A shadowy government with its own air force, its own navy | C-SPAN VIDEO

Lee H. Hamilton, D-IN

Thank you very much, Chairman Inouye. Weare now at the end of one phase of this inquiry, but the work of theSelect Committees will continue. We will take additionaldepositions, we will hold closed hearings, further public hearingsare possible if new evidence warrants them, and the Committees, ofcourse, must also write the report.Nonetheless, this is an appropriate time to pause and assesswhere we stand. What we have heard, as many have suggested, has beendepressing. But for me, at least, the process has been refreshing,and it’s been refreshing in two respects. First, I view thesehearings and other investigations of these events, as an essentialpart of the self-cleansing process of our system of government.

VIDEO: A shadowy government with its own air force, its own navy, its own fund-raising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest | C-SPAN.org

Because of them, we know better what happened and what mistakes weremade. We can see more clearly what needs to be done to make oursystem work better. And as a result of these inquiries, the processof restoring our institutions is already well advanced.Second, I believe these hearings have contributed not only tothe public’s understanding of these events, but also the public’seducation on our Constitution and system of government. And this,too, strengthens the government.The Committees have heard about 240 hours of testimony over thelast 11 weeks from over 30 witnesses. They’ve examined well over200,000 documents. Several themes emerge. There was too littleaccountability for decisions and actions taken in the name of electedofficials. There was too much secrecy and deception in government.Information was withheld from the Congress, other officials, friends and allies,and from the American people. Information provided was misleadingand evasive. Critical decisions were taken by a handful of people.The Congress and responsible officials, even the President, were cutout of the process. There was too little regard for the rule oflaw; false statements to the Congress are violations of law, as theAttorney General reminded us.Key decisions were made and carriedout without written legal analysis and without written notice to theCongress, as the law requires. There was too much reliance onprivate citizens, foreign nationals, and foreign governments toexecute American policy, which contributed to policy failure. Therewas too much use of covert actions, which contradicted publicpolicies and too little accountability for covert actions. Therewas too much confusion at the highest levels of government. In thewords of the Attorney General, quote, “There appeared to beconsiderable confusion as to what occurred when.” End of quote. ThePresident did not know what his own staff was doing, and staff didnot keep senior officials informed. Policies were oftencontradictory.These hearings have been about how the United States governsitself and particularly how it runs its foreign policy. For thisinquiry, the key question now is how we make our system ofgovernment work better. The conduct of foreign policy in ademocracy is difficult because the Constitution gives importantpowers to the President and the Congress. The scholar EdwinCorin(?) said the Constitution is an invitation to struggle for theprivilege of directing American foreign policy. The Congress is acheck on the Executive, but also a partner. The Congress issometimes a critic, yet its support is essential if policies are tosucceed. Congress sometimes has divisive foreign policy debates,but when debate ends, the country needs decisiveness and unity.Some believe that the a decision-making process that calls forshared powers and public debate just will not work in a dangerousworld. They argue that sometimes bypassing normal checks andbalances through procedural shortcuts and secrecy are necessary toprotect our freedoms. They argue that the President and those whowork for him must be given near-total power. Their views have beenstated here with great force and eloquence. But these hearings makeanother point, shortcuts in the democratic process and excessivesecrecy in the conduct of government are a sure road to policyfailure. These hearings show us that policies formed underdemocratic scrutiny are better and wiser than policies formedwithout it. Policies formed by shortcuts and excessive secrecyundermine a President’s ability to make informed decisions, lead toconfusion in his administration, and deny him the opportunity togain and sustain congressional and public support for his policies.Shortcuts that bypass the checks and balances of the system andexcessive secrecy by those who serve the President do not strengthenhim; they weaken him and our constitutional system. Properlyconceived, the Constitution is not a burden in the making of policy,but a source of strength because it specifies a process for makingpolicy through informed consent.In its joint report, the committee should focus on severalareas. First, accountability. Greater accountability to electedofficials and ultimately to the American people will requirerigorous oversight by the Congress, more openness and less secrecy,more consultation, a more thorough review of legal review, betterrecord-keeping, use of appropriated funds rather than private orthird-country donations to carry out policy, supervision andacceptance of responsibility up the chain of command, anddecision-making by elected officials rather than staff. Second,intelligence analysis should be separated from policy formulation.Substantial testimony before these committee showed great confusionbetween intelligence and policy functions. Questionableintelligence was used to bolster poor decisions. Good intelligenceis essential to good foreign policy, but intelligence should drivepolicy, not vice versa. Too often, intelligence is seen as a toolto make policy look good rather than a tool for making good policy.Covert actions, which are not really intelligence operations,can be an important instrument of foreign policy. These hearingsshow that we must reassess how we conduct them.To be effective, covert actions must be based on statutory authority,including a written finding and notice to the Congress. They mustmeet a standard of accountability, including legal review by theAttorney General, and policy review by the Secretaries of State andDefense. They must be determined by an Intelligence assessment basedon facts, not on preconceived notions of policy making. They must beused to supplement policy, not to become the policy itself. And theymust meet a standard of acceptability. That standard includesconsistency with public policies, and a reasonable assurance that theAmerican people would support a covert action, if they knew about it.Third, the President and the Congress need to exhibit agreater sensitivity to their respective roles. The President is thepreeminent foreign policymaker. Only he can make the harddecisions. The buck does not stop anywhere else. The President’sdecisions must be clean and crisp. Otherwise, as we have seen inthese hearings, confusion follows and those who work for him cannotcarry out his policies successfully. The President must understandthat our system works better if he engages in consultation before,not after policy has been formulated.The Congress also needs to get its house in order. It muststrengthen its ability to protect secrets. It must show awillingness to engage in consultation, avoid interference inday-to-day policy implementation, and take its share ofresponsibility for shared decisions on tough issues. The Congressmust strike a balance between responsible criticism, and necessarycooperation with the President.Fourth, the Constitution and the rule of law work if we makethem work. They are not self-executing. We must strengthen ourallegiance to the concept that this is a nation of laws and of checksand balances.The solution to the problems of decision making revealed inthese hearings lies less in new structures or new laws then inproper attitudes. Secretary Shultz reminded us that trust is thecoin of the realm. He insisted on honesty in public life. Withouttrust in those who hold office, democratic government is notpossible. Sometimes that trust is misplaced, and the system falters.But to reject the system because it occasionally falters, and to relyinstead on short-cuts and excessive secrecy, as was done in theevents that these Committees have examined, is a prescription fordisaster. A deep respect for the shared powers of the Congress and

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