Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. Was the amendment printed in the Congressional Record?
Mr. CONYERS. Yes, Mr. Chairman, it was.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will report the amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Conyers:
Page 10, after line 15, insert the following new section:
SEC. 306. ANNUAL STATEMENT OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INTELLIGENCE EXPENDITURES FOR THE CURRENT AND SUCCEEDING FISCAL YEARS.
At the time of submission of the budget of the United States Government submitted for fiscal year 1999 under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, and for each fiscal year thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a separate, unclassified statement of the appropriations and proposed appropriations for the current fiscal year, and the amount of appropriations requested for the fiscal year for which the budget is submitted, for national and tactical intelligence activities, including activities carried out under the budget of the Department of Defense to collect, analyze, produce, disseminate, or support the collection of intelligence.
Mr. CONYERS (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the Record.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Michigan?
There was no objection.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, in order to assist Members planning, which we are trying to do, I ask unanimous consent that debate on the Conyers amendment and all amendments thereto be limited to 40 minutes, equally divided.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Florida?
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, I support a limitation for this reason: This is precisely the same amendment that was offered a year ago, and it received 176 votes. Although we have a lot of speakers, I think the lateness of the hour and the fact that this bill has been brought under the 5-minute rule requires that we accede to the chairman's request.
Mr. Chairman, I withdraw my reservation of objection.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Florida?
There was no objection.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers] and the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers].
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This amendment is precisely the same one that was voted on last year that makes this modest proposal, that the aggregate amounts of all intelligence agencies be revealed in the President's budget and in the final appropriation for intelligence. It is a simple compilation, and I know some people did know this, of 14 different intelligence agencies in the military budget. It has been examined with great care by the Commission on the Role and Capabilities in the Intelligence Community, chaired by the Secretary, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, by Warren Rudman, and even the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] served with some distinction on this committee. They recommend this.
The Council on Foreign Relations recommends this. In last year's Senate bill, this provision was included. I apologize, it is not radical, it is not revolutionary, it is embarrassingly modest, the aggregate figure of 14 intelligence agencies.
The President of the United States has indicated that he would accede to this request. The ranking member of the Committee on National Security has supported us year after year, so we are only doing what other allies of ours do on this subject. England reveals their aggregate figure, Canada reveals their aggregate figure, Germany reveals their aggregate figure, Australia reveals their aggregate figure. We are moving in the same way that the Framers of the Constitution moved in 1790 and 1793 when they made public disclosure of their aggregate sum even though British spying and counterespionage was at a very intense level.
I urge that Members support the measure. I would like to point out for those who will be spared this argument of why you do not go up to the green room and look at the intelligence figures. First of all, there are 14 of them. This is why only four Members have done this. Second, you are then bound by the House rules of secrecy and who knows what you can or cannot say.
What we are saying is that for two reasons, we need this amendment very badly. One is that we must not undermine the legitimacy of the need for secrecy where it does exist. Secondly, unless we reveal the aggregate budget, we will not gain the support of the American people.
For those reasons, I urge that we please support this amendment when it comes to a vote.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Intelligence Budget Accountability Act of 1997'.
SEC. 2. PURPOSE.
It is the purpose of this Act to require the publication of the aggregate intelligence budget figure to provide a more thorough accounting of Government expenditures as required by article I, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution.
SEC. 3. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds that--
(1) article I, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution states that `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.';
(2) during the Cold War the United States did not provide to the American people a `regular Statement and Account of the . . . Expenditures' for intelligence activities;
(3) the failure to provide to the American people a statement of the total amount of expenditures on intelligence activities prevents them from participating in an informed, democratic decision concerning the appropriate level for such expenditures; and
(4) the Report of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community recommended the disclosure of `the total amount of money appropriated for intelligence activities during the current fiscal year and the total amount being requested for the next fiscal year'.
SEC. 4. ANNUAL STATEMENT OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INTELLIGENCE EXPENDITURES FOR THE PRECEDING FISCAL YEAR.
Section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new paragraph:
`(31) a separate, unclassified statement of the appropriations and proposed appropriations for the current fiscal year, and the amount of appropriations requested for the fiscal year for which the budget is submitted, for national and tactical intelligence activities, including activities carried out under the budget of the Department of Defense to collect, analyze, produce, disseminate, or support the collection of intelligence.'.
Pete Stark, Lynn Rivers, Luis Gutierrez, Maurice Hinchey, Sam Farr, David Bonior, Earl Blumenauer, George Miller (CA), Bob Filner, Peter DeFazio, Louise Slaughter, Ron Dellums, Nancy Pelosi, Jerrold Nadler, Jim Oberstar, Cynthia McKinney, Mel Watt (NC), Sidney Yates, Nita Lowey, John Olver, Anna Eshoo, Ed Pastor, Nydia Velazquez.
