Congressional Record: January 28, 2004 (Senate)
Page S309-S311


  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, this morning and part of this afternoon 
Mr. David Kay who was the top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq until he 
resigned last week testified before the Armed Services Committee.
  Mr. Kay has been interviewed extensively on media programs, including 
the ``Today'' show, and interviewed by Reuters, and others, so I have 
read a substantial amount of what he has said. And I listened today to 
his testimony, at least in part, before the Senate Armed Services 
  The debate that has gone on, and I suspect the debate that will ensue 
from his testimony today, will perhaps be a debate about whether the 
right decision was made when this country decided to embark on this 
mission in Iraq with United States troops, which has resulted in the 
elimination and removal of Saddam Hussein as President of that country. 
In many ways, I think that is not the most relevant debate to have at 
this moment. I think the debate to have at this moment is on what the 
implications of what Mr. Kay has said to us are for the safety and the 
security of this country, and what its implications are for the ability 
of this country to understand where dangers exist around the rest of 
the world, and where our national security is at stake.
  Let me see if I can paraphrase some of what Mr. Kay has said. He told 
the Armed Services Committee that the failure to turn up weapons of 
mass destruction in Iraq has exposed weaknesses in America's 
intelligence-gathering apparatus.
  Is there a time in which our intelligence-gathering apparatus has 
been more important to this country than this particular time?
  In the shadow of 9/11/2001, with the prospect of terrorists wanting 
again to commit an act of terror in this country, we are required to 
accept the judgment of our intelligence community: the best 
intelligence we have available to us that this is a threat or that is a 
threat. Now Mr. Kay says that what we believed about Iraq's weapons was 
almost all wrong. And I certainly include myself here. And he says the 
intelligence community has failed, quote, unquote, the President.
  Well, look, if the intelligence community has failed--and it seems 
clearly to have failed in a significant way--then it has failed not 
only the President of the United States, it has failed this Senate, and 
it has failed the people of the United States.
  I, and all of my colleagues, have sat in the Intelligence Committee 
room here in the Senate. That very special room, which is designed for 
top secret briefings, is a room in which all of us have had top secret 
briefing after top secret briefing from CIA, from Condoleezza Rice, the 
National Security Adviser, and from others. In that room, eyeball to 
eyeball with our intelligence community, we have been told certain 
things that they believe to be true with respect to a threat--the 
threat from Iraq, the threat of weapons of mass destruction, and 
  If, in fact, there is a failure--and it appears to me that there is a 
failure; the top weapons inspector says there is a failure--if that 
failure exists--and it does--then it is a failure not just for the 
President of the United States, it is a failure for this country and 
for this Senate.
  All of us, then, had been told, face to face by our intelligence 
community, what they expected to be the case in Iraq, and it turns out 
not to be the case.
  Now, do people have a right to be wrong? Yes, they do. But we spend 
billions and billions and billions of dollars on intelligence, and if 
this country--in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and 
confronting the prospect of future terrorist attacks--does not have an 
intelligence community that gives us great confidence, then we are in 
  I would think the President, and certainly this Congress, should 
demand to know what happened. We ought to seek answers. There has to be 
accountability. Where does the buck stop?
  If, in fact, we have had a failure of our intelligence community--
again, not my words, the words of Mr. David Kay, the top weapons 
inspector; words he uttered today before the Armed Services Committee, 
words he uttered in interview after interview--if there is, in fact, a 
failure, then we ought to demand immediately to understand: What was 
the failure? How did it occur? Whose responsibility was it? And, most 
importantly, how do we fix it on an urgent basis?
  Let me read some of the quotes. I will not read the quotes from 
today's hearing because I do not have them all, although I was able to 
listen to much of the hearing.
  But this is from Mr. Kay's appearance on the ``Today'' show, which I

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watched with great interest. He was asked on the ``Today'' show about 
the presentation before the United Nations of Secretary of State Colin 
Powell. As you know, we received top secret briefings, and then we 
received briefings in other venues from the Vice President, from 
Condoleezza Rice, and others in the administration. Following those 
briefings, the Secretary of State made a lengthy presentation to the 
United Nations, and he set out chapter and verse, including pictures 
and charts, of the threat that existed.
  I want to read to you the question that was asked:

       Almost a year ago Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed 
     the United Nations. Here's what he had to say.

