FAS Note: Following are official references in the public record to an otherwise unidentified classified intelligence acquisition program described by Senator Rockefeller and others as "totally unjustified and very wasteful...."

Update 12/11/04: See New Spy Satellite Debated On Hill by Dana Priest, Washington Post, December 11, 2004

Congressional Record: December 8, 2004 (Senate)
Page S11957-S11958

 
 INTELLIGENCE REFORM AND TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT OF 2004--CONFERENCE 
                                 REPORT

[...]


  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Madam President, I will spend a minute on separate 
intelligence-related matter before speaking about the bill currently 
before the Senate. In the time I have been vice chairman of the 
Intelligence Committee, I have worked hard to try to make sure that 
funds are channeled to where they ought to be in intelligence. For this 
reason, and with a great deal of reluctance, I am going to oppose the 
fiscal year 2005 intelligence authorization conference report, which 
the Senate will consider later today.
  My decision to take this somewhat unprecedented action is based 
solely on my strenuous objection--shared by many in our committee--to a 
particular major funding acquisition program that I believe is totally 
unjustified and very wasteful and dangerous to national security.
  Because of the highly classified nature of the programs contained in 
the national intelligence budget, I cannot talk about them on the 
floor. But the Senate has voted for the past 2 years to terminate the 
program of which I speak, only to be overruled in the appropriations 
conference. The intelligence authorization conference report that I 
expect to be before the Senate later today fully authorizes funding for 
this unjustified and stunningly expensive acquisition. I simply cannot 
overlook that.
  My decision is shared by a number of my colleagues. Speaking for 
myself, if we are asked to fund this particular program next year, I 
will seriously consider and probably will ask the Senate to go into 
closed session so the Senators can understand, fully debate, become 
informed upon, and then vote on termination of this very wasteful 
acquisition program.
  Mr. WYDEN. Madam President, I rise today to express my concern 
regarding

[[Page S11958]]

a provision included in the Intelligence authorization conference 
report, which has been included in the intelligence reform legislation 
before us. I commend the efforts of both Chairman Roberts and Vice 
Chairman Rockefeller for their hard work during the negotiations over 
this legislation. But I, like the vice chairman, do not support the 
continued funding of a major acquisition program which is unnecessary, 
ineffective, over budget, and too expensive. The easier path would be 
to step aside and let this program continue without dissent. In this 
case, however, I do not believe the continued funding of this program 
is the best way to secure our Nation and the safety of our troops and 
citizens.
  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has raised concerns about 
the need and costs of this program for the past 4 years and sought to 
cancel this program in each of the past 2 years. This has not been a 
political issue, a Democratic or Republican issue, nor should it be. 
The members of the Senate committee have supported these efforts in a 
nonpartisan way with unanimous votes each time.
  The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that this program 
should not be funded based on firm policy judgments. Numerous 
independent reviews have concluded that the program does not fulfill a 
major intelligence gap or shortfall, and the original justification for 
developing this technology has eroded in importance due to the changed 
practices and capabilities of our adversaries. There are a number of 
other programs in existence and in development whose capabilities can 
match those envisioned for this program at far less cost and 
technological risk. Like almost all other acquisition programs of its 
size, initial budget estimates have drastically underestimated the true 
costs of this acquisition and independent cost estimates have shown 
that this program will exceed its proposed budgets by enormous amounts 
of money. The Senate Intelligence Committee has also in the past 
expressed its concern about how this program was to be awarded to the 
prime contractor.
  I understand why funding for this program was included in the 
conference report. The administration requested it, the appropriators 
have already funded it, and the House wanted to maintain the funding. 
Nevertheless, I believe this issue must be highlighted because it is 
not going away. I wish more of my colleagues knew of the details of 
this program and understood why we are so convinced that it should be 
canceled. I encourage you to request a briefing, to come to the 
Intelligence Committee and let our staff explain why we believe we are 
right about this program. If you do, I believe my colleagues would 
agree with the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and vote to 
stop this program next year.

[...]




CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 4548, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR 
                            FISCAL YEAR 2005

[...]

        Senators Rockefeller, Levin, Wyden and Durbin object to an 
     item in the classified schedule of authorizations that 
     provides for continued funding of a major acquisition program 
     that they believe is unnecessary and the cost of which they 
     believe is unjustified. They believe that the funds for this 
     item should be expended on other intelligence programs that 
     will make a surer and greater contribution to national 
     security. For this reason, which is more fully explained in 
     the classified record of the conference, they have not signed 
     the conference report.

 [...]
 
 

 
  

-----Original Message-----
From: Rockefeller, Press (Rockefeller) [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 4:50 PM
Subject: To National Security Reporters: Rockefeller Clarification

To National Security Reporters,

Yesterday on the Senate floor, Senator Rockefeller spoke of his concern regarding
continued funding for a classified program that is opposed by the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence.  Today, his spokesperson, Wendy Morigi, issued the
following clarification:


"Any assertion about classified intelligence programs based on Senator Rockefeller's 
statement is wholly speculative.  Senator Rockefeller's reference to this program, 
which was fully vetted and approved by security officials, makes the point that 
continuing to fund an enormously expensive, unjustified, and wasteful program is 
dangerous to our national security.  He believes these funds should be spent on 
other far more critical intelligence programs.  He and other Senators registered 
their objection to the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Bill on the basis of this 
misallocation of resources, and he intends to raise the issue with his colleagues 
again in the future if it is not resolved."