January 28, 2004
HARMAN DECRIES PARTISANSHIP ON INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Jane Harman (CA-36) issued the following statement regarding a business meeting of the committee intended to address a Resolution of Inquiry, H.R. 499:
“I came to the House Intelligence Committee today prepared to make a statement in public session about my views on the importance of bipartisan oversight regarding the leak of a CIA officer’s cover and the need to conduct deliberations on H.R. 499 in public.
“Sadly, I was unable to make that statement, and bipartisanship on the Committee just got a lot harder.
“I cannot discuss what went on today because, in contradiction to an agreement Chairman Goss and I carefully worked out yesterday, he immediately moved to hold the proceedings in secret.
“As one committed to honoring the long tradition of careful bipartisan stewardship of the intelligence community by our Committee, the Chairman’s actions are deeply disappointing to me. Careful, bipartisan oversight is what the men and women of the IC deserve, and, sadly, they were let down today.
“Following the secret session, the Committee came back into open session to vote on HR499. My vote, Present, was intended as a protest against the partisan process imposed by the majority.
“I hope cooler heads will prevail. The Committee must complete its work on what went wrong with pre-war intelligence in Iraq - work made all the more important by Dr. David Kay’s recent statements. And we must fix structural problems in the IC, an issue that Chairman Goss and I have often discussed and that should be the topic of hearings and legislation.
“The real loser today was the public. Ironically, as we barred the door to our session, Dr. Kay was testifying in open session in the Senate. This morning, the British released a public report on prewar intelligence. And Norman Ornstein, writing in today’s Roll Call, commended our Committee for bipartisanship and responsible oversight.
“Instead of today’s abrupt and polarizing episode, we could have postponed action for several weeks in order to chart a bipartisan course on the serious breach of security that is involved in the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer’s identity.
“As former President Bush said about such disclosures:
‘I can’t think of anything that is more traitorous or more offensive to the decency that is the American way.’
“He’s right. But it also offends decency to silence colleagues and shut out the sunlight.”
Attached to this release are the statement the Congresswoman intended to make in the Committee hearing and the correspondence she recently exchanged with intelligence officers regarding the Plame investigation.
CONGRESSWOMAN JANE HARMAN
HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE
January 28, 2004
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I understand there will be a motion at some point to close these proceedings. I intend to oppose that motion.
The resolution of inquiry that we are to consider today is public legislation, and the matters to be discussed are well known. This Committee can readily debate the merits of this legislation without endangering national security or compromising sensitive law enforcement information. We do not need to reference any names or any confirm any facts related to the substance of the leak. I think the public will be reassured to know that the Committee is seriously considering an intelligence breach of this magnitude.
There have been many instances in the recent past where the Committee has conducted business meetings and marked-up legislation in open session including:
· The Mark-up of the Homeland Security Act of 2002;
· The Business Meeting to discuss the Committee's Investigation of Iraq WMD on June 12, 2003, as well as a number of follow-up discussions on the inquiry;
· The Business Meeting to discuss the handling of the Iraq Supplemental.
I would further note that the British today will released a public report on the conclusion of on their own inquiry into an alleged leak and other problems related to prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Here in the US, Dr. David Kay's comments over the past days have cast glaring doubt over the quality and accuracy of prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. As we meet, he is testifying in public session before the Senate Armed Services.
Kay's remarks echo what we, on a bipartisan basis, first began to conclude back in September: it is increasingly clear that there has been a massive intelligence failure regarding prewar estimates of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. The Committee's clear responsibility is to get to the bottom of how and why that happened.
The leaking of an undercover CIA officer's name is likely to impede our efforts. Not only was it a grave offense, it sent a chilling signal to the Intelligence Community about what happens when people try to bring to light matters related to prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Let me be clear. I did not join the early calls for a special prosecutor in this case. I haven't signed on to any of the calls for additional investigations. I did not co-sponsor this resolution of inquiry. I think it is critical that this Committee deliberate and continue to make important decisions in this room - even in an election year. We are the stewards of a remarkable tradition, one which I honor and value.
This Committee has a long tradition of bipartisanship. Given the oversight responsibility uniquely entrusted to this Committee, it is imperative that we be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It would be tragic to spend the rest of this Congress trying to duck yellow police tape outside our doors - signaling we're "Out of Business" until after November 2.
I urge my colleagues to join me in trying to find a bipartisan way to send a clear message to the men and women of the Intelligence Community. They must see that this Committee will do everything that it can to protect them from unconscionable breaches of security.
I believe with more time we can find a way to move forward on this issue. We can work to develop proposals for safeguarding the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation, for example. We can make clear our strong interest and echo the words of the first President Bush, who said, with regard to exposing the identity of undercover agents:
"I can't think of anything that is more traitorous or more offensive to the decency that is the American way."
If we postponed consideration of the resolution of inquiry for a few weeks, our staff and we could work in the interim to find a bipartisan solution.
With that in mind, Mr. Chairman, at the proper time I plan to move that the consideration of House Resolution 499 be postponed until Thursday, February 12, 2004.