NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL (Senate - November 10, 1993)

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Mr. DeCONCINI. Mr. President, in this morning's Washington Times, there is a story about the National Security Council and the staff that is there. It is entitled `Many key staffers came up under Bush, and it is by Mr. Gertz. It is a very interesting article.

I can only comment, having been the chairman of the Intelligence Committee now for roughly 10 months, that I find the NSC to be very professional and, though I would like to see them devote more time in the area of intelligence, they have had their calendar and agenda very, very full.

But there is an interesting misquote in our misperception that could be drawn from this article, and it relates to Mr. George Tenet, who is at the NSC and has been since I believe January or February. Mr. Tenet, who was a former staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee for 6 years, worked for Senator Heinz, then for Senator Leahy, and then Senator Boren on that committee. I had an opportunity to work with him for 6 years when he was staff director. He is one of the most knowledgeable people, I believe, in this country in the field of intelligence and he heads the intelligence area of the NSC.

There is a statement here:

Associates say Mr. Tenet is politically astute but lacks a thorough understanding of the intelligence business.

That is nonsense. I have seen the depth of Mr. Tenet, and he has been a source of tremendous value to the committee and I know a source of tremendous value today to the NSC.

I think, quite frankly, that if the administration followed more recommendations and advice from people like Mr. Tenet we would have less acrimony that we had in developing an intelligence budget. And we have had problems. We finally got them resolved, I believe, and finally moved ahead. But we are late in the year, well into a CR in 1994, and we have not conferenced yet nor have we based the conference report on defense appropriations that funds the intelligence department.

I have talked to Mr. Tenet a number of times. I know that his advice has been very sound to the administration and I hope that they would now start to take even more of it.

But, also, Mr. Tenet has been involved in a number of decisions that involve the intelligence gathering and interpretation of the intelligence as it relates to judgments the President must make. Mr. Tenet has given good advice and is truly one of the experts in the area of intelligence in this country.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

Mr. BAUCUS addressed the Chair.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Montana [Mr. Baucus].

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