Chairman Holt Statement

Panel Report to the Defense Subcommittee

Intelligence Activities in the FY 2009 Defense Appropriations Bill

[released July 11, 2008]

WASHINGTON Ė This Week, Rush Holt (D-NJ), Chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel of the Committee on Appropriations, made the following statement at the Panel meeting to discuss recommendations for the FY09 intelligence budget.

"On behalf of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, I am pleased to present to the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations the Panel recommendations for 2009 intelligence activities. These recommendations are the product of a very deliberate and bi-partisan process. Our Panel held hearings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The recommendations in this report flow directly from these hearings. Mr. LaHood and I have discussed the recommendations, and the Majority and Minority Committee staff has spent many hours working as a team putting the Members' recommendations into today's proposal.

"I believe the Intelligence Panel has been a model of bi-partisanship. I believe it is fair to characterize this bill, as well as the process through which it was developed, as fully bi-partisan. Among the large number of items considered, there is one area where there is significant disagreement, but the large bulk of these recommendations is without objection.

"Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Obey created this Panel within the Appropriations Committee in order strengthen oversight of intelligence funding by combining the expertise of both the authorizing and appropriation committees. In fact, in the course of a year and half since the creation of this Panel we have directly influenced the intelligence funding for five bills. Three of these bills were supplemental appropriations and this is the second annual appropriations bill that we have acted upon.

"The funding recommendations that the Panel will forward to the Defense Subcommittee are classified, but I can tell you that these recommendations include an increase to the National Intelligence Program and the Military Intelligence Program from the fiscal year 2008 levels and a significant reduction from the Presidentís request.

"I want to highlight some of the positive recommendations that are included in this report. The recommendation includes language which imposes requirements on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to better manage the budget. The Intelligence Reform legislation that created the DNI, strengthened and enhanced the DNIís budget authorities, and the recommendation included in this report would further enhance Congressí role in reviewing the budget request and ensuring that the DNI can be successful. One of the problems of past Congressional oversight by both parties has been that the Intelligence Community was forced to cut or add programs based on the changing whims of Congress. The creation of this Panel and stronger budgetary oversight over intelligence programs will hopefully provide stability for our nationís intelligence professionals.

"Another recommendation of this report is to help clarify the grey line that exists between Department of Defense and Intelligence Activities for the Congress. As in the past, this report recommends regular reporting from the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Director of National Intelligence on clandestine and covert activities so that Congress can properly carry out its oversight role on these highly sensitive programs.

"This recommendation once again tackles the poorly managed space programs. For years, the Congress has been promised leadership in this very expensive area of the budget, but instead many of these promises have not been fulfilled. Because too many people believe they are in charge of space programs no one is in charge. This recommendation includes changes to the space budgets but does not put Congress in the position of program manager. The Panel is looking to the executive branch to make decisions about future space capabilities that will have long term consequences on our intelligence abilities.

"I am also pleased that the panel is once again recommending a robust investment in foreign language training. The report suggests a real increase in funding to support programs that emphasize greater educational and cultural studies for students who later take employment in government agencies, such as the State Department, the intelligence services, or the Department of Justice. We must do more to ensure that our education systems Ė civilian and military Ė place a greater emphasis on language and culture skills and on producing the teachers who can transmit those language and cultural skills to others.

"Finally, this recommendation would approve most of the Administrationís cyber security initiative. The Panel has been briefed on the problems, issues, and threats in the cyber arena and is fully supportive of protecting our nationís vital computer networks. Because this initiative is evolving, the Panel has made recommendations and changes on some of the details of the cyber security programs.

"I have been pleased to work with Mr. LaHood on this. We have worked to make sure this recommendation is the result of a thorough and non-partisan review of the intelligence budget, and we very much appreciate the collegial manner in which the staff has worked together on theses recommendations."