Congressional Record: September 14, 2006 (Senate) Page S9593-S9602 Mr. REID. Mr. President, last Friday the Senate Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan report that discussed Iraq's links to terrorism and the use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress. These reports provided the American people with important insights into these critical issues. Unfortunately, the administration chose to redact--that is a word used around here meaning to black out--important portions of these reports that a bipartisan majority of the Intelligence Committee believes could have and should have been released to the American people. Last night, I handed a letter to the distinguished majority leader informing him of my intent to offer an amendment to declassify one of these sections. I will, at an appropriate time, ask unanimous consent that I have the pending amendment set aside to offer my amendment. I am not going to do that right now. I do ask unanimous consent that a copy of my letter to Senator Frist be printed in the Record. There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, September 13, 2006. Hon. William H. Frist, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. Dear Leader Frist: Late last week the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on ``a bipartisan basis released reports that discussed Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program and its links to terrorism and the intelligence community's use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress. These reports provided the American people with important insights into these critical issues. Unfortunately, the Administration chose to classify certain important portions of these reports that should have been released to the public. A bipartisan majority of the Intelligence Committee disagreed with the Administration's decision to classify certain portions of the report's findings and conclusions and said that classifying this information is ``without justification.'' In my view, the Administration's decision to classify one particular portion of the report--a section discussing a CIA document about the alleged meeting in Prague between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer--is especially troubling and lacking in justification. As you may know, as recently as this Sunday on national television, Vice President Cheney left open the possibility that such a meeting may have occurred. However, a bipartisan majority of the Intelligence Committee, after thoroughly reviewing relevant intelligence reports and assessments, concluded ``no such meeting occurred.'' The continued classification of sections referencing this meeting only serves to prevent the American public from knowing the full facts about this matter. The classified version of the Intelligence Committee's report, including the sections dealing with the alleged Atta meeting, are available for all Senators to review in the Committee's offices in room SH-211. I urge you to join with me to encourage all members to review his text so they understand its importance and why that text can and should be made available to the American people. In light of the importance of this issue, I also think it is important that the Senate act to declassify those portions of the text on pages 96, 97, and 98 of the Intelligence Committee's report that are currently redacted but do not involve sources and methods. I plan to offer an amendment on that subject to the legislation currently pending in the Senate. Notwithstanding the procedural situation on the floor, I hope you will join with me to offer this important amendment, permit the Senate to act on it, and support its swift adoption. While I understand that S. Res. 400 spells out a process for the Senate to declassify information, that process is a lengthy one that is likely to take us well beyond your announced adjournment date for the U.S. Senate. Therefore, in light of the importance of this issue, I think it is appropriate that the Senate act expeditiously to declassify this material. Sincerely, Harry Reid, U.S. Senate. Mr. REID. Mr. President, again, before I get to the need for this amendment, let me be clear. This is about good government. It has nothing to do with politics. I notified the distinguished majority leader of my intentions to speak this afternoon, well in advance--not today; I advised him yesterday--so the majority leader--indeed, every Member of the Senate--knows this is not a partisan effort but, rather, a serious effort to ensure the Senate fulfills its responsibilities to the American people. I sincerely hope that the majority leader has had time to think about this important amendment and will join with me today to get it agreed to. The fact is, the White House was wrong to classify portions of the phase II report, as both Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence Committee have said. This chart states as follows: The committee disagrees, however, with the Intelligence Community's decision to classify certain portions of the report's findings and conclusions . . . the Committee concludes that the Intelligence Community's [[Page S9594]] decision to classify this information is without justification. This was made public last Friday from the report. For the record, this is not my conclusion. This is not a Democratic conclusion. This is a bipartisan conclusion of the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. Again, here is what they said: The Committee disagrees, however, with the Intelligence Community's decision to classify certain portions of the report's findings and conclusions . . . the committee concludes that the Intelligence Community's decision to classify this information is without justification. A majority of the Republicans and Democrats in the Intelligence Committee came together and concluded that the administration's decision to keep information from the American people was without justification. We talk about redaction. It is a word we use more often than I would think we should, but we are using it here today. I will show everyone in this chart what a redaction looks like. Here is the information I had in a letter to the majority leader where I said everyone should go upstairs and look at what these redacted sentences say. This is not just any redaction. Although, obviously, I cannot discuss the specific content of this, the Intelligence Committee's report does contain some publicly available information that I can discuss. According to unclassified sections of the committee's report, this section contains information from a CIA document about the alleged meeting in Prague between September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer. That is from page 135 of the report on terrorism, page 174 of the Democratic additional views. As we all know, the alleged meeting referenced here was an important part of this administration's case for going to war. To this day, the meeting continues to be used by the administration officials to justify why we are still engaged in a war in Iraq. Obviously, this is an important piece of information as we assess how we got where we are today in Iraq and what we need to do to go forward in Iraq. For all my colleagues, though, I want you to know, as important as it is, I would not be here today pressing the declassification of this information if I thought disclosing it to the American people would compromise our intelligence sources and methods. It doesn't. A number of members of the Intelligence Committee who know exactly what this blacked-out section says, and have heard the administration's case for classifying it, have told me that significant portions of this passage can be declassified immediately with no harm to our national security, no revealing of sources and methods. Nor would I be here today if I thought the process of declassifying information spelled out in S. Res. 400 would work in this case. S. Res. 400 talks about how we declassify information. As anyone who has taken a look at S. Res. 400 will quickly see, the process is a very lengthy process--so long, in fact, that it is impossible that the Senate would be permitted to express its views on an issue prior to the majority leader's announced adjournment date. This amendment, the Reid-Rockefeller-Levin amendment, would provide the American people with information they have a right to know now. This amendment would not harm our national security. To the contrary, it will help ensure that we have a better informed Senate debate and a better informed American public, a critical underpinning of any effective national security policy. I express my appreciation because he has just come to the Senate, to the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. I want the Record to be spread with the fact of how much I appreciate, the Democratic Senators appreciate, the Nation appreciates, the Senator's dedicated work. It has been tough sledding. The Senator has been dignified in his approach. I so appreciate the tireless efforts of the Senator. Most Senators are in the public eye. That is our job. The Senator's job is not to be in the public eye. The Senator spends days of his legislative life in a room in the Hart Building, in secret proceedings. Nothing can be said that goes on in that room. That is where the Senator spends his time. I so appreciate the Senator's dedicated service to our country. Before I offer this unanimous consent request to set aside the pending amendment and have my amendment heard, I ask the distinguished Senator from West Virginia if he has some remarks he would like to make. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, first of all, I totally appreciate and totally do not deserve the kind comments of our leader from the State of Nevada, but I heard them and I won't forget them and I didn't mind them at all. Before the Senate Intelligence Committee was able to release last week two sections of phase II that we have been working on in prewar intelligence in Iraq, we submitted the report to the intelligence community for declassification review. Overall, the declassification process on the phase II report produced a final product that was a substantial improvement, I have to say, over past efforts, including the committee's heavily redacted July 2004 phase I report. Yet there were notable instances of overclassification in the final phase II report released September 8. The committee, in its report, disagreed with the intelligence community's decision to classify certain portions of the report's findings and conclusions. In its decision to keep this information from the public, which is what this is about, the intelligence community was unable to demonstrate to the committee that disclosing the redacted-- that is, what is blacked-out--the redacted information in question would compromise sensitive sources and methods or otherwise harm the national security. The committee, therefore, on a bipartisan basis, concluded in its report, which was reported out unanimously, that the intelligence community's decision to classify this information that we are talking about is without justification. Those are the words in the report, ``without justification.'' The Reid-Rockefeller-Levin amendment addresses the most egregious instance in the committee's Iraq report where the cloak of classification is being used improperly to keep critical information from the American people. Specifically, the amendment seeks to overturn the intelligence community's unjustified decision to classify it--that is what this amendment is trying to do--and not only overturn, but the unjustified decision to classify in its totality the section of the Iraq report referring to a CIA document about the alleged meeting in Prague between 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer. As the unclassified text of the committee report states, the CIA document referenced in these redacted paragraphs expresses concerns about the alleged Prague meeting in the context of a public speech by President Bush planned for March 14, 2003. For the information of Senators, the committee concluded in its September 8 Iraq report that the intelligence community was correct when it assessed prior to the war that there was no credible information--I repeat, no credible information--that Iraq was complicit in or had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks on the United States or any other al-Qaida strike. The committee also concluded in its report, after exhaustive review of relevant intelligence reporting, that the alleged Atta meeting in Prague did not occur. Significant portions of the redacted passage of the report concerning the alleged Atta meeting, if not the entire three paragraphs, can be declassified without revealing sources and methods--that is, without compromising in any way intelligence--or otherwise harming national security. The decision to keep from the public--the public of the Senate, the public of the United States of America--this revealing information about the use of intelligence information prior to the Iraq war represents an improper use of classification authority by the intelligence community, the effect of which is to shield the White House. I urge my colleagues to go to the Intelligence Committee offices and read the classified portions of the Iraq report--Senators can do that; all Senators can do that, do it in those particular rooms, and they can do it freely--including the sections dealing with [[Page S9595]] the alleged Atta meeting. Senators should read the report and draw their own conclusions about whether information known prior to the war is being kept from the American people for reasons unrelated to protecting national security. Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question? Mr. ROCKEFELLER. I am happy to. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would like the Senator from West Virginia to clarify one point, if he might. We have two bodies of information. One is part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report--unclassified, public knowledge. We have another body of information which is classified. I would like to ask the Senator from West Virginia strictly about the first. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report that was issued last week--unclassified and public knowledge, which the Senator has referred to, and particularly as it relates to the alleged meeting in Prague, the Czech Republic, involving Mr. Atta, who was one of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks--if I heard the Senator from West Virginia correctly, the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, an unclassified and public report, stated no such meeting occurred; is that correct? Mr. ROCKEFELLER. That is correct. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I might ask the Senator from West Virginia the following: So when Mr. Tim Russert of ``Meet The Press'' asked Vice President Dick Cheney, on September 10, this last Sunday, ``And the meeting with Atta did not occur?'' and the Vice President replied, ``We don't know,'' does that contradict the published, unclassified report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that, in fact, we do know the meeting did not occur? Mr. ROCKEFELLER. I would say to the Senator from Illinois that he is correct, it does contradict that, and moreover this contradiction has been carried on by a number of high officials in this Government for a very long period of time in spite of intelligence which they knew which said this meeting never took place. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for yielding for the question. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. In closing, I urge my colleagues to not only read the information blacked out, redacted--those are pages 96, 97, and 98-- read those of the report, but also to consider it in the context of the unclassified, publicly released section on the alleged Atta meeting in Prague that precedes these pages. It sounds complicated, but it is not. Just go read it and you will understand. I think Senators will find the information classified by the administration on these three pages does not involve intelligence sources and methods as much as it does provide insight into the warning bells that were going off all over about the alleged Atta meeting in the context of a Presidential speech a week before the Iraq war commenced. This is information on the use of prewar intelligence which the White House does not want the American public to have because it would be embarrassing. The Senate cannot allow this misuse of classification authority to stand. I urge my colleagues to support the Reid-Rockefeller-Levin amendment. Mr. President, I once again thank the minority leader and yield the floor. (At the request of Mr. Rockefeller, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the Record.)
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, this past Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that, among other issues, looks at what we have learned after the attack on Iraq about the accuracy of prewar intelligence regarding links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. The report is a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration's unrelenting and misleading effort to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked with al-Qaida, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack. Before the war, President Bush said: ``[Y]ou can't distinguish between al-Qa'ida and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror,'' and: ``This is a man [Saddam] that we know has had connection with al- Qa'ida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qa'ida as a forward army.'' But the report released by the Intelligence Committee on Friday tells a different story. The report quotes the CIA's June 2002 assessment that ``our assessment of al-Qa'ida's ties to Iraq rests on a body of fragmented, conflicting reporting from sources of varying reliability.'' That same CIA report said that ``the ties between Saddam and bin Ladin appear much like those between rival intelligence services.'' The Intelligence Committee's report quotes a January 2003 prewar CIA assessment that ``Saddam Husayn and Usama bin Ladin are far from being natural partners;'' that Saddam has ``viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat;'' and that ``the relationship between Saddam and bin Ladin appears to more closely resemble that of two independent actors trying to exploit each other.'' Those accurate prewar assessments didn't stop the administration from making many false and misleading statements trying to link Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida before the war. What