Congressional Record: February 3, 2004 (Senate)
Page S389-S391

                           U.S. INTELLIGENCE

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank the minority leader, Senator 
Daschle, as well as my colleague from Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy, 
for raising this timely and important question about intelligence. I 
also salute Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who announced his 
retirement. His departure will be a great loss to this institution.

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  I was fortunate enough to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee 
which Senator Graham chaired, and I still continue that service. He was 
an extraordinary leader, not just on that committee but when it came to 
the policies of protecting America. His has been a clarion voice from 
the beginning that the war on terrorism continues unabated and should 
continue despite the diversion of Iraq. We still have a war on 
terrorism, much broader in scope, that has to be considered on a daily 
  I come to the floor and want to be careful of the words I say. I do 
not want to disclose anything I have been told in the Senate 
Intelligence Committee. That is certainly the policy which should be 
followed by every member of that committee. We are given a rare 
opportunity to see the intelligence community and its work from inside. 
Because we are given that opportunity, we are warned not to share that 
information. So the points I am about to make relate exclusively to 
that information which has been made public and declassified. It raises 
an important issue.
  All of this information points in one direction. What happened to the 
United States of America prior to the invasion of Iraq relative to 
weapons of mass destruction of that country represents, in my mind, the 
greatest failure of intelligence in America since the fall of the 
Soviet Union. Recall, not that long ago, when our intelligence 
community and those in charge of national defense and security failed 
to see the collapse of the Soviet Union, a superpower, our premier 
enemy for decades, until it actually happened. Despite all of the 
millions of dollars and thousands of people, we missed it.
  Here we have a similar situation. Prior to our invasion of Iraq, we 
were told by the intelligence community they had identified--and this 
is unclassified, declassified information--they had identified 550 
suspected sites within Iraq where we would find weapons of mass 
destruction. And the level of certainty for each of those sites was 
different, but for a discrete number of those sites the intelligence 
community told us: We believe that when we go into Iraq and go directly 
to this location, we will find weapons of mass destruction, nuclear 
weapons, chemical and biological weapons.
  So I asked Dr. Kay--and others have as well--after you had completed 
your investigation, after you had looked at those sites, what did you 
find? And the answer was: Nothing, nothing whatever.
  We accumulated this information; we said, through our intelligence 
sources, we have 550 known locations; and we were wrong in every 
  How can that be? How can the intelligence community have missed it?
  The second element, the unmanned aerial vehicles, flying over 
locations, mapping different things, viewing different locations, 
prepared, if necessary, to fire on hostile situations--these unmanned 
aerial vehicles were identified by the intelligence community and the 
administration as a threat not only to the Middle East but to the 
United States of America. We were told these unmanned aerial vehicles 
would be used to deliver chemical and biological weapons against the 
United States of America.
  I can state now in published reports we know that the UAVs were not 
designed for this purpose. We missed it completely. Sadly, I can say 
there is additional information which has not been disclosed which also 
casts doubt on that conclusion.
  Why is it important? Because Members of the Senate were called to the 
White House, asked to vote for the use-of-force resolution, and told 
that the reason for the necessity of an invasion was the unmanned 
aerial vehicles and their threat to the United States of America. They 
were given partial information--in fact, misleading information--about 
the danger associated with the unmanned aerial vehicles.
  All of this raises serious questions, questions Senator Daschle and 
others have addressed. This is what it comes down to: This should not 
be a matter of either the Democrats in the Senate or the Republicans in 
the Senate protecting their President. I will say this: If an open, 
honest, independent investigation finds anything was done wrong under 
the Clinton administration leading up to this intelligence failure, so 
be it. If they find anything wrong in this intelligence operation under 
President George W. Bush was responsible for this breakdown, so be it.
  The American people deserve an honest answer. They are more concerned 
about the safety and security of America than they are about the 
political safety and security of any President. And that is exactly the 
way it should be.
  Now, more than ever, intelligence is critical. Since 9/11 we 
understand the war on terrorism and its success by the United States 
depends on solid intelligence, acted on responsibly by political 
leaders. We need to ask these hard questions, and we need the panel of 
an independent commission that will come up with the answers.
  Senator Jon Corzine, my colleague from New Jersey, has been proposing 
this independent commission for months. I have supported it. Many have 
resisted it, saying we do not need it. Well, thank goodness, after Dr. 
Kay's report, even the White House has conceded we need this 
independent commission. I think, frankly, we need it now more than 
  We need sound and solid intelligence gathering. We need it to be 
evaluated in a proper fashion, and we need the political leaders in 
America to deal with it in a responsible way. We must ask the hard 
questions, whether this has been done leading up to the invasion of 
Iraq, and continuing with our war against al-Qaida and terrorism 
elements all across the United States of America and around the world.
  Mrs. BOXER. Will my friend yield for a question?
  Mr. DURBIN. I am happy to yield to the Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. I thank the Senator very much for his clear, as usual, 
laying out of this issue. I want to pick up on the word 
``independent,'' ``independent commission.''
  Does my friend agree that to get to an independent commission, all 
the members should not be appointed by the administration that has just 
been part of this error?
  Mr. DURBIN. I say to the Senator from California, it is important 
that this be viewed as a nonpartisan effort. In order for that to 
occur, we either need to find those people who are beyond reproach from 
the political side or make certain there is an appointment on both 
sides, Democrats and Republicans working together.
  Why in the world would we allow this commission to go forward under 
the shadow of suspicion that it has a partisan agenda? We do not need 
that. As a country, we do not need that. Once and for all, we need to 
turn to men and women who have served this country, and served it in 
terms of our national defense, and who have no political agenda, who 
are really focused on the defense of our country.
  Mrs. BOXER. I would agree with that because otherwise I do not think 
the American people will trust the commission. If the commission were 
to be appointed by, say, the majority leader of the Senate--certain 
Members--and then the Democratic leader of the Senate, that is another 
example. We could get a couple from the House Democrats, House 
Republicans, and then the President, and not an artificial date: By the 
way, you can't come back and talk to us until 2005 after the election. 
The American people are very wise.

