Congressional Record: September 27, 2004 (Senate) Page S9714-S9719 NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE REFORM ACT OF 2004 The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will proceed to consideration of S. 2845, which the clerk will report. [...] Amendment No. 3704 (Purpose: To establish an Independent National Security Classification Board in the executive branch) Mr. WYDEN. I send an amendment to the desk on behalf of myself, Senator Lott, Senator Bob Graham, and Senator Snowe. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report. The assistant legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from Oregon [Mr. Wyden], for himself, Mr. Lott, Mr. Graham of Florida, and Ms. Snowe, proposes an amendment numbered 3704. (The text of the amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of Amendments.'') Mr. WYDEN. Without turning this into a bouquet-tossing contest, I will say how lucky I think we are to have Senator Collins and Senator Lieberman, who have long practiced good government, handling this legislation. This is going to be a long and arduous task and to have this bipartisan duet at the helm is what is going to make this possible. I have enjoyed working with them on this and so many other issues in the past. We are going to get this done. The country is going to be safer and stronger for it, and I am very grateful for the work of the Senator from Maine and the Senator from Connecticut. Governor Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said three- quarters of the classified material he reviewed for the Commission should not have been classified in the first place. I think Governor Kean's comments reflect the state of where we are with respect to how Government documents are classified today, and it is for that reason that a bipartisan coalition has spent a considerable amount of time on the Intelligence Committee. Senator Lott and Senator Snowe and I serve there now. [[Page S9715]] Senator Bob Graham, of course, chaired the committee, and the four of us, two Democrats, two Republicans, have teamed up so as to try to make sure that in this important reform legislation some common sense is brought to the way that information is classified for national security purposes. The ability to make documents secret is one of the most powerful tools in our Government. It is a power wielded generously by those in 18 agencies that deal with intelligence. My concern is that the Senate could spend weeks debating flowcharts and organizational changes and moving the boxes around with respect to where people in the intelligence community sit, but if the underlying way in which information is classified is not reformed, it is going to be very hard to make information sharing throughout the intelligence community effective. Very little will have been accomplished if information continues to be classified for purposes of protecting somebody's political career rather than our national security or if classification decisions continue to deprive the American people of their ability to judge the effectiveness of their Government on national security matters. The 9/11 Commission report says the need to restructure the intelligence community grows out of six problems. One of them, the Commission says at page 410, is that, in their words, ``The intelligence community is too complex and secret.'' The Commission states: Over the decades, the agencies and the rules surrounding the intelligence community have accumulated to a depth that practically defies public comprehension. . . . Even the most basic information about how much money is actually allocated to or within the intelligence community and most of its key components is shrouded from public view. The bipartisan amendment Senator Lott, Senator Bob Graham, Senator Snowe, and I offer today is premised on the belief that it is time to clear the fog of secrecy and that it is possible to do that so as to protect this country's national security. Our legislation establishes a three-person board with the President and the bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate each recommending one member, subject to Senate confirmation. Our board would have two tasks: first, to review and make recommendations on the standards and processes used to classify information for national security purposes, and, second, to serve as a standing body to act on congressional and certain executive branch requests to reexamine how a Government document has been classified. As entities, from the traditional intelligence community to the Environmental Protection Agency, now have the power to classify documents, the board would look at national security classification across our Government. Its creation would give the Congress, for the first time, an independent body to which it can appeal a national security classification decision. President Truman noted that the Nation's primary intelligence agency, the CIA, was created, ``for the benefit and convenience of the President.'' But the United States cannot preserve an open and democratic society when one branch of Government has a totally free hand to shut down access to information. The lack of an independent appeals process for Congress, in terms of the view of the four of us, two Democrats and two Republicans, tips the scale too far toward secrecy for any administration, and our bipartisan group of four Senators seeks to correct that imbalance. The 1946 Atomic Energy Act established the principle that some information is born classified. There are certainly important sources and pieces of information that must never be compromised. But over the years, millions and millions of documents that weren't born classified have inherited or adopted or married into a classification. Keeping information secret for political purposes or horse trading intelligence data, especially during this critical time, a time of heightened security, is unacceptable. Our Government must begin to be more accountable to its citizens. Having all appropriate information about national security