Hearing Type: 
Date & Time: 
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 - 2:30pm
Hart 216

Full Transcript

[Senate Hearing 117-598]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       S. Hrg. 117-598

                             OPEN HEARING:
                     TO BE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE



                               BEFORE THE


                                 OF THE

                          UNITED STATES SENATE


                             SECOND SESSION


                             AUGUST 2, 2022


      Printed for the use of the Select Committee on Intelligence

        Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.govinfo.gov        

                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE                    
50-077                       WASHINGTON : 2023                    

           (Established by S. Res. 400, 94th Cong. 2d Sess.)

                   MARK R. WARNER, Virginia, Chairman
                  MARCO RUBIO, Florida, Vice Chairman

DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California         RICHARD BURR, North Carolina
RON WYDEN, Oregon                    JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
ANGUS KING, Maine                    ROY BLUNT, Missouri
MICHAEL F. BENNET, Colorado          TOM COTTON, Arkansas
BOB CASEY, Pennsylvania              JOHN CORNYN, Texas

                  CHUCK SCHUMER, New York, Ex Officio
                 MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky, Ex Officio
                  JACK REED, Rhode Island, Ex Officio
                   JAMES INHOFE, Oklahoma, Ex Officio

                     Michael Casey, Staff Director
                  Brian Walsh, Minority Staff Director
                   Kelsey Stroud Bailey, Chief Clerk
                            C O N T E N T S


                             AUGUST 2, 2022
                           OPENING STATEMENTS


Warner, Hon. Mark R., a U.S. Senator from Virginia...............     1
Rubio, Hon. Marco, a U.S. Senator from Florida...................     2


Edwards, Terrence I., Nominee to be Inspector General of the 
  National Reconnaissance Office.................................     3
    Prepared Statement...........................................     6

                         SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL

Questionnaire for Completion by Presidential Nominees............    20
Additional Prehearing Questions..................................    30
Posthearing Questions............................................    42



                        TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2022

                                       U.S. Senate,
                          Select Committee on Intelligence,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:30 p.m., in 
Room SH-216, Hart Senate Office Building, Hon. Mark R. Warner, 
Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
    Present: Senators Warner (presiding), Rubio, Wyden, 
Heinrich, King, Bennet, Casey, and Sasse.


    Chairman Warner. I want to call this hearing to order and 
thank you for being here today.
    Mr. Edwards, congratulations on your nomination to be the 
Inspector General for the National Reconnaissance Office, the 
NRO. You have an impressive background, both within the IC and 
at DOD, which I believe makes you well qualified for this 
important position.
    I believe that Cristan Farmer, your longtime partner, is 
here, and I would like to acknowledge her.
    Let me just recognize that Mr. Terrence Edwards has served 
the United States as a federal employee for almost two decades. 
As an attorney for the U.S. Army and the National Security 
Agency; as Deputy General Counsel for Management in the Office 
of the Director of National Intelligence; and as Chief of Staff 
for the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, 
Stacey Dixon.
    Intelligence Community IGs are important source of 
independent oversight of the Intelligence Community. Both 
Congress and the Executive Branch rely on IGs to assist their 
respective agencies in evaluating performance and identifying 
areas for improvement. Perhaps no responsibility is more 
important than ensuring lawful whistle-blowers are aware of 
their right to provide information about wrongdoing, to 
authorize recipients and are protected from reprisal for doing 
    The NRO's classified budget is significant. And the NRO 
Inspector General plays a vital oversight role in detecting and 
hopefully deterring any fraud, waste, or abuse within the NRO. 
This is important as this budget is classified and therefore 
not subject to public scrutiny. As we conduct our oversight of 
the NRO, this Committee also relies on an independent and 
strong NRO IG to identify programs that may need improvement or 
cost savings may be found. Congress and the American people 
must have full confidence that their findings, and your 
findings when I hope you're going to be confirmed, are 
objective, independent, and entirely confirmed by facts.
    You should also know that if confirmed, you will have very 
big shoes to fill. Your predecessor Susan Gibson was in the job 
for more than five years before her recent retirement, and she 
ran a tight ship. She was admired by the IG community for 
integrity and professionalism, as well as for specific 
expertise in intelligence and procurement law and policy. I 
note that she has written a letter expressing your strong 
support for your confirmation, which speaks volumes to your 
qualifications for this job.
    I've reviewed the material provided by you prior to this 
confirmation hearing. I'm confident that you're a person of 
high integrity and well qualified for the job.
    Thank you, again, for being here today. And for your years 
of service to our country. I look forward to your testimony.
    I now recognize the Vice Chairman.


