GUATEMALA (Senate - July 27, 1995)

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Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, I thank the Chair.

The newspapers today are reporting conflicting information about the CIA inspector general's initial investigation into CIA involvement in murder and human rights abuses in Guatemala. This is an important topic, Mr. President. Following our hearing on this topic in the Intelligence Committee yesterday, I feel obligated to tell the Senate about this investigation and my concerns with it.

This is an important topic because it centers on trust, the trust related to secrecy.

We the effected policymakers--The President and Congress--ask the CIA to collect information covertly. Sometimes we also ask the CIA to undertake covert action in support of U.S. policy, covert action which is supposed to be deniable. To accomplish these tasks, we permit them to operate in an environment of secrecy.

However, with secrecy comes trust. We trust they will not abuse secrecy by using it to cover mistakes or actions which contradict the U.S. law or American values. To be sure they will not, Congress set up the oversight committees to check what CIA is doing, in particular, in secret.

We check by looking and asking. When we ask, we trust the answer we are getting is true. The law says it must be true, and that the two oversight committees must be kept fully and currently informed.

Were we so informed about the CIA's human rights record in Guatemala? Clearly, the answer is no. That being the case, the question then occurs, did CIA employees intentionally withhold information from Congress with the intent to deceive or mislead Congress? That is the core remaining issue in my mind.

Let me review where the investigation process stands right now, so colleagues, perhaps, have a better understanding, if asked, about the reports in the paper yesterday and today.

The report presented yesterday to the Intelligence Committee, the report of CIA IG Fred Hitz, is the first of six reports ordered by President Clinton on the Guatemala-United States human rights relationship.

A second CIA IG report on the cases other than the murders of Michael Devine and Efrain Bamaca will be completed by the end of August.

A Defense Department report on defense relationships in Guatemala will be ready at about the same time.

A State Department report on these cases will be ready in mid-August.

A Justice Department report is in final draft and could be out this week.

All these reports will be reviewed by the President's Intelligence Oversight Advisory Board, which is committed to reporting the results of its own investigation to the President by October 1.

So there is more information coming. The reports in the press are not the final chapter. We, the Congress, are the jury, and the jury is still out.

Let me review what we do know:

First, we know the CIA IG is doing its investigative job well. Fred Hitz' investigators have uncovered new data and organized it with great coherence. It is only because of their complete presentation of the cases that we, Senators, are able to isolate and ask the hard questions.

Second, we know the oversight task of Congress is made more difficult by attitudes of resistance at CIA.

Third, we know the trust which we grant with the right to secrecy is at risk.

Last, we know the CIA effort in Guatemala probably was not worth the loss to the Agency and the United States of being associated with these cases.

But there are some key facts we do not yet know. We do not know yet whether or not the withholding of information was a violation of law.

There is no question information was withheld from Congress. Was the withholding done with the intent to mislead Congress?

There is a question of what happened to the victims? Who killed Michael Devine and the other American victims? Who killed Efrain Bamaca?

Indeed, I think it is important that colleagues understand the investigation ordered by the President is not directed to answer those particular questions but directed, instead, to discover whether our agencies had any involvement with it.

The last question is whether or not the U.S. Government agencies contributed to or abetted any of these crimes, even indirectly. All this is done with the purpose of trying to discover what we can do to prevent events like this in the future. It is not just a simple exercise. It is an exercise that must go forward successfully if the people are to trust that the right of secrecy, the granting of secrecy is deserving of that trust.

In his initial report, Inspector General Hitz has recommended structural changes and cultural changes in the Agency, and Director Deutch has responded forcefully. The changes will come: the structural soon, the cultural over time, because Director Deutch's concept of management accountability will permit no less and because Fred Hitz's display of the facts is so clear and complete.

But the questions of why these events occurred, and what CIA officials at the time intended as they wrote reports to Congress and responded to congressional inquiries--these questions are unanswered. It falls to us, Congress, to apply our judgment and experience to answer them. No one at CIA or elsewhere in the administration can do it for us.