is essential to Congress's congressionally prescribed oversight role. Access to information about their own security is the people's right. It is time to stop hiding the facts they deserve to know. Our bipartisan proposal does just that in a fashion that protects America's national security. According to the late Senator Moynihan, who was an expert on secrecy in Government: . . . much of the structure of secrecy now in place in the U.S. Government took shape in just 11 weeks, in the spring of 1917, while the Espionage Act was debated and signed into law. Eighty years later, Senator Moynihan would note that 6,610,154 secrets were created in just 1 year alone. In fact, only a small portion, or 1.4 percent, was created pursuant to statutory authority, the Atomic Energy Act. Senator Moynihan labeled the other 98.6 percent ``pure creatures of bureaucracy,'' created via Executive orders. The Secrecy Report Card issued in August by a coalition of groups including the American Society of Newspaper Editors found the American Government spent $6.5 billion last year creating 14 million new classified documents. This is a 60-percent increase in secrets since 2001. These numbers do not even include CIA documents. The Secrecy Report Card also points out that agencies are becoming more creative in their classification systems. In addition to the traditional ``Limited Official Use,'' ``Secret'' and ``Top Secret,'' some agencies now have something called ``Sensitive Security Information,'' ``Sensitive Homeland Security Information,'' ``Sensitive But Unclassified,'' or ``For Official Use Only.'' It has gotten to the point where Mr. William Leonard of the National Archives Information Security Office--the gentleman who oversees classification and declassification policies; he is known to some as the secrecy czar--believes that the system defies logic in many respects. He has called today's classification system ``a patchwork quilt'' that is a result of ``a hodgepodge of laws, regulations and directives.'' In reality, the Federal Government has so many varieties of classification that it can make Heinz look modest. In Mr. Leonard's view, the classification system for national system has lost touch with the basics to the point that some agencies don't know how much information they classify or whether they are classifying more or less than they once did or whether they are classifying too much or too little. The executive branch exerts almost total control over what should or should not be classified. The Congress has no ability to declassify material. So there is no self-correcting mechanism in the system. Even if Members of Congress wish to share information with constituents, it is so complicated for the Congress to release information to the public that no one has ever tried to use this convoluted process. The executive branch has a little-known group that can review classification issues, but it is seldom used and open only to executive branch employees and not to Members of Congress. What all this means in practice is that with the thump of a stamp marked ``Secret'' some unelected person in the belly of a Federal building has prevented Americans from gaining access to information. That decision cannot be appealed, even by the Congress. There is no independent review of classification decisions by the executive branch. With no chance of unbiased review, classification decisions are ready and ripe for abuse. Agencies wishing to hide their flaws and politicians--and I emphasize this, Mr. President--of both political parties who wish to make political points can abuse the classification guidelines to their advantage. And four Senators, two Democrats and two Republicans, wish to change that. I, for one, do not subscribe to the view that there is an inherent conflict between the executive branch's accountability to Congress and the American people on the one hand and the constitutional role of the President as Commander in Chief on the other. I believe that a balance can and must be struck between the public's need for sound, clear-eyed analysis and executive desire to protect the Nation's legitimate security interests. I believe we can fight terrorism ferociously without limiting the rights of our citizens to information. That is what the sponsors of this legislation seek to do. There should be no room in this equation I have described for the use of [[Page S9716]] classification to insulate officials and agencies from political pressure. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have had lengthy discussions with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis about how to strike such a balance. It is the view of Senator Lott, Senator Graham, Senator Snowe, and I that in proposing this amendment we have an opportunity to make the broad overhaul of the national security classification system and to do it in a way that will strengthen the overall reform effort that the Senate is working on. Finally, the independent board would review and make recommendations on overhauling the standards and process used in the classification system for national security information. The board then submits proposed new standards and processes to both Congress and the executive branch for comment and review. It would then implement the new standards and processes once there has been full opportunity by the executive branch to comment. The board would then begin on an ongoing basis to implement a system, continue to review and make recommendations on current and new national security classifications subject to executive branch veto that must be accompanied by a public, written explanation. The balance in this legislation ensures that the public and the Congress have access to an independent board for national security matters while ensuring that the Commander in Chief maintain the constitutional prerogative that the Commander in Chief must have with respect to military and foreign policy matters. For far too long, the executive branch has adhered to the motto, ``When in doubt classify.'' Withholding