Congressional Record: February 3, 2004 (House)
Page H282-H283

                        IRAQ INTELLIGENCE LAPSES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the blessings of this Nation 
are that we are a Republic, a constitutional Republic, that the 
Founding Fathers were wise enough to establish three distinct branches 
of government. I take that distinction and that constitutional mandate 
very seriously and believe that the congressional legislative branch 
has a responsibility of oversight over the executive as the judiciary 
remains as an independent component.
  The administration of this government, the executive, engaged in a 
debate in the fall of 2002 that suggested to the American people that 
we were about to be attacked by Iraq. It was a vigorous debate. There 
was great, if you will, challenge to the administration's facts; and 
they waged a very public, if you will, campaign to convince the 
American people and to convince the United States Congress that we were 
about to be imminently attacked. It was a serious campaign, Mr. 
Speaker; it was a serious moment in our history. Members of this 
Congress took that debate very seriously.
  I recall very vividly great emotion on the floor of the House, great 
indecision, indecisiveness, great concern and conflictedness about 
whether we should go to war, whether or not the words of the President 
mentioned and the Axis of Evil that was then ultimately mentioned in 
the winter of 2003 was actually factual; but the administration was 
convinced. They have pushed the intelligence community to the point of 
representing to all of us that this information was factual.
  Let me share with my colleagues words from the administration: 
``Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons 
of mass destruction,'' Vice President Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002.
  ``Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were 
used for production of biological weapons,'' President Bush, September 
12, 2002.
  ``The Iraqi regime possesses and produces chemical and biological 
weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons,'' Bush, October 7, 2002.
  ``We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a 
growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that will be used 
to disburse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We are 
concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using the UAVs for missions 
targeting the United States,'' Bush, October 7, 2002.
  ``We know for a fact that there are weapons there,'' White House 
Spokesman, Ari Fleisher, January 9, 2003.
  ``The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconsidering its nuclear 
weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with the 
Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his nuclear mujahadeen, his 
nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is 
rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear 
program in the past,'' Bush, October 7, 2002.
  Mr. Speaker, I will be offering in the next couple of days the 
Protect America's National Security Act of 2004, the PANS Act of 2004. 
That is to demand congressional hearings by the Select Committee on 
Homeland Security, Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Armed 
Services, and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, absolutely 
demanding that an inquiry be made on the question of the level of 
intelligence that was utilized to convince this Congress, both the 
House and the Senate, of the decision to go to war.
  I am against the bipartisan commission that has been offered by the 
President. Why? Because the President will be making the appointments 
regardless of the fact of whether they will be Democrats and 
Republicans. The President, the administration, the executive will be 
setting the time of the start and the completion of its work. I am 
concerned that any report and any investigation on the question of the 
type of intelligence that was given at the time of the decision made to 
go to war be challenged and it be an oversight by the Congress of the 
United States.
  I refuse to allow this Congress to abdicate its responsibility under 
the Constitution to give oversight of the question of whether or not 
the intelligence given was both legitimate and substantial and the 
basis on which it was made.
  To the American public, you deserve an answer. To the American 
public, you deserve that your congressional representatives engage in a 
process to investigate where there is no time set, where there is no 
end set, by the very executive that presented the intelligence.
  In addition, we should hurry this report. This report should be done 
within a 6-month period because it is time sensitive. Why is it time 
sensitive, Mr. Speaker? Because intelligence is a basic infrastructure 
of security of America. It determines how we secure our borders, it 
determines aviation security, it determines the difference or the 
different levels of alert that we propose day after day after day.
  It is crucial that the Congress rises to the level of oversight. It 
is interesting that we wish to push this very important work off to a 
civilian, if you will, commission which the very entity that we are 
investigating will be the one that will select both the participants 
and the procedures. Congress needs to use its subpoena powers and its 
investigatory powers in order to ensure that the American people have 
the truth.
  I ask my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, to join me in co-sponsoring the 
Protect America's National Security Act of 2004, which will ask for the 
general numbers of the CIA budget so that we will know, as was 
suggested by a former Reagan administration official.
  I would like to thank my colleagues for taking the time to speak out 
tonight about this issue that is critical to the long-term survival of 
our Nation. I do not mean to use hyperbole. However, I truly believe 
that so much rides on our foreign intelligence gathering system. Our 
foreign policy, our trade policies, how we run our borders, what level 
of alert we are at, how we should live our day-to-day lives--it all is 
based on our understanding of what is happening in the world around us. 
If we are continually making decisions based on false assumptions and 
wrong interpretations, we could face a future full of 9/11s and 
unnecessary wars like the one still raging in Iraq today.
  In the run-up to war, top Administration officials, and the President 
himself, were making statements daily about the deadly weapons that 
Saddam Hussein was pointing at the American people. We heard that they 
had stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. We heard they were 
trying to buy materials for nuclear weapons; they had mobile weapons 
labs, and programs to develop more. One by one, these claims have been 
refuted. Last week, we heard Dr. David Kay, our own chief weapons 
inspector for the past year, testify that those claims were false.
  However, we went to war based mostly on those claims. The war that 
has taken the lives of more than 500 brave U.S. soldiers, killed tens 
of thousands of Iraqis, cost us hundreds of billions of dollars, and 
diminished our standing in the world community. We have to find

