Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I wish to speak today on the nomination of Anthony Lake to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This nomination has raised a troubling issue, an issue that has nothing to do with the candidate's qualifications. Rather, that issue is the credibility of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to conduct a fair, nonpartisan examination of this nominee.
That committee, of which I have been a proud member for 4 years, has a well-earned reputation for bipartisanship. But that hard-won reputation is being jeopardized by the committee's conduct in this matter.
In a speech before the Senate last night, Chairman Shelby said he wants to treat the Lake confirmation `in a serious, thorough and fair manner.' That is a laudable goal. It is a goal I fully support. I commend the chairman for establishing a high standard. The position of Director of Central Intelligence is an extremely sensitive one. We have a responsibility to the American people to subject the nominee to close scrutiny.
I accept and welcome the responsibility as a member of the committee. Unfortunately, it is a responsibility my colleagues and I have been unable thus far to exercise.
The reason for this failure is that the committee, although having officially received this nomination on January 9, has yet to conduct its first hearing on the nominee. Meanwhile, the Senate has acted judiciously but swiftly on two other members of the President's foreign policy team, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Lake remains the exception. Indeed, his hearings have been postponed not once, but twice. In the first instance, the chairman postponed the hearings `dependent upon the status of the Justice Department's investigation' into Mr. Lake's stock transactions and his role in the Iran-Bosnia arms sale.
The Department of Justice completed its investigation on February 7, giving Mr. Lake a clean bill of health in regard to the arms sale and determining there was no evidence that he ever took any action to conceal or misrepresent his or his wife's financial holdings.
Nevertheless, the chairman again postponed the hearings, this time asserting that the Department of Justice investigation `is only a small part of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's overall, ongoing investigation * * *' He now cites new concerns.
After two delays, the chairman is now committed to a hearing on March 11. I welcome that commitment.
Mr. President, I fear, however, that the March 11 hearing is only a prelude to what is turning into an extended fishing expedition. If anyone doubts that, they only have to read the February 27 issue of the Washington Post, which reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has now requested White House documents involving Haiti--documents which our House colleagues requested last year as part of their extensive investigations into the administration's Haiti policy.
Those investigations have so far produced rather paltry results, despite extensive hearings, document reviews and testimony.
The International Relations Committee was able to generate only a majority staff report. The members of that committee--neither Republican or Democrat--signed the report--not exactly a vote of confidence.
The Republican majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has yet to produce any report at all.
In each case, the administration made available literally hundreds of documents for congressional review.
Although withholding approximately 50 documents, citing executive privilege, the administration did offer to brief House Members and provide certain redacted versions of those documents. Republicans rejected the proposal.
The administration has made the same offer to our committee. It is a reasonable one that balances congressional rights and executive privilege. I urge the chairman to accept it, rather than creating a pretext for further delay.
Mr. President, the Haiti issue is just one of several the committee is pursuing.
The implication of the chairman's remarks are that the committee now intends to investigate the Department of Justice's investigation of Mr. Lake's divesture of stock. The Justice Department, as I mentioned earlier, found no evidence that Mr. Lake ever took any action to conceal or misrepresent his or his wife's financial holdings. It found no fault in his conduct of the Iran-Bosnia matter.
With regards to Mr. Lake's FBI file and the Tower nomination, the chairman has requested Mr. Lake's complete FBI file, based on the purported precedent of the nomination of former Senator John Tower for Secretary of Defense in 1989. As my colleague from Michigan, Senator Levin, stated yesterday, `neither the Armed Services Committee nor the full Senate ever had access to the raw investigative files used by the FBI to compile its summary of the background investigation of Senator Tower.'
In his statement, Senator Levin further cites Senator Nunn's comments in 1989. Senator Nunn stated on the Senate floor that, `What we have in S-407 is the summary of interviews the FBI conducted. They prepare the summary. We do not see nor do we have the underlying interviews.'
In the case of Mr. Lake, that summary has already been provided to the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
I am concerned that we are engaged in a fishing expedition in which the hearings are being used to determine if some malfeasance can be found, rather than to develop information on a credible hypothesis of inappropriate behavior.
Mr. President, I am also concerned that the goalposts are clearly being moved on this nominee. Questions are asked; responses are given; and then new, different questions are asked. If members of the committee have inquiries, we should all welcome the opportunity to question this nominee in the best possible forum, under oath, during his confirmation hearings. He in turn has the right and the opportunity to respond. That is the purpose of a nomination hearing.
Unfortunately, there is a growing public perception, aptly expressed by one commentator, that the committee `seems to be waiting for something scandalous to turn up to sink the nomination.' The perception, right or wrong, is that we are leaving Mr. Lake to twist in the wind. I am afraid that that says more about our committee than it does about Mr. Lake.
