[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 128 (Wednesday, October 5, 2005)]
[Page S11060]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, my staff received a telephone call this 
morning, less than an hour ago, indicating Ambassador Negroponte would 
not be coming today because the leader or his people indicated he 
shouldn't come.
  We have these very important elections taking place in Iraq on 
October 15. This is an opportunity for Members to visit with Ambassador 
Negroponte, who is, if not the expert on what is going on in Iraq, 
certainly one of the two or three top people in the world to tell 
Members what is going on there. This briefing is open to all Senators, 
Democrats and Republicans. There certainly is no reason we should not 
be able to do that. It is an important oversight responsibility we 
  I hope the distinguished Republican leader has not been part of 
telling Negroponte and his people not to come up here for that briefing 
at 3 to 4 o'clock. I had a meeting this morning at 9 o'clock. I invited 
all Senators to come who were with me. We are going to have good 
attendance at that meeting. This is not a meeting in any way to do with 
anything other than find out what is going on. We have a responsibility 
to find out what is going on. I would like to have the Ambassador come 
often. I don't know why we can't go ahead with this briefing.
  Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, with regard to a briefing which was 
initiated on a partisan basis by the other side of the aisle in spite 
of their knowledge that we do have an all-Senate briefing that is 
bipartisan in the tradition--we have had over 20 different briefings, 
including one very useful one last week, one the week prior to that. On 
a partisan basis, an all-Senate briefing was scheduled; a counteroffer 
was made. We already have a meeting scheduled with the Ambassador here 
in 2 to 3 weeks.
  I will continue to work with the Democratic leader coming back and 
forth. These all-Senator briefings we have, which are on a classified 
basis, have proven to be a very useful vehicle for all Senators to 
participate, to be able to ask questions of various representatives, 
and is a very good model.
  I will continue to work with the Democratic leader. As he knows, 
Ambassador Negroponte is coming in about 2\1/2\ or 3 weeks--I don't 
know exactly what that date is for that particular all-Senate briefing 
initiated on a bipartisan basis and not on a partisan basis, which this 
last meeting was.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I know the distinguished Republican leader 
has a statement to make, but just on this subject, on a more personal 
basis, the Republican leader and I had a number of meetings the last 
several weeks, certainly the last few days, and this issue has never 
been raised.
  I don't see how we can have too many briefings on what is going on in 
Iraq. Negroponte has simply not been here. I have the greatest respect 
for him, but in a briefing--in 2 or 3 weeks, the elections will have 
been over in Iraq. That is one of the reasons people are losing faith 
in what is going on in Iraq--because we do not have the information to 
convey to the people. The administration says just stay the course. We 
want information.
  Negroponte, if he is told by the Republican leader not to come, he is 
not going to come. It is too bad. It is a perfect day for this. The 
Jewish holiday is still on. Most Members would have the opportunity to 
come here. Senator Lieberman and a couple of others would not be able 
to, but we already have on my side about 20 Senators willing and 
wanting to come.
  I am disappointed this will now have to become a political issue. It 
shouldn't. I like Negroponte. He is good. He is good for the country. I 
told the President personally that this was a great choice he made to 
lead this new intelligence agency.
  There is no need to belabor the point other than to say I am terribly 
disappointed that my Senators--and anyone else on the other side of the 
aisle--want to come and listen to a presentation prior to the elections 
and now are going to be unable to have this briefing. That is too bad.
  Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I am a bit offended when the Democratic 
leader knows last week we had defense, we had Generals Myers, Abizaid, 
and Casey brief Members extensively in a bipartisan way in a tradition 
we have set up that is working very well. We have the Secretary of 
State, which he knows, coming on October 19 to have a very similar 
briefing, addressing issues in Iraq, in Afghanistan. And Negroponte is 
coming, as I said, the following week.

  So we will work together. I do want to make it clear their invitation 
was initiated in a partisan way, with a letter I was not a part of, not 
asked to be a part of, in the letter itself, the initial letter. I 
think we need to continue to work together to continue these briefings, 
which are very important, as we go forward.