Norm Dicks, Barney Frank (MA), Bennie Thompson, Eleanor-Holmes Norton, Earl Pomeroy, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Bernie Sanders, Bobby Rush, Jim McGovern, Sander Levin, Lee Hamilton, Bill Luther, John Lewis (GA), Adam Smith (WA), Martin Meehan, Danny Davis (IL), Floyd Flake, Lane Evans, Elizabeth Furse, David Minge, Xavier Becerra, John Tierney, George Brown (CA), Neil Abercrombie, Chaka Fattah, Ron Kind, Debbie Stabenow, Maxine Waters, Diana DeGette, Carolyn Maloney (NY), Tom Allen, Vic Fazio, Ron Paul, Henry Gonzalez, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Tom Barrett (WI), Major Owens, Ted Strickland, William Delahunt, Rod Blagojevich, Carrie Meek, Jim Clyburn, Lynn Woolsey, Dennis Kucinich, William Coyne, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ellen Tauscher, Chris Shays, Darlene Hooley, Esteban Torres, James Traficant, Charles Rangel, Robert Underwood, John Spratt, David Skaggs, James Maloney (CT), Donna Christian-Green, Joe Kennedy (MA), Alcee Hastings (FL), Julian Dixon (CA), Sam Gejdenson (CT).
House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, March 31, 1997.
Dear Colleague: I recently re-introduced the Intelligence Budget Accountability Act. This bill will make public the total appropriations for the current fiscal year and the total amount being requested for the new fiscal year. The intelligence budget includes funding for the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence services. It also includes funding for the intelligence function of agencies such as the DEA and the FBI. If Congress is going to honestly deal with balancing the budget, it only makes sense that it at least acknowledge the tens of billions of dollars it spends on intelligence every year.
Keeping the intelligence budget secret is unnecessary after the demise of the cold war, unfair to American taxpayers, and inconsistent with the accountability requirements of the Constitution. The Constitution clearly states that `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.' Half a century and hundreds of billions of dollars later, it is time that we begin meeting our obligation to inform the public how their tax dollars are spent.
Official public disclosure of the intelligence budget is long overdue. Last year's Congressionally mandated report to President Clinton by the Brown-Aspin Commission entitled `Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence' recommended opening up the spy budget. It proposed that `at the beginning of each congressional budget cycle, the President or a designee disclose the total amount of money appropriated for intelligence activities for the current fiscal year . . . and the total amount being requested for the next fiscal year.' The Senate Intelligence Committee unsuccessfully sought to implement this recommendation during last year's intelligence authorization process.
A copy of the bill is on the reverse. If you would like to co-sponsor or if you need more information please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Carl LeVan of my staff at 5-5126.
John Conyers, Jr.,
Member of Congress.
Congress of the United States,
Washington, DC, April 30, 1997.
Dear Colleague: We are writing to bring a letter (on the reverse) to your attention from Admiral Stansfield Turner, the former Director of Central Intelligence, and to urge your support for the Intelligence Budget Accountability Act of 1997. This legislation would declassify the aggregate figure--just the bottom line number--of the intelligence budget for the current fiscal year and the amount requested for the next fiscal year.
The intelligence budget includes spending for the CIA and a dozen other agencies with an intelligence function. This figure has been classified by the executive branch since the birth of the modern national security establishment in 1947. We believe, like Admiral Turner, that this multibillion dollar budget can be made public without harm to the national security of the United States.
We hope you will join the growing bipartisan list of members who have decided to co-sponsor H.R. 753. If you have any questions, or would like to co-sponsor, please do not hesitate to call Mr. Carl LeVan in the office of Rep. Conyers at 5-5126.
JOHN CONYERS, JR.
Members of Congress.
February 7, 1997.
Hon. John Conyers, Jr.,
House of Representatives, Russell House Office Building, Washington, DC.
Dear Representative Conyers: I am pleased that you are again introducing legislation to require the open publication of the aggregate intelligence budget figure.
It has been my opinion since shortly after becoming the Director of Central Intelligence in 1977 that there would be no harm to the country's security in releasing such a figure. I agree fully with the emphasis in the legislation on the importance of all government agencies being accountable to the public. While total accountability may not be feasible in the case of intelligence budget, just one aggregate figure certainly is.
I wish you every success.
Adm. Stansfield Turner,
U.S. Navy (retired).
House of Representatives,
April 8, 1997.
Dear Colleague: I am writing to urge your support of H.R. 753, the Intelligence Budget Accountability Act and to bring a letter (on the reverse) from Taxpayers for Common $ense to your attention. This important legislation, introduced by Representative Conyers and twenty other Members of Congress, would simply declassify the aggregate figure of the intelligence budget.
The intelligence budget, which is widely believed to be over $30 billion a year, has been classified for fifty years. Now that the Cold War is over and the war on the deficit has begun, it is time for a fair accounting of our expenses. As Taxpayers for Common $ense point out in their letter, `the intelligence agencies, just like all other federal agencies, should be accountable to those who pay their bills--the taxpayers.'
