foregone conclusion, however, and many doubt that they would come about; indeed, some of my colleagues believe that disclosure will increase public support for intelligence funding.
The arguments in favor of limited budget disclosure are more basic. They begin with the premise that the American people should have access to information on how their government functions, when its release would not endanger the national security. The `Statement and Account' clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7) speaks to this very point:
`No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations, made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.'
People can argue over whether this clause requires the disclosure of the budget total for intelligence. The Supreme Court has avoided any decision on the issue, ruling instead in U.S. v. Richardson (418 U.S. 166) that a citizen lacked standing to sue.
There is no question, however, that Congress has the power to compel budget disclosure; both the Richardson dictum and Executive branch legal opinions confirm this. I do not doubt, moreover, that we could pass such legislation if we had to.
The real question is why any Executive branch would not, in this post-Cold War era, be prepared to make this modest disclosure on its own. Please take a personal interest in this matter and direct your Administration to comply with the sense of Congress on it. For, if the rhetoric of change cannot be translated into even this little bit of openness, then we shall all have failed the test that you so eloquently propounded, to `scale the walls of the people's skepticism, not with our words but with our deeds.'
Very sincerely yours,
Howard M. Metzenbaum,
The White House,
Washington, March 27, 1993.
Hon. Howard M. Metzenbaum,
Dear Senator Metzenbaum: Thank you for your recent thoughtful correspondence on the intelligence budget and the need for creating a new basis of public trust regarding intelligence activities. I have considered your letters carefully.
The lessons of the past are well known. The failure of previous administrations to abide by the letter and spirit of the law or make the congressional oversight committees a partner in deliberations regarding sensitive intelligence activities led to disastrous consequences for the intelligence community. More importantly, it led to a crisis of confidence on the part of the American people.
I am determined to avoid that path. We intend to work closely with you and your colleagues in the Congress to ensure that we build an intelligence community that is ready for the challenging intelligence missions of the next century and not the last one. The Cold War is over, and both the American public and the imperatives of security demand that we must move beyond our historical focus on the old Soviet military target. But we must also act on the assumption that the new threats and opportunities require dexterous and well-grounded intelligence.
It is clear that the intelligence community must do more with limited resources. As I promised during the campaign, we will save a total of $7 billion over the years 1993-1997 from the previous administration's request for national and tactical intelligence programs.
The Director of Central Intelligence is reviewing ways to consolidate the operation of costly collection systems and to streamline the management of the intelligence community. In addition, under the auspices of the National Security Council, we are engaged in an effort to redefine both our national security priorities and the appropriate role for the intelligence community in meeting new threats and challenges.
I know that the congressional oversight committees also will conduct a thorough evaluation of these difficult issues. It is my hope that you and your colleagues will be our partners in implementing a new long-term strategy that results in better and more cost-effective intelligence.
If more savings are appropriate, based on our respective reviews, I will work with the DCI and our oversight committees to ensure that additional reductions are carried out in a manner that does not impair our nation's security. I believe that a strong intelligence community is essential to the preservation of our vital interests.
I also believe in change. It is time to reevaluate the onerous and costly system of security which has led to the overclassification of documents. The result of our effort should not only be to save money but also lead to better security for our most sensitive programs.
Finally, I take seriously your suggestion that our Administration disclose the aggregate amount spent on intelligence when we submit our Fiscal Year 94 budget to the Congress. But as Jim Woolsey and the rest of our national security team attempt to structure new intelligence priorities, my hope is that you will allow us the opportunity to evaluate carefully both the benefits and legitimate concerns which are associated with such public disclosure. I will seek the views of other members and leaders of the Congress as well. At this point, before making a decision on public disclosure, we would like to take the time to establish new intelligence priorities and structure a budget plan that allows intelligence to pay its fair share in reducing the budget deficit.
I remain committed to greater openness and accountability. I hope that we can work together to achieve these objectives and that you will continue to share your thoughts with me in the weeks and months ahead.
