Swalwell Praises Intelligence and Foreign Policy Experts’ Support for Independent Commission to Probe Foreign Interference in Election

January 4, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Ranking Member of the CIA Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on Wednesday praised a statement issued by 15 bipartisan, prominent intelligence and foreign policy experts – including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and former 9/11 Commission Vice Chair and Congressman Lee Hamilton – in support of creating an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate foreign interference in this year’s U.S. presidential election.

Swalwell, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-07) – the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – last month introduced legislation to accomplish this: H.R. 6447, the Protecting Our Democracy Act. The bill would create a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission empowered to interview witnesses, obtain documents, issue subpoenas, and receive public testimony to examine attempts by the Russian government and others to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in this year’s U.S. elections. The commission — which also would examine similar efforts by any other foreign governments or entities — would issue a final report with recommendations for future security protections to Congress and the President within 18 months of the bill’s enactment.

“Experts agree: The specter of meddling in our elections by Russia or any other foreign entity requires immediate, full investigation in an independent and bipartisan manner,” Swalwell said. “The underpinnings of our democratic process are under electronic attack. Congressional committees can investigate too, but only an independent commission can rise above the perception of political bias in rendering a complete report on what happened and making recommendations on how to ensure it never happens again.”

The intelligence and foreign-policy experts’ statement says that while this meddling is the most significant the Unite States has ever seen in a national election, it has been occurring against our allies for decades. “That it was perpetuated against us demonstrates a bold escalation of interference that must be understood and stymied,” they wrote.

“No American should tolerate these types of intrusions into the bedrock of our democracy. Our elections should always belong to us. When foreign interference occurs, both major political parties should unite and declare they will not tolerate it,” they added, also noting that – despite the conclusions of 17 of our intelligence agencies – some Americans still doubt Russian responsibility for this year’s cyberattacks.

“Such doubts only reinforce why an independent inquiry should occur outside of Congress,” they wrote. “(T)hat is the only way to ensure that the investigation is comprehensive and not siloed within a certain Congressional committee’s jurisdiction. This inquiry should occur immediately. Anything less than a swift investigation will leave us vulnerable to another attack and, possibly worse, permit and normalize future interference.”

The statement’s initial signers include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Leon E. Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Ambassador Jeffrey L. Bleich, former U.S. Ambassador to Australia; Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, former Counselor of the Department of State; Lee H. Hamilton, former Member of Congress and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission; General James L. Jones, former National Security Advisor; David J. Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; Ambassador Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia; Michael Morell, former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Paul Rosenzweig, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security; Mary Ruppert, former federal national security prosecutor at the Department of Justice; Dr. Edward Schatz, Associate Professor of  Political Science at the University of Toronto; E. John Sebes, Chief Technology Officer of the TrustTheVote Project and Co-Director of the OSET Institute; Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and former Member of Congress; and Michael Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Click here for the full text of the letter.