Unaccountable spending has been a demonstrated problem in the past with the intelligence agencies. For example, we learned in 1994 that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which handles spy satellites, was building a luxurious $300 million complex with an extra fourteen acres. Then the public found out that the NRO had accumulated $4 billion in unspent funds, half of which it had simply lost track of. An unclassified bottom line number of the intelligence spending would help end the excessive secrecy that makes this kind of budget banditry possible.
Certainly if we are serious about balancing the budget, we should know at least in a general way where billions of dollars are spent. Our nation needs to be secure from foreign threats, but our budget process also must maintain a sense of integrity. An official acknowledgment of how much we spend on intelligence would help provide that integrity. H.R. 753 meets this criteria by requiring the current requested and appropriated amounts be unclassified.
If you have any questions or would like to cosponsor, please contact Tim Bromelkamp in the office of Representative Minge at 5-2331 or Carl LeVan in the office of Representative Conyers at 5-5126.
Member of Congress.
Taxpayers for Common $ense,
Washington, DC, March 17, 1997.
Dear Representative: Taxpayers for Common $ense urge you to cosponsor H.R. 753, the Intelligence Budget Accountability Act. Sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, this bill would require that the aggregate intelligence budget figure be disclosed to the public. The intelligence agencies, just like all other federal agencies, should be accountable to those who pay their bills--the taxpayers.
Disclosing the intelligence agencies' aggregate budget figure does not threaten national security. In 1996, the Congressionally-mandated Brown-Aspin Commission declared that classifying the aggregate budget figure is not a matter of national security and the figure should be disclosed to the public. Both President Clinton and the Senate Intelligence Committee supported the Commission's conclusion. The Conyers bill would simply require that the total amounts requested and currently appropriated for intelligence activities should be unclassified.
The intelligence agencies should not be allowed to keep their multi-billion-dollar budget a secret. At a time when all federal programs are under increased scrutiny and must meticulously account for their spending, it is only fair that the overall level of spending on intelligence be available to the taxpayers. Taxpayers should know the amount spent on intelligence in order to make informed choices regarding the allocation of government funds.
In the military, secrets are shared only with those who `need to know.' Taxpayers for Common $ense urges that this same standard be applied to the intelligence budget. Taxpayers pay the intelligence budget, and their support and trust is ultimately the strength of the intelligence services. We urge you to defend the taxpayers' `need to know' where their money goes by supporting the Conyers bill.
Congress of the United States,
Washington, DC, May 22, 1997.
Hon. Harold Brown,
Counselor, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC
Hon. Warren Rudman,
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Washington, DC
Dear Dr. Brown and Senator Rudman: Last year the Commission on the Rules and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which you cochaired, submitted its report to the President and the Congress as mandated by the Fiscal Year 1995 Intelligence Authorization Act. One of the Commission's recommendations was the disclosure of the aggregate figure of the intelligence budget. The Intelligence Budget Accountability Act, which we all strongly support, would implement this key recommendation.
The intelligence budget has been classified by the Executive branch since 1947. The Church Committee, the Pike Committee and the Rockefeller Commission in the 1970's all suggested some level of disclosure. Your Commission specifically proposed that `at the beginning of each congressional budget cycle, the President or a designee disclose the total amount of money appropriated for intelligence activities for the current fiscal year and the total amount being requested for the next fiscal year.' H.R. 753, a bipartisan bill with 80 cosponsors, is modeled after this recommendation and seeks to implement it precisely as proposed in the Report.
We believe that secrecy is important to effective intelligence, but it needs to be compatible with a democratic form of government. As the Commission pointed out, intelligence agencies need to be responsible `not only to the President, but to the elected representatives of the people, and, ultimately to the people themselves. They are funded by the American taxpayers.' We agree with this observation and would like to hear your opinion of the proposed legislation which is enclosed.
JOHN CONYERS, JR.
RONALD V. DELLUMS.
Members of Congress.
Washington, DC, June 2, 1997
Hon. John Conyers, Jr.,
Hon. Ronald V. Dellums,
Hon. Lee Hamilton,
Hon. Christopher Shays,
House of Representatives,
Gentlemen: In response to your letter of May 22, I continue to subscribe to the statement that you quote from the report of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community, recommending disclosure of the total amount of money appropriated for intelligence activities during the current fiscal year and the total amount being requested for the next fiscal year. H.R. 753 appears to meet this criterion and therefore I believe it would accomplish the purpose of the Commission's recommendations. It is important, in my judgment, that no breakdown of the total into its components be made public. Senator Rudman joins me in this response.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the distinguished chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, a gentleman who is well versed on this issue.
(Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, with some but not a great deal of reluctance, I rise to oppose the amendment of my good friend from Michigan. Traditionally, the aggregate amount of funds spent to support our intelligence agencies has not been disseminated publicly. It is a classified amount. However, it is not unavailable to this House. There are six committees in Congress that have access to that number, three in the House, three in the other body: The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on National Security. Those committees are set up to receive this information, they are cleared for top secret, and they have the ability to absorb it and to do with it whatever is necessary in our democratic process.
