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Congressman John Larson

Representing the 1st District of Connecticut

LARSON CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

September 25, 2006
Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2006

LARSON CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Concerned over report finding that Iraq war has increased danger of terrorism

WASHINGTON ? U.S. Representative John B. Larson (CT-1) today joined other House Democratic leaders in calling for Congressional oversight hearings on a reported April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate. Recent media reports claim that it concluded that the Iraq war has increased the danger of terrorism against the United States. 

?If the National Intelligence Estimate did come to this conclusion, it proves that staying the course in Iraq is not a strategy for success,? stated Larson. ?The American people deserve to know the truth about our nation?s intelligence findings, not soundbites from the Administration, so they can decide for themselves about the war in Iraq. Once they have the whole picture, I think they will agree that we need a new direction in Iraq and a new direction for America.?

The text of the letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert requesting Congressional oversight hearings:

September 25, 2006

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

This weekend, the news media reported that American intelligence agencies completed a National Intelligence Estimate finding that the Iraq war has increased the danger of terrorism against the United States , spawning a new generation of Islamic radicalism.[1]  According to the New York Times, which first reported on the intelligence estimate, the classified assessment represents ?a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government? and was approved by John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.[2]  ?Rather than being in retreat,? the intelligence agencies conclude, Islamic radicalism ?has metastasized and spread across the globe.?[3]

This reported National Intelligence Estimate is an alarm bell warning that our national security is seriously off course. 

The National Intelligence Estimate, as described in the press accounts, undermines numerous statements by the President and Republican congressional leaders that the invasion and occupation of Iraq have made America safer.  The reality according to the intelligence agencies appears to be just the opposite.  The intelligence agencies report that ?rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position.?[4]  They find that ?war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries.?[5]

The reports of the findings in the National Intelligence Estimate would seem to have extraordinary implications that deserve immediate and thorough examination by Congress.  We have been at war in Iraq since 2003, and thousands of Americans have lost their lives and limbs in the conflict.  Yet it now appears that all 16 of the President?s own intelligence agencies are raising questions about whether the Administration?s actions are enhancing national security or imperiling it.

Congress failed to conduct effective oversight before the war, and we are failing again now.  Our role as a co-equal branch of government is to provide aggressive and independent oversight.  We therefore call on you to direct the committees of jurisdiction to hold immediate oversight hearings this week and next on the new National Intelligence Estimate and its ramifications for U.S. policy. 

When members leave this week to return home for October, we are leaving behind crucial unfinished business.  We will not have completed adopting critical recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, passing the intelligence authorization bill, or implementing full port security screening measures.  The defense authorization bill, which will provide critical funding and benefits for our troops, is stalled reportedly because you are seeking to attach unrelated and divisive provisions to it.  The new National Intelligence Estimate has a direct bearing on these issues.  It tells us that ?staying the course,? as the Administration proposes, is making our nation more dangerous. 

We should heed this warning and hold hearings now so that the members are in a position to enact more effective policies when Congress returns for the lame-duck session after the elections. 

We hope you will consider this proposal, and we look forward to working together with you.

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi                                                                Steny Hoyer
House Democratic Leader                                             House Democratic Whip

James E. Clyburn                                                           John B. Larson
House Democratic Caucus Chair                                  House Democratic Caucus
                                                                                    Vice-Chair

Henry A. Waxman                                                        David Obey
Ranking Member                                                          Ranking Member
Committee on Government Reform                               Committee on Appropriations

Jane Harman                                                                Tom Lantos
Ranking Member                                                          Ranking Member
Select Intelligence Committee                                        International Relations Committee

Ike Skelton                                                                   John P. Murtha
Ranking Member                                                          Ranking Member
Armed Services Committee                                          Defense Appropriations                                                                                     Subcommittee

Bennie G. Thompson
Ranking Member
Homeland Security Committee

 

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[1] Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat, New York Times ( Sept. 23, 2006 ).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight, Washington Post ( Sept. 24, 2006 ).

[5] Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Fuels Terror, Los Angeles Times (Sept. 24, 2006).

 


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