Meeting of Vice Chair Hamilton with SSCI Vice Chair Jay Rockefeller October 16,2003

Vice Chair Hamilton opened by asking Senator Rockefeller: What should the Commission recommend? He asked in particular about the question of a Director for National Intelligence (DNI), and how domestic intelligence should be organized. Senator Rockefeller started on the DNI question. He said he supported a stronger leadership-position at the top of the Intelligence Community and supported institutional streamlining, but he pulled back from strong advocacy of a DNI because of the paramount importance of competitive analysis. He is troubled by the implications of centralization for competitive analysis and dissent, such as the critically important INR and Department of Energy dissents on Iraq, on uranium from Niger and the use of aluminum tubes in centrifuges. He said that half of him believes that a strong DNI should be a member of the Cabinet, but the other half worried about the seepage of policy views harming the objectivity of analysis. Sen. Rockefeller also expressed some dismay about the work of the intelligence committees, that they are swamped in backward-looking investigations and are spending almost no time on future questions or the organization of the Intelligence Community. Vice Chair Hamilton asked about the role of the Secretary of Defense. Sen. Rockefeller stated that in his view the Department of Defense would never give up its intelligence budgets. Staff Director Mellon noted that a prominent Member of the Defense Policy Board [Dr. William Schneider] said that the Defense Secretary would not oppose reprogramming authority by the DCI within the year of budget execution. In other words, the DCI would have the ability to move around funds to match emerging high priority needs in the current budget year in a way that is not possible now. Rockefeller returned to the topic of the Intelligence Committees. He reiterated the problem of intelligence and policy merging into one, and that the Committees are not conducting hearings in any meaningful sense, much less oversight hearings. Rockefeller strongly advocated longer terms for Committee Members -- permanent membership if possible, but at any rate 15 year terms. Both Rockefeller and Hamilton argued that only through long experience on the Intelligence Committee can Members develop the knowledge and confidence to retain an independent and informed viewed. Outside critics worry about Members serving too long, but the opposite is true: short-term members lacking deep knowledge of the Intelligence Community are most likely to fall , short in providing the meaningful, informed criticism that good oversight requires. Hamilton observed that membership on the Intelligence Committee in the House was originally intended for senior Members, close to the leadership, who were inside players and did not run to the press. For Gephardt and Pelosi now, the Intelligence Committee is

one of the most sought-after Committees, and the membership is junior, with even a freshman appointed to the Committee. Hamilton and Rockefeller concurred in their opposition to a single Intelligence Committee. Rockefeller thought that Senators should have fewer Committee assignments so that they could concentrate more attention on those assignments. He raised the idea of a rotating chairmanship within context of Members holding longer terms on the SSCI. Discussion turned to the topic of a possible MI-S. Rockefeller said that a MI-S and MI-6 work well for the UK, but that they are not right for the US. Rockefeller said he really likes Bob Mueller. He is a good guy; he gives the right answers, and gives a great presentation. But Rockefeller has his doubts whether the FBI can carry out reform. Eleven thousand agents have been trained in law enforcement, and they will be around longer than Mueller will be around. Rockefeller doubts seriously whether anyone can carry out the task of domestic intelligence, and referred to the disaster of the Department of Homeland Security and its inability to stand up any kind of intelligence function. The question came back to what should be done. Staff Director Mellon floated the idea of a new organization under the rubric of the FBI. Rockefeller was not impressed with any of the several suggestions for new organizations. For now, he supported giving Mueller the chance to prove that he can make reform work or not make 'it work. Hamilton closed by noting that he would want to come back to Rockefeller next spring and get comments on the Commission's possible recommendations. In response to a question, Rockefeller also thought it important for Hamilton to visit Senators Levin, Feinstein and Warner.


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