And now, some perspective

Published March 9, 2004 8:12PM (EST)

President Bush is attacking John Kerry for supposedly trying to "gut" U.S. intelligence services in the mid-90s. Here to refute him is former general counsel of both the CIA and Senate Armed Services Committee, Jeffrey Smith. (The following is a statement released by Smith.)

"I am particularly upset by the Bush Campaign efforts to paint Senator Kerry as being out of the mainstream in the mid-90s with respect to efforts to ensure responsible spending by and for the intelligence community. If he was out of the mainstream, so were most other Senators -- including many Republican Senators.

"In 1996, I was General Counsel of the CIA and was asked by then DCI John Deutch to co-chair an inquiry into the practice of the National Reconnaissance Office under which the NRO accumulated vast sums of money that were largely outside of any control by the Congress, the DCI or the Secretary of Defense. Our inquiry revealed that the NRO had for years accumulated very substantial amounts as a 'rainy day fund.' For a variety of reasons, very few people, including the Secretary of Defense, the DCI and key members of the Congressional oversight committees, knew about that practice. As a result there was inadequate management by the DCI and the Secretary of Defense and virtually no oversight by the Congress.

"When that practice and other concerns, such as the cost of the new NRO headquarters in Virginia, came to light many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were outraged. The bill he sponsored in 1995, S. 1290, which is now being criticized by the Bush Campaign, is essentially similar to other measures sponsored by many other Senators in the mid-90s, including Republican Senators, that were attempts to ensure that money appropriated to the Intelligence Community was wisely spent and to re-assert adequate Congressional oversight of the intelligence budget."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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