Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment to the amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Murtha to the amendment offered by Mr. Richardson:
In the matter proposed to be added by the amendment--
(1) strike `An element of' and insert `(a) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States that an element of'; and
(2) add at the end the following:
(b) Waiver.--The President may waive subsection (a) in the case of an individual if the President certifies in writing that the waiver is necessary to address the overriding national security interest of the United States. The certification shall be made to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
(c) Voluntary Cooperation.--Subsection (a) shall not be construed to prohibit the voluntary cooperation of any person who is aware that the cooperation is being provided to an element of the United States Intelligence Community.
Mr. MURTHA (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment to the amendment be considered as read and printed in the Record.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania?
There was no objection.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, what I am doing here is trying to make sure that in extreme, rare circumstances the President could waive the rules or waive the law so that a journalist in acts of terrorism or something like that would be able to allow a journalist to be used in the best interests of the country. It is a remote possibility. The DCI does not want to completely foreclose the option, if the national security interest cannot be furthered in any other way.
I just think this is what we need in order to be able to pursue this amendment. There is widespread support for the amendment, but I think we need a clause which would allow the President of the United States to decide that something like this can be used in the best interest of the country.
Mr. RICHARDSON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. MURTHA. I yield to the gentleman from New Mexico.
Mr. RICHARDSON. Mr. Chairman, I would be prepared to accept this amendment. I think this is important. It is the President that we are giving this waiver to, not the DCI. The President would have to notify the committees of the Congress of such an action. It is under the most extreme of all circumstances. I suspect that we want to preserve that ultimate option. I think it is important that, in accepting this amendment, we approve my amendment, which basically states the policy of the intelligence community not to recruit journalists as spies.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. MURTHA. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I want to say I strongly support the Murtha amendment to the Richardson amendment. I think it was carefully crafted. It makes clear that a voluntary effort could be undertaken. In addition, a journalist could be used only if the President certifies to Congress as to why it is necessary to do so. I think it gives us a very good safeguard. I think it is a good compromise, and I applaud the gentleman from New Mexico for accepting the Murtha amendment.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. MURTHA. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman yielding to me. I rise in strong support of the gentleman from Pennsylvania's amendment. I completely understand the concerns of the gentleman from New Mexico in offering the amendment. I would like to insert in the Record a letter addressed to me as chairman of the committee from the Director of Central Intelligence outlining his concerns but indicating the fact that he would have no intention of using anyone within the media but wanting to protect the right and in dire circumstances or extreme circumstances, particularly as the case may affect the ability to save lives, that they would like the option. The amendment of the gentleman from Pennsylvania does preserve that right. I do rise in strong support of it.
I include for the Record the letter to which I referred:
Central Intelligence Agency,
Washington, DC 21 May 1996.
Hon. Larry Combest,
Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence , House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: I write to express opposition to an amendment to be offered by Mr. Richardson of New Mexico to H.R. 3259, the Intelligence Authorization act for Fiscal Year 1997. Mr. Richardson's amendment seeks to prohibit any use of a U.S. journalist or U.S. journalistic organization for intelligence collection.
I empathize with the sentiment behind the amendment. My personal view as well as the official policy of the Central Intelligence Agency is that we should not use American journalists as agents or American news organizations for cover. As Director of Central Intelligence, I have no intention of doing either.
As Director of Central Intelligence, however, I am also wary of categorically ruling out means to collect intelligence that might, under extraordinary circumstances, make the difference in saving American lives. That is why CIA policy for the past twenty years has reserved the right to make rare exceptions to that policy. I have not encountered any set of circumstances that would lead me to consider that possibility during my service, but I do not believe that we should forever foreclose my or my successor's future consideration of such a course.
I join all Americans in my respect for the independence and credibility of our press. When I recently reviewed CIA's policy on intelligence use of American journalists at the direction of Congress, I put into place very stringent guidelines that prohibit any intelligence use of American journalists except under the most extraordinary circumstances. I found that I was unable to assure the President or the Congress that it would never be essential to ask the assistance of a journalist to discover secret information of supreme importance to the security of this country or its citizens. Unfortunately, I can envision circumstances where such cooperation might mean the difference between life and death, possibly in a terrorist situation involving a threat to many Americans. That is why I am compelled to oppose the Richardson amendment as an unnecessary and overly restrictive limitation on intelligence activity.
I urge the Committee to provide me an opportunity to explain in closed session the new guidelines I have adopted and I urge the House to reject the Richardson amendment.
An original of this letter is also being sent to Ranking Minority member Dicks.
Director of Central Intelligence .
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Murtha] to the amendment offered by the gentleman from New Mexico [Mr. Richardson].
The amendment to the amendment was agreed to.