    Vice Chairman Rubio. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, 
Mr. Edwards, for being here. First of all, thank you for your 
willingness to serve, and congratulations on your nomination. 
You know, what's interesting about the Intelligence Community 
writ large is the only area of government where the public 
basically trusts these oversight committees in the House and 
Senate, and the men and women who serve in the role you're 
about to serve as the full extent of the oversight over what 
    Because of the nature of their work, their budgets are 
often classified--their activities as well. And so that's it, 
obviously. This Committee, the House counterpart, and folks 
like yourself that serve in that role of oversight over the 
Community. So, it's really important in particular that the 
Community--that the agency that you will be in this role as 
Inspector General at the NRO, which is the premier intelligence 
agency on the planet, in terms of the ability to see things 
from overhead. And while it's the best in the world and 
continues to be, we face unprecedented challenges and threats 
from near-peer adversaries in China and in Russia who have 
launched capabilities and are continuing to expand their own 
capabilities in this field. And so, it's critical for us that 
oversight ensure that we are doing everything we can to deliver 
space capabilities to our Nation at the speed of technology; 
and that we expand investments in commercial space to protect 
our satellite resources with the same enthusiasm and the same 
attention as we have for building and delivering them.
    So, I encourage you to be mindful of that role that you 
will play once confirmed. And ensuring not just the safety and 
security of Americans and American interests, but also in the 
American people's confidence in the office that you will lead, 
if confirmed.
    So today is an opportunity to hear from you about your 
previous work in government, and in the Intelligence Community 
in particular. And we look forward to your testimony and your 
vision of what the role of Inspector General will be.
    Thank you.
    Chairman Warner. Thank you, Vice Chairman.
    Mr. Edwards, I'm going to ask you to stand and raise your 
right hand.
    [Witness stands and raises right hand.]
    Do you solemnly swear to give this Committee the truth, the 
full truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
    Mr. Edwards. I do.
    Chairman Warner. Please be seated.
    I'm now going to ask you five standard questions the 
Committee proposes to each nominee who appears before us.
    They just require a simple yes or no answer for the record.
    One, do you agree to appear before the Committee here and 
in other venues when invited?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Chairman Warner. If confirmed, do you agree to send 
officials from your office to appear before this Committee and 
designated staff when invited?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Chairman Warner. Do you agree to provide documents and any 
other materials requested by the Committee in order to carry 
out its oversight and legislative responsibilities?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Chairman Warner. Will you both ensure that your office and 
your staff provide such materials to the Committee when we 
request it?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Chairman Warner. And finally, do you agree to inform and 
fully brief to the fullest extent possible all Members of this 
Committee of intelligence actions and covert action rather than 
only the Chair and the Vice Chair?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Chairman Warner. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Edwards we'll now proceed to your opening statement, 
after which I recognize all the Members by seniority for five 
minutes for questions.
    Mr. Edwards, the floor is yours.


