Dave Obey
DECEMBER 7, 2004
5:07 PM
CONTACT: Dave Obey
Dave Helfert, 202-225-3481/ 4223
Obey statement on 9-11 Commission-Intel Reform bill
Congressman David R. Obey, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the pending 9/11 Bill

WASHINGTON -- December 7 -- "Yesterday, the House voted to repeal a controversial provision in the Omnibus appropriations bill that no Member knew was in the bill when it was filed. Yet today, having learned little, the House will rush to vote on an intelligence bill about which most Members know little.

"I would like to be able to vote for this bill because it will probably improve the sharing of intelligence, and there are a number of other good provisions. But Mr. Speaker, we need to recognize that there have been two intelligence failures in the last five years. First was the failure to prevent the 9/11 attack. Second was the use of faulty intelligence to suck us into a dumb war in Iraq. The new layer of bureaucracy created by this bill may or may not help on the first front, but it is likely to make it harder to correct the second. That is why I am going to vote against the bill.

"One of the bill's most glaring shortcomings is that it does not guarantee that dissenting or alternative views will ever be clearly stated to the President. That was a major problem in the decision to go to war in Iraq. To correct that problem, Senator Roberts included a provision in the Senate bill establishing an office and a process to provide these alternative points of view at every stage. That provision is hugely watered down in this bill. The bill simply leaves it up to the National Intelligence Director to decide how differing points of view are factored into decisions. That is a weak substitute.

"Second, in merging domestic and foreign surveillance operations, the bill does not sufficiently protect ordinary Americans from the mistakes of Big Government. The bill does contain a Presidential board to look at government-wide privacy issues, but that will do little to protect innocent Americans or to address specific grievances that may arise. That will come back to haunt us just as certain aspects of the PATRIOT Act have.

"Finally, the bill purports to increase the number of border and customs agents, but that language is meaningless without the dollars to back it up. This House has rejected providing those dollars four times in the past year and this bill does nothing to change that. On that score, it is simply an empty institutional press release.

"When this bill is corrected on those three fronts, I will be happy to vote for it, but not until."