The classified records are available to be looked at. The gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers] objects to that because you are then bound by an oath of secrecy. Well, then do not go look at it, but you have got six committees in this Congress to get that information.
Why do we keep it secret? It is a mistake to think that the intelligence budgets of these agencies is a static thing. There are bumps. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down. What does that signify? It means we may be working on an expensive new weapons system, and that information ought not to be made available to those who wish us harm. There is no urgency, there is no need for this to be made public other than to tell the rest of the world or give them a hint as to what we are doing and perhaps even why we are doing it. The amount of money is overseen by six congressional committees bipartisanly. It is available to anybody who has a burning need to know by going and reviewing the classified annex. And so there is no need to violate what has traditionally been the case; that is, keep the aggregate amount confidential, keep it classified so that our adversaries, and believe me there are some out there, do not have an idea or a clue as to what we are working on.
With good wishes to my friend from Michigan, I just think his amendment is wrong and I hope it is defeated.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds, because the amicable nature of the ranking member and the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary is very close, and I respect his learned judgment. But this time he is up against the Secretary of Defense, the former Secretary of the CIA. The gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] was on this committee as well, the Committee on Foreign Relations in the other body, the framers of the Constitution and 176 of his colleagues.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks], the distinguished ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, absent a clear national security interest, information should not be classified. In fact, Executive Order 12,958, which governs classification, prohibits classifying information unless to do so is required to protect national security.
I do not think anybody can stand up here tonight and say that disclosing the number, disclosing this number, is going to do anything to harm national security. I do not believe a case can be made that the aggregate budget figure for intelligence meets that standard. The arguments that are made in favor of keeping the budget secret have little to do with the number in question and more to do with the potential damage that could occur if more information were released.
Some people are afraid that public release of the intelligence budget will lead to drastic cuts in intelligence spending. Not only is that an improper reason for classification, but I firmly believe we can defend the overall amount, as we just did, we spent on intelligence as well as we will defend the overall amount we spend on defense. Releasing the aggregate budget total changes business as usual, and some people are understandably uncomfortable with changing the practices of 50 years. But this is not a radical proposition. It is an idea that has been endorsed by two panels of experienced and knowledgeable experts serving on the Aspen Brown Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.
The overall intelligence budget figure is a significant piece of information by which the American people can judge the operations of their Government. I believe we should tell the American people about how we are spending their hard-earned money. We tell them what the overall number for defense is; I do not see how we can then argue that we cannot tell them what the overall number for intelligence is, and frankly I think it would do a lot to clear up much of the confusion that we have heard today on the floor about what this number is because, as I said earlier, the number that we have heard is inaccurate, significantly inaccurate.
So I rise in strong support of the Conyers amendment. I remember our colleague, Congressman Glickman, who was chairman when we were in the majority, was the first chairman of this committee to strongly endorse this. I think it is time to do it, and I hope we can do it today on a bipartisan basis.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished gentleman from California [Mr. Lewis], subcommittee chairman.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. LEWIS of California. I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, I will be brief.
I just want to say to my friend, the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks], who surprises me that he is for disclosing this amount of money, the truth is, of course, the aggregate figures do not tell us anything. They give us a rough idea, but the next step is who is getting what? If we want to know the aggregate, we want to know who is spending it and for what purpose. What is the National Reconnaissance Office spending? What is the CIA spending? What is the DIA spending? And we want to break it down so it means something. That is the next step. The aggregate figure does not really inform us.
But the gentleman and I know it is the opening wedge in a total lay it on the table strategy, what agency is spending how much money, for what systems, and for what covert activity and for what satellites, and what are we spending overseas? And it never ends.
And so that is why it ought to remain secret, in my opinion.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I must say following the remarks of both the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] and the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] I cannot help but be a bit disconcerted by that disconnect, for I am quite surprised at the position of the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] as well. In the short time, 4 years, that it has been my privilege to serve on this committee, I have become very, very impressed by the fact that America is pretty good at what they do. A combination of my service on the defense subcommittee of Appropriations and this committee tells me that America is more than just leading the world, we are the strength for the future of peace in the world, in no small part because of the work done by many of these agencies. But there is little doubt that those who suggest that the gross number means almost nothing, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that underlying that is the balance. And it is not the people here in this room who necessarily want to know what may be all of the spending of some of our subagencies involved. It is the people who would be our enemies who would like to have that information.
Excellent work being done by the FBI as well as other agencies relative to controlling the impact of drugs in our society, a tremendous war developing there that will be very important to the future of our youth. Absolutely no question that the impact that we are beginning to have upon potential terrorists is very important as related to this work.
There are those who love to see what our satellites are all about, exactly what they mean and what we are spending. Indeed it is very important that we recognize that it is the people who largely wish America ill who like to have those kinds of details, and because of that I am supporting the chairman's position. I certainly would urge the ranking member to reconsider his position, for America's future is involved in the work that we are about in the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks], the frequently talked about ranking member.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to my friend from California, Mr. Lewis, and my friend, the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Hyde, who has served on this committee with great distinction, I still go back to Executive Order 12958 which governs classification. It prohibits classifying information unless to do so is required to protect national security.
