Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination reported from the Intelligence Committee: George Tenet, to be Director of Central Intelligence.
I further ask unanimous consent that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, any statements relating to the nomination appear at the appropriate place in the Record, the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the Senate then return to legislative session.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The nomination was considered and confirmed as follows:
George John Tenet, of Maryland, to be Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I am pleased to inform my colleagues that today the Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously voted to favorably report the nomination of Mr. George J. Tenet to be the next Director of Central Intelligence.
Although the committee held hearings in May, shortly after receiving the nomination from the President, the committee postponed final action pending the conclusion of a preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice.
The Attorney General was required to make a determination of whether to recommend the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate allegations involving Mr. Tenet's financial holdings and disclosure.
Today, the committee was officially notified that the Attorney General had concluded that no further investigation was warranted and that she would not seek appointment of an independent counsel.
The Vice Chairman, Senator Kerrey, and I promptly convened a meeting of the committee and voted to favorably report the nomination to the full Senate. This prompt action by the committee, once the Justice Department investigation was completed, reflects the strong support Mr. Tenet has among the members of the committee.
Mr. Tenet faces some daunting challenges as he prepares to officially assume the responsibilities of the Director of Central Intelligence.
He must successfully guide the intelligence community toward new and far more difficult missions. He must ensure that the quality and integrity of his people remains high.
He must provide thorough and unbiased analysis to this Nation's policy-makers and he must keep, as he has pledged, the Congress fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities.
The latter point is very important, Mr. President, because the intelligence community, and specifically the Central Intelligence Agency, has not enjoyed a great deal of public support in recent years.
It will be Mr. Tenet's responsibility to restore the public confidence in his organization, and he can do that by remaining faithful to the values of this Nation and by ensuring that the people's representatives are kept fully appraised of all the community's activities.
The intelligence community is rich with outstanding Americans, many of whom risk their lives to protect the security of this Nation. These people place a great deal of trust in their leadership and it is up to Mr. Tenet to honor that trust. The committee believes that he will.
Mr. President, it is with pleasure that I recommend, as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, that the Senate unanimously approve the nomination of George John Tenet to the next Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, I rise to urge my colleagues to confirm the President's nominee, George J. Tenet, to be Director of Central Intelligence. He served as Deputy Director from May 1995 until January of this year, he has served as acting Director since that time, and he has already proven to be a highly competent, knowledgeable, capable leader of our Intelligence Community.
As many of my colleagues know, Mr. Tenet's nomination has been before the Intelligence Committee since April. In hearings and in written responses for the record, Mr. Tenet answered all the committee's questions to the Committee's satisfaction. My sense is Mr. Tenet has enjoyed the unanimous support of the Committee since April. However, the Committee chose not to report this nomination to the Senate until completion of an investigation of Mr. Tenet by the Attorney General under the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1994. The investigation was initiated April 23, 1997, and the completed report of investigation was filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on July 7, 1997. The Committee has been informed that the Attorney General `determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that further investigation is warranted. She is not seeking the appointment of an independent counsel.' Having received this report, the Committee voted today to favorably report the nomination. The vote was unanimous.
The Attorney General's investigation was triggered by anomalies in Mr. Tenet's financial reporting statement and biographical questionnaire. In my view these were minor and fully explicable anomalies. Given the high standards set in the Independent Counsel Act, the fact that the investigation has been closed without the appointment of an independent counsel suggests to me that the Attorney General shares my assessment did nothing wrong.
The necessity for the investigation created an unfortunate delay, as well as a burden for Mr. Tenet and members of his family. The delay caused by the investigation did not, from what I have seen, create a vacuum in leadership at the CIA. Even as the Acting Director, Mr. Tenet has provided steady direction to the Intelligence Community. Nonetheless, there is no substitute in government for the authority that comes with Senate confirmation, so I am most pleased the nomination can move forward and Mr. Tenet can be fully empowered.
As Chairman Shelby and I told our colleagues during the recent debate on the Intelligence Authorization bill, the end of the Cold War did by no means mark a diminution in the importance of intelligence to our national security. Sound policy and sound strategy are illuminated by sound intelligence, by the sometimes small amount of secret information that gives full meaning to the masses of freely available information. As technology continues in its revolutionary cycles, victory in war is more than ever the result of the linkage of American valor with American intelligence and American precision weapons. So intelligence continues to be essential to our survival and our ability to lead in the world. One of Mr. Tenet's many tasks will be to convince the public that intelligence still matters, and that the public can count on the integrity, patriotism, and morality of those who serve the nation in the Intelligence Community. Mr. Tenet is well suited for this task--he is a highly effective communicator.
Another task for Mr. Tenet will be to lead those who are serving. The CIA and the other intelligence agencies include people who take risks for our country, as well as some of the smartest and most skilled analysts, scientists, and technicians in the country. They deserve leadership that fully challenges their talents, rewards their successes, maintains an environment of high integrity, enforces accountability, and adds to their pride in their profession. They also deserve leadership that will remain with them long enough to really make a difference. I believe George Tenet will provide that leadership, and I urge his confirmation.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I am going to pause a minute to speak about this nomination. I was privileged to serve for 8 years on the Intelligence Committee, the last 2 years being the vice chairman. During that period of time, Mr. Tenet was one of the senior staff members on the committee. I gained a firsthand knowledge of this individual, not only of his professional capabilities, which are superb, but his character and his judgment.
I commend the President and all those who have worked to see that this fine American takes on this very, very important responsibility. I have confidence in him, and I am confident that he will represent our country very ably in this important post. I wish him, his lovely wife and his family well.