THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CIA (House of Representatives - July 29, 1997)

[Page: H5991]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Central Intelligence Agency. On September 18, 1947, the National Security Act went into effect creating the CIA.

As America entered the cold war, that act recognized the critical need for intelligence about our foreign adversaries, while attempting to balance that with a constitutional mandate that an intelligence service remain within the bounds of democracy.

In 1977, in order to monitor and safeguard that critical balance, this House established the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which I have the honor to chair today. By its very nature, much of the work done by the agency will remain anonymous, but we must not make the mistake of interpreting that anonymity to mean that the CIA has had no triumphs, nor can we allow ourselves to forget the men and women who have served there and know much sacrifice and even tragedy.

Out at Langley at the headquarters of the CIA is a small courtyard under the oak trees that contains three panels of the Berlin Wall. On the eastern side of those panels there is nothing but the cold, gray face of cement, but on the western side there is color, vibrancy, and the inscription `and the wind cries freedom.'

Those panels and that wall, Mr. Speaker, never had to be toppled by the tread of our Nation's tanks or stained by the blood of our infantry; they were, instead, breached throughout the cold war by our Nation's eyes and ears, the CIA. Through their bravery and creativity, the officers of the CIA carved a window through that wall that this Nation used during the perilous times of the cold war and ultimately relied upon to bring down the wall's demise.

The contribution of CIA officers to our national security, however, has come with a significant cost, because at the entrance to Langley is another less well-known wall on which there are now 70 gold stars. These stars, Mr. Speaker, are for those officers of the CIA who died while serving our Nation as our eyes and ears, in Vietnam, Latin America, Europe, Eurasia, Africa and elsewhere during the cold war.

We can acknowledge publicly the dedication and sacrifice of some of those officers, such as Bob Ames, who was killed in the bombing of our Embassy in Beirut, tragically, or Bill Buckley, who died in Lebanon under torture by the terrorists. The work and lives of others must remain anonymous stars on that wall and be remembered privately. Those stars, Mr. Speaker, are a measure of the courage and cost required to keep our Nation informed of the threats against it.

The end of the cold war has required the CIA to undergo a tremendous shift. New methods and focuses are needed to meet the challenge before us today. While no transition of this magnitude is ever without its bumps in the road, from my vantage point as chairman of the body's oversight committee, I am pleased to report the CIA is responding quickly and ably to the new threats of the post-cold-war world.

Since the Berlin Wall came down, those threats against our Nation have multiplied. Narcotics traffickers ship ever-increasing amounts of cocaine and heroin into the United States; rogue states continue to acquire the components of weapons of mass destruction; foreign terrorists now target Americans at home as well as abroad; and indigenous forces threaten U.S. soldiers on multilateral missions abroad.

To address these threats, the CIA has helped the Colombian Government break up the Cali drug cartel, and enabled United States law enforcement authorities to intercept drug shipments. It has discovered several attempts by rogue states to acquire weapons of mass destruction and supported diplomatic efforts to foil those attempts. It has helped law enforcement authorities around the world identify and, in some cases, arrest several notorious terrorists, including Carlos the Jackal in Sudan, the alleged trade center bombers in the Philippines, the head of the Shining Path in Peru, and those involved in the bombing of Pan Am 103; and supported United States Forces in Panama, as well as the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, Bosnia, and other places.

So, Mr. Speaker, CIA officers performed vital and often perilous service as our eyes and ears during the cold war, and continue to do so in our efforts today against foreign drug lords, rogue states, foreign terrorists and those who would harm U.S. troops abroad and those of us at home.

The panels of the Berlin Wall at Langley are a recognition of the contribution of these officers. The stars on the entrance wall there are a reminder of the cost of their contribution. The officers of CIA serve their country and make their sacrifices with no expectation whatsoever of public acclaim. For the 50th anniversary of the founding of the CIA, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to commemorate their lives and their work with these few humble words.

[Page: H5992]