Senate Democrats

DEM SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS ON NUKE DISCLOSURES

Express concern over political pressure on intelligence agencies by Congressional Republicans

Washington, DCSenators Harry Reid, Carl Levin, Joe Biden, and Jay Rockefeller today sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte asking him to review the national security consequences for the posting of sensitive nuclear weapons design materials on the Internet. The Senators also asked for the origins and purpose of the overall publication program. This program was set up under pressure from Congressional Republicans. The full text of the letter follows.

Key excerpts from the letter

“The news reports indicate that this action came about after Members of Congress, including the Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, pressured the Administration to establish a program to publicly release documents captured in Iraq that could support claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al Qa’ida. Legislation to require such release was actually introduced in the House (H.R. 4869) and the Senate (S. 2408).”

“Given the national security implications of the public release of this information, we request that you immediately conduct a thorough review of the origins, purpose, and consequences of this program and the release of this sensitive information.”

Full text of the letter

November 4, 2006

The Honorable John D. Negroponte

Director of National Intelligence

Washington, D.C.

Dear Director Negroponte:

Yesterday’s news reports indicate that the Bush Administration publicly released on the Internet nuclear weapons design documents captured in Iraq. Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of our highest national security priorities. In February 2004, the President said that “the greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons.” It is therefore shocking that sensitive documents directly related to the design of a nuclear weapon were made public by the executive branch.

The news reports indicate that this action came about after Members of Congress, including the Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, pressured the Administration to establish a program to publicly release documents captured in Iraq that could support claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al Qa’ida. Legislation to require such release was actually introduced in the House (H.R. 4869) and the Senate (S. 2408). The press reports indicate that you agreed to post the documents on the Internet soon after the introduction of this legislation, even though the legislation had not passed.

According to the press reports, the intelligence community raised objections to the public release of such documents, but was overridden by other Administration officials outside the community. The former White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, said on the “Today Show” that you, in fact, warned the White House of the security risk of making public this information.

Given the national security implications of the public release of this information, we request that you immediately conduct a thorough review of the origins, purpose, and consequences of this program and the release of this sensitive information.

Among the critical questions that merit attention are: What are the consequences of the public release of these highly sensitive documents to U.S. national security? What role did Members of Congress and others play in the decision to move forward on this program? Did the intelligence community initially oppose this program and if so, why? If the intelligence community opposed this program, how and why were the community’s objections apparently ignored or overridden? Did the preparation and release of these documents require the diversion of analytic and translation resources from other critical intelligence agency efforts, such as those related to finding high value terrorists like Usama Bin Laden, assessing the current threats confronting U.S. forces in Iraq, and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea?

If yesterday’s reports are accurate, it appears that the Administration, under pressure from the chairmen of the congressional intelligence committees and others, has released documents that could facilitate the efforts of terrorists and rogue states to acquire nuclear weapons designs. Although a spokesman for the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is reported to have said that the release of such nuclear weapons design documents “didn’t sound like a big deal,” we believe it represents a threat to the security of the American people. Therefore, we ask for your immediate review and assessment.

Thank you in advance for undertaking this review.

Sincerely,

Harry Reid

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

John D. Rockefeller IV

Carl Levin

Bookmark and Share