    Mr. Edwards. Chairman Warner, Vice Chairman Rubio, and 
Distinguished Members of the Committee:
    Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as 
you consider my nomination to be the Inspector General for the 
National Reconnaissance Office. I am deeply honored that the 
President nominated me for this position, and I am grateful for 
the support of Director Haines, Principal Deputy Director 
Dixon, and Director Scalise.
    If confirmed, I look forward to engaging with you, Director 
Scalise, and the dedicated professionals at the NRO. In 
addition, if confirmed, I look forward to leading the talented 
NRO IG staff to affect positive change and to further the NRO's 
critical mission.
    Before I outline my qualifications, there are several 
important women in my life that I would like to thank. First, I 
would like to thank my mother, Deborah Edwards, who retired 
last year after serving this country for 30-plus years as a 
civil servant. She taught me the importance of commitment to 
service, having integrity, and being a hard worker.
    Second, I would like to thank my partner and best friend, 
Cristan Farmer, for taking this journey with me for 17 years.
    Third, I would like to thank the Honorable Susan Gibson, 
the Honorable Stacey Dixon, and Mrs. Cathy Szymanski for their 
leadership, mentorship, and confidence in me.
    I would also like to thank the many colleagues, friends, 
and family who have helped me throughout my career in this 
confirmation process.
    At a time when the American public demands more 
transparency and confidence in their institutions and 
policymakers, I believe the IG's role to provide independent, 
objective, and fact-based analysis of agencies, programs, and 
operations is vital and reinsuring to the American public that 
their institutions are serving them in a lawful, ethical, and 
effective manner. At each stage of my career, I have seen 
firsthand the importance of conducting careful and objective 
analysis of the facts and the law.
    I started my career in government as Army Fellow at the 
Army Materiel Command. From there, I became an attorney in the 
Office of General Counsel at the Army Sustainment Command, 
where I was immersed and ultimately fell in love with federal 
acquisition law, regulation, and policy. In that position, I 
learned the importance of oversight, knowing your craft, and 
having the courage to provide sound objective advice, despite 
the possible consequences. Being the lead attorney as a GS-9 on 
a $150 billion contract that provided critical services to our 
soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait taught me these 
lessons and more.
    I then went on to the Army Communications and Electronics 
Command, where I continued amongst other things to practice in 
the areas of acquisitions, procurement, and fiscal law, 
ultimately serving in the role of Senior Acquisition Attorney 
for the command.
    In 2012, I joined the Intelligence Community, working as a 
Senior Attorney at the National Security Agency.
    In 2016, I joined the ODNI's Office of General Counsel, 
where I served as a Deputy General Counsel for Management. In 
this position, I provided legal advice on a full range of areas 
for the DNI and a broader Intelligence Community, including 
ethics, appropriations, acquisitions, and space. Currently, I'm 
the Chief of Staff to the PDDNI, where I manage the operations 
of the PDDNI's office and serve as a PDDNI Senior Advisor on a 
full range of national security and management issues. As a 
result of my knowledge, and experience that I've gained, I am 
well grounded in many areas of law germane to the NRO and IG's 
missions, including fiscal and intelligence law, procurement 
integrity, whistle-blower protections, accounting, ethics, and 
    My experience at both NSA and ODNI have given me important 
exposure into the vital acquisitions and intelligence roles of 
the NRO to ensure that the Nation has the right space-based 
capabilities it needs to stay safe and secure. I am also aware 
of the rapidly-changing nature of the space domain that brings 
new possibilities and challenges. I am mindful of the potential 
risks to NRO's mission, as the space domain becomes more 
competitive and contested.
    I have watched as the NRO has moved to embrace the growing 
commercial marketplace to procure new capabilities and increase 
resiliency and speed to address these potential risks. I 
believe the oversight of the NRO Inspector General, in 
coordination with Congress, plays a critical role in ensuring 
these new possibilities that are developed, implemented, and 
maintained in a lawful, effective, and efficient manner. To 
that end, I pledge to be transparent, accessible, and 
responsive to this Committee in support of Congressional 
requests and interest.
    Congressional oversight is fundamental to the checks and 
balances established in our Constitution. If confirmed, I will 
fully support the IG's notification in reporting requirements, 
and I will keep the NRO's oversight committees fully and 
currently informed.
    Mr. Chairman, I have been both blessed and honored to 
devote my career to public service. Each and every day I wake 
up, I come to the office, I give them all, and look to make a 
positive difference. I know the position I've been nominated 
for comes with great responsibility.
