Mr. HAMILTON. The committees have heard about 240 hours of testimony over the last 11 weeks from over thirty witnesses. They have examined well over 200,000 documents. Several themes emerged.
There was too little accountability for decisions and actions taken in the name of elected officials. There was too much secrecy and deception in government. Information was withheld from the Congress, other officials, friends and allies, and from the American people. Information provided was misleading and evasive. Critical decisions were taken by a handful of people. The Congress and responsible officials, even the President, were cut out of the process. There was too little regard for the rule of law. False statements to the Congress are violations of law, as the Attorney General reminded us. Key decisions were made and carried out without written legal analysis, and without written notice to Congress as the law requires.

There was too much reliance on private citizens, foreign nationals, and foreign governments to execute American policy, which contributed to policy failure.

There was too much use of covert actions which contradicted public policies, and too little accountability for covert actions. There was too much confusion at the highest levels of government. In the words of the Attorney General, "There appeared to be considerable confusion as to what occurred when." The President did not know what his own staff was doing; stall did not keep senior officials informed; policies were often contradictory.

These hearings have been about how the United States governs itself, and particularly how it runs its foreign policy. For this inquiry, the key question now is how we make our system of government work better. The conduct of foreign policy in a democracy is difficult, because the Constitution gives important powers to the President and the Congress. The scholar Edwin Corwin said the Constitution "is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy." The Congress is a check on the executive, but also a partner. The Congress is sometimes a critic, yet its support is essential if policies are to succeed. The Congress sometimes has divisive foreign policy debates, but when debate ends, the country needs decisiveness and unity.

Some believe that a decisionmaking process that calls for shared powers and public debate just will not work in a dangerous world. They argue that sometimes bypassing normal checks and balances, through procedural shortcuts and secrecy, are necessary to protect our freedoms. They argue that the President, and those who work for him, must be given near total power. Their views have been stated here with great force and eloquence.

But these hearings make another point: shortcuts in the democratic process and excessive secrecy in the conduct of government are a sure road to policy failure. These hearings show us that policies formed under democratic scrutiny are better and wiser than policies formed without it.

Policies formed by shortcuts and excessive secrecy undermine a President's ability to make informed decisions, lead to confusion in his administration, and deny him the opportunity to gain and sustain congressional and public support for his policies. Shortcuts that bypass the checks and balances of the system, and excessive secrecy by those who serve the President, do not strengthen him. They weaken him and our constitutional system. Properly conceived, the Constitution is not a burden in the making of policy, but a source of strength, because it specifies a process for making policy through informed consent.