Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s refusal to open an investigation into the President’s NSA domestic spying program:
“It is extremely disappointing that the Republican Congress has once again failed to exercise its oversight responsibilities. There are too many unanswered questions about the NSA domestic spying program and it is a failure by this Republican Congress to refuse to even ask them. Our nation is strongest when the Congress and the president work together to protect the American people. Simply rubberstamping this president’s domestic spying program in order to protect the Bush Administration is an abdication of our Congressional responsibility that does nothing to strengthen our nation.”
Intelligence Oversight in the Senate:
A Record of Partisanship and Failure
For the past several years the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has failed to exercise its oversight responsibility. Unfortunately, today’s decision not to examine the Bush Administration’s domestic spying program follows a familiar pattern. Republicans have repeatedly chosen to protect the Bush Administration rather than carry out its fundamental oversight that can help protect our troops and the Americans people.
§ Prisoner Abuse, Detention, 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.
§ 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 extraordinarily abdication of oversight responsibilities in the wake of all of the intelligence 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.
§FY2007 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
oMore than two month after the first request for an investigation and additional bipartisan requests thereafter, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has not agreed to initiate a thorough review of the numerous serious intelligence issues raised by the Bush Administration’s domestic spying program.