    If confirmed, I pledge to do my very best to keep making a 
difference and to serve with the integrity and purpose that 
this position and our Nation demands.
    Thank you again, for your consideration of my nomination, 
and I look forward to taking your questions.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Edwards follows:]
    Chairman Warner. Thank you, Mr. Edwards. Thank you for 
outlining what has been an obviously very distinguished career. 
I only have two or three quick questions.
    One of the things this Committee has been very forceful on 
with our friends at the NRO is recognizing the value of 
commercial space. And I think we've seen a bit of a sea change 
where at first there was quite a bit of pushback, kind of if 
not invented here, if not built here inside the government 
domain. I think the NRO has gotten much better.
    Obviously, there are certain things--exquisite technical 
metrics--that we need to do directly through the NRO alone. But 
how do you see the IG's role recognizing different types of 
acquisition rules? They're making sure we strike that balance 
right between commercial and government only in terms of 
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, thank you for that question.
    I think it's critical that the IG execute its fundamental 
functions when reviewing any acquisitions, or any programs at 
the NRO. As the NRO moves in a new direction, and expands its 
commercial buy, or it expands, buying new additional 
capabilities. I think it's critical that the Inspector 
General's Office fully understands what he's doing, and reviews 
those programs to ensure they are effective and efficient, and 
assist where they can in helping to determine whether or not it 
makes sense to buy more commercial versus building organically. 
If confirmed, I would ensure that my office plays that role. 
And looking at whether or not the programs and procedures they 
put in place--that the NRO director puts in place--is 
appropriate and efficient.
    Chairman Warner. Related to that, and this is again an area 
where the Committee has been very, very active, we have been 
concerned that, particularly in terms of overhead, capabilities 
move so quickly. And that the old-fashioned process of putting 
out an RFP, putting out an RFI before an RFP, we took so long 
on acquisitions, by the time we actually made a selection built 
and launched, technology already passed us by.
    So, we don't want to sacrifice quality, and we obviously 
want to maintain the integrity of the programs. But the 
acquisitions process has oftentimes been way too slow. In a 
world where, between overhead, basic progress seems to have a 
new satellite constellation from the commercial side come every 
two to three years, how do we keep up with that acquisition 
process? And what role should you play in that?
    Mr. Edwards. Chairman, I think you're absolutely right. I 
think as technology moves most quickly, agencies are having a 
difficult time figuring out, again, how to utilize them within 
the structure that they have to operate. I think what the IG 
can do--and if confirmed, I will do--is making sure that, 
again, those agencies, or NRO specifically, fully understands 
what rules--the rules that are played under, are where there 
are flexibilities and where there are not flexibilities. To 
ensure that again, they could buy the technology and the 
capabilities in the timeframe that they are dealing with.
    Chairman Warner. Last question is, I remember early on, as 
I was trying to learn overhead and just trying to understand 
that IC side of the house--NRO, NGA, and some occasional 
activities with the Agency. Understanding that DOD side of the 
house was even more complicated. But now we've got Space 
Command, Space Force, NRO. I think the IG has got a critical 
role in how that intel side of the house interacts with our 
brothers and sisters on the DOD side. If you can speak to that 
for a moment?
    Mr. Edwards. Chairman, I have a lot of experience in that 
area. Being professional in both the DOD and the IC and being 
an acquisition professional. I think, in my experience, the DOD 
and the IC work really well together when they have effective 
communications and they have processes in place to talk through 
how they will deal with disagreements, and whether things that 
are of mutual interest, how they will work together on those 
    I think the IG can be effective in ensuring that those 
communications and those processes and procedures are effective 
and efficient to ensure that they are both working or marching 
in the right direction. If confirmed, I would commit to 
ensuring that when we review those processes and procedures, we 
are providing recommendations that are actionable, so that we 
are getting to the end result.
    Chairman Warner. Thank you. Senator Rubio said he had to 
step out for one moment. He'll be right back.
    I'm going to go to Senator Heinrich and then Senator Sasse.
    Senator Heinrich. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you 
for holding this hearing today.
    Congratulations, Mr. Edwards, on your nomination. I want to 
thank you for joining us today for one of our rare open 
    I see from your record that you have over 15 years of 
federal government experience, most of them in the IC. I want 
to thank you for your continued service to our country.
    All agencies are challenged by the need to adapt and 