Some history. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has a hard-earned and proud tradition of bipartisanship. It is the successor to the Church committee of 1975-76, which was an investigative committee only. The purpose of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is both to oversee sensitive intelligence activities and to maintain and improve intelligence capabilities and efficiency.
The issues that come before the committee, including the nomination of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, are extremely sensitive. They demand a high level of bipartisanship. I fear that the committee's bipartisanship is fraying and that fair play is falling victim to partisan gamesmanship.
That, Mr. President, should concern all of us, Republican and Democrat alike. Intelligence activities, by their sensitive nature, run counter to Democratic principles of openness. Yet, in my view, good intelligence is essential to our democracy's security.
Effective congressional oversight, in turn, is a critical ingredient to maintaining some balance between these two inherently contradictory forces--democratic openness and the necessary secrecy that surrounds intelligence procedures and operations. Oversight is a serious responsibility. The public must have confidence that we are above politics when we deal with intelligence issues.
In almost every other area of Federal Government, the public has multiple sources of information. That is what freedom of speech and freedom of press provide in a democratic society. But as it relates to the operations of the intelligence community, the general public must rely on a handful of its representatives to provide the necessary oversight and scrutiny to assure that the operations are being conducted in a manner that advances the public interest and assures that the public interest is not being rendered vulnerable by clandestine operations.
So far, the committee has largely succeeded. One measure of the committee's success has been the impressive number of newly emerging democracies that have sought the Senate Intelligence Committee's advice over the past few years. Each of those countries is struggling to establish an intelligence community that will safeguard democracy, not undermine it. They look to us as a model of bipartisan oversight and have come to us for guidance.
That expression of confidence is our most valuable asset. We have earned it through hard work, diligence and a determination to play the honest broker. We can ill-afford to fritter it away and give life to the perception that the CIA is becoming an instrument of partisan warfare, that the Lake nomination is simply an attempt to attack the President's foreign policy over the last 4 years.
The CIA, in turn, can ill-afford partisan bickering at a time when it is struggling with a painful transition from a cold war where we faced one principal enemy to a new world in which we face multiple threats.
Those emerging threats run the gamut from terrorism and biological and chemical weapons proliferation to narcotics trafficking. Each in its own way is as serious and in some ways more challenging a threat than that presented by the former Soviet Union.
In attacking these targets, we will need to be focused, creative, and open to new ways of conducting intelligence operations.
Whether the CIA successfully meets this challenge of transition depends in a large measure on stable leadership, something that has been in disgraceful short supply.
Whether the CIA successfully meets that challenge depends in large measure on stable leadership, something that has been in disgracefully short supply. Four DCI's have rotated through the Agency in the last 5 years.
The position of Director of Central Intelligence has become Washington's ultimate revolving door. That's got to stop, and I hope it will with this nominee.
Success also depends in no small part on the actions the SSCI and this Senate take in regard to Mr. Lake's nomination. This nomination provides us a valuable opportunity to publicly discuss the role of intelligence and its future in our democracy.
A number of important questions call out for answers.
With the demise of the Soviet Union, does the CIA have a mission?
If so, what is it? And if it has a mission, has the Agency lost its way in pursuing it?
How effectively is the community protecting the interests of America and its citizens?
Is the culture of the Directorate of Operations hobbling the Agency's effectiveness. If so, how do we change it?
Is the Agency ready to be held accountable for its actions and its failures?
What role should human rights play in Agency operations?
Is the Agency keeping congressional oversight committees and Members of Congress appropriately informed? How effective has it been in this regard?
An elevated debate, one marked not by partisan rancor but by honesty and openness, can help answer these questions and contribute to reaching a consensus about the intelligence community's role in our society as we enter the 21st century.
More important, such a debate will help educate ourselves and as well as the voters who sent us here about the appropriate role of intelligence in a democracy--its pluses and its minuses.
Having said that, there clearly are specific issues regarding this nominee that deserve the committee's scrutiny.
I question whether Mr. Lake's opponents have focused on the right ones. His supposed connections with the left and his views as to Alger Hiss' guilt or innocence obviously have enthralled some.
But as former Director of Central Intelligence Bob Gates under President Bush wrote in the January 29 issue of the Wall Street Journal, these issues are `wholly irrelevant and silly.'
I certainly respect the right of any Member to purse these questions during upcoming hearings. Indeed, I would hope that those who find these issues troubling would urge the chairman to deal with this nomination expeditiously so that we can conclude committee hearings and move to floor debate.
One question, I intend to ask of Mr. Lake is whether he can provide the President objective intelligence analysis after serving as his National Security Adviser the past 4 years.