  So I am really glad the President, as you said, has come around to 
say we need to take a look at this. But I think the way he is 
approaching this does not pass the smell test for a lot of my folks 
back home.
  Mr. DURBIN. I say to the Senator from California, there is another 
element, and that is this matter involving former Ambassador Joe 
Wilson, and his wife, who was serving this country in an intelligence 
capacity and whose identity was disclosed to columnist Robert Novak as 
part of political retribution.
  I can tell you, having spoken to people who have given their lives to 
the intelligence community, and risked their lives for America on a 
regular basis, they were angry and demoralized by this leak from the 
White House.
  I think in order to get the proper answers to the important questions 
about the role of the intelligence community, we should try to make it 
as nonpartisan as possible, try to bring in the professionals who are 
viewed by both political parties as people of respect and people who 
ask the right questions, so the intelligence community will come 
forward with honest and objective answers.

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  The bottom line is not who wins this political battle in the hearts 
and minds of the American people. The bottom line is, who will win in 
terms of America's national security and defense. We need sound and 
solid intelligence now more than ever. The President's admission last 
week that there was a failure of intelligence leading up to the 
invasion of Iraq has really called on all of us to rise above party.
  I think the Senator from California and the Senator from South Dakota 
are moving in the right direction toward an independent, bipartisan, 
and nonpartisan approach. I hope we do get this done quickly.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Under the previous order, there are 10 minutes allocated to the 
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the majority be 
given an extra 5 minutes in morning business; 5 minutes for Senator 
Kyl, 5 minutes for Senator Lott, 5 minutes for Senator Chambliss.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I express my appreciation to the assistant 
minority leader for that request.