information to protect political careers and entrenched bureaucracies is a disservice to the American people. It is a perversion of a policy intended to save lives, a perversion that weakens our democracy, and one that could even endanger our people. It is time to throw open the curtains and let the sun shine on American democracy and on the governmental processes we utilize today. That is what this amendment does. I see both the chairman and ranking member in the Chamber. Both of them have had an opportunity to see this amendment. I know both of them have a lot on their plates as we try to deal with this important legislation. I think I can speak for Senator Lott, Senator Bob Graham, and Senator Snowe in saying we are anxious to work with the two of them. I know staff has some ideas, some of which strike me as very good, for ways in which we can improve this legislation. I wrap up only by way of saying that I think, with the excellent work they have already done as relates to the organizational structure and the flowcharts and all of the things that we are going to be debating over the next, I hope, few weeks rather than months--but I only say that to maximize the changes which will be made organizationally--we need to find a new way to strike a balance between protecting the country's national security and the people's right to know. I think that balance is out of whack today. If you look, for example, even at the exceptional work done by Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller with our committee's report on the Iraq situation with respect to intelligence, had Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller not dug in as aggressively as they have, my sense is that well over 50 percent of that report would have been classified. In fact, the most important sections would literally receive black ink. We have to do better. I think we can do it on a bipartisan basis. I think doing it will ensure that the important work Senator Collins and Senator Lieberman are steering the Senate to will be better. I am anxious to work with both of them and staff. They have both been very gracious as always. I know my cosponsors join me in saying that as we look at various ways to refine this, we are anxious to continue to work in a bipartisan way. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cornyn). The Senator from Maine is recognized. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I appreciate the commitment of the Senator from Oregon to work with us on this issue. I certainly understand his frustration at a tendency to overclassify information that it is not warranted to be classified, that is not necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods. I note a couple of points. One is that the Collins-Lieberman bill vests in the national intelligence director the authority to establish requirements and procedures for the classification of intelligence information. Another portion of our bill requires the national intelligence director to establish intelligence-reporting guidelines that maximize the dissemination of information, while protecting intelligence sources and methods. In addition, the administration has expressed grave reservations about the amendment as it is now drafted. What I would like to suggest and what the Senator from Oregon has graciously offered to do is have our staff on both sides of the aisle sit down with the Senator, see if we can address some of the administration's concerns, see if we can look at language that is already in the bill, and understand how that interacts with the Senator's proposal. I thank him for his commitment to this area. He has identified a very real problem. I hope, perhaps, we can come up with an approach that will address his concerns. Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I also thank my friend and colleague from Oregon for a very thoughtful statement and a very thought- provoking amendment that he has offered. I know it comes out of his service and the service of the other bipartisan cosponsors on the Intelligence Committee and some experiences they have had, shall we say, which have not been satisfying, in which they have believed they and the public have been deprived of information in a timely way that did not allow them to make informed judgments. I want to say a few things after thanking Senator Wyden. One is there are members of our committee who both shared the experience of membership on the Intelligence Committee and brought it to bear on the deliberations of our committee in presenting the Collins-Lieberman proposal which is now before the Senate. That all goes to the priority on sharing of information and the independence and objectivity of intelligence, and on the responsibility of the intelligence community to Congress to provide timely and objective information. And the proposal that the committee brought out is full of provisions aimed at doing just that. Senator Collins has just indicated the central provision for which the national intelligence director is responsible is reviewing and establishing standards for classification of intelligence. Remember, in the original 9/11 Commission proposal, the national intelligence director was in the Executive Office of the President. We decided--and the Commission ultimately agreed with us--that was a bad idea; that we wanted to establish a standard of independence, openness, and objectivity. We took the position out. The national intelligence director will now be an independent agent setting these standards for classification. We have broadly adopted a transformational approach to information in which we quite explicitly say we want to go from the Cold-War-era notion that there was a need only to have information if you really needed to know, and that the priority here is on a need to share unless there is a reason not to share. That goes in some cases not to the public but to the other intelligence agencies of our Government and to State and local law enforcement intelligence agencies. Senator Levin, a member of our committee, greatly