is doubly shocking is that the false statements continue to this day. Just last weekend, the Vice President said on ``Meet the Press'' that ``The evidence we also had at the time was that he [Saddam] had a relationship with al-Qaeda.'' And the Secretary of State told Fox News earlier this week that ``There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaida.'' Just read the Senate Intelligence Committee's bipartisan report. Those statements are simply not supported by the intelligence, prewar or postwar. Three weeks ago, the President said in a press conference that Saddam Hussein ``had relations with Zarqawi'' the recently killed terrorist. The Intelligence Committee's report demonstrates that statement to be flat out false. The committee report discloses, for the first time, the CIA's previously classified October 2005 assessment that Saddam's regime ``did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.'' But neither the CIA's assessment nor the committee's report has stopped the false statements. Just last Sunday, the Vice President said on ``Meet the Press'' that ``We know that Zarqawi . . . fled and went to Baghdad and set up operations in Baghdad in the spring of '02 and was there from then, basically, until basically the time we launched into Iraq.'' Just last weekend, the Secretary of State told CNN ``We know that Zarqawi ran a poisons network in Iraq. . . . So was Iraq involved with terror? Absolutely, Iraq was involved with terror.'' And just this week, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman said ``there was a relationship'' between Saddam and Zarqawi. Don't they read the CIA's assessments? If they do and disagree, they should say so. Again, the CIA's October 2005 assessment said, flat out, Saddam's regime ``did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.'' There are many more misleading statements. In the fall of 2001, the Czech intelligence service provided the CIA with reporting based on a single source who stated that the lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001. On December 9, 2001, Vice President Cheney was asked about the report on ``Meet the Press.'' The Vice President said, said that ``. . . it's been pretty well confirmed that the [9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.'' On March 24, 2002, the Vice President told ``Meet the Press'' that ``We discovered, and it's since been public, the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague . . .'' But the Intelligence Committee's report declassifies, for the first time, a July 2002, a Defense Intelligence Agency paper that said ``Muhammad Atta reportedly was identified by an asset (not an officer) of the Czech [ ] service only after Atta's picture was widely circulated in the media after the attacks, approximately five months after the alleged meeting occurred'' and that ``there is no photographic, immigration or other documentary evidence indicating Atta was in the Czech Republic during the time frame of the meeting.'' [[Page S9596]] Two months later, in September 2002, CIA published it's assessment that ``evidence casts doubt'' on the possibility that the meeting had occurred and that ``The CIA and FBI have reviewed the reporting available so far and are unable to confirm that Atta met al-Ani in Prague.'' None of those assessments stopped the Vice President from continuing to suggest that the report of the meeting was evidence that Saddam's regime was linked to the 9/11 attackers. On September 8, 2002, in a ``Meet the Press'' interview the Vice President said that the CIA considered the report of the meeting ``credible,'' although, again, that same month the CIA said that there was evidence that ``cast doubt'' on it having occurred. In January 2003, still before the war, the CIA published an assessment stating that, ``A CIA and FBI review of intelligence and open-source reporting leads us to question the information provided by the Czech service source who claimed that Atta met al-Ani.'' The January 2003 paper stated that CIA was ``increasingly skeptical that Atta traveled to Prague in 2001 or met with IIS officer al-Ani'' and that ``the most reliable reporting to date casts doubt on this possibility.'' But the Vice President continued to be undeterred by the CIA's skepticism. In September of 2003, 8 months after the CIA said that the most reliable reporting cast doubt on the possibility of a meeting between Atta and the Iraqi intelligence officer, Vice President Cheney was still citing it as having possibly occurred. On January 19, 2004, a full year after the CIA expressed serious doubts about the meeting and the fact that not a shred of evidence had been found to support the claim of a meeting, the Vice President told the Rocky Mountain News that the Atta meeting was ``the one that possibly tied the two [Saddam and the 9-11 attackers] together to 9/ 11.'' Six months later, on June 17, 2004, the Vice President was asked whether Iraq was involved in 9/11. The Vice President said ``We don't know. . . . We had one report, this was the famous report on the Czech intelligence service, and we've never been able to confirm it or to knock it down. We just don't know.'' The Vice President may not have ``known'' but the intelligence community sure as heck didn't believe-- for a long time before the Vice President's statement--that the meeting took place. Now the Senate Intelligence Committee's report says that ``Postwar findings . . . confirm that no such meeting occurred.'' But just last Sunday, before a nationally televised audience, the Vice President was asked whether the meeting occurred. The Vice President replied ``We don't know.'' The Intelligence Community does know. The Senate Intelligence Committee knows. The bipartisan report we released last week says ``Postwar findings . . . confirm that no such meeting occurred.'' The intelligence assessments contained in the Intelligence Committee's unclassified report are an indictment of the administration's continuing misleading attempts to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida. Portions of the report which have been kept from public view provide some of the clearest evidence of this administration's false statements and distortions. Among what remains classified, and therefore covered up, includes deeply disturbing information. Much of the information redacted from pages 96, 97, and 98 of the public report does not jeopardize any intelligence sources or methods. The continued classification of that entire portion of the report reeks of a coverup by the administration. The Senate should not go along. The public is entitled to the full picture. Unless this report is further declassified, they won't. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader. Mr. REID. Mr. President, Senator Levin would be here, but he is, to say the least, tied up in the Armed Services Committee. He has been working with others to get a bipartisan measure to the floor so we can deal with the detainee problem that was brought to a head by the Supreme Court in the Hamdan decision. I do wish to say that Senator Levin, during Senator Rockefeller's incapacity, was a real stalwart working with us. He kept Senator Rockefeller informed at his home on a daily basis as to what was going on in that committee. We very much appreciate Senator Levin's efforts. He is really overworked. He had his responsibilities for Armed Services, but he filled in very well for the distinguished Senator from West Virginia. We are glad Senator Rockefeller is back and in better shape than when he left. He is stronger than ever, and we are very fortunate to be able to work on this side of the aisle with these two wonderful Senators. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent, notwithstanding rule XXII, that amendment No. 5005, to declassify certain text of the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Post-War Findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, still be in order. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Mr. BOND. Reserving the right to object, first, let me clarify, this is not classification---- Mr. REID. Mr. President, is there an objection or not? The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator from Missouri object? Mr. ROBERTS. I object. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. The Democratic leader. Mr. REID. Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I regret the decision of the majority. I really do. There will be ample time for my friend from Missouri to speak. I wish to speak for a few more minutes. No matter the issue or the costs to the American people, I am sorry to say, partisanship is the order of the day in this Republican Senate. On such an important matter as this, I had hoped we could set aside our partisan differences and work together. This is not the case. Our amendment will not be adopted, but it is not we who will pay the price. The real consequences will be paid by this institution and the American people. The Senate has lost and the American people have lost once again because the Republicans have chosen to rubberstamp a bad decision by the Bush White House. They have put the administration's political standing ahead of this body's constitutional obligation and their own political interests ahead of the Nation's interests. Again, the American people have lost because, again, they have been denied an opportunity to fully understand the facts behind President Bush's rush to war in Iraq. The decision to keep this revealing information from the public represents an abuse of classification authority by the Intelligence Committee. They have shielded the White House at the expense of America's security. More than 3 years into the war in Iraq--longer than it took in World War II in the European theater--the principal underpinnings of the administration's case for war have been undermined, if not obliterated, by events on the ground and Friday's Intelligence Committee report. We learned long ago that Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction, that he did not have stockpiles of chemical weapons, that he did not have stockpiles of biological weapons, and that he did not have nuclear capabilities. Further, we know definitely from the Intelligence Committee report on Friday that another administration claim--that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaida--is totally and completely unfounded. Of course, that does not stop this administration from repeating this charge. This next chart shows exactly what I am talking about. Look at what has been said in recent weeks. And the colloquy between the distinguished whip and the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee certainly showed this and will show it again. Here is what was said: [Saddam Hussein] had relations with Zarqawi. President Bush said this in August of this year, late August of this year. The Senate Intelligence Committee report: [T]he Regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi. This did not stop the President from saying ``[Saddam Hussein] had relations with Zarqawi.'' This is not a truthful statement. [[Page S9597]] On September 10, just last Sunday, the Vice President said, on ``Meet The Press,'' at 10:30 in the morning--he was asked the question by Tim Russert, ``And the meeting with Atta did not occur?''--keep in mind, this is after the report was made public Friday, 2 days before this-- and the Vice President said, ``We don't know.'' The Senate Intelligence Committee report says no such meeting occurred. It is against this backdrop that I offered the Reid- Rockefeller-Levin amendment. We have an administration that continues to misstate the record and prevent the public from getting additional information that will shed further light on their misstatements. And ``misstatements'' is an understatement. We have a Republican-controlled Congress that actively aids and abets the administration in these pursuits. Mr. President, we need a new direction. For too long, this Republican Congress has put its own security ahead of the security of the American people. Today is a good example of that, and it is too bad for the American people. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas is recognized. Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise in very strong opposition to Senator Reid's amendment. The amendment simply directs the release of three pages in the classified version of the committee's phase II report on the accuracy of prewar intelligence assessments. I just think this amendment is an irresponsible, very dangerous way to seek the release of classified information and would set a very dangerous precedent. To my knowledge, this action is unprecedented--the full Senate considering a bill that has nothing to do with the subject matter that is now being discussed and for the Senate not to declassify the information but to simply release classified information. I can probably conjure up a lot of other different attempts to do this and put the full Senate in the position of trying to release classified information. While we are at war, what the Democratic leader is proposing is that the Congress unilaterally release information that our intelligence professionals--not the administration--that our intelligence professionals have determined to be protected from disclosure. Again, to my knowledge, the Senate has never taken such a drastic step. Now, the Democratic leader's amendment is not about port security. In fact, the amendment will do nothing to enhance our security. The Senate should not adopt a precedent that allows one Senator to release classified information for whatever purpose that he or she would deem fit or for their own purposes. Before I proceed any further, however, I must take issue with the manner in which the committee action on the matter of declassification has been characterized. Senator Reid claims that a bipartisan majority of the Intelligence Committee voted to include in the report a statement that the committee disagreed with the administration's decision--I will repeat, the administration's decision--to classify certain portions of the report's findings and conclusions and said that classifying of this information is without justification. In actuality it was the intelligence community, not the administration, that made the decision to protect the sensitive information contained in those three pages. That decision was based on the community's judgment--their judgment--I know Senators Rockefeller, Reid, and others may disagree with the community--concerning sources and methods. More important, the committee actually classified the declassification this way, and I am quoting from our report: The committee recognizes that classification decisions are often difficult, requiring a careful balancing of our responsibility to protect the national security sources and methods with the need for the appropriate transparency of the intelligence activities. That says it, and it is a very difficult task that one faces when you are approaching that kind of a challenge. Overall, the declassification process on this report--and I am quoting again--``was a substantial improvement over past efforts.'' That is what the committee said. I know that doesn't include the three pages that the Democratic leader, Senator Rockefeller, and others would like to have released. It would still be classified, but it would be released in a bill that has nothing to do with intelligence matters. It is important to understand that this was a broad, bipartisan statement relating to a number of issues. Several Senators, many Senators, this Senator, had things they would have liked to have seen declassified. I worked overtime with the intelligence community in regard to the section on the Iraqi National Congress, to make sure that all of that report was in, all of the nuances and history would be declassified. Did I get everything I wanted? No, but I got a large portion of it. The committee, however, made no specific reference to the issue that Senator Reid brought to the floor today. There was that generic statement that I just said earlier. I am very familiar with the material that the Senator seeks to publicly release. I agree with the Intelligence Community that this material does contain sensitive information that would damage our intelligence sources and methods. I believe it is properly classified. I supported the report's statement that there are certain portions of the report that I believe should have been declassified. This is not one of them. The information the Democratic leader wants to release is very sensitive. Mr. President, it is CIA operational traffic between an undercover overseas field station and CIA headquarters. This type of correspondence exists to permit the rapid informal flow of information and operational guidance needed to execute the mission of the CIA. It is not formal intelligence reporting. It is not a finished intelligence assessment drafted and coordinated to support policymakers, as has been indicated, and it is not routinely available or needed by anyone outside of the CIA. It must be handled with care. Now, the next question, obviously, is why? Because the release of unevaluated information and CIA operational traffic would potentially damage the relationships with foreign country security services that work closely with the CIA. These foreign services do so with the expectation that their words and their actions will remain confidential. Additionally, declassification and public release of such correspondence would certainly impinge upon the speed and frankness that marks this correspondence. CIA's effectiveness is reduced when this happens. For these reasons, and others that cannot be discussed publicly, this information should not be released. In short, this amendment would damage our sensitive sources and methods by recklessly disclosing properly classified information--again, not by the administration but by the intelligence community. There is another way to do this. It is the proper way. A number of Members on both sides of the aisle, including this Senator, have issues concerning the declassification of these reports. They have agreed to work with the National Archives Public Interest Declassification Board, which is the proper way to do it, to review and, hopefully, further declassify some of the remaining redacted portions. This review process will look at all of the information that remains classified, not just the information singled out in Senator Reid's amendment. I think this is a much more responsible approach. I hope my colleagues will proceed in that manner. That is how we intend to proceed in the Intelligence Committee in regard to classification and declassification. I oppose this amendment, and I urge my colleagues to do the same. I yield the floor. Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question? Mr. ROBERTS. I have yielded the floor, but I will answer the Senator's question. Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator because I am not on the committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report last week, and he stands by the findings--at least the majority section. I asked the question of my Democratic colleague, Senator Rockefeller, which I would ask of you. In that Senate Intelligence Committee report relative to the alleged meeting in Prague involving Mohammad Atta, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report says that [[Page S9598]] no such meeting occurred. I would like to ask the Senator from Kansas this: When the Vice President was asked on Sunday on ``Meet the Press'' by Mr. Russert the following question: ``And the meeting with Atta did not occur?'' he replied, ``We don't know,'' is that statement by the Vice President consistent with the report that you signed and issued to the public on the previous Friday? Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, responding to the Senator from Illinois, that is a hypothetical. I did not watch ``Meet the Press.'' I have not studied the Vice President's comments other than what the Senator has said. My name is not Tony Snow. I yield the floor. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Will the chairman yield for another question? Mr. ROBERTS. Yes, I certainly yield to my friend and colleague. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Thank you very much. I am sure that the Senator is aware, having talked about the importance of the operational cables, the foreign service, and all these kinds of things that there are in our report--or in the report there are at least 30 specific references to operational cables. I am looking at page 31 of the prewar assessment part. CIA operational table, December 2002, the INC part. And there are two on page 68--two CIA cable references that are declassified. Is the Senator aware of that, that we have done this 30 times at least in our report? Mr. ROBERTS. It is my understanding that the operational cables and the INC reports are two separate reports. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. That is correct. But there are 30 in various parts of this that are operational cables specifically referred to, which are---- Mr. ROBERTS. Basically, the decision is made by General Hayden in a letter I would be delighted to read on the floor of the Senate, except that it is classified. He goes down specifically, exactly the comments I have made in a very generic way as to why he didn't declassify them. One report is INC and one is on the accuracy of the prewar assessments regarding weapons of mass destruction. I don't understand the point. By the way, the general indicated that he will provide us a letter that is not classified outlining why the CIA Director feels very strongly that this should not be released. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. What the CIA Director reportedly is saying, and the chairman of the full committee indicates, is that operational cables cannot be identified publicly. I am saying that they are identified 30 times in our two reports. I direct my colleagues' attention to these 30 specific examples from the committee's two reports found on page 31 of the report on Post War Findings and pages 41, 43, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 86, 87, 104, and 107 of the INC report. Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, let me say to my friend from West Virginia, however, if I might, and my friend from Illinois, I don't speak for the Vice President. I ask the Senator to address that question to the Vice President. It is the information in the cable which is classified, not the format. I think the distinguished vice chairman is talking about the format in another report as opposed to the report that Senator Reid quoted from, and it is that information-- the cable which is classified, again, by the intelligence community. The Senator knows how hard we have both worked to get both reports declassified, to the extent that the American people could at least know what is going on and let the chips fall where they may. That does not include, however, a decision when the DNI and the Director of Central Intelligence insist that basically the information in the cable is classified. I suppose that in future debates on any bill--and it could be port security or the farm bill or any bill that really doesn't pertain to intelligence--somebody can say, you know, I think there is a portion of some intelligence report, or any intelligence, that ought to be released even though it is classified. If we start doing this, if we go down the slippery slope with regard to having this body in executive session or otherwise decide to release classified information, we may as well replace ``E pluribus unum'' up there with the New York Times. It is a dangerous precedent. There is a way to do that. We have a committee set up to go to the review board to see if we can get the most declassification possible. I agree with the Senator that too much is classified. That is a given. In this particular case, I think you have to rely on--or you should rely on the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence who say we are going to lose allied support. The Senator knows that every week we get a courtesy call from various people who come in and who are our counterparts representing other countries. The bottom line is: Why can't you Americans keep quiet? So, consequently, I think that has an aspect of this. That has entered into, I think, part of the DNI's involvement here and decisionmaking, as well as the CIA Director's involvement. It is a canard of the first order to say it was the administration. It is not. It is the people who work with this every day. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. I say to the chairman of the full committee, is the Senator aware that on page 31, the prewar assessment part of the report, there is a reference at the bottom, as I indicated, to the CIA operational cable of December 20, 2002. The Senator indicated the substance is not included, but I will read from the report: In addition, the Committee is examining the facts surrounding a December 20, 2002, cable from the relevant CIA station [this is all available to the American public today] which transmitted comments from a letter to the DCI and a discussion with the Chief of Station from the head of the foreign intelligence service that handled CURVE BALL. The cable noted that the head of the foreign intelligence service intelligence said experts from a number of foreign intelligence services had analyzed the CURVE BALL information and believed ``the information was plausible''--et cetera, et cetera. In other words, the content is right here. Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I would just simply say to my distinguished friend and colleague, and to let everybody know who is listening to this debate, it is an interesting debate; it is a unique debate. It sets a precedent that I don't agree with. But simply because we are having this discussion doesn't mean we are not friends and colleagues and trying our very best to do a job under very difficult circumstances. But we do defer--or at least I think we should defer--to the intelligence professionals here who work with this material. If they make a mistake, we are all over them. So we are at war. Let's let the Public Interest Declassification Board take a look at these reports. That was the suggestion by Senator Wyden, picked up by Senator Bond, endorsed by myself and I think by the Senator from West Virginia. That is the proper way to go about it, not in this format, when we don't even have a bill that pertains to this and where we are setting a precedent where all of a sudden somebody can say: Oh, I think we should release even though it is classified. Once we start down that road, I would say to my dear friend, we will never hear the end of it. We will have everything else declassified. We could conceivably, with all the furor in regards to the ABC documentary over the handling of 9/11, get into reports and get into Presidential findings and everything else. I just don't think that is appropriate. So there is a way to do it. Let's do it the proper way. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri is recognized. Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I want to join in support of the chairman of the committee. It is important to realize this was not classified after the fact. This was classified information. Now, we cannot say on the floor why this must remain classified. There are good and sufficient reasons for this, unlike some of the other cables which have been cited by the distinguished vice chairman of the committee, why this one should not be released. We are witnessing something here that is very, very disturbing. The minority leader said that partisanship is the order of the day because we have objected to this unwarranted effort to misuse and abuse the intelligence process to score political points. This approach, regrettably, is something that has been used going back to 2003 when the Democratic staff in the Intelligence Committee laid out a partisan political game plan to use intelligence to try to beat President Bush and Vice [[Page S9599]] President Cheney in 2004. They laid out a game plan and they stayed on it. They stayed on it through phase I. Phase I took 2 full years during which we exhaustively examined all of the documents, interviewed anybody that might have information on whether there was an intentional misleading or misrepresentation or pressure to change the estimates of the intelligence analysts and thwart the process. We reviewed that process exhaustively. At the end of it, our bipartisan conclusion was there was no evidence of any pressure to change findings of the Intelligence Committee; there was no effort to mislead or misuse the information of the intelligence analysts or the intelligence estimates. Regrettably, our Democratic colleagues were not satisfied with that. They wanted to continue the battle. So we initiated a second backward look into history that I think was a tremendous waste of time--phase II--to go back and say: Well, maybe we missed something. We are going to go back and look at the intelligence prior to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom and see if we can't find some misstatement, some misstep by the administration. Well, President Bush is not running again. I don't know whether they want to try to impeach him or whether they just want to try to score points in the 2006 election campaign. But whichever thing they are doing, it is a blatant partisan effort to take what should be the bipartisan, even nonpartisan, Intelligence Committee and drag it through the political mire of name-calling and rock-throwing. I think it is time for us to hit the baloney button on this and say: We have wasted now 2 more years in the Intelligence Committee going back and trying to defeat or impeach President Bush, and we have not been successful. Let me mention something about this. All of this hype is about things that were added--much of it is about things that were added as comments to one of the two reports that we reported out of the Intelligence Committee. The Democrats chose to make extraneous allegations now that will be considered in a later report that is yet to be finalized by the committee, to look into statements made by administration officials and Members of Congress, to see whether they were inaccurate or if there was a misuse of the intelligence estimates that were available at the time. I have looked at them and I have seen some significant overstepping in statements that were made. Regrettably, those statements primarily came from Members of Congress, some on the other side of the aisle, who went too far. They went beyond what the intelligence estimates said. Now, we have focused in this process on what the final intelligence estimates were. There are thousands--perhaps hundreds of thousands--at least tens of thousands of operational cables. They bring in different points of view. There are 16 different intelligence agencies that may have points of view. Do those all come to the policymakers? Of course not. The intelligence community is responsible for coming up with a National Intelligence Estimate, a community assessment that goes to the policymakers, whether that is the President, the Vice President, or this body. We get the final product. Now, any time you want to, you can go back and look at all kinds of operational cables. You can find cables at any one time saying it is daytime and others say it is night, a third one saying it is dusk, and a fourth one saying it is dawn. But that is not what is given to the policymakers. We ask the Intelligence Committee to use their best judgment. And as far as this cable, which has been properly classified--and we will not go into why it is properly classified--this cable was one communication to the headquarters, and it was not the only one. There were many, many more. Looking back on it, we have a much better idea of what went on. But the whole purpose of this, the whole purpose of our Democratic colleagues in phase II, was to find grounds to defeat President Bush in 2004 or perhaps impeach him in 2006 or maybe in 2007. Well, we have been looking in the rearview mirror far too long. We have been looking backwards. We spent 2 full years, the staff of the Intelligence Committee spent hundreds of hours, reviewed tens of thousands of documents, over 1,000 interviews, and they found that there was no misuse, no abuse of the intelligence process, no pressure on the analysts. So we have a lot of things that we ought to be doing. We have a lot of work in the Intelligence Committee because we have to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. One of the key recommendations concerning intelligence in the 9/11 Commission report was to set up a national security post in the Department of Justice to coordinate between the FBI and the CIA. Regrettably, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are holding up the appointment of the man who is supposed to fill that position to ensure that there is good information and good exchanges of information between the FBI as a law enforcement body and the intelligence agencies. And we have a lot of other things to do because there are still problems that we have to work out in the new structure of the Director of National Intelligence. I have been asking plaintively why we cannot look at the continuing threats, do oversight and deal with some of the questions and problems we have. The answer is we have to complete phase II, and phase II has had, again, hundreds and hundreds of hours of work by our staff, work that could have been used on other points. Regrettably, what we are hearing on the floor and what we are seeing in some of the reports coming out of the Intelligence Committee is an effort to politicize intelligence. I deeply regret the fact that so much of this has been misquoted in the report issued, the largely Democratic report issued from the intelligence community. There was a tremendous amount of cherry-picking of selected pieces of information that did not come from the National Intelligence Estimates, to say that statements by some administration officials were not based on sound evidence. We have learned a lot. We have learned a lot since we went into Iraq. We learned that our intelligence wasn't good, state-craft and trade- craft were not properly executed. Where there were dissenting views, those dissenting views were not conveyed up the line to the policymakers. That was us and that was the administration. And we are trying to change that. We are trying to make sure that dissenting views are explored, that policymakers know if there is a division. Now, looking back with hindsight, we could say that many of the statements made here on the floor and made by the administration were not accurate. The question is, Were they based on the best National Intelligence Estimates at the time? We found out in phase I that they were. The effort to do more declassification is very important. The chairman of the committee, Senator Roberts, Senator Wyden and I and the vice chairman have asked the Public Interest Declassification Board and the National Archives to look at and investigate what has been classified to see if more of it could be declassified. Because I, as most of my colleagues, want to have as much that is not sensitive or revealing sources and methods to be disclosed, so we can evaluate where we stand. But for this one, I understand full well the reason it is classified, and I am not going to say why. But when we disclose intelligence, we risk sources. Unfortunately, when we prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, the prosecution had to turn over a list of 260 names of potential suspects. They turned it over in that court proceeding and, subsequently, several years later in a raid in an African nation they found in the al-Qaida playbook the names of all these people. When we disclose who we are talking to, their names get disclosed. And regrettably, some of them have been murdered. But it is not just the individual source who is at risk. We have repeatedly chipped away at the confidence of our allies to work with us in the war on terror by disclosing sources and methods over the years. Friendly services are saying--and CIA leaders have told me directly--that our allies in the field are rethinking if and to what extent they can work with us because the Americans cannot keep a secret. This effort to declassify operational traffic involving overseas entities could devastate the confidence of our allies in cooperating [[Page S9600]] with American intelligence and obliterate the confidence of American intelligence officials in the United States Congress, who will be taking their discrete communications among themselves and broadcasting it to the entire world. I can't think right now of a single more devastating action that will reverse what we have been trying to fix in the U.S. intelligence community than this, to say that if you share anything within the intelligence community or even with the Intelligence Committee, it is going to get out. People don't want to share the most sensitive intelligence when it could get out and not only disclose the information, but put at risk the sources and methods by which it is being obtained. For that reason, I regret that the minority leader has attempted to make a partisan battle out of something that did not have to do with the National Intelligence Estimate. It was not a final product of the Intelligence Committee. Therefore, it had no place in the effort to determine what kind of information got to the top policymakers in the administration. There were lots of conflicting pieces of information going through the chain. What we properly looked at was how those were handled and what they gave to policymakers. There is no evidence, no evidence, none, zero, zip, none--that this evidence was ever shared with the top policymakers. I yield the floor. The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Illinois. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I had the honor to serve on the Senate intelligence subcommittee for 4 years. It is an awesome assignment. That committee can suck up more time from a Senator's schedule than any other assignment I can think of. I easily spent half of my time in committee in the Senate Intelligence Committee room, and I am almost certain that I didn't attend half of their meetings. There were so many meetings. The information is voluminous. It is cloaked in initials and references which take the longest time to understand. I will honestly tell you by the end of my 4 years I had come to understand more and more about the intelligence community and come to understand more and more about what to look for and listen for. So my hat is off to all of my colleagues in the Senate, Democrat and Republican, who serve on this committee. It is a massive assignment, and they have a massive responsibility--to measure the efficacy of our intelligence operations as well as their reports. I can't think of another committee in Congress--I might say the Armed Services Committee is close--that has such an awesome responsibility. I want to preface my remarks by saluting all of the members of the Intelligence Committee for giving their time to this effort. But I will tell you, there is no more frustrating assignment in Congress either because you will sit there for hour after weary hour, day after weary day, week after week, and month after month listening to all of this information, being sworn not to repeat a word of it-- imagine. The only questions you can ask are in the room. The only statements you can make are in the room. It is classified information. We wouldn't want to risk the life of a single American or ally or someone helping our cause, so we are extra careful. I lived through this as we made the momentous and historic decision 4 years ago to go to war in Iraq. After sitting there for months, listening to the experts within the Bush administration talk about what they knew about Iraq, I drew my own conclusions from what they said. And I would walk outside that committee room stunned to hear the public statements that were being made in direct contradiction. Elected officials and appointed officials in this administration were saying things about Iraq and its threat to the United States which were inconsistent with the information being given to us in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Yet, being sworn to secrecy, I could not say a word. It was a frustrating situation. I reached the conclusion that the information within the room was more compelling than the headlines outside the room. I joined 22 of my colleagues in the Senate in voting against the authorization to go to war. And our subsequent investigation found that those inside the room knew a lot more than the politicians outside the room because we found no weapons of mass destruction, we found no nuclear weapons, we found no connection between al-Qaida the terrorist group responsible for 9/ 11--and Saddam Hussein. We found no evidence to support the notion that somehow nuclear materials were coming in from Africa to Iraq. Despite statements made by the President in the State of the Union Address, none of that was found. So we knew, after our invasion, after careful investigation, that the statements made to the American people were wrong. The American people were misled. The American people were deceived. So the Senate Intelligence Committee set out to try to get to the bottom of it. The first phase of its investigation was to find out what happened at the intelligence agencies. If they had conflicting information, how did this occur? I happened to be on the committee when this report was made. It was an important disclosure that, in fact, our intelligence agencies had let us down. Their information was not reliable, was not sound, and many times misled a lot of people. That is a fact. But phase II of this investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee was going to really talk about whether these public disclosures were made and whether they, in fact, misled the American people. It took almost 2\1/2\ years for that to be prepared, 2\1/2\ years, despite repeated promises by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that it would be a priority item and be taken care of. It is unfortunate that it took so long. It is unfortunate that the Democratic leader, Senator Reid of Nevada, had to threaten a closed session of the Senate to force this issue, to finally come up with the phase II report. But it is a good thing he did because the phase II report, which was publicized last week for all of America, in unclassified form, in public form, made it clear. The report concluded the administration relied on known fabricators and liars, including the infamous Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress to justify the war. Chalabi and others fed the administration consistently false information about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. Members of the intelligence community had warned that this Ahmed Chalabi, the darling of many people in this administration, was, in fact, a fraud. Despite this, despite this fact, this man was invited to sit in an honored place at the President's State of the Union Address. He was unreliable. His organization was not only not trustworthy, it was penetrated by the Iranians, who sadly do not share many, if any, of our values. But the administration still eagerly embraced this source, this unreliable, untrustworthy source. Some of the information that he gave found its way into one of the most important documents our Government issues, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. That is a compilation of all the gathered intelligence from all the different reliable sources of our Government and other places, to try to have an accurate picture of the situation before a military invasion, before we risk the first American life. And the lies and fabrications and distortions of this man were part of that National Intelligence Estimate. In fact, some of his testimony found its way into statements made by our former Secretary of State Colin Powell before the United Nations to try to justify to the world our invasion. That presentation marked a low point in what I consider an otherwise highly distinguished career of service by General Powell. The committee report which we saw last week spells out the misinformation from Chalabi and others that was used to justify the war. It shows clearly there was no connection, none, between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. That is now a bipartisan conclusion. It is published. It has been verified from intelligence sources. The debate over that question should now officially end. Mr. BOND. Mr. President, could I ask the distinguished Senator from Illinois a question? On what page is there a bipartisan statement that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq? [[Page S9601]] Mr. DURBIN. I will get the page reference and give it to you in a moment. Mr. BOND. Because we also found in there a reference that there was a meeting and two contacts. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, if I might? I do control the time? The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator controls the time. Mr. DURBIN. I will get the page reference for the Senator. I would like to continue my remarks, if I may. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reached these conclusions but this report, especially the public version, doesn't go as far as it might. As the vice chairman, the distinguished Senator from West Virginia, and other colleagues wrote in their additional views: The committee's phase II investigation has been significantly limited by the majority's refusal to examine issues and documents relevant to our inquiry when the issues and documents came close to the White House. The point that is being made today, and has been debated back and forth, is how much of this document that has not been released to the public, should be released. As you can see, several pages, many pages, are blacked out. Information is blacked out. The official word is ``redacted.'' So this debate has gone back and forth about how much should have been redacted, how much should have been released. I will not get into the specifics because I wouldn't want to disclose anything that I should not. But I will say the Senator from Nevada asked by his motion, his amendment, that we consider opening at least one or two pages of this report that reflect directly on statements made by the Bush administration. The other side, Senator Bond and others, have suggested that we should not ask these questions, that we are looking in the rearview mirror about things that happened a long time ago. I view this quite a bit differently than my colleague from Missouri. What we are talking about are statements and justifications made by this administration to justify the invasion of a country, to justify a war. I believe the greatest breach of trust in a democracy is when the leaders mislead the people, and the worst of these is when the people are misled into a war. I can think of nothing worse. To ask specific questions about the nature of how we were misled into this war is certainly not ancient history, unworthy of comment or review. It goes to the heart of who we are and what we are as a democracy. So many of us listened, startled by statements made by Vice President Cheney on ``Meet The Press'' last Sunday. Scarcely 2 days after the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Vice President Cheney and other members of the administration made statements directly contradicted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report that had just been released. Let me be specific. First, if I could, the chart with the ``Meet the Press'' show, Mr. Russert asked the Vice President, `` . . . and the meeting with Atta did not occur?'' Vice President Cheney said, ``We don't know.'' This was an important meeting. It was a meeting that was suggested had occurred by the Vice President and others involving Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19 who were responsible for the attack on September 11, a meeting which supposedly occurred in Prague. Mr. Russert is asking: Did it or did it not occur? Vice President Cheney says, ``We don't know.'' He said that as of last Sunday. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report says, ``No such meeting occurred.'' That is not the only reference. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, ``CNN Late Edition,'' same day, said: We know that Zarqawi . . . ran a poisonous network in Iraq. The Senate Intelligence Committee report says the following, ``the regime''--in Iraq--``did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye towards Zarqawi.'' Then, just yesterday or the day before, September 12, Tony Snow the President's Press Secretary, said ``there was a relationship between Saddam and Zarqawi,'' directly contradicting this report. This, sadly, is a pattern which is unacceptable. For the leaders in this administration--the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the President's Press Secretary--to continue to mislead the American people about facts they now know are not true is unacceptable. If we are going to move forward in this country effectively, on a bipartisan basis, it has to be based on truth and honesty. As members of this administration continue to misrepresent the justification for the war on Iraq and the circumstances in Iraq, is it any wonder that a majority of the American people are now raising serious questions about their competence and judgment when it comes to these important foreign policy decisions? That is the reason for this moment on the floor today, this time that we have taken from the business of the Senate, because it really goes to the heart of the issue here. It goes to the heart of the issue which the American people are consumed with as they realize that 2,679 of our brave soldiers have now died in Iraq and 19,000 are seriously injured. This morning, Senator Obama and I had a town meeting. We do each Thursday morning here. And one of those soldiers, blinded and severely injured in Iraq, came to visit with us. He was there with his wonderful and brave wife who stood by his side, and other soldiers, doing his best to get back on his feet and put his life back together. That is what this debate is about. This isn't a waste of time over politics. It is a question about the foreign policy of this Nation, the protection of this Nation, and most importantly whether it is time to move in a new direction. The Vice President of the United States said in the course of his appearance on ``Meet the Press'' when he was asked about the invasion of Iraq: It was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it over again we would do exactly the same thing. Clearly, no lessons have been learned by this administration because we sent too few troops into a situation which was not clearly planned nor clearly explained to the American people. We sent them without the necessary equipment they needed to protect themselves. We shortchanged them in terms of the number of forces, equipment, and training they needed--and lives were lost. We now know, as well, that the justification for the war did not turn out to be true. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and we are there with 145,000 of our soldiers and marines risking their lives for America, even as we stand in the safety of this country today. I might say to the Senator from Missouri that I have just been handed by my staff a reference which he might want to consider: page 63 of the report which he signed. Page 63 said Saddam has ``viewed Islamic extremists operating inside of Iraq as a threat.'' That statement is inconsistent with the conspiracy theory heard through some media channels that somehow Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida were in concert working toward the devastation which occurred on 9/11. I would suggest that there is more which I could go into and don't have the time at this moment. But the report makes it clear--and most everyone who has taken an objective view of this makes it clear--that to continue to suggest this relationship with al-Qaida is just plain wrong. I am going to conclude because I think this is an important debate and one which should continue. It is one that continues in households across America, not just in the homes of families of soldiers, those anxious parents and loved ones praying for the safety of our men and women in uniform, but also in every other home across America that truly wants to be safe and wants to make sure that our men and women in uniform are protected, that we do everything in our power to make this a safe nation. We have offered amendments on the Senate floor to put the 9/11 recommendations into law so we will be safe at home. Sadly, they were rejected on partisan rollcall. But I can only hope that soon we will return to the bipartisan spirit of 5 years ago when we worked together. It would be in the best interests of our country. I yield the floor. The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Missouri. [[Page S9602]] Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Illinois for calling my attention to page 63. I don't see the information there. It does, on page 65, talk about George Tenet saying the intelligence indicates that the two sides at various points discussed safe haven, training, and reciprocal nonaggression. And in the report there are three instances of contact cited between al-Qaida and the Iraqi Government. I also would just follow up on my statement that some of us in this body were misled by the inaccurate intelligence estimates presented to us by the community. For example, I see this classic statement: When you look at what Saddam Hussein has had at his disposal in terms of chemical, biological and perhaps even nuclear weapons, we cannot ignore the threat that he poses to the region and the fact that he has fomented terrorism throughout his reign. That was from Senator Dick Durbin on ``CNN Larry King Live,'' on December 21, 2001. But I think we want to get back to the port security bill. I have been asked by Leader Frist to pass along from a letter just received from CIA Director GEN Michael Hayden. General Hayden said: The amendment offered by Senator Reid, seeks to declassify and make public CIA internal communications that include personal commentary and judgment. We hold these kinds of cables to the highest standard of secrecy within our organization, and would only share them outside of CIA under certain specific conditions. I provided this information over the objection of many of my officers, after receiving assurances from the Chairman that it would be treated as highly sensitive material. That is why I am so disappointed that this amendment is being considered at this time. In addition, I am deeply disappointed that some have already characterized the cable's contents in the media. He also talks about the information coming in from Chiefs of Station. He said: No COS has ever written one of these cables expecting it to be made public, and no COS will use his channel again without fearing it will become public, if Congress demands declassification. He also said: Further . . . it contains pre-decisional executive branch information. Finally, he said: Lastly, a critical way in which our Nation gathers intelligence is with the support of our liaison partners. If these partners fear that their support for CIA activities will be made public, it will make them reluctant to cooperate with my agency. This will, I assure you, curtail the intelligence made available to the CIA and could create gaps in the final intelligence made available to policymakers. I ask your help in defeating this effort in the Senate, and for your help in protecting both CIA's sources and methods as well as our ability to work cooperatively with the Oversight Committees. I yield the floor.