constantly improve cybersecurity programs and defenses, and 
certainly NRO is no exception. Should you be confirmed, will 
you commit to reporting to this Committee any security breaches 
that NRO discovers? And how NRO is working to prevent and deter 
such breaches?
    Mr. Edwards. Yes.
    Senator Heinrich. A year ago, the U.S. Space Command, the 
Space Force, and the NRO announced that they had developed a 
framework that formalizes end-to-end coordination between the 
Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, and 
between acquisitions and operations.
    What role should the NRO IG's office play in reviewing the 
collaboration and coordination between and among these 
    And then just stepping back a little more broadly, how do 
you see the NRO Inspector General's Office playing a role in 
improving the Title 10/Title 50 relationship?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, thank you for that question. I think 
in order for those processes that work well, they need to be 
effective and efficient. And I think that's where the IG can 
assist in reviewing those processes that they have established 
to make sure that again, they make sense, that they're actually 
going to meet the desired result.
    In my experience, being a professional in both a Title 10 
and a Title 50 organization, I've seen that those agencies work 
really well together and more effectively when they have 
effective communication, and they're working off of the same 
page. And I think, as the IG, if confirmed, we can help in that 
area, because that's what the Inspector Act mandates us to do, 
is to look at procedures to ensure they're effective and 
    Senator Heinrich. The independence of the IG in any agency 
is central to our confidence that investigations will be 
conducted objectively and fairly, and that benefits both the 
complainant and the target of an investigation. It's also why 
this Committee took steps to make the NRO IG, a Presidentially-
appointed, Senate-confirmed position. In fact, you would be 
only the second NRO Inspector General to be Senate confirmed.
    So being able to raise difficult questions, issues with 
senior officials and agency directors is a very necessary 
quality in an IG. In your opinion, what are the measurable 
indicators of independence? And specifically, what actions 
would you take if a senior IC official sought to prevent you 
from conducting an audit or an investigation of any sort?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, you're absolutely right. Independence 
is critical and is a cornerstone of the Inspector General Act. 
I think, if confirmed, what I would do is ensure that my office 
is following the standards that are outlined in regulation, 
law, and policy to ensure that we are being objective and fair. 
In addition, I think it's critically important that an IG have 
full control over their decisions, their staff, and their 
resources. It's my understanding today that the NRO IG has 
that, and if confirmed, I intend to maintain that.
    With respect to your second question, Senator, about if 
someone tried to prevent me from issuing a report. It's my 
understanding that the only individual that can request that I 
not look at something, if confirmed, is the Secretary of 
Defense. And that is under the Inspector General Act, Section 
8, and that is in consultation with the DNI and only for 
national security purpose. And so, if a senior official or any 
person asked me not to look at something, if confirmed, I would 
try to work it out at the lowest level. I will remind them of 
the law to make sure that they fully understand and get, again, 
what I was attempting to do. And for some reason, if I was not 
able to work it out, I would work up the chain, to the director 
of NRO, and if necessary, come to this Committee for your 
    Senator Heinrich. Mr. Chairman, those are all my questions. 
Thank you.
    Chairman Warner. Senator Sasse.
    Senator Sasse. Thank you, Chairman.
    Mr. Edwards, congratulations on your past service and on 
this new potential calling. I think, building on what Senator 
Heinrich said about this being a rare public hearing for us, I 
think many of my constituents and my colleagues' constituents 
are often surprised to learn how much of a role the IC has in 
    So, could you maybe walk the public through how you think 
about the role of the IC in space versus, say, NASA? Where 
there's collaboration, where there's duplicate efforts that are 
necessary? And why? Can you just explain the IC's role in 
    Mr. Edwards. Yes. So, in my reading of Executive Order 
12333, the NRO Director is responsible for the development, for 
acquiring and operating space-based systems for the collection 
of intelligence and information to ensure that the Nation is 
safe. I think that's a different mission than NASA is 
responsible for, although I think they may coordinate on things 
of mutual interest. But it's my understanding NASA does not 
collect intelligence.
    Senator Sasse. So, there's obviously platforms. And then 
there's the information that's gathered and the uses of that 
information. So, I'm like many on this Committee, a champion of 
NRO, NGA, other IC agencies that have responsibilities on or 
touching on space. But obviously, the technological 
developments that we're seeing happen in the private sector--