strengthened building on our requirement in the underlying bill that the national intelligence director must provide national intelligence to Congress and the President that is ``timely, objective, independent of political consideration and based on all sources available to the intelligence community.'' Senator Levin extended that to cover the director of the national terrorism center, the other national intelligence centers, the CIA Director, the National Intelligence Council, and restated the mandate to require national intelligence be timely, objective, independent of political considerations, and not shaped to serve policy considerations. [[Page S9717]] We are asking that the national intelligence director have responsibilities to ensure that the appropriate officials of the U.S. Government, including, of course, Members of Congress, have access to a variety of intelligence assessments and analytical views; likewise, that the national intelligence centers have similar access. In response to the specific recommendation of your colleague, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller, we created the office of ombudsman within the national intelligence authority to serve as an independent counselor, an independent reviewer of analytical product, to address any problems of bias or lack of objectivity or politicization in the intelligence community. The same is true of national intelligence estimates, that they be provided in a way that distinguishes between analytical judgments underlying intelligence. We have a very strong provision about congressional oversight. The committee included provisions to strengthen the ability of congressional oversight to ensure independent and timely intelligence analysis; that the director of the counterterrorism center, for instance, may testify and submit comments to Congress without clearance from anyone else in the executive branch. The heads of the counterterrorism centers must provide intelligence assessments and certain other information to appropriate Members of Congress. Employees are explicitly authorized to report directly to Congress any evidence showing false statements to Congress and to an intelligence estimate. There is a real congruence of purpose here in opening up, to the extent allowed by our national security needs, the intelligence that is in the possession of our Government. I understand this amendment pushes this a step or two forward in focusing beyond what our proposal does in authorizing the national intelligence director to deal with classification standards to create this board. This is the first time I have seen the amendment. I appreciate the work that has been done on it and the purpose behind it, and with Senator Collins, I offer to sit and reason together with our respective colleagues, leaders in this field, who are the proponents of the amendment, and see if we can come to some agreement that is progressive but does not take the bill in a direction that might make it hard to adopt everything else we want to adopt. That is the practical last word I want to offer. Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, if I could take perhaps an additional 2 minutes to make a quick comment. Mr. LIEBERMAN. I yield the floor. Mr. WYDEN. And then one of our cosponsors, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wants to speak on behalf of the bill, as well. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent Senator Cornyn of Texas be added as a cosponsor to the amendment. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, very briefly, first I express my thanks to Senator Collins and Senator Lieberman for their help. They always go out of their way to help me and I am very appreciative of it. My only substantive point, because we are going to work very closely, touches on the matter that our distinguished Chair made with respect to the executive branch having concerns about this issue. Every executive branch, whether it be controlled by Democrats or Republicans, will be concerned about this issue. What troubles the four of us is, whether a Democrat is President or a Republican is President, is that there are employees who can take a big old stamp, mark something ``secret,'' and then there is no independent review at all. That has been abused, in our view, on a bipartisan basis. It has been abused by administrations when they were run by Democrats. It has been abused when there have been administrations run by Republicans. What the four Senators seek to do--now five, with the gracious help of the distinguished Senator from Texas--we seek to strike a balance between the President and the Congress. What I say to the distinguished chairman of the committee, who makes a good point as to the executive branch, as the four of us talked about this issue--Senator Lott, Senator Snowe, Senator Graham, and myself--we felt we would give the President, the executive branch, the first word and the last word on an issue with respect to classification. It is possible under our bipartisan proposal for a President to have the last word with respect to whether a document is classified. What we do, consistent with that principle, is allow for a broad swath of congressional involvement in between the President having the first word and the last word. I only say to the distinguished chair of the committee, I will work very closely with you and Senator Lieberman. My guess is we can never make the executive branch completely happy on this issue, whether it is controlled by a Democrat or controlled by a Republican. It is in the public interest now to strike a better balance with respect to how Government documents are classified with respect to the Congress and the President. We do that by giving the President the first word and the last word. But without any opportunity for congressional appeal, what we will have is what Senator Moynihan started talking about years ago, which is that in every executive branch, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, people in these agencies in the belly of some building somewhere will keep stamping stuff secret because there is no independent review. It is just in the political interests of those people to do it. I look forward to working with my colleagues. They have been very kind. I see the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee. My involvement in this issue really stems from the superb work Senator Graham has done. I hope everyone buys his book in hardback. It is a wonderful piece of scholarship with respect to intelligence. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida. Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, I thank my good friend Senator Wyden for his thoughtful work on this amendment, for his always generous personal relationship, and for his commercial reference to the book ``Intelligence Matters.'' I will be using some of the material from that book in my comments this afternoon as I rise to speak in favor of the amendment which addresses our Government's dangerous tendency toward excessive secrets. From the very beginning of our Nation, the American people have been concerned with the Government's attempts, almost an irresistible attempt by any government, to hide or to fail to disclose issues that properly should be available to the public. President John F. Kennedy said in his first year as President: The very word ``secrecy'' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings . . . We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. In a free, open, democratic society, we must always begin with the belief that the people should have access to all of the information which the Government holds on their behalf. The only exceptions to this rule should be those made for necessary personal or corporate privacy reasons, such as tax returns, and for legitimate reasons of national security. Now, of course, there are occasions when the national security of the United States is best served by the withholding of certain information, such as when we conceal the sources and methods of gathering extremely sensitive information to protect the sources themselves. However, our current system of classifying information is being abused to an extent that borders on the absurd. But there is nothing comical about this development. In my judgment, the two key issues we are going to have to face if we are going to overcome the many fundamental problems which are facing our intelligence community are, first, the inadequacy of our human intelligence to be able to confront the threats that we now face, and, second, this issue of secrecy. Now, I know that much of our analysis and focus will be on the specific problems identified by various groups which have looked into the events leading up to 9/11, including the Joint [[Page S9718]] House/Senate Inquiry. However, there are some other issues which are embraced in 9/11 but which go well beyond 9/11. One of those which has been a recurring failure of America's intelligence is the failure to see the big issue. Why was it that our intelligence did not see the fact that although it had stated there were precisely 550 sites where weapons of mass destruction were being either produced or stored in Iraq, once we got to Iraq, the number was actually zero? Can you imagine that we have an address book of 550 sites that were supposed to be the dangerous locations, and as soon as we occupied the country we started knocking on 550 doors and did not find any of it? Think of the damage that failure has meant to the United States as a fundamental rationale for going to war in the first place and to our international reputation. A second example of the failure to see the big issue is the one Senator Moynihan used as a centerpiece of his book ``Secrecy,'' and that was the fact that our intelligence community failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Senator Moynihan pointed out, indicators that the Soviet Union was on the brink of economic collapse were available years in advance of the end of the Cold War. Yet our intelligence community, and specifically the CIA, greatly misperceived the strength of the Soviet economy and, therefore, did not realize that collapse was imminent. Unfortunately, the CIA and other intelligence agencies insisted on classifying nonsensitive information about the state of the Soviet economy. If this information had been disclosed to the public and to experts outside the Government, we could have seen the CIA was working with flawed data. That flawed data would have been subject to challenge. And perhaps before the collapse of the Berlin Wall we would have concluded that the Soviet Union was not internally stable in order to maintain its position in the military, space, and scientific competition with the United States. Had we done so, this undoubtedly would have allowed us to develop smarter, more effective strategies regarding the Soviets and their allies. To give one example of that, during the period when it was widely known by many that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, but where we were being told by our intelligence agencies, with information not available to the general public, that in fact the Soviet Union remained a competitive force, we were providing the resistance fighters in Afghanistan with some of the most sophisticated military materials, particularly items such as the Stinger missile, to use in the war against the Soviet Union. If we had known how close the Soviet Union was to collapse and had thought about the consequences of having hundreds if not thousands of pieces of some of the most lethal military equipment in the world in the hands of those who were resisting the Soviets in Afghanistan, we might have rethought whether that was a wise policy or whether we were pursuing a short-term victory at the expense of arming a part of the world which was going to be our long-term adversary. Those are the consequences of failure to see the big picture. I believe one of the principal reasons we repeatedly failed to see the big picture is exactly the secrecy which we have imposed upon material, therefore