I also intend to ask him whether, having attempted to curry favor with representatives of the Directorate of Operations in an effort to bolster his nomination, he has weakened his ability to act decivisely as DCI on issues of accountability and reform.
I also plan to ask him whether the nomination process and the criticism he has been subjected to will jeopardize his effectiveness if he is confirmed. Has he been so bloodied that he will be unable to perform effectively?
Finally, I plan to question him about his management philosophy and skills, his attitude toward secrecy, and the role of human rights in intelligence operations.
I am confident that Mr. Lake will acquit himself well before the committee. He has shown himself to be a man of great ability and integrity. Moreover, as National Security Adviser he has been an avid customer of intelligence and will bring that critical perspective to the job.
Barring any stunning revelations that may arise during the hearings--and I see no indication of any occuring--I will vote for Tony Lake. In my view, he will make a fine Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. President, the issue for today is, will we protect the credibility? Will we protect the now almost 20 years of investment that has been made in a credible Senate oversight of this most sensitive of Government activities, or will we allow it to be frittered away and degraded by partisan wrangling? That will be the challenge that our committee will face, commencing with the hearings that will begin on March 11. I trust that the committee will meet its high standard.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a January 29, 1997, column by former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Robert Gates, as printed in the Wall Street Journal in support of Mr. Lake's nomination as well as a January 26, 1997, column by Reagan administration official Richard Schifter, as printed in the Washington Times, be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
I am barely acquainted with Tony Lake, the president's national security adviser and nominee to become CIA director. But I have read about his views on foreign policy for years and disagree with him on a number of important issues. I think that the administration's foreign policy, which he has helped shape, has been erratically interventionist, excessively tactical, insufficiently supportive of resources for defense and intelligence, and lacking in strategic priorities, coherence and consistency. Even so, I believe Mr. Lake should be confirmed.
An ideal nominee for CIA director would have universally recognized integrity, expertise in foreign affairs (but with no controversies), experience managing large enterprises, savvy in intelligence operations (with no failures), analytical insight (with no mistakes), political skill, the confidence of and ready access to the president, and a winning personality. None of the 17 men who have been CIA director have had that combination of credentials. Mr. Lake has three of the most important, however.
First, he is broadly recognized as a man of integrity and principle--and as a man with the courage to stand up for what he believes is right. This offers reassurance that he will be independent of the White House in which he served and will be directed by a moral grounding most Americans would find admirable. Second, whether or not one agrees with him on the issues, he is thoroughly knowledgeable about foreign affairs. Moreover, as national security adviser, he is clearly familiar with current intelligence operations and analysis, and will be able to improve both. Third, he has the confidence of the president and knows well the rest of the president's national security team, two assets without which a CIA director is deeply, if not fatally, weakened.
Mr. Lake does have deficiencies. He has no relevant intelligence background, but then neither did 13 of his 17 predecessors. He has not managed a large (and difficult) organization, but his power of appointment (and the incumbent deputy) can compensate for that. As for a winning personality, I am in no position to judge.
There are contentious issues surrounding Mr. Lake that will doubtless be important in his confirmation hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most significantly, the administration's failure to tell Congress about its actions in at least tacitly encouraging Iran to arm Bosnia was, at minimum, a serious mistake. Mr. Lake should say so, and the committee should extract appropriate pledges from him about keeping Congress informed--and his willingness to resign if ordered by the president to keep lawmakers in the dark, a pledge I made prior to my confirmation in 1991. At the same time, primary responsibility for this mistake in Bosnia rests more heavily with the president and the then-secretary of state, and Mr. Lake should not be disqualified as CIA director simply because others senior to him are beyond the reach of the Senate.
Other issues that have been raised in connection with his nomination are not, in my view, disqualifying. He obviously must satisfactorily explain his tardy disposal of stock after entering public office. But the charge that Mr. Lake was once equivocal as to the guilt of Alger Hiss and allegations of other manifestations of `left-leaning' views years ago strike me--someone who was attacked in my own confirmation hearings as too much of a Cold War hawk--as wholly irrelevant and silly in 1997, even if true.
The committee must satisfy itself on Iran-Bosnia and Mr. Lake's commitment to congressional oversight, as well as other issues, such as the stock sale. But these should be resolvable. Then perhaps the hearings can serve a positive function by eliciting Mr. Lake's thinking on continued reform and restructuring of U.S. intelligence, his views of its strengths and weaknesses and the adequacy of resources in light of the tasks assigned by the president and Congress. The answers to these tough questions could prove illuminating, not to mention highly relevant to his confirmation.