and the Chairman has been an effective and relentless advocate 
on this, Chairman Burr before him, Senator Blunt--have talked 
constantly about how much innovation we're seeing in the 
private sector.
    In your new responsibility, how would you look at whether 
or not the government is harnessing all of the greatest 
opportunities that exist, that are often faster and cheaper in 
the private sector? The government is often great at building 
exquisite systems and getting exquisite imagery, but often in 
ways that are sort of biased toward current uses. And one of 
the things we see happening in the private sector is a bias 
toward non-consumption--is often shattered when you end up with 
a sometimes lower-quality, but lots cheaper, use of a new 
commercial application.
    How would you approach the question of whether or not the 
agency is moving quickly enough to harness all the innovation 
of the American private sector?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, again, thank you for your question.
    I think it's important, just being an acquisition 
professional, in general, for an agency, always to be looking 
at whether or not they can do it organically, or does it make 
more sense to go to the private sector. Oftentimes, there's a 
balance there, and that's, I think, what you're getting at. I 
think it's important that the agencies actually, you know, 
strike that balance to ensure again, they are not wasting the 
taxpayer dollars and they are, again, figuring out a way to 
ensure that they have the best capabilities to build it, to 
ensure they're protecting the United States. Where I think the 
IG can help and, if confirmed, where I would assist with that, 
is making sure that, again, the agencies or the agency, in this 
case NRO, make sure that it understands that the trade-offs 
they are making with respect to organic versus nonorganic, that 
they're doing it reasonably, and are taking into account all 
the things they're required to take into account when they're 
making that trade off. I think that the IG's office can assist 
in that by making sure that, again, when we review those 
programs, they are effective and efficient in making those 
    Senator Sasse. Well, thank you. And I think the Committee 
will look forward to working with you and trying to instill and 
ask the hard oversight questions about that urgency.
    We're nearly at my time, but I want to ask one question 
about your day job today. You currently serve as the Chief of 
Staff to the Principal Deputy at ODNI. And I'm curious as to 
your public reflections on how that bureaucracy--how the ODNI 
is functioning, and if there are places where it can be trimmed 
to be quicker and more nimble?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, I think we should always look at our 
processes to make sure that, again, they are working 
effectively and efficiently. I believe that, again, the ODNI is 
doing that.
    Senator Sasse. Thank you, Sir, very diplomatic.
    Chairman Warner. Mr. Edwards, I should have warned you.
    Senator King, and then we'll go to the Vice Chairman.
    Senator King. Mr. Edwards, I don't want you to be 
diplomatic. The major qualification for this job--you've got 
all the written qualifications of legal background, and staff 
work, and working in the Intelligence Community. But the real 
qualification for this job is backbone. Is the willingness and, 
in fact, relishing taking a position that is contrary to that 
of the people who hired you. And give me some reassurance 
because, as Senator Rubio pointed out at the beginning, the odd 
thing about these jobs that we're talking about here is you're 
going to work for a secret agency.
    Nobody else is watching other than this Committee and its 
comparable Committee in the House. In other words, the public 
doesn't--there's no newspaper that reports, that can know, 
what's going on within the NRO, that knows about the contracts, 
how they're structured. So, it's doubly important, it seems to 
me, because of the secret nature of the agency. And that makes 
your job doubly important, because very few other people are 
    Reassure me that you're willing to bite the hand that 
appointed you.
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, thank you for that question.
    I know this is a difficult job. My job has always been 
difficult as an attorney, where I've been responsible for 
advising the clients of what the law, regulation, and policy 
states, particularly when you're trying to advance mission.
    Senator King. Do you recall a time when as an attorney, you 
told your governmental clients, You can't do that because the 
law doesn't allow it?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, I have no problems with saying no. I 
think a lot of an attorney's clients get upset with them, 
because they constantly say no, because the law, regulation, 
and policy requires them to do so--particularly in the areas 
that I'm expert in. If you're--we're talking ethics or fiscal 
law, there's oftentimes I have to say to my clients, we can't 
do that. If confirmed, I have no problems as the IG doing the 
exact same thing: Following the law, being tough but fair in 
the investigations, the audits, and evaluations that I do, 
because that's what this job requires. That's what the American 
people expect of me: making sure that, again, I'm providing 
