WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Susan Collins, who authored the intelligence reform law that created the Director of National Intelligence, today addressed the US Senate in support of the President’s nominee for the position, Ambassador John Negroponte. Negroponte was later confirmed by the full Senate in a vote of 98-2.
Following is the text of Senator Collins’ speech to the Senate:
Mr. President, last July, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was assigned the task of developing legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The Committee that I chair devoted more than five months to this issue that is so crucial to the safety and well-being of our nation and its people. We successfully accomplished that task with the enactment of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 in December.
During our inquiry into how to fix the flaws in our nation’s intelligence capability that permitted so many dots to go unconnected for so long, one remedy emerged as being among the highest priorities. Our Intelligence Community – 15 disparate agencies and entities, each with its own area of expertise and experience — needed one leader. The role of this leader was often described as that of a CEO in business, a person with ultimate authority over the operation – and with ultimate accountability for the results. An even more succinct description was offered by former Secretary of State Powell at one of our Committee’s many hearings: The Intelligence Community needs an empowered quarterback.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 creates the Director of National Intelligence as that empowered quarterback, with significant authority to manage the Intelligence Community and to transform it into, to use President Bush’s term, a unified enterprise.
Mr. President, I believe that John Negroponte is the right person to be that CEO, that empowered quarterback. Ambassador Negroponte is an accomplished diplomat, which is a vital credential in the international war against terrorism. Having served recently as our Ambassador in Iraq, he has first-hand, up-to-date insight as an intelligence consumer into the need for better intelligence.
Throughout his distinguished and varied career in service to our country, he has demonstrated strong and decisive leadership skills. These skills will be invaluable in exercising the Director of National Intelligence’s authorities and in carrying out the Intelligence Community transformation called for in our legislation. His extensive experience in national security and foreign relations is a solid foundation for the weighty responsibilities that he will have in this critical position.
As the first Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Negroponte will not only serve a critical role immediately. He will also establish the relationships for future DNIs. He will be the first intelligence CEO to set the entire Community’s budget, to establish Community-wide intelligence gathering and analytic priorities, and to employ financial, technological, and human resources where and when they are most needed. Or, as Secretary Powell might put it, he will be calling the plays. This is an unprecedented challenge, and I am convinced that John Negroponte will meet this challenge in an exemplary manner.
Ambassador Negroponte will provide our Intelligence Community with accomplished, experienced, and dedicated leadership. I wholeheartedly urge my colleagues to approve this nomination.