Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, I am pleased to see from wire reporting that the President had a good meeting today with the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senators Boren and Cohen, to help clear the air in the aftermath of the Panama situation.
It seems to me that kind of communication can help get us back on the right track--where we are working together, in the interest of the country; instead of at each other's throats, for partisan or other political interest.
Candidly, I think some in Congress have been a little slow in getting to this point.
In fact, there is getting to be a remarkably predictable rhythm to congressional reaction to an international crisis like Panama.
Phase 1 is posturing. It is the time when we all stand up, beat our chests, and demand strong action.
Phase 2 is finger-pointing. That is when the President's critics give the rest of us the lowdown on how badly he botched the job.
Phase 3 is preaching--when the Monday morning quarterbacks let us in on what they would have done, and what the President should have done.
On Panama, we have done it all--posturing, finger-pointing and preaching. We have gotten it off our chests.
So I hope we will all now take a lesson from the President, and from Senators Boren and Cohen, and start lowering the volume of our rhetoric, and raising the level of our reason.
I also want to make an additional point. A good part of what went wrong in Panama did not happen last weekend. It started happening many years ago, when Congress first decided to start telling the President how he ought to manage crisis: What he could do and, more important, what he could not do without first getting our OK.
In earlier years, we sort of restrained ourselves; we tended to back the President while the action was hot, and at least waited until the post-mortem to start the finger-pointing and Monday morning quarterbacking.
These days, some are less and less inclined to such restraint. They take off in the middle of the crisis and do not land until they have squeezed every drop of political advantage out of their positions, regardless of the impact on our foreign policy.
Problems of the kind we encountered in Panama started happening, too, when we first began to tie the hands of the President and his administration on gathering intelligence, conducting covert action and taking decisive, low-intensity-type military action. And again, I am not necessarily referring to activity of this session but to a trend that has been going on for years.
Let me be clear. Our intelligence committees have a legitimate role to play. We happen to have an outstanding chairman and vice-chairman. I think the very responsible way they have gone about sorting out any misunderstandings with the White House demonstrates that again. We also have a strong and responsible committee. So I have no complaint about--on the contrary, I have great admiration for--the leadership and membership of our Senate committee.
But the fact is that we cannot over the years intrude more and more into sensitive matters like covert action and impose, or propose, more and more restrictions without it having an effect.
Mr. President, let us put posturing, finger-pointing and preaching behind us. That is what the President and Senators Boren and Cohen clearly have done.
Let us look soberly and seriously at what happened in Panama; Let us find out the facts before we start writing the prescriptions. Above all, before we start telling the President how to solve the problem, let us make sure we are not a big part of it.
Mr. President, I ask that the statement by Senator Boren and the White House issued today be included in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Senator Boren was in Chicago and was due to fly to Oklahoma this morning. He returned to Washington at the President's request relayed to him by Chief of Staff Sununu, arriving back in Washington at 1:30 am in order to attend the early morning meeting with the President. In the meeting this morning, in addition to the President and Seantor Boren, also present were Senator William Cohen, R-Maine, Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Vice President Quayle, Chief of Staff Sununu, National Security Advisor Scowcroft and his Deputy, Bob Gates. Boren said, `The meeting had a very good spirit and I feel that our discussion which focused on intelligence matters will be of great help to our country if we ever confront crisises like the Panama situation in the future.'
`I especially appreciated the President's words in the meeting thanking me for always supporting necessary Presidential authority in foreign policy and expressing his dismay at some news stories which have implied otherwise. We all resolved that differences of opinion about the recent Panama coup will in no way disrupt our close bipartisan partnership in national security matters.' Before leaving for Oklahoma, Boren had a separate meeting with Governor Sununu and OMB Director Dick Darman to discuss the pending proposal to reduce capital gains taxes. Senator Boren is a leader of a group of Democratic Senators who are supporting President Bush's capital gains proposal.
The President invited Senators Boren and Cohen to the White House this morning for a conversation about the events of the last week and lessons learned. The President has the highest respect for the judgement and integrity of the Chairman and Vice Chairman and wanted to take this occasion to reaffirm the close working relations with Senators Boren and Cohen and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. All participants in the meeting expressed disappointment over recent press stories, and the President expressed his particular appreciation for Senator Boren's leadership on behalf of bipartisanship in foreign policy and his support for necessary presidential authorities in foreign policy matters.