WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record on his support for John Negroponte, confrimed to be the first Director of National Intelligence. Lieberman and HSGAC Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., authored the National Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which established the position. The legislation was signed into law by President Bush December 17, 2004.
Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for this historic nomination of Ambassador John Negroponte to be the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI) named under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 – the most sweeping reform of the intelligence community in over 50 years. With this appointment, we will finally have a single official with the authority, responsibility, and accountability to lead a more unified and more integrated intelligence community capable of avoiding the unacceptable intelligence failures recounted in excruciating detail by the independent 9/11 Commission and, more recently, by the President’s WMD Commission. I am confident Ambassador Negroponte is up to this admittedly difficult task. With a career in public service spanning over four decades, Ambassador Negroponte has demonstrated the commitment and determination this post demands. His service in numerous Foreign Service posts across Asia, Europe, and Latin America – and most recently as the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq – has certainly provided him with the global perspective of our intelligence needs that the position requires. And, having served in senior positions here in Washington at the State Department and at the National Security Council, Ambassador Negroponte has developed the bureaucratic skills that the DNI must exercise in order to be effective. The most important factor in whether Ambassador Negroponte – indeed, whether the entire intelligence reform effort – succeeds, is the degree of support provided by President Bush and the White House in the early but formative stages of this process. The path toward reform is always a difficult one, particularly with the likely array of bureaucratic and institutional obstacles the DNI is likely to confront. As the WMD Commission candidly recognized, “The Intelligence Community is a closed world, and many insiders admitted to us that it has an almost perfect record of resisting external recommendations.” It should come as no surprise that the array of strong statutory authorities provided to the DNI under the legislation can, in and of itself, only accomplish so much; implementation will now be the crucial test, and the President must show the same level of commitment he demonstrated during the final push to pass the intelligence reform legislation in the last Congress. I am encouraged in this regard by the President’s remarks in announcing the nomination of Ambassador Negroponte. President Bush said, quote: “In the war against terrorists who target innocent civilians and continue to seek weapons of mass murder, intelligence is our first line of defense. If we’re going to stop the terrorists before they strike, we must ensure that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise. And that’s why I supported, and Congress passed, reform legislation creating the job of Director of National Intelligence.” “As DNI, John will lead a unified intelligence community, and will serve as the principle advisor to the President on intelligence matters. He will have the authority to order the collection of new intelligence, to ensure the sharing of information among agencies, and to establish common standards for the intelligence community’s personnel. It will be John’s responsibility to determine the annual budgets for all national intelligence agencies and offices and to direct how these funds are spent. Vesting these authorities in a single official who reports directly to me will make our intelligence efforts better coordinated, more efficient, and more effective.” Unfortunately, we had no single official who effectively forged unity of effort across the intelligence community prior to September 11. We had no quarterback. Prior to this legislation, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) had three jobs: (1) principal intelligence advisor to the President; (2) head of the CIA; and (3) head of the intelligence community. As the 9/11 Commission concluded: “No recent DCI has been able to do all three effectively. Usually what loses out is management of the intelligence community, a difficult task even in the best case because the DCI’s current authorities are weak. With so much to do, the DCI often has not used even the authority he has.” The new Director of National Intelligence has two main responsibilities: to head the intelligence community and to serve as principal intelligence advisor to the President. As principal advisor to the President, the DNI is responsible – and accountable – for ensuring that the President is properly briefed on intelligence priorities and activities. The CIA Director will now report to the DNI, who is not responsible for managing the day to day activities of that agency while also heading the intelligence community. In fact, the legislation specifies that the Office of the DNI may not even be co-located with the CIA or any other element of the intelligence community after October 1, 2008. As head of the intelligence community, the DNI will have – and must effectively use – the wide range of strong budget, personnel, tasking, and other authorities detailed in the legislation to forge the unity of effort needed against the threats of this new century. I am pleased that Ambassador