denying the opportunity for a wide range of Americans to see the information, challenge the information, and, if it is unable to sustain that challenge, force the information to be corrected. One of the more recent failures that was disclosed by both the House/ Senate Intelligence Committees Joint Inquiry and the recent 9/11 Commission related to some of the evidence that there was a connection between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and at least some if not all of the terrorists inside the United States. This, in my opinion, was one of the most significant findings of the inquiry. Its significance is that if a foreign government is providing support to terrorists embedded inside the United States, it contributes substantially to the ability of those embedded operatives to maintain their anonymity while they are planning, practicing, and executing very complex terrorist plots. That is what happened prior to 9/11. It was our conclusion that in fact these terrorists were not here alone, that they were receiving that type of support. We raised the question, if it was happening before 9/11, what is our level of confidence that it is not happening after 9/11? Details of our findings that led us to this chilling possibility were included in the Joint Inquiry's final report. Let me read from a section of that final report which was made available to the public. But I note the brackets around these paragraphs. Those brackets indicate that while this information was made available to the public, it was only done so after it was sanitized, rewritten by the agencies which had scrutinized this report, particularly the CIA and the FBI. But here is what they would allow to be made available to the American people: [Through its investigation, the Joint Inquiry developed information suggesting specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States. The Joint Inquiry's review confirmed that the intelligence community also has information, much of which has not yet been independently verified, concerning these potential sources of support. In their testimony, neither CIA nor FBI officials were able to address definitively the extent of such support for the hijackers globally or within the United States or the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. Only recently, and at least in part due to the Joint Inquiry's focus on this issue, did the FBI and CIA strengthen their efforts to address these issues. In the view of the Joint Inquiry, this gap in U.S. intelligence coverage is unacceptable, given the magnitude and immediacy of the potential risk to U.S. national security. The intelligence community needs to address this area of concern as aggressively and as quickly as possible.] What happened was that even with that sanitized version of the introduction to that section, then the intelligence community proceeded to censor the rest of the section, page after page. Twenty-seven pages were completely blank so that the American people were never given the opportunity to know what we knew about the role of foreign governments--specifically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia--in support of the terrorists. Does it make America safer that this type of information is withheld? What an absurdity. Of course, this puts Americans at greater risk. Why was this done? Why was this withheld from the American people? I believe it was withheld not for national security reasons. And I might say I am joined in that assessment by my colleague, Senator Dick Shelby, who reviewed this information, as I had, and concluded that 95 percent of the information which had been censored was not of a national security nature. Obviously, it was embarrassing, embarrassing to the CIA, to the FBI that such an infrastructure of support could have been allowed to exist and grow in the United States and then be used by people who killed 3,000 Americans. I believe this information is just one example of the tendency toward excessive secrecy, including the most recent example of that, which is the refusal to declassify any portion of the recently released national intelligence estimate regarding the scenario of future events in Iraq. This report, which represents the consensus view of all our intelligence agencies, outlines several possible scenarios for the future of Iraq and combines the best information and analysis available within the executive branch. While a few of the sources of information probably should continue to be concealed, the national intelligence estimate itself should not be. As the Congress and the American public debate the best way to proceed in Iraq, we should have access to the best thinking available on that subject. The administration thus far has characterized the national intelligence estimate on Iraq as being guesses. The administration should act immediately to declassify the national intelligence estimate so that the American people can determine whether it is a mature and professional assessment of the range of choices we have in Iraq. Our Joint Inquiry recommended that the President and the intelligence agency review the Executive orders, the policies and procedures that govern classification, the withholding from the American people of information. The purpose of this review would be to ``expand access to relevant information for federal agencies outside the intelligence community, for state and local [[Page S9719]] authorities, which are critical to the fight against terrorism, and for the American public.'' If I could comment a moment on that access to State and local officials, there were at least five incidents within a matter of weeks of 9/11 in which one or more of the terrorists was under the control of a State and local law enforcement officer, generally because they had committed a traffic offense. Yet the State and local law enforcement officers did not have access, because of excessive secrecy, to the information that these very people who were under their direct command were also listed on a terrorist watch list as being people who, had