  Then they showed a tape of Secretary Powell at the U.N. saying, 
``[Our] conservative estimate [is] that Iraq today has a stockpile of 
between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents.'' The interviewer 
then asked Mr. Kay: ``Is that conservative or is it just plain wrong?''
  Mr. Kay responds: No, I think that was the estimate based on 
information and intelligence before the war. It turns out to be wrong, 
just wrong.
  Next question: So what was the problem with the intelligence? Why 
were we so wrong?
  Mr. Kay said: Well, don't forget, Iraq is not the only place we have 
been wrong recently. We have been wrong about Iran. We have been wrong 
about Libya's program. We clearly need a renovation of our ability to 
collect intelligence.
  The question was asked: Here is what you said to Tom Brokaw: 
``Clearly the intelligence we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong. We 
need to understand why that was. If anyone was abused by the 
intelligence, it was the President of the United States rather than the 
other way around.''
  My point is simple: If anyone was abused in this country by bad 
intelligence, by inaccurate intelligence, it is not just the President, 
it is Members of the Senate who sat eyeball to eyeball with our 
intelligence officers and with those who run our intelligence community 
who told us what they believed to be the case, which turns out now not 
to be accurate. The American people were failed. The Senate was failed. 
To use another word Mr. Kay used, the President was failed.
  So why is it the case that we don't see someone standing on the 
tallest stump saying: There is something wrong here. We need to get to 
the bottom of it, and now. This country's security depends on it.
  Today somewhere someone is assessing intelligence picked up over 
telephone lines or computer transmittals or any number of ways to 
evaluate what is happening with terrorist cells. Where might they be 
planning to attack us. What might the attack be when they attempt to 
enter this country once again and kill Americans. Well, that same 
intelligence community that has been so wrong, according to Mr. Kay--
and I think now according to most Members of the Senate who would 
assess that--are they the ones still analyzing this?
  My question is where is the accountability? I think the President and 
the Congress ought to join together in a common bond and common 
interest to demand how this happened. There isn't any question that we 
ought to have a completely independent commission evaluating and 
studying and investigating this right now. There ought to be an 
independent investigation right now. I hope finally the Congress will 
do that.
  Second, I believe next week, Mr. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice ought to be 
invited to the intelligence room and all 100 Senators ought to hear 
their response to this proposition that the intelligence community has 
failed us. This isn't a politician speaking. This is a top weapons 
inspector who just came from Iraq. This is Mr. Kay.
  I remember when Mr. Kay was appointed with great fanfare. This is a 
straight shooter, a tough guy, no nonsense. He went to Iraq. He came 
back, and he finally quit. He said there weren't weapons of mass 
destruction. The intelligence was bad. The intelligence community 
failed this President. He forgot to say, failed this Congress and 
failed the American people.
  I am telling you, whether it is tomorrow or next week or next month, 
this country's security and safety rest on good intelligence. If we 
have questions about an intelligence community that Mr. Kay says has 
failed us and if we don't, with great urgency, rush to find out what 
happened with an independent evaluation, shame on us.
  This isn't about politics. It is about the safety of America. It is 
about being effective in the fight against terrorism. It is about 
having an intelligence community that works, that gets it right, and 
that doesn't fail this President or this Congress or this country.
  I hope Senator Frist and Democratic leader Daschle will ask Mr. Tenet 
to come to room 407 and address all 100 Senators and answer all of the 
questions of the Senators that stem from this testimony of the top 
weapons inspector who has said our intelligence community failed us. We 
ought to do that, and we ought to do it now. Days, weeks, or months 
should not go by without us having answers to this question. It is easy 
to be critical. It is much more difficult to be constructive. It is not 
being critical for Mr. Kay, the top weapons inspector appointed by 
President George W. Bush, to come to this Congress and tell the truth. 
When he tells the truth, we have a responsibility to follow that truth 
wherever it leads.

  There are some here who don't want to do that. They are worried about 
politics. It doesn't matter who is President. We have an intelligence 
community on which we spend a great deal of money. In fact, the amount 
is classified information. The American people should trust me when I 
say we spend a substantial amount of money on intelligence. The 
security and safety of this country and the American people rests on 
our ability to make sure that money is spent wisely in an intelligence 
community that gets it right and provides good information to this 
country. We cannot any longer decide this is business as usual, one 
more hearing, one more set of questions that remains unanswered.
  Saddam Hussein is gone, and the world is better for it. Saddam 
Hussein was a bad guy. We opened up football-field-sized graves in Iraq 
with tens of thousands of skeletons of people murdered by this regime. 
That is a fact. Saddam Hussein crawled into a rat hole. That says a lot 
about him. He is now in jail, soon to be on trial, perhaps soon to meet 
with the ultimate penalty. This is not about Saddam Hussein. This 
discussion is about whether this country is able to protect itself from 
a terrorist attack a month from now or a year from now. Do we have an 
intelligence community that gets it right? Mr. Kay seems to say no. 
That community has failed us. He says they have not just failed in 
Iraq, they have gotten it wrong in Libya and Iran. We need a renovation 
of our ability to collect intelligence.
  Incidentally, Mr. Kay, former top weapons inspector of this 
President, said this morning he favors an independent commission to 
take a look at and investigate the failure of the intelligence 
community. I hope we will move with great haste to embrace that 
recommendation. It is not just his recommendation. Senator Daschle and 
others have made that same recommendation in the Senate.
  We need to move with great urgency. This is about the safety and 
security of our country.
  My colleague from Florida is on the floor and wishes to speak to an 
issue. Time is short. We have an urgent requirement to pursue this 
issue. I call on Senator Frist next week to give all of us here in the 
Senate the opportunity to hear and question Mr. Tenet, head of the CIA, 
as well as Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser. We should have 
that opportunity because they, in top secret briefings, gave us 
information. They represented the intelligence, the community of 
intelligence and the assessment of the intelligence community prior to 
going to war in Iraq.
  That assessment is what Mr. Kay refers to when he says there was a 
failure. The assessment that apparently was accepted--perhaps embraced, 
certainly embraced--by the Secretary of State when he went to New York 
and made his presentation to the United Nations was a failure of 
intelligence. I think the Secretary of State would want these answers. 
The President certainly needs these answers. He should demand it this 
afternoon. The Senate deserves these answers next week at the very 

[[Page S311]]

  I call on Senator Frist to convene a meeting next week of the 100 
Senators in our Intelligence Committee room so we can question and hear 
from the head of the CIA and the head of the National Security Council, 
Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice. Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice ought to present 
themselves, and we should begin this process of finding out what 
happened. Why did it happen. Who is accountable, and where does the 
buck stop.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Chafee). The Senator from Florida is