Senators Call for New Intelligence Appropriations Subcommittee

09.12.08 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Stating that “dozens of billions of dollars” had been secretly wasted on misconceived intelligence programs, Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) and other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday called for creation of a new subcommittee on intelligence within the Senate Appropriations Committee that would exercise greater control on intelligence spending.

In the absence of a dedicated intelligence appropriations subcommittee that would include members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the recommendations that emerge from the intelligence authorization process are frequently ignored, said Sen. Bond, to the detriment of intelligence policy.

“I am concerned about wasteful spending, not just in the billions of dollars, but in the dozens of billions of dollars, that the public does not know about because it is all classified,” Sen. Bond said yesterday on the Senate floor.

There are many instances in which the judgments of Senate Intelligence Committee overseers are wrongly circumvented by appropriators, he said.

For example, “After years of billions of dollars having been wasted by the intelligence community and the National Reconnaissance Office I proposed a much cheaper, multifunctional approach to sustain our [intelligence] satellite constellation,” Sen. Bond said. But earlier this week, Senate defense appropriators blocked the proposal, he said, in favor of the status quo.

Under the pending Senate proposal, the budget for the National Intelligence Program would be appropriated by the new subcommittee on intelligence, whose membership would overlap with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Those who have the time and mandate to study the issue extensively need to be the ones whose discernment is brought to bear on those matters,” Sen. Bond said, referring to the members and staff of the Intelligence Committee. He added that the proposed new arrangement would fulfill the spirit if not the letter of a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission with regard to congressional oversight of intelligence.

The proposal (Senate Resolution 655), jointly sponsored with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.