February 13, 2008

Wyden: "Congress is finally back to doing its job"

FY'08 Intelligence bill would restore Congressional oversight of intelligence activities

Washington, D.C. - Following today's filing of the House-Senate conference report on the FY'08 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2082), U.S Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released the following statement. Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was one of the members negotiating on behalf of the Senate. H.R. 2082 is the annual bill authorizing spending for each of the nation's sixteen national intelligence agencies.

"This legislation restores Congressional oversight at a time when it is needed most. Much of the vital work of our national intelligence agencies is necessarily conducted in secret; therefore, it is up to Congress to ensure that these agencies have the tools they need to function effectively and are acting in accordance with American laws and American values.

"After two years of failing to pass this critical annual legislation, Congress is finally back to doing its job. This legislation is Congress's primary vehicle for exercising oversight of the nation's intelligence activities. In addition to authorizing the annual Intelligence budget this bill makes a number of important changes to national security law, such as clarifying the role of the Director of National Intelligence and ensuring wise financial management.

"The House and Senate Intelligence Communities also wisely agreed to put an end to the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," by making it clear that CIA interrogators must play by the same rules as the U.S. military. I have long had serious doubts about the legality and effectiveness of these interrogation methods. The DNI has said himself that he would not want a captured American to undergo them.

"I am also pleased that the conference agreement includes a provision I wrote that would increase the maximum prison sentence for any individual with access to classified information who knowingly exposes an undercover agent. This provision is intended to send a strong message to the men and women of our intelligence community that Congress takes any threat to their identities seriously."