Now I do not see how anybody can make a case that this number has anything to do with national security. It is the amount of money we spend on intelligence, but by disclosing it I do not see how we in any way endanger national security, and therefore we cannot classify it.
It is almost an open and shut case, and that is why I think the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers] is correct in calling for this to be disclosed.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 15 seconds because some may be surprised at the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] but I am not surprised at the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde). Mr. Hyde said it makes hardly any difference what the aggregate amount would be. He is worried about what comes after that. Well, we are not legislating about after that, and he is quite right. It does not make any difference.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I think this is, as the gentleman from Michigan has said, a debate we have had many times, and I tend to believe that not much has changed and the previous wisdom we have had that it is correct, that the matter should remain classified. I realize that the gentleman has quoted the Aspen Brown report, and in fact I did dissent from the vote on that. That was a consensus report. I argued for the position of keeping the matter classified. In that particular group of people, it was not seen that way. Not all of those people have had the same experience that those of us on the Senate committee have had, and there is a legitimate disagreement about this.
The other point I think is very important is that no good deed seems to go unpunished, no matter what we do around here. I would point out, and I am reading from the committee report, the committee has authorized additional resources in the fiscal year 1998 budget for CIA classification management, including declassification activities in support of Executive Order 12958.
Now I know that the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Frank] has a cutting amendment we are going to hear, and I know the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders] had a cutting amendment. Well yes, we did put more money in this bill to get to the declassification question, and I certainly believe as part of the declassification question we ought to be examining the issue that the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers] has raised. I think it is a very fair debate to ask and we should do it in a comprehensive way.
So I am totally prepared to say that as part of the initiative of the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Skaggs] a very valued member on our committee, to deal with declassification, that this should be part of that study. I just do not want at this point to create an initiative to go forward and say, well, we suddenly made a decision that really is of interest in the Beltway, but not for the American people to suddenly declassify this matter. It will be of interest to those who have interests that are inimicable to the United States of America. They would dearly love to have this information. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] is right, it is a slippery slope.
Now I realize that there are some Members who serve on other committees who would love to know what a percentage of the NRO budget is so they can get their hand on a number and say, surely the interests of my committee match this and surely, therefore, we could take a little bit here and put a little bit there. But as the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] has said, under 602(b) we are still in line, and I think that is extremely important. So my colleagues can rest assured that there is not really any opportunity here, there is no pork here, this is all proper.
The other thing I have got to point out on this besides the slippery slope and the fact that there is not a clamor across this country to have this information, I hardly ever at a town meeting get asked, gee, exactly how much money is being spent on intelligence? Sometimes I get asked exactly what is intelligence doing, and there is this perception that it is all CIA, and as the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] has properly said earlier in this debate today, it is much, much more. The CIA is indeed a very minor part of it. I am very happy to say it is a minor part of it. I do not think I ought to say specifically what that minor part is though.
The other thing I have got to point out here, the President of the United States in fact can go ahead and release information. He has that ability. The President does not do that. The President has made the choice to keep the matter classified.
Before we go off and do something like this, I think it should be properly studied and have the proper input from our folks in the other part of Government, our sister branch of Government. After all, he is charged with the national security. It is a matter of the Constitution, it is a matter of his specific charge, and he can declassify when he chooses with a stroke of his pen. Every President since Harry Truman has decided to send us the bill with the number classified. I suspect there is a reason for that, and I suspect that we probably ought to take the President and his people into consideration before we go off in a new direction.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Skaggs].
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for the time.
Our distinguished friend from Illinois has really conceded the point. This proposal will not hurt national security. What will it do? It will enhance our responsibility to the American public for them to have as much information as possible about their government. And I think it is irrelevant whether we get asked at town meetings about this. I happen to, actually. And what does the American public learn? They have a sense of proportion: How much of our resources are we putting to this purpose? They have, I would concede, no particular need to know the details of particular sub-agencies. But it is a legitimate matter for them to have a sense in this large sense what their government is about in the intelligence field relative to other things that they spend their tax money for.
Really all that we have by way of argument against this proposal is the slippery slope argument. What does that really mean? It means that we do not trust future Congresses to exercise judgment about what will and what will not protect the national security of this country.
I think that is a highly rude position to take relative to our successors in these jobs. They will be able to figure this out. They will know whether or not further disclosures make any sense. I do not think that they will err in that judgment, and we can trust them to do so.
On the other hand, the default position always ought to be if this information is not going to damage national security, let us make it available to the public. The real national security issue here is the strength of the democracy and the willingness of the American people to trust a government that is leveling with them whenever it possibly can.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield for a brief question?
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Colorado has expired.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Colorado if the gentleman will yield.
Mr. SKAGGS. I yield to the gentleman from Florida.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I believe that the gentleman is exactly on the point that if it does no damage then there is no reason to keep it hidden. That is a very valid point. But it is a point that applies to several other pieces of information, which is exactly why the committee has provided at the gentleman's request, which I totally agree with, conceded to, applauded in committee, that we provide for a study on declassification.