oversight for things that they cannot see always.
    Senator King. Exactly. That's what I think. That's very 
important, and I'm heartened to hear your response.
    We haven't talked much in this hearing about whistle-
blowers. Part of the IG's responsibility is the oversight and 
management of the whistle-blower process. It's interesting, I 
learned some time ago, the first whistle-blower law in the U.S. 
preceded the Constitution. It was in 1788, the Continental 
Congress passed the first whistle-blower law.
    And again, it's sort of anomalous for the government to pay 
people to differ with its own activities. So, can you commit to 
this Committee that you will have a fair, open, and reasonable 
process for dealing with whistle-blowers and not in any way try 
to suppress information that might come forward?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, yes. I will absolutely commit to 
that. Whistle-blowers are essential to this process and to 
oversight. We must make sure, and if I'm confirmed I will make 
sure that all of the processes in my Office to educate them to 
open and welcome them to report any concerns that they have are 
effective, confidential, and frees them from any chances of 
    Senator King. I appreciate that. And earlier in the hearing 
you mentioned, I think, in response to Senator Heinrich's 
question, when in doubt, come to this Committee. Where cleared, 
we can hear, it's not a question of violating national 
security. But this Committee, we have a very deep interest and 
involvement with the Intelligence Community. And as I say, if 
there are questions, this Committee can, I think, be of 
    Finally, as I think about the IG job, it's really an odd 
position, because the moment you're confirmed, you effectively 
become adversarial to the people who appointed you. And that's 
a very anomalous kind of situation. But I think it's the 
essence of the job, and that's why it's so important. I think 
the IGs are among the most important jobs in our entire 
governmental structure. And the IGs, as I mentioned, of the 
national security agencies, the Intelligence Community, are 
especially important because of the secret nature of those 
facility, of those agencies.
    So, I congratulate you on your appointment. I look forward 
to working with you. And remember, your job is to occasionally 
say no.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Edwards. Thank you.
    Vice Chairman Rubio. Thank you. And I don't have a lot of 
questions. I've one that's been touched on already, and it's 
the whistle-blower. And that the two most important whistle-
blower scenarios, or the more two more difficult ones, is one 
that is potentially embarrassing to the executive, the people 
who run it, or a broader Administration. And then the other is 
when the individual coming forward, is alleging that their 
superiors have sought reprisal against them for doing the right 
thing or trying to punish them.
    These are two very delicate situations. And again, unlike 
any of these other agencies, where potentially a civil service 
employee could go outside of the system and give exposure, or 
leak, to a member of the media to expose some wrongdoing in an 
    You do that in the Intelligence Community, you're 
committing a very serious crime and harming our national 
security in the process. So, the key to people coming forward 
and saying, my superiors are taking reprisals against me, or, 
I'm coming forward with something but it's embarrassing to the 
people in charge. The key to that is the confidence that the 
Inspector General that is in office is actually an advocate and 
will do something serious about it.
    So, not having been presented with a case, these are all 
hypotheticals, although they exist in the real world. What can 
you do at the front end? What are the most important cues in 
your mind that give employees the confidence that if they have 
information about either reprisals and fear of reprisal, or 
that it will be potentially politically embarrassing--what are 
the cues that they take, in your mind, from an Inspector 
General that they have confidence in coming forward?
    Mr. Edwards. Vice Chairman, I think the first thing you 
have to do as an IG to ensure or to reassure whistle-blowers 
that you should have confidence in the system is making sure 
that, again, that they understand that the IG will take their 
claim seriously. And the way you do that is transparency. Is 
making sure you're transparent about what their rights are. 
You're transparent about how they are to come--or what the 
processes are when they come to the IG.
    When they come to the IG, making sure that, again, the 
staff treats them with respect, and takes their claim 
seriously, and protects their identity and their 
confidentiality. And then, if appropriate, if valid, look into 
their concern. I think if you do those things, they will have 
confidence that the IG is credible, and that when they come, 
they do not have to be fear that the IG will not do what they 
need to do to protect those individuals.
    Vice Chairman Rubio. Well, one additional role that I think 
is really important in my mind, and I was hoping you would 
maybe talk just a little bit about it, is the Inspector 
General's role in making sure that the programs and the 
Agency--in this case, the NRO--that they reflect the intent 
that was authorized by Congress.
