Chairman HAMILTON: Now all of us recognize the need for secrecy in the conduct of
government. This Member has been privileged to receive, I believe,
te highest secrets of our government and I am quite sympathetic
to your pleas that secrecy is often needed and too often violated.
Even so, I believe that in this instance we have had testimony
about excessive secrecy that has had serious consequences for the
decisionmaking processes of government. All of us who work
within our system of government sometimes feel impatient with its
painstaking procedures. All of us disagree from time to time with
the decisions reached. Yet your comment about Congress—and I
quote it directly—"I simply did not want any outside interference"—reflects an attitude which makes, in my judgment at least,
our constitutional system of checks and balances unworkable.
Instead of bringing each agency dealing with foreign policy into
the process, you cut those agencies out of the process. You told the
committees, "I firmly believe in very tight compartmentation."
You compartmentalized not only the President's senior advisers,
but, in effect, you locked the President himself out of the process.
You began your testimony by saying that the function of a National Security Adviser is to present options and to advise the President.
Yet you told the committees, "The buck stops here with me." That
is not where the buck is supposed to stop. You want to deflect
blame from the President, but that is another way of saying you
wanted to deflect responsibility from the President and that should
not be done in our system of government.
You testified that diverting funds to the Contras was a detail, a
matter of implementation of the President's policies and you felt
that you had the authority to approve it.
Yet this was a major foreign policy initiative, as subsequent
events have shown, with very far-reaching ramifications, and this
Member, at least, wonders what else could be done in the President's name if this is mere implementation of policy.