Does the gentleman believe that this should be outside of the study of the declassification that we have provided for, committed funds for and I hope we will have the funds when we get through with this process to proceed with the study.
Mr. SKAGGS. If I can reclaim enough time to respond, I believe, as the gentleman knows, that funding is for looking at past classified information, things that have been sitting in the archives that need additional staffing in order to be able to be reviewed for declassification purposes. That is the real thrust of the funding that we put in the bill for declassification.
Mr. GOSS. Again, if the gentleman will continue to yield, I believe that the question of declassification includes the question of classification, because I think there is great abuse there, as the gentleman has heard me say. I believe this is comprehensive and should be treated as such.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. John Tierney].
Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the efforts of my colleague, the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers], and I voice my support for this amendment.
Let me just say that I do not think any of us are not mindful of the comments that are made by our colleagues on the other side of this issue, but the fact of the matter is that the American public are the people that have a burning need to know at least what the aggregate number is in this situation.
The time has come and it is long overdue for us to be able to have a debate with real numbers down here about real issues. We are in the midst of a debate right now in this country and in this House about the amount of money that we are going to be spending on programs, and in fact, with spending constraints on a number of programs, we are told the money just is not there.
The budget these days is a zero sum game. The fact of the matter is that if this is the case, we should have a disclosure so the American public can see what proportion of our budget we are spending on so-called intelligence matters. It ought to be known how many millions or billions of dollars in relation to the rest of our budget is being spent in this area at a time when we have schools that are in need of repair, when we have cities and communities that are in need of development, when we have infrastructure needs that are going unmet, roads, bridges, and airports left unbuilt, the restraint of growth and missing opportunities for job creation, when we have a debate over insuring half of our children and not insuring the other half, and when we continue to fail to debate the idea of having insurance available for all Americans.
The Constitution requires that we have a statement and account of receipts and expenditures for all the money. I think it is an absolute disgrace that we hide here behind secrecy and say that we cannot even tell the American public what the aggregate number is on so-called intelligence matters.
In fact, my colleague from across the aisle indicated that the President may well have authority to release these numbers. In fact, I would agree with the gentleman that he does; that in 1996 he said he favored doing just that. Now we see him waiting for us to move, and they are over there with others saying we are going to wait for him to move.
The American public wants somebody to move off the dime and tell us what those numbers are. He ought to do it, and if he is not going to do it we ought to do it, because simply there is no reason in the world to say that security is involved.
Mr. Chairman, we need to move on this matter. The public has a burning need to know.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 15 seconds.
Mr. Chairman, the argument that the President can do it and has not done it but he approves of it is not a reason for us not to go ahead and do it. If the gentleman does not object if the President declassifies, then why do not we do it? We were only 30 votes away last year from doing it.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from California, Mrs. Ellen Tauscher.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Michigan for yielding time to me.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Conyers amendment. In this post-cold-war era it is as important as ever that our Nation maintain an efficient, effective, and trustworthy intelligence apparatus. With national and economic security threats around the world, we must collect accurate information about the activities of countries and organizations that jeopardize our stability.
At the same time, at the end of the cold war we are now provided with the opportunity to be more forthcoming about the money and the resources we spend on intelligence gathering. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency has already taken steps to make more public the activities of our intelligence agencies. The fact that the general level of intelligence spending is a poorly kept secret only strengthens the argument that it should be publicly disclosed.
As we attempt to balance the Federal budget, we are forced to make decisions about spending priorities. It is important that the American people know how much of their money proportionally is being spent to support the intelligence community, just as they need to know about how much money is spent on Medicare, transportation, and the arts.
I intend to vote for the Intelligence Authorization Act for 1998. I believe it properly funds the important intelligence-related activities of the United States. But I also believe that the American public deserves to know the aggregate amount we are authorizing for these activities. The Conyers amendment is a commonsense proposal that places no threat to our national security. I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to my colleague, the gentleman from Florida [Mr. McCollum].
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Chairman, I oppose the Conyers amendment, which is intended to force the disclosure of the aggregate total of the intelligence community's budget. I think primarily I oppose it for basic reasons of common sense, that it does not make any sense to disclose this number and let people who would be our enemies know what it is.
But as Chairman Goss has noted, there are several reasons to oppose it. For example, one could argue that disclosure of the aggregate number is the first step on a slippery slope toward total disclosure of very highly sensitive security information. Chairman Goss has also made a very persuasive argument that the President already possesses the necessary legal authority, we have heard that discussed, to unilaterally disclose this information without seeking any approval of Congress.
But I would like to particularly address the assertion by some that disclosure is required by the statement and account clause of the Constitution; that is, article I, section 9, clause 7.
Professor Robert F. Turner of the University of Virginia School of Law testified before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the issue of, and this is his quote, `Secret funding and the `statement and account' clause' in February 1994.
