[Congressional Record: January 15, 2009 (Extensions)]
[Page E100]



                            HON. JANE HARMAN

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, January 15, 2009

  Ms. HARMAN. Madam Speaker, America's first preventers will face an 
enormous challenge next Tuesday. They must protect key members of this 
and the next Administration--especially the first families--and manage 
crowds of millions for the largest American Presidential Inauguration 
to date, working seamlessly with federal counterparts to do so.
  Unprecedented efforts will be made to share information--especially 
information about threats. Information sharing was a huge problem 
leading up to 9/11, and 7 years later, we still have work to do.
  When the Inauguration is over, local law enforcement shouldn't have 
to return to business-as-usual--where it is still difficult to get 
accurate, actionable, and timely information about threats and tactics 
to police officers in the field.
  Though hard to believe, sheriffs and police chiefs can't readily 
access the information they need to prevent or disrupt a potential 
terrorist attack because those at the federal level resist sharing 
information. Over-classification and pseudo-classification--stamping 
with any number of sensitive but unclassified markings--remain rampant.
  Protecting sources and methods is the only valid reason to refuse to 
share information. It is no exaggeration that people die and our 
ability to monitor certain targets can be compromised, if sources and 
methods are revealed.
  But classifying information for the wrong reasons--to protect turf or 
to avoid embarrassment--is wrong. During my 8 years on the House 
Intelligence Committee, I became incredibly frustrated with this 
practice--which the Bush Administration elevated to an art-form.
  And, sadly, the practice has spread to our newest federal agency: the 
Department of Homeland Security.
  Madam Speaker, the next attack in the United States will not be 
stopped because a bureaucrat in Washington, DC found out about it in 
advance. It will be the cop on the beat who is familiar with the 
rhythms and nuances of his or her own neighborhood who will foil that 
  H.R. 553, the Reducing Over-Classification Act, and which passed the 
House unanimously in the 110th Congress, is an attempt to establish a 
gold standard at DHS when it comes to classification practices.
  It requires that all classified intelligence products created at the 
Department be simultaneously created in a standard unclassified format 
if such a product would help local law enforcement keep us safe. This 
is unprecedented.
  Furthermore, the bill requires portion marking--the identification of 
paragraphs in a document that are classified--permitting the remainder 
of the document to remain unclassified.
  The measure will promote accountability by requiring the DHS 
Inspector General to sample randomly classified intelligence products 
and identify problems that exist in those samples.
  It also directs the Secretary to develop a plan to track 
electronically how and where information classified by DHS is 
disseminated so that misuse can be prevented.
  Finally, the legislation requires the Secretary to establish 
extensive annual training on the proper use of the classification 
regime, and penalties for staff who repeatedly fail to comply with 
applicable classification policies.
  A key to homeland security is personal preparedness. A prepared 
public is not likely to be terrorized. Access to important non-
classified information is essential to ensure preparedness, and this 
bill protects the public's right to know. It enjoys support by privacy 
and civil liberty groups.
  Madam Speaker, on behalf of first preventers and first responders 
everywhere, I urge passage of this essential bipartisan legislation, 
and its prompt consideration in the Senate.