The bipartisan nature of the Senate intelligence committee since its early days under the leadership of Daniel Inouye and Barry Goldwater has been one of its greatest assets, and a source of its credibility. As Congress becomes more polarized and partisan, it would be a tragedy if the Republican and Democratic leadership of this very sensitive committee were to allow its special nonpartisan character to be weakened. I was nominated to be CIA director by President Reagan in 1987 and again by President Bush in 1991, and despite the struggles I went through in a Democratic-controlled Senate, I never felt the disputes were partisan.
Mr. Lake's confirmation ought not become a matter of partisan conflict, an opportunity to attack the administration's foreign policy. There are other, more appropriate forums for that, even in Congress--the Senate's Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, and the House's equivalent committees. Republicans should not use hearings for CIA director--a position that should be outside of politics--to make Mr. Lake the designated partisan target.
Tony Lake isn't perfect for CIA director, but he is a capable senior official of integrity who is the choice of the president to head the U.S. intelligence community. As the last CIA director nominated by a Republican president and confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Senate, I strongly believe that hard questions should be asked of Mr. Lake, and then he should be confirmed expeditiously with broad bipartisan support. This would be in the best interests of the country and of the intelligence community.
For the last month, a stream of unsubstantiated charges have been leveled against the nomination of Anthony Lake to be the next director of central intelligence. These attacks are based on inaccurate information.
I have worked closely with Tony Lake on the staff of the National Security Council for the last three-and-a-half years. I came to this job as a hard-liner on U.S. foreign policy, a lifelong foe of communism, and one of the initial members of the Committee on the Present Danger. I found Tony Lake to be a kindred spirit in his devotion to the enlargement of democracy and the global promotion of American interests. Whether the issue was stopping aggression in Bosnia or moving ahead with the expansion of NATO, Mr. Lake's leadership, vision and competence played a vital role in the formulation and success of these policies.
Some have asserted that Mr. Lake's April 1994 decision neither to approve nor to object to Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia facilitated creation of a radical Islamic foothold. According to the intelligence community, the Iranian military and intelligence services have been present in Bosnia since 1992. There was no significant increase in that presence after April 1994. Tony Lake, we should note, was the main architect of the president's August 1995 initiative that led to the Dayton agreement. That agreement banned foreign forces and led the Bosnian government to sever military and intelligence links with Iran as a condition for the train and equip program. Hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards have left Bosnia, Mujahideen units have disbanded, and the Bosnians are looking to the United States and moderate Islamic states for security assistance. Mr. Lake, thus, played a key role in the reduction of Iranian influence on Bosnia, not the opposite.
As for the issue of congressional consultation, Mr. Lake--recently praised by Senator Majority Leader Trent Lott for his efforts to keep Congress informed--has said, in retrospect, that informing key members of Congress on a very discreet basis would have been wise. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee report later confirmed there was nothing illegal about this diplomatic exchange.
Assertions that during Mr. Lake's tenure as national security adviser CIA resources were massively diverted from monitoring military threats to addressing global environmental issues, and that this would continue with Mr. Lake as the director of intelligence, are misguided. Environmental issues are important--a Chernobyl reactor disaster or a major oil spill in the Persian Gulf would have major economic and security implications.
However, Mr. Lake and the CIA have, by no means, massively diverted resources to look at the environment. In fact, the agency's program on the environment, initiated during the Bush administration, remains very modest. Mr. Lake's intelligence priorities remain those previously decided upon: critical support for military operations involving U.S. forces, political, economic and military intelligence about countries hostile to the United States, and intelligence about transnational issues--weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking--that affect national security and the lives of Americans.
Allegations that Mr. Lake had ties to the `extreme Left' are ridiculous and tend to subvert fair discussion of an important nomination. This, too, is not the case. An initial supporter of our effort to stem communism in Vietnam, Mr. Lake volunteered to serve there as a State Department official. Like many other Americans, he later changed his mind as to whether our continued military interest in Vietnam served the national interest. After leaving the Foreign Service, he supported, in 1971-72, the centrist presidential campaign of Edmund Muskie. Mr. Lake was not a member of the Center for National Security Studies, and did not `help found' it, as has recently been charged. Mr. Lake's connection with the Institute of Policy Studies was that at the invitation of an acquaintance he delivered a single lecture to an IPS seminar on Washington's government institutions.
We currently live in an extraordinarily complex world, in which our national security concerns are no longer focused on a single country and a single movement. In this world we need a director of central intelligence who is able to see the whole picture and can then identify the multiple concerns which require our special attention. We also need a director who can incisively analyze the material presented to him by his staff, can spot the flaws and insufficiencies and see to it that a superior, thoroughly reliable product emerges from the process. Finally, we need a director who combines professional integrity with personal decency. Having seen Tony Lake at work, I am confident that he meets all of these criteria.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.