Professor Turner made a number of legal and historical observations on the statement and account clause which are quite pertinent to today's debate. He said, `The Founding Fathers did not view `secrecy' as being incompatible with democratic government. One of the first measures adopted by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was a secrecy rule--without which James Madison said there would have been no Constitution.
`Perhaps the first `covert action' in which the United States was involved was a 1776 decision by France to secretly transfer 200,000 pounds worth of arms and ammunitions to the colonies for use in their struggle against King George. The offer was reported by secret messenger to Benjamin Franklin, chairman of the Committee of Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress, and Robert Morris, the only members of the 5-man committee then in town. Given the sensitivity of the matter, they concluded--and here I quote--that `it is our indispensable duty to keep it
secret even from Congress.'
`They set forth several reasons for this decision, including this one--and again I quote--`We find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets.'
`It should not come as a surprise to learn that the first Congress in 1790 appropriated a substantial contingent account for the President to use in making foreign affairs and intelligence expenditures, and that Congress expressly exempted the President from any requirement to inform either Congress or the public how those funds were expended. This was the start of a long tradition of 'secret' expenditures.'
I believe that Professor Turner has demonstrated in his work that the Founding Fathers did endorse the use of certain secret funds to support the new Nation's intelligence and foreign policy activities. I think Benjamin Franklin would agree that the disclosure of the aggregate funding amount for the intelligence community would indeed be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
I am going to ask at the appropriate time, though I realize it is not now since we are in the time for the amendments, to put Professor Turner's prepared statement on secret funding into the Record and when that time comes in the full House I will do so.
I again urge the defeat of the Conyers amendment. I ask that the Members of this body vote down the Conyers amendment. It is a dangerous precedent. We should not adopt it. We do have times and places for secrecy, and the intelligence community is one of those places where it is absolutely imperative.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from California [Ms. Pelosi].
(Ms. PELOSI asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
As a member of the Committee on Intelligence, I rise in support of the Conyers amendment. This amendment at heart is about accountability and the public's right to know. The amendment supports the underlying belief that the government of this country is and should be accountable to the people of the country.
In today's world there is no rational reason why the American public should be denied information about how much the United States Government is spending on intelligence activities. President Clinton recognized this fact when in April of 1996 he said that the bottom line for intelligence spending should be published. John Deutch, then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said that same month, `Disclosure of the annual amount appropriated for intelligence purposes will inform the public and will not in itself harm intelligence activities.'
The continued classification of the total amount spent annually on intelligence activity is not only unnecessary, but it is also ridiculous. U.S. intelligence spending is considered by many to be one of Washington's worst-kept secrets. Estimates of intelligence spending appear with some regularity in the press. By continuing to refuse to release the amount publicly, Congress is only serving to fuel suspicions that the government is hiding something.
Those who support openness and accountability in government should support this effort to make our government accountable in one of the last bastions of secrecy, a secrecy that in today's world is unwarranted. In a democratic society citizens have a right to know what their tax dollars support.
In fact, inside the Beltway an estimate of intelligence spending is widely reported, but ordinary citizens are oddly denied this information. I urge my colleagues to support openness and to support the Conyers amendment.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 45 seconds.
Mr. Chairman, this just in: The reason maybe Chairman Goss' people do not ever ask him about it, about this financing of the intelligence, is that they do not know that we are not being told. They may not even know that he is being told.
For my dear friend, the gentleman from Florida [Mr. McCollum], again, with whom we have had great discussions about American history, in 1770 and 1773, in those 2 years the intelligence budgets were in the aggregate disclosed. If Members need a more recent time, check in 1994, when the Subcommittee on National Security of the Committee on Appropriations inadvertently released the whole blooming thing and nothing happened.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Adam Smith].
Mr. ADAM SMITH of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I, too, rise in support of the Conyers amendment to disclose the aggregate budget of the Committee on Intelligence to the full public. I think the important thing to remember is the presumption should always be in favor of disclosure.
As I listened to the arguments against, I do not hear anything to rebut that presumption. I think the American public wants to know as much as possible about what we do back here. Part of the reason why this institution has the confidence problem it has with this country is they figure we are keeping stuff from them, that we do not trust them to know what is going on back here, and they feel left out of the process. There should be a strong presumption in letting them into as much of the process as is humanly possible.
If there is some special reason here why that cannot be done, fine. We can explain it and keep it secret. But no special reason has been offered during the course of this debate not to release the aggregate figure that we spend on intelligence in this country.
There have been some camel's nose under the tent arguments about how in the future we might authorize the release of something that would cause a problem, but that is not good enough. That does not rebut the presumption that this body should have to disclose whatever possible to the public. I urge support of the amendment.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am privileged to yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from California [Mr. Sherman].
Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Chairman, we have an extraordinary event in the world. The entire world has virtually acquiesced to having one superpower. That has never happened in history. It has occurred because the world knows that for the most part our decisions are based on values and on respect for democracy.
