Cuellar Amendment To Enhance Intelligence Sharing Passes House
Congress Passes FY13 Intelligence Authorization Act Including Cuellar Amendment To Combat Drug Trafficking
Jun 1, 2012 -
Yesterday evening, Congressman Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) amendment to H.R. 5743, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY12, passed the House of Representatives. Cuellar’s amendment seeks to leverage the force of the intelligence community to enhance border security and combat drug trafficking by expanding intelligence agencies’ information sharing with their counterparts in Mexico and Canada.
“The growing operational and financial capabilities of criminal groups that engage in transnational criminal activity and traffic in drugs, arms and people pose a clear and present threat to the lives and well-being of U.S., Canadian and Mexican citizens alike,” said Cuellar. “This amendment is a common sense extension of our intelligence capabilities.”
Cuellar’s amendment authorizes the Director of National Intelligence to participate in information sharing with Mexico and Canada for purposes of border security and combating drug trafficking. In addition, the amendment would give U.S. intelligence agencies the ability to use information shared by Mexican and Canadian governments in order to maximize the capabilities of all North American intelligence agencies.
“Drug violence is a serious concern not only for the United States, but also for our neighbors in Canada and Mexico,” said Cuellar. “In order to maintain the safety of our citizens and the security of our region, we must be sure to use every bit of intelligence any of us gather to the fullest extent. Rather than each duplicating the other’s efforts, it is much smarter for us to work together.”
The amendment includes provisions to ensure that no new information-sharing authorized by this amendment will compromise our national security in any way. The information-sharing is entirely optional, and the decision-making about which information will be shared is reserved for officials already entrusted with protecting our national intelligence. Cuellar’s amendment simply gives intelligence agencies the power to share information if and when the Director of National Intelligence determines such information sharing would be beneficial to efforts to stop transnational crimes.
Cuellar’s amendment was included as part of H.R. 5743, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY12. This bill authorizes 16 United States intelligence agencies and sets forth policy for intelligence related activities of the U.S. Government. The bill also includes policy changes for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Agency (NSA). H.R. 5743 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 386-28.
The amendment was supported by both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the floor debate of H.R. 5743. The amendment passed unanimously on a voice vote.
Cuellar is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, which has direct jurisdiction over border security. The bill will now be reported to the Senate, where it is pending legislative action.
A video clip of Cuellar’s remarks during the floor debate is available here.