Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the Republican-controlled Intelligence Committee’s failure to hold the Bush administration accountable.
A fact sheet on intelligence oversight failures and a letter to Senator Frist are attached.
“I agree with Senator Frist, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has been bogged down by partisanship. The only way we can restore this important committee’s non-partisan tradition is for Leader Frist and Chairman Roberts to stop bowing to the pressure of the Bush White House and permit the committee to do its job. When faced with strong evidence that the Bush Administration has misused intelligence, misuses that have made America less secure, time and again the Senate Intelligence Committee has ducked its responsibilities and refused to hold the Administration accountable. The recent record of the Republican-controlled committee is most notable for its abdication of authority and responsibility.
“The Intelligence Committee’s meeting on March 7th presents an important credibility test for Senator Frist and Senator Roberts. If both are serious about their desire to let this committee perform its duties, Chairman Roberts will keep his word and permit the committee to conduct a vote on Senator Rockefeller’s reasonable proposal to review the Administration’s controversial domestic spying program.”
Editorial Boards and Commentators across the Country Have Blasted Senator Roberts’ Lack of Oversight on the Republican- Controlled Intelligence Committee.
“Roberts’ Credibility On Line” [Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, 2/18/06] “Advise and Assent” [L.A. Times, 2/19/06] “Doing the President’s Dirty Work” [New York Times, 2/17/06] “Congress Tackles Surveillance” [Washington Post, 2/16/06] “Roberts at Center of Spying Firestorm” [Wichita Eagle, 2/27/06] “No Checks, Many Imbalances” [George Will, Washington Post, 2/16/06]
Intelligence Oversight in the Senate:
A Record of Partisanship and Failure
Despite the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee has increased its staff size from 23 to 36 – an increase of over 50% — beginning in the fall of 2004 [S.Res.445, 10/1/04], Senator Frist claims that the Senate Intelligence Committee is over-burdened and that Democratic requests would require, “an overwhelming amount of staff time, attention and resources.”
For the past several years the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has failed to exercise its oversight responsibility.
Detention, Interrogation, and Rendition Controversy – No Committee Investigation
oDespite numerous troubling reports about detainee abuse as a result of Bush Administration’s detention, interrogation, and rendition policies and questions about role of intelligence community, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has refused to formally investigate these actions.
Iraq Pre-War Intelligence Controversy – Committee Investigation Incomplete Nearly Three Years After Start of War
oAfter months of refusing to conduct an investigation of the Bush Administration’s misuse and potential abuse of pre-war intelligence related to Iraq, the Republican majority grudgingly consented to conduct an investigation when it became apparent it lacked the votes to thwart it. Nearly three years after the start of the war and more than two years since the committee unanimously voted to initiate an investigation of these issues, this committee has yet to complete its work. Key Administration officials have still not been interviewed; key documents have not been reviewed. New information comes out every week about how these failures have undermined intelligence reform and our chances for victory in Iraq.
Oversight and Implementation of Intelligence Reform – No Meaningful Committee Action
oThroughout the tenure of the current chairman of the Intelligence Committee, there has been a refusal to undertake a comprehensive, systemic examination of the intelligence community’s organization and effectiveness – an extraordinary abdication of oversight responsibilities in the wake of all of the intelligence questions raised by the attacks of 9/11. The committee did not convene intelligence reform hearings until after the Senate leadership had vested responsibility for intelligence reform in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and only then held a few “me-too” hearings. As a result, the Senate Intelligence Committee was rendered irrelevant to the most significant intelligence community reform effort since the community was formed in 1947.
FY2006 Intelligence Authorization Bill – Failed to Gain Senate Passage of Bill for First Time in the nearly 30 Year History of Committee
oDue to Republican objections, the Senate Intelligence Committee has failed to pass the Intelligence Authorization bill on the Senate floor for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Domestic Spying Program – No Committee Investigation