Democracy begins at home. A revelation of the amount that we are spending on security is one of the building blocks of the consensus that our power relies upon. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time, if we do not respect our values, before the rest of the world questions whether there should be one superpower.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California [Mr. Farr].
(Mr. FARR of California asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. FARR of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
May I point out that the arguments, the more we go over them each year, the more it becomes clear that there is very little objection to revealing the aggregate budget for the 14 intelligence agencies in our system. It is a practice that is followed by at least four of our allies that I know with no harm. It is like trying to get us to agree to a secret that is already open.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. CONYERS. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend the gentleman for his initiative. To my friend who says this is a slippery slope, we can say what the number is and say, out of that we fund the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, NIMA, right down the line. We do not have to tell them what that second amount is. I think it would do a lot to help the American people understand how many different entities are funded by this budget and how much of it is in the Department of Defense. We have heard all kinds of misstatements here today on the floor. I think we look kind of foolish. Numbers are in the New York Times. They are not that far off. They are wrong but they are not that far off. In my judgment, it is time for us to let the American people know. I think the gentleman deserves to be commended for his initiative.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman.
The fact of the matter is that for us to say to the American people that they really do not need to know this or that nobody is asking me about it so we will keep it from them is the shallowest kind of presentation to make. We need to know the aggregate amount. I am confident for one that this body will not proceed down a slippery slope. I do not think this body, no matter what we do on this measure today, will further want to break this thing down.
I am not certain that I would support any further disclosure than the revelation of the aggregate amount.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will continue to yield, I certainly agree with the gentleman. I would oppose going to the individual amounts, but I think the aggregate will help us with the American people.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GOSS. I yield to the gentleman from Florida.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to make a point that in the time for general leave, I am going to ask to have the Turner statement with regard to constitutionality inserted right after my remarks during this debate. I know this is not the formal place, but we seem to need to put a place marker in there. I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.
Mr. Chairman, I include the following for the Record:
Secret Funding and the `Statement and Account' Clause: Constitutional and Policy Implications of Public Disclosure of an Aggregate Budget for Intelligence and Intelligence-Related Activities
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, this is one of the situations where there is a lot of misinformation, a lot of perception, a lot of misperception frankly. There clearly is a slippery slope here, because the gentleman from Michigan's amendment talks about the annual statement of the total amount for intelligence expenditures. The problem with that is that if we give a number and we say these are intelligence expenditures, then we have to start defining what is intelligence. It is not exactly what other people think it is going to be. We will have to start paring out different programs and different functions to determine what we mean.
Are you talking about the amount we spend on national security? That should surely be a big number. It is required in the Constitution. That is something the Federal Government does. Are we talking about the intelligence function in national security? And if so, what does that number mean and what specifically does it include and what does it leave out? What is intelligence? Is the State Department gathering of information or reading Le Figaro, is that part of intelligence? Is that open source intelligence or not? You have to start making further descriptions and definitions. That is the slippery slope.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GOSS. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I think this bill is intelligence. We are the ones that just authorized it. So that is pretty much what it is.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Chairman, I quite agree. The gentlewoman from California said one of the worst kept secrets in Washington is the intelligence budget. One of the worst kept secrets in Washington is, what is the intelligence part of the intelligence budget? What is the intelligence part of the defense budget?
Some have said that we are hiding something from Americans. We are not trying to hide anything from Americans. We are trying to keep some secrets from our enemies. That is true. We are trying to do that. But I would point out to those who say we are trying to hide something from Americans, we have a representative form of government. This is democracy at its finest in the world. Those of us here represent those of us abroad in our land.
Those of us on the committee are charged with the responsibility of oversight. It was not always such good oversight. It is very good oversight now, and we are accountable. I would say we are hiding nothing from the Americans because there is no American that I would look at right in the eye and say, we are spending the money as wisely and as well as we can and as appropriately as we can. Fifteen men and women, good and true, making that decision about what our intelligence needs are at this time, I have no problem with that. I think that is entirely reasonable.
When I go beyond that and start talking about specifics, I start removing some of the confusion the enemy seize out there. I think confusion to our enemies is not a bad thing. It is somewhat Biblical, in fact. I think it has worked very well over in the past. I do not see the game. If it is accountability, the accountability is there. We already have it.
The final point of the gentlewoman from California, the President is somehow waiting for the signal; whoever made that statement, perhaps it was not the gentlewoman from California, let me tell my colleagues that it was President Clinton himself who classified the number when he sent his budget submission to Congress in March. It was not the Congress. We do not have the authority to classify anything. It is the executive branch that classifies things.
We are putting money in our bill to examine the question of declassification because we are properly concerned about it. That also in my view means abuse of classification. I know that takes place. So I would suggest the right way to deal with this is to go to the comprehensive study we have called for in our bill, that we have provided for in our bill, authorized funds for and I hope we will get those funds from the appropriators, and I believe we are and that we proceed in an orderly way. That way we protect national security. We provide for accountability. And we give the President and his people the opportunity to chime in on the debate.
Mr. Chairman, I urge a `no' vote on the Conyers amendment.