This investigation is about trust in the way we collect intelligence. Sometimes we concentrate so exclusively on the problems in the intelligence community that we forget why we are doing this.

Very simply, there is valuable information out there in the world that is someone's secret. This information is not publicly available. The intelligence community collects that information and combines it with other, perhaps publicly available information, to turn it into understanding.

That way, they can do what they get paid for: getting the right information to the right person at the right time so as to improve that person's chances of success.

Worth asking is who is that person, the recipient of the right information?

First, we have the national policy customer, seeking success in a policy decision. It is the President, the National Security Council, the Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury. And it is the Congress, too, as we ponder policy decisions, the latest of which for all of us, has been the situation in Bosnia.

It is the military, seeking success in battle, or in protecting our forces, or in preparing a operations plan, or making a weapons acquisition decision. It is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, it is a pilot or squad leader in a dangerous overseas deployment, and all the military in between. The intelligence support to these customers cannot be too good, and I know that is Director Deutch's commitment, too.

Next, it is law enforcement, seeking success in arresting a terrorist who has killed Americans or in preventing drugs from coming to this country.

Next, we have economic customers like the Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Agriculture as they seek success in insuring fair trade practices around the world toward American products and services.

Intelligence ought to be an essential contributor to success in all these areas--we certainly pay enough for it.

We should task intelligence, resource intelligence, and grade intelligence on the basis of threats, and we should rank order the threats:

First, we should task intelligence to know most about the threats that could take away America's freedom and independence.

Second, we should task intelligence against the threats to American lives, with higher priority to the threats that can kill many Americans, such as the nuclear weapons still in Russia, and lower priority to the threats that can kill fewer of us.

These are difficult things to do, to establish these kinds of priorities. But it does fall to us to establish these threats, otherwise it will be difficult for us to make assignments to the intelligence community as to what we, indeed, need in order to make good decisions.

Third, we should task intelligence against the threats that can take away American livelihoods, the threats to our jobs and our way of life.

The new threat environment is a challenge for all of us who came up in the world of one large superpower threat.

Information technology poses another challenge: the sheer amount of information has increased geometrically, but our human capacity to know has expanded more modestly. Through the noise of information overload, the intelligence community must deliver that key secret fact, and make it useful to the customer. So effective dissemination is a challenge.

The technology of collection poses yet another challenge.

It is expensive, the lead times are long, and the targets may change before we are done.

Most important, with satellites we very often have significant uncertainties about whether or not a launch will be successful, or the lifespan of the satellites themselves. We need significant amounts of efforts in research and development to explore new technologies, but we also need to pay our employees and run our current operations, and money, we all know, is tight.

We need to explore dual use of intelligence technologies because if the private sector buys some of these things for their own different purposes, the unit cost to the intelligence agency will decrease. But we have to ensure we don't lose sensitive sources and methods in the process.

Secrecy poses yet another challenge. With the passage of the Soviet threat, a threat that could extinguish our national life, secrecy is less acceptable and should be fundamentally challenged.

We still need some secrecy. We could not otherwise collect and safeguard other people's secrets.

But we should challenge blanket secrecy wherever we find it, and we should support Director Deutch's declassification efforts.

Secrecy connotes trust, Mr. President, as I said at the beginning. We trust people, when we grant that trust, to do the right thing in secret. To me, that is the core issue in the Guatemala case and I hope my colleagues will avail themselves of the opportunity to look at the inspector general's report. The facts are quite disturbing and, I believe, precipitate the conclusion that, though we may not have been intentionally misled, the agency is going to have to change its behavior in order for us to be able to continue to trust that they are following our laws.

Mr. President, I thank the Chair and I yield the floor.

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Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted 10 minutes to speak in morning business.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coats). Without objection, it is so ordered.

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