    Oftentimes, and this is not unique to the Intelligence 
Community, Congress will say we are designing and we're funding 
and we're authorizing a program that does this. And then a year 
later, when we go back and look at it, it's not exactly--they 
have found every crevice and loophole to sort of do it the way 
they want to do it. And oftentimes, it's been Inspectors 
General who proactively have identified those places where the 
intent of Congress is not being done.
    How do you view the Inspector General's role in ensuring 
that Congressional intent is being followed in the 
implementation of policy and decisions?
    Mr. Edwards. I think the IG Act is fairly clear on what the 
role of the IG is. And the IG's job is to detect fraud, waste, 
and abuse--and deter it. And it is to ensure that programs are 
run efficiently and effectively. And so, we're talking 
Congressional intent and the law. I think, if an IG, and if 
confirmed, follows those principles in reviewing the programs 
that are of, you know, Congressional interest, or required by 
law, statute, or by stakeholders. The IG will be effective in, 
I think, actually looking at those programs.
    Chairman Warner. Senator Wyden.
    Senator Wyden. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Chairman, Mr. Edwards, my apologies for being late. The 
Senate Finance Committee that Senator Warner serves on is 
keeping everybody busy, and I apologize for my tardiness.
    Congratulations and welcome to the Committee. In my view, 
reports from Inspectors General should be public. And at the 
very least, classified reports should be reviewed for possible 
declassification and public release. That has not been done 
enough. And Intelligence Community Inspectors General can help 
to change this. For example, the Inspector General for the NSA 
has made great strides in releasing their reports. So let's 
start with the NRO-IG semi-annual reports, a few of which were 
released to the public in 2017 and 2018.
    If you are confirmed, will you commit to the timely public 
release of all semi-annual reports?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, yes.
    Senator Wyden. Did you say yes?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, I did.
    Senator Wyden. Oh good! I'll quit while I'm ahead.
    Mr. Edwards. However, as you know, NRO is still a national 
security agency. And IGs still have the obligation to follow 
the law. And if confirmed, I would strike that balance of 
ensuring that, again, I work with the appropriate 
classification folks to ensure that, where possible, I could 
publish those semi-annual reports without offending any of the 
classification rules, to ensure that we are preserving national 
    Senator Wyden. Let me conclude this area with one last 
question. Will you commit to reviewing all of your reports for 
possible declassification, public release?
    Mr. Edwards. Senator, absolutely.
    Senator Wyden. Okay. Now with respect to whistle-blowers, 
this is an area that our Committee spent a lot of time on and 
we feel very strongly about. Now, Congress recently passed 
legislation protecting IC contractors who make whistle-blower 
disclosures to their supervisors. NRO has a large contractor 
workforce. Tell me a little bit about how you are going to go 
about making sure that those contractors are protected from 
reprisals, because that is always the issue.
    You know, you can write down, and Senator Warner been very 
interested in it, I have, and Senator King--we've been very 
interested in whistle-blowers. So we write down the appropriate 
words and give as much directive as we can to protecting 
whistle-blowers. But at the same time, real people take these 
positions and I'd be interested in hearing from you how you're 
going to make sure that the contractors are protected from 
    Mr. Edwards. So, Senator, I think the first thing is making 
sure that, again, we are doing appropriate outreach to the 
diverse workforce at NRO, to include contractors, so they fully 
understand what their rights are so that when they submit 
information that is of concern, they feel as though they are 
going to be protected and that their identity is going to be 
    When they come to my office, if confirmed, I would reassure 
that my staff treats them with respect and make sure that, 
again, whatever they are bringing us, we're taking it 
seriously, we are protecting their identity and 
confidentiality, and we are acting appropriately to look into 
whatever they are bringing to us.
    Senator Wyden. I would only add, because I think that's a 
thoughtful answer, particularly you're going to be affirmative 
in terms of reaching out and the like, the first couple of 
cases that you're going to be dealing with--I hope you're 
confirmed, I'm planning to support you--are going to send a 
very important message to those contractors about how you're 
going to protect them from reprisals. So I would just urge in 
the strongest way possible, those first couple of cases could 
be sending a big message.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman Warner. Any further questions? Well, I think, 
Senator Wyden, let me echo what you said on the question 
particularly on contractors. We've got an awful lot of them in 
my state and I think they do generally good work and they need 
to be afforded the protections. You know, I also think it's--
Senator Wyden