Rockefeller Flip Flops on Intelligence Gathering
This is what Senator Jay Rockefeller said in a July 26, 2004, press release:
“Our top priority is to ensure the best intelligence capability possible and we must be guided by certain principals. We need to centralize control and accountability for the intelligence community, but we also need to create structures to protect intelligence from political influence. As we work on proposals to improve the organization of the executive branch, we must also recognize the shortcomings of congressional oversight committees including the need to eliminate term limits which forces the most experienced members off the committee.
“Finally, we must also remember that there are no easy solutions or silver bullets. Intelligence reform is enormously complicated. Changing organizations to solve one problem can create weaknesses elsewhere. The intelligence community serves many functions from fighting terrorism and proliferation of weapons, to supporting troops on the ground in combat, to understanding the plans and intentions of nations hostile to our interests. Whatever changes we make must recognize and support all of these missions.”
But the next month on August 27, 2004, Vice Chairman Rockefeller flip-flopped on his positions on national security:
“This administration has a history of misusing intelligence for political purposes and I’m gravely concerned that it’s only going to get worse.” September 4, 2004
“These next four years will be extremely important for West Virginia and our country. We cannot allow another four years of politics that divide the country. November 3, 2004
The legislation also includes a change to a definition used in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This new section would allow investigators to obtain orders for wire taps, physical searches, records, etc. under FISA even if the only purpose for obtaining the information was to pursue a criminal prosecution. Currently, a “significant purpose” for the warrant must be for the collection of foreign intelligence. Senator Rockefeller opposes this change and will continue to work to eliminate it: “Section 203 fundamentally changes the nature of the FISA, and I think runs the risk of damaging the entire process. We have well-established, constitutionally-sound procedures for securing warrants related to criminal activities. The goal of this section is make sure that we use all means available to protect America and that is laudable, but I worry that this section will have ramifications that its proponents do not foresee and could endanger the entire structure of FISA surveillance.”- June 7, 2005
After the relase this month of Senator Rockefellers memo from 2003, Senator Roberts chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke on Senator Rockefeller’s response to the security leaks:
“A United States senator has significant tools with which to wield power and influence over the executive branch,” the Kansas Republican said in a statement Tuesday. “Feigning helplessness is not one of those tools.”
“If Senator Rockefeller truly had the concerns he claimed to have had in his two-and-a-half-year-old letter, he could have pursued a number of options to have those concerns addressed,” he continued.
Roberts also said that Rockefeller had repeatedly expressed “vocal” support for the program, most recently just two weeks ago.