[[Page H283]]

out how this tragedy occurred, and make sure it doesn't happen again. 
The American people are calling for answers, and we need them urgently. 
On Friday, the President declared that he wants answers too. I commend 
him for that, but I am concerned that no matter how well-intentioned he 
is--the truth will not come out of his Administration.
  I am worried that a commission hand-picked by the executive branch, 
with an agenda and schedule crafted by the executive branch, will be 
incapable of producing an objective and useful assessment of executive 
branch failures. It is a fundamental human trait that groups tend to 
close ranks to shield themselves from scrutiny when they know they have 
made mistakes. That is why the framers of the Constitution built a 
system of checks and balances into our great government. The President 
has the power to veto any law Congress passes, and in return, Congress 
has a strict duty of oversight over the executive branch and the 
  It would be a gross dereliction of our duties, if Congress sits idly 
by and assumes that the Administration will take care of this problem. 
In fact, we have already seen that the President's Commission is 
getting off on the wrong foot. We are getting reports that it is too 
broad in scope, and may not yield any answers until next year. That is 
unacceptable. Our national security depends on reliable intelligence 
information. Furthermore, the President has stated that we are in a 
global ``War on Terror.'' we have soldiers on the ground around the 
world fighting that war. They, their families, and the American people, 
deserve to know what they are fighting for, and what dangers they may 
face. We simply don't have months or years to waste before we get 
around to fixing our intelligence-gathering system. We may be 
vulnerable now, so we cannot rest until we address this problem.
  Congressional leadership should immediately launch a series of full 
and comprehensive hearings, including Homeland Security, Judiciary, 
Armed Services, and Intel Committees from both the House and Senate. 
Within six months, we need to report back to the American people how 
the Administration could have been so far off the mark on Iraqi 
weapons. We must learn from that mistake first. After that, we can move 
on to broader issues.
  None of us knows what a real investigation will yield. It will take 
hard work to fully understand the function of our intelligence 
gathering agencies, since they are largely secret from the American 
people, and most Members of Congress. Even simple questions like, ``Are 
we putting enough money into Intel?'' is tough to answer since the CIA 
budget is top secret. I think we need to take a look at that policy. 
Funding of special programs should obviously be guarded. However, I 
think maybe the American people should have a general idea of how much 
we are spending on intelligence gathering, in total. Only then can they 
decide if they are getting their money's worth.
  But more important then the financing is the functionality. Do we 
have adequate manpower? Do we have reliable data? Are we interpreting 
that data properly? Have we compromised our analysis by poisoning it 
with politics and partisanship?
  The American people deserve answers. This isn't about politics; it is 
about prudence.