they been outside the United States, would not have been allowed to enter. But now they are in the United States, and the people who are the most likely to encounter them, State and local law enforcement, are denied the information upon which they can protect the safety and security of the American people. It is an outrage. Two-thirds of these terrorists spent most of their time in the United States in my State of Florida. I am not proud of that, but it happens to be a statement of fact. I have talked with local and State law enforcement leadership in my State and I asked: If the same thing that occurred in the summer of 2001 were to occur in the fall of 2004, what would the result have been? Do you know what the answer is? Exactly the same, that our State and local law enforcement would continue to be denied access to the information that would allow them to be of optimal effectiveness in providing us, the American people, optimal security. Returning to the recommendations of the 9/11 Joint Inquiry, the Joint Inquiry called on the Director of Central Intelligence, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State to review and report to the House and Senate proposals to protect against the use of the classification process as a shield to protect agency self-interest. What has happened in the now almost 2 years since this report was filed? The answer is, nothing has happened. There has been no effort by any of those agencies to present to the Congress their ideas of how we can protect ourselves against agency self-interest. The recommendation also called upon Congress to undertake a similar review of classification procedures and consider in particular ``the degree to which excessive classification has been used in the past and the extent to which the emerging threat environment has greatly increased the need for real-time sharing of sensitive information.'' Again, sad to say, almost 2 years since the report was filed, no executive agencies have taken any action to review and report on their classification procedures. This means that we in the Congress, as the representatives of the people who are being denied this information, must now step forward and force action. The amendment offered this afternoon by my colleague from Oregon would create an independent national security classification board within the executive branch to review current classification policies and procedures. The board would then propose more coherent, rational standards to Congress and the President and help to ensure that new standards are implemented. Once the new standards are in place, the board will have access to all documents classified for national security reasons and will have the authority to review decisions made by employees of the executive branch. The board will be able to recommend that the President reverse or alter classifications with which it disagrees. The President will have the authority to ignore the board's recommendation, but the President will be required to notify Congress and the American public that he or she has done so. Early in our country's history, Patrick Henry argued: The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Much more recently, Senator Moynihan concluded his book on the evils of government secrecy with these words: A case can be made . . . that secrecy is for losers, for people who don't know how important information really is. The Soviet Union realized this too late. Openness is now a singular, and singularly American, advantage. We put it in peril by poking along in the mode of an age now past. We would do well to heed both the words of Patrick Henry and Senator Patrick Moynihan. We would do well, by such heeding of these words, to avoid the peril of excessive secrecy and its consequences, including the consequence of designating the United States of America as losers. We now have the opportunity to avoid that fate. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut is recognized. Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I thank my friend, the Senator from Florida, for a very informed statement. To restate what we said to Senator Wyden, I appreciate the experience that led our colleagues from both parties to offer this amendment. I know I speak for Senator Collins in saying, first, we want to look at the amendment in more detail; second, we want to work to see if we can come up with some way to accommodate your concerns that is agreeable to all involved. I ask unanimous consent that this amendment be set aside to allow us time to do the work we are about to do. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, it is my understanding that the senior Senator from Maine, Senator Snowe, is on her way to the floor to speak to the amendment temporarily laid aside. Before the Senator from Florida leaves the floor, I want to thank him for all the work he has done in this area. The Senator recently spent about an hour with me, sharing some of his experiences as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He has a great deal of knowledge and expertise, and I very much appreciated his taking the time to give me the benefit of his thoughts on intelligence reform. I am also the proud owner of his book, which is on my bedside table right now and is very appropriate reading as we do this debate. I thank him for his contributions. Like Senator Lieberman, I look forward to working with him, Senator Wyden, Senator Snowe, Senator Lott, on the amendment they have proposed. Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I want to tell Senator Graham that Senator Collins indicated to me she does have your book on her bedside table and she finds it compelling. She does not use it to induce sleep. I want to reassure him of that. I find it compelling as well. I join her in thanking the Senator. You two were way out front in recommending quite a while ago some of the reforms that are contained in our committee's proposal. I hope the Senator knows his work cleared a path and informed the work that the committee did. I thank him for that.