June 18, 1997
The Administration, after consultation with the Department of Justice, has
determined that section 306 of S. 858 is unconstitutional. If the bill
presented to the President retains section 306 in its present form, his senior
advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
Section 306 would require the President to inform Federal employees and contractors that disclosure to Congress of specified categories of information, including classified information, "is not prohibited by law, executive order, or regulation or otherwise contrary to public policy." This provision is clearly contrary to the Supreme Court's explicit recognition of the President's constitutional authority to protect national security and other privileged information. Congress may not vest lower-ranking personnel in the Executive Branch with a "right" to furnish national security or other privileged information to a member of Congress without receiving official authorization to do so. By seeking to divest the President of his authority over the disclosure of such information, section 306 would unconstitutionally infringe upon the President's constitutional authority. We believe that existing congressional oversight mechanisms, as well as inspector general statutes, have proven effective in bringing instances of illegality, fraud, waste, and abuse to the attention of Executive branch managers and congressional committees.
In addition to the constitutional concerns, S. 858 raises serious budgetary concerns. The Administration does not agree with the elimination of core intelligence capabilities that are critical to satisfying high-priority national and military intelligence needs. The Administration will work with Congress to reach an accommodation that best serves our national interests and maintains the core capabilities included in our budget request. In addition, the Administration opposes the elimination and reduction of funding for certain highly sensitive programs in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Administration also believes that the funding arrangements proposed in the President's budget for the National Drug Intelligence Center and for family housing are appropriate.
The Administration believes that the Working Capital Fund proposed by the Central Intelligence Agency would promote efficient and effective allocation of administrative services. Although the Committee did not include the Working Capital Fund in S. 858, the Administration believes it can satisfy the congressional concerns about this program prior to the conference on this bill. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to ensure enactment of this important authority.
The Administration strongly supports legislation proposed by the CIA to extend the jurisdiction of the CIA Security Protective Service and is disappointed that S. 858 does not include that proposal. The Administration believes that provision is necessary to enable the CIA to better protect its personnel and facilities against the threat of terrorism. The Administration is ready to work with the Committee prior to conference to satisfy any concerns it has regarding this important authority.
Also problematic is section 307 which calls for the release of information related to the kidnapping or murder of United States citizens abroad. While perhaps not objectionable in concept, this provision raises questions concerning the responsibilities of agency heads to protect classified information originated by their agencies. In addition, we strongly suggest the addition of language to this provision to clarify that the provision is not intended to require disclosures that could compromise ongoing investigations and prosecutions.