[Congressional Record: May 20, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S4489-S4490]


      By Mr. FEINGOLD (for himself and Mr. Hagel):
  S. 3041. A bill to establish the Foreign Intelligence and Information 
Commission to assess needs and provide recommendations to improve 
foreign intelligence and information collection, analysis, and 
reporting and for other purposes; to the Select Committee on 
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, today I am introducing legislation with 
the senior Senator from Nebraska, Senator Hagel, to establish an 
independent commission to address long-standing, systemic problems in 
the collection, reporting, and analysis of foreign intelligence as well 
as diplomatic reporting and open source information. First, as the DNI 
has testified, we continue to direct ``disproportionate'' resources 
toward current crises, rather than toward long-term strategic issues 
and emerging threats. Second, we don't have the geographic distribution 
of resources needed to anticipate threats around the world. The lack of 
``global reach'' has also been acknowledged by the Intelligence 
Community leadership. And third, we lack a comprehensive strategic 
approach to the collection of information by the entire U.S. 
Government, including not only the Intelligence Community, but also 
State Department and other Government officers who are based in our 
  To put it simply, the Government does not have a process for asking 
the following questions: What do we need to know, not only today but in 
the future? Who is best suited to get that information and where do 
they need to be? Is our analysis up to the task? And how do we allocate 
resources, across agencies, so that these requirements are met with 
adequate funding? These big strategic questions are critical to our 
national security, yet they don't get asked, much less answered. These 
problems extend well beyond the authorities of the DNI and the 
jurisdiction of any one congressional committee. That is why we need an 
independent commission to finally address them comprehensively and to 
make recommendations for the executive branch and for Congress.
  There are concrete reasons why this is so important. Around the 
world, including in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, there are current 
and potential terrorist safe havens. There is also the potential for 
instability and the persistence of political, economic and social 
conditions that can result in a crisis that threatens our national 
security. Do we need more clandestine collectors in these parts of the 
world? Do we need more embassy political officers doing more diplomatic 
reporting? After all, information gleaned from conversations with 
government officials, civil society and tribal and religious leaders 
can be critical to understanding potential terrorist safe havens and 
can often be obtained more effectively than through the IC. What about 
other U.S. Government officials based overseas, such as FBI officers? 
What mix of these personnel is appropriate? What does a U.S. Embassy in 
one of these countries look like, from an interagency collection and 
reporting perspective? Are more consulates and out-of-embassy posts 
part of the solution? And how do we connect the requirements of our 
embassies overseas to Washington, where administration budget requests 
and congressional budgetary allocations and appropriations should 
reflect a broad, multi-year interagency collection strategy?
  An independent commission will be able to answer these questions. It 
will be able to look at the Intelligence Community, the State 
Department, and other departments and agencies to ensure that strategic 
and budgetary planning is not only consistent with national 
requirements, but is part of a larger, interagency process. The 
commission will consider the role of the National Security Council and 
the OMB in this process. It will look at the problem from top to 
bottom, interviewing NSC officials in Washington and visiting country 
missions overseas. This would not be a confrontational or accusatory 
investigation. It is an inquiry intended to produce concrete 
recommendations to fix long-standing problems. Those recommendations 
will be of enormous benefit to whoever the next president is. It will 
help Congress as it conducts oversight and considers the role of the 
Intelligence Community, the DNI, the State Department, and other 
agencies in the context of broader interagency strategies.
  This legislation has been endorsed by a broad range of people, 
including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Donald Gregg, Carl Ford, Larry 
Wilkerson, David Kay, Gayle Smith and Rand Beers. I am pleased that the 
Intelligence Committee approved the legislation earlier this month as 
an amendment to the fiscal year 2009 intelligence authorization bill. I 
will continue working with Senator Hagel to ensure that this important 
legislation is enacted.
  Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, the Feingold-Hagel bill establishes an 
independent Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission, appointed 
by Congress, to review strategies for collection, analysis, and 
reporting of intelligence and diplomatic information from our outposts 
around the world. The Commission would have a 2-year lifespan.
  We must ensure that the United States is prepared to face the 
challenges of the 21st Century. Our intelligence agencies and 
diplomatic outposts must provide policymakers with information that 
helps anticipate threats before they loom large, and our efforts must 
not be focused solely on the ``threat of the day.''
  As observers and veterans of the intelligence community--including 
the 9/11 Commission--have noted, the U.S. Government and intelligence 
community obviously have to focus on current threats, many times at the 
expense of having the ``strategic depth'' to analyze and anticipate 
potential threats and surprises lurking over the horizon. The focus 
mainly on current reporting has been cited within the Intelligence 
Community as inhibiting its ability to forecast significant longer term 
  With the creation of the Director of National Intelligence, DNI, and 
the National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC, Congress helped move the 
Intelligence Community in the right direction, but we need strategic 
intelligence not just on terrorism, but many other threats that our 
intelligence agencies and policymakers must anticipate.
  This bi-partisan Commission would enhance--not supplant--the Senate 
Select Committee on Intelligence's oversight of intelligence.
  ``Strategic depth'' in collection and analysis is an issue that cuts 
across the oversight responsibilities of both the Senate's Intelligence 
and Foreign Relations Committees. This Commission would examine 
diplomatic as well as intelligence reporting, which would help provide 
an in-depth analysis of issues that are not entirely within the scope 
of responsibilities of the DNI. The Commission would be able to probe 
these areas in depth and would have two years to issue its final 
  We have seen how Commission reports can be useful tools to both 
Congress and the Executive branch to highlight needed reforms. For 
instance, the 2001 Carlucci Commission report on ``State Department 
Reform'' proved to be a tremendous resource for Secretary Colin Powell 
as he developed an action program to revitalize the State Department 
and make needed reforms. Secretary Powell studied the findings and 
recommendations of this and other panels. He met extensively with 
Carlucci and other members of various

[[Page S4490]]

commissions, and relied on their detailed insights in formulating his 
reform efforts.
  The Feingold-Hagel legislation's commission report would help the 
next administration evaluate and improve the effectiveness of key 
instruments underlying our national power. The Commission would provide 
recommendations on how to improve collection strategy, analysis, 
interagency information sharing, and language training.
  A bipartisan group of respected intelligence and national security 
experts have endorsed the Commission, including former National 
Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski; Donald Gregg, former Ambassador 
and National Security Advisor to Vice President George H. W. Bush, and 
Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary Colin Powell. 
Earlier this month, in a bipartisan vote, the Senate Intelligence 
Committee endorsed the Feingold-Hagel legislation setting up this 
  This Commission would help Congress and the Executive to better 
position our intelligence agencies and diplomats to provide the 
information the United States Government needs to anticipate future 
strategic challenges, and I urge my colleagues to support this measure.