Mr. METZENBAUM. At the same time, I want to assure my fellow Senators and the American people that I expect the administration to follow up these encouraging words with real action. So far, the action seems to go in one direction and the words in another.
I truly hope that somehow the proposed intelligence budget for fiscal year 1994 will reflect new priorities and President Clinton's pledge of savings, and not throw away money on outmoded or undeserving programs while the administration searches for new directions. I also look to the administration to face up to the fact that there is no longer any shred of a security justification for continued secrecy on the budget total.
And it will not suffice to say that disclosure might adversely affect the intelligence budget. In the absence of a legitimate security justification, the norms of our democratic system require that the public be informed.
If necessary, we in the Senate should be prepared to enforce those norms. In that regard, I am pleased to note, Mr. President, a recent Newsday story, which was carried in the Columbus Dispatch, stating that `President Clinton has approved a proposal to allow the congressional intelligence committees to make public' the intelligence budget figure. I hope that is true.
The story quotes our esteemed chairman, Senator DeConcini of Arizona, and others in support of this move, and I applaud my chairman for that stand. I ask unanimous consent that the text of that article appear in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington.--The U.S. intelligence community, one of the last sacred cows of the Cold War, is heading for the congressional chopping block.
After 46 years of being hidden in the Pentagon budget, Congress is going to make public a limited overview of the intelligence community's budget, now estimated at $28.5 billion.
Although some details are still being worked out, congressional sources said President Clinton has approved a proposal to allow the congressional intelligence committees to make public the overall intelligence community spending.
`It's going to happen,' said Chairman Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., of the Senate Intelligence Committee. `I've dropped my opposition.'
While the details may not be that revealing, officials of the Central Intelligence Agency and its critics predict the new openness will trigger unprecedented public debate on several activities, including:
Global eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, a U.S. military operation at Fort Meade, Md., where supercomputers are used to crack intercepted codes and sort everything from telephone calls in Moscow to missile telemetry from rocket tests by China.
Spying by satellites operated by the National Reconnaissance Office. Concern is growing over the need for the satellites, which cost about $1 billion each.
CIA analysis that has become the predominant government view of world events and the foundation of U.S. foreign policy. In recent years, the CIA has missed events ranging from the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Both defenders of the community, such as DeConcini, and critics on the Senate panel, such as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., insist that sensitive information will remain secret.
`What's covert should remain covert,' Kerry said.
Antoher panel member, Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., said public discussion would be `in grand terms. We won't be talking about paying agents to do certain things in certain countries.'
But the debate is sure to lead to new cuts in intelligence budgets, say sources in Congress and the spy network. Clinton's economic blueprint calls for a $7.5 billion cut over five years. The Congressional Budget Office has called for cuts of $18 billion over the same period.
Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, a member of the Intelligence panel, has taken the lead in pressuring Clinton to support a broader congressional debate. `Every member of Congress would have a say in how much we spend on intelligence,' Metzenbaum said. `It's the American way.'
R. James Woolsey, director of Central Intelligence, is opposed to the move. He argues that even broad-brush and limited public disclosure could lead to the unveiling of covert operations and sophisticated new technology.
`Once you pull the string, the sweater can unravel very quickly,' said Richard Helms, a former CIA director who also doubted the merits of public debate. But Helms and another ex-director, William Colby, both predicted substantial cuts could be made in intelligence budgets that peaked in 1990 at an estimated $31 billion.
Mr. METZENBAUM. Finally, let me assure my colleagues that I will keep pressing the executive branch to really combat overclassification of information. The current system, by classifying everything, merely encourages leaks like the budget story in the New York Times and erodes respect for the real secrets that require real protection. It also leads to senseless spending on security to safeguard information that need not be protected, against threats that often are no longer realistic concerns.
President Clinton concluded his letter to me with the statement: `I remain committed to greater openness and accountability.' So do we, Mr. President; and I, for one, will do my utmost to help him achieve those important objectives.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. FORD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.