“The Committee has just completed a business meeting concerning its oversight of the Administration’s terrorist surveillance program. The meeting today was held at the behest of Vice Chairman Rockefeller so that the Committee might consider his proposal to launch a far reaching Committee investigation into the surveillance program. I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental to this highly classified program.
“The terrorist surveillance program is one which I believe is vital for the protection of the American people. Like Senator Rockefeller, I have been briefed on numerous occasions over the past three years on the operational details of the program. I support the terrorist surveillance program wholeheartedly and am comfortable in my belief that it is necessary, effective and lawful.
“Nevertheless, some of my colleagues have expressed concerns that the program needs some form of legislative authorization and greater oversight by the Intelligence Committee. Respecting these views, for the past month I have been working diligently with the Administration to fashion an accommodation which would permit legislative measures and increased oversight while protecting this vital surveillance capability.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Members like Mike DeWine and Olympia Snowe, and Chuck Hagel we are now moving in that direction. This week we reached an agreement in principle with Administration officials. The Administration is now committed to legislation and has agreed to brief more Intelligence Committee Members on the nature of the surveillance program. The details of this agreement will take some time to work out.
“In order to get more time, today I asked Senator Rockefeller to postpone the business meeting for two weeks in order to conclude what have become fruitful negotiations with the Administration. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, he was unable to accommodate my request.
“During today’s meeting, the Committee decided to adjourn without considering the Vice Chairman’s investigation proposal, and reconvene on March 7th. On March 7th, if Senator Rockefeller so desires, the Committee will consider his proposal. If, by that time, we have reached no detailed accommodation with the Administration concerning the Committee’s oversight role, it is possible that the Committee may vote to conduct an inquiry into the program.
“The Administration has come a long way in the last month. I am optimistic that we will have an agreement before the Committee meets again.”