The U.S. House of Representatives
is considering legislation providing an estimated $40 billion for U.S. government
intelligence operations. Final approval of the bill was marked by strains in
normally cooperative relations between Democrats and Republicans on intelligence
The exact level of intelligence funding is classified for national security
reasons, so the $40 billion figure is an estimate of the money designated for
2005 for 14 agencies dealing with intelligence.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which holds many of
its hearings behind closed doors, is one of the few committees in that chamber
normally characterized by a high degree of bipartisan cooperation.
However, in recent days that balance broke down as Democrats complained bitterly
that Republicans blocked key amendments that would have provided higher levels
of funding and paved the way for reforms Democrats say are needed as part of
the war on terrorism.
Congresswoman Jane Harman, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee,
said the Republican-crafted legislation, which is supported the White House,
leaves critical gaps. "This bill provides less than one third of the key funding
that the intelligence community has told us they need to fight the war on terrorism,
less than one third," she said.
However, Republican Congressman Porter Goss denied allegations the legislation
short-changes the intelligence community. "The majority in the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence voted to support the men and women of the
intelligence community in this bill today," he said. We did not vote against
the community, and we did not short change the community, in the global war
Among amendments rejected at the committee level was one by Mrs. Harman proposing
reorganization of the intelligence system and a new position of Director of
Although they say the legislation does provide funding to improve human intelligence
needs, Democrats argue it will require supplemental spending requests from
the Bush administration in the new fiscal year, beginning in October.
Ike Skelton, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, expressed
disappointment at Republican tactics when the bill was voted on in the intelligence
"I am troubled by the path the intelligence authorization bill has taken
this year," said Mr. Skelton. "I can't remember the last time an intelligence
bill passed out of committee, on a party line vote or when amendments offered
in committee were all voted down on a party line. I would remind my colleagues
that we are now in a war against terrorism and I would think we should make
sure all the funding goes into the counter-terrorist area."
One Democratic amendment proposed withholding one quarter of funds for the
CIA and other programs until the Bush administration provides congressional
committees with all documents related to the handling and treatment of detainees
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Republican amendments included one expressing the sense of Congress that
the dismantling of Libya's weapons of mass destruction would not have happened
without U.S. determination in the war on terrorism, including the war to oust
Another says the apprehension, detention and interrogation of terrorists
are fundamental to the success of the war on terrorism.