Negroponte, appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, indicated he has heeded the advice from many quarters, including the President’s WMD Commission, to push the envelope with respect to his new authorities. Perhaps the most significant of these authorities is the DNI’s control over national intelligence funding, now known as the National Intelligence Program (NIP). Money equals power in Washington, or to paraphrase one of the witnesses who testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as we drafted the intelligence reform legislation, former DCI James Woolsey: “The Golden Rule in Washington is that he who has the gold, makes the rules.” For instance, with respect to budget development, the bill authorizes the DNI to “develop and determine” the NIP budget – which means that the DNI is the decision-maker concerning the intelligence budget and does not share this authority with any department head. Once Congress passes the national intelligence budget, the DNI must “ensure the effective execution” of the NIP appropriation across the entire intelligence community – whether the funds are for the CIA, NSA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or any element of the intelligence community. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget must apportion those funds at the “exclusive direction” of the DNI. The DNI is further authorized to “direct” the allotment and allocation of those appropriations, and department comptrollers must then carry out their responsibilities “in an expeditious manner.” In sum, the DNI controls how national intelligence funding is spent across the executive branch, regardless of the department in which any particular intelligence element resides. In order to marshal the necessary resources to address higher priority intelligence activities, the DNI has significantly enhanced authorities to transfer funds and personnel from one element of the intelligence community to another. And, in addition to these budget and transfer authorities, the legislation provides the DNI with many new and increased authorities by which to effectively manage the sprawling intelligence community and force greater integration and cooperation among intelligence agencies. The DNI has the power to develop personnel policies and programs, for example, to foster increased “jointness” across the intelligence community – like the Goldwater-Nichols Act accomplished in the military context. The DNI also has the authority to exercise greater decision-making with respect to acquisitions of major systems, such as satellites, to task intelligence collection and analysis, and to concur in the nominations or appointments of senior intelligence officials at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury, State, and Energy, the FBI, and elsewhere across the executive branch. More important than any individual authority, however, is the sum total. There is no longer any doubt as to who is in charge of, or who is accountable for, the performance of the United States intelligence community. It is the DNI. Until exercised in practice, however, these authorities are simply the words of a statute. And, unless exercised, they will atrophy. Timidity, weakness, even passivity are not an option. History will judge harshly a DNI who squanders this opportunity to spread meaningful and lasting reform across the intelligence community. And our national security depends upon it. I fully anticipate that Ambassador Negroponte will rise to the occasion. He must, and I believe he will, hit the ground running, boldly face the inevitable challenges and frustrations that lie ahead, and aggressively assert the authorities with which he has been provided. But the DNI will not be alone. With the full support of the President, the Joint Intelligence Community Council – composed of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and the Attorney General – will advise the DNI and make sure the DNI’s programs, policies, and directives are executed within their respective departments in a timely manner. And, if confirmed, the President’s nominee for Principal Deputy DNI, NSA Director Lieutenant General Michael Hayden, will be a most valuable asset in leading the reform effort. We have largely provided Ambassador Negroponte with the flexibility to establish the Office of the DNI as he sees fit in order to accomplish the goal of reform. In addition to his Principal Deputy, he may appoint as many as four other deputies with the duties, responsibilities, and authorities he deems appropriate. And, in addition to the National Counterterrorism Center, which is specifically mandated under the legislation, Ambassador Negroponte is authorized to establish national intelligence centers, apart from any individual intelligence agency, to drive community-wide all-source analysis and collection on key intelligence priorities. These national intelligence centers have significant potential to shift the center of gravity in the intelligence community from individual stove-piped agencies toward a mission-oriented integrated intelligence network. In sum, we have provided Ambassador Negroponte with the tools to get the job done. Now, with the backing of the President, he must use those authorities to transform the intelligence community as envisioned by the 9/11 Commission, expected by Congress, and needed for the security of the American people. On September 11, 2001, it became painfully evident that the threats we face as a nation had evolved, and that our national security structure needed to evolve accordingly. Ambassador Negroponte will now have the opportunity to help our intelligence community meet these new security challenges. I wish him well.