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Statement on Signing the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997

October 11, 1996

Today I am signing into law H.R. 3259, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997." The Act authorizes appropriations for the intelligence and intelligence related activities of the United States during fiscal year 1997.

This legislation is the result of the hard work of many people in the Administration and in the Congress who are dedicated to both a strong national intelligence capability and effective congressional oversight. Through their efforts, the Intelligence Community will be able to continue critical intelligence activities furthering U.S. national security interests.

I am pleased that this legislation largely reflects my Budget request. I commend the conferees for funding the Environmental Intelligence and Applications Program and the automatic declassification reviews under section 3.4 of Executive Order 12958. This legislation will also enhance Intelligence Community support for U.S. law enforcement agencies by clarifying existing authorities that permit elements of the Intelligence Community to collect information on non-U.S. persons abroad at the request of U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Although I am signing this Act, I have concerns about the provisions in it that purport to direct the creation of two new National Security Council (NSC) committees—a Committee on Foreign Intelligence and a Committee on Transnational Threats. Such efforts to dictate the President's policy process unduly intrude upon Executive prerogatives and responsibilities. I would note that under my Executive authority, I have already asked the NSC to examine these issues.

Moreover, I have already signed into law provisions to establish a Committee on Nonproliferation and will appoint a National Coordinator for Nonproliferation Matters, one of whose duties will be to make recommendations to me concerning the structure and organization of the Federal Government in this area.

Additionally, the provision requiring the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to concur or be consulted before the appointment of certain intelligence officials is constitutionally questionable in two areas: regarding limitations on the President's ability to receive the advice of cabinet officers; and regarding circumscription of the President's appointment authority. The Administration has supported the concept of obtaining the DCI's concurrence or consultation prior to the appointment of certain other intelligence officials as specified in both H.R. 3259 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201). However, I will do so through an Executive order to avoid such constitutional concerns.

Finally, the DCI has communicated to me his strong opposition to provisions in the Act that would establish three new Assistant Directors of Central Intelligence, each requiring Senate confirmation. I share his concerns that these provisions will add another layer of positions requiring Senate confirmation without a substantial corresponding gain in the DCI's authority or ability to manage the Intelligence Community. I understand that the DCI intends to seek repeal or significant modification of these provisions in the 105th Congress. I will support such efforts.


The White House, October 11, 1996.

NOTE: H.R. 3259, approved October 11, was assigned Public Law No. 104-293.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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