CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 2701 will be considered further under a new rule on February 26, 2010. The new rule simply strikes a controversial provision from the Manager's amendment. The provision that would be struck adds new criminal penalties (up to 15 years in jail) for members of the intelligence community for new and ambiguous definitions of whether they are using "cruel, inhumane, or degrading" treatment against detainees. The section specifically lists sex acts, electric shocks, water boarding, sleep deprivation, mock executions, the threat of force on a detainee, coercion by threatening religious materials, and exposure to the elements as "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment."
The underlying legislation was introduced by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) on June 4, 2009. The bill was reported by voice vote by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on June 26, 2009. The House completed general debate and amendment debate for H.R. 2701 on February 25, 2010. The remaining amendments which will be voted on today are listed below.
H.R. 2701 authorizes the intelligence activities of the United States government for Fiscal Year 2010. These activities are intended to enhance national security, support and assist the Armed Forces, and facilitate U.S. foreign policy. The bill includes a classified schedule of authorizations which is incorporated into the legislation. Republican Committee Members have "significant reservations with the bill in its current form that force us to oppose it," according to the Minority Views accompanying H.R. 2701. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing certain unclassified provisions of H.R. 2701 would cost $669 million over five years, subject to appropriations.
1.) Rep. Reyes (D-TX) Manager's Amendment: The amendment would alter the funding and personnel totals for the Intelligence Community Management Account, revise language in Section 321 to reform the process for reporting on covert action, and add a termination date for a new reporting requirement on foreign language proficiency in the Intelligence Community.
The Manager's amendment would also make technical changes to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit provisions of Section 335, including language that allows any committee of jurisdiction to request a GAO report concerning an intelligence matter. The amendment would add a subsection to the GAO audit provisions meant to ensure proper handling of classified material. Members may be concerned that GAO would not be subjected to the same rules relating to protection of intelligence sources and methods and release and dissemination of materials, and provisions of the amendment could be interpreted to expand jurisdiction of other committees to order review of intelligence community activities contrary to the provisions of House rules.
The amendment would direct the DNI to create a program for funding Historically Black Colleges and Universities and providing grants for courses which meet intelligence community needs. The amendment would also direct the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to analyze the over-classification of intelligence.
The amendment would also direct the FBI Director to consult with the Secretary of State in its review of extraterritorial jurisdiction of U.S. law. The amendment would modify a requirement for CIA Inspector General investigations into covert actions and removes a requirement for a Senate confirmation for the NSA General Counsel. The amendment also removes a statutory NSA Inspector General and finally makes additional technical changes to the underlying bill and requires several additional reports.
2.) Rep. Hastings (D-FL): Would require the Director of National Intelligence to submit to Congress a report on the plans of each element of the community to increase diversity within that element.
3.) Rep. Schauer (D-MI): Would require the Director of National Intelligence to investigate and report to Congress regarding the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack on Northwest flight 253 and measures the intelligence community has taken or will take to prevent any intelligence failures within or between elements of the intelligence community.