Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the following speech on the House floor today in support of an amendment by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California that would enhance oversight of the intelligence community by requiring the Director of National Intelligence to comply with Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits requested by Congress.
'I thank the gentleman for yielding and his leadership on this important bill before us.
'I commend Congresswoman Eshoo for her attention to this important matter, her leadership in bringing this amendment to the floor.
'Mr. Chairman, as you all know, protecting American people is our first responsibility. Their security is what we take an oath to uphold, protect, and defend. In order to do that, we recognize the importance of intelligence gathering to preventing violence and to protecting the American people, especially in this age when we're fighting terrorism at home and abroad.
'The issue before us is if the responsibilities of Congress can be honored without the knowledge that we are entitled to. This is a very important issue. We all recognize, as the gentleman said, the importance of having information be kept secret when it's in our national security interest to do so. Not to overdo that to the extent of having Congress not have the information it needs to do its job of proper oversight to protect the American people.
'We are preventing harm. And if we're going to prevent harm, we have to have information to do so. And the members of the Intelligence Committee have a responsibility to hold that information close. This doesn't apply to every piece of information of intelligence that comes to the committee, but it does say that the GAO has a proven track record of conducting thorough and professional investigations. Their work has informed the Congress and led to significant changes that have enhanced our government's effectiveness. GAO staff are professionals who protect information held by the intelligence community. A vote for this amendment is a vote for enhancing intelligence oversight. It is a vote for Congress.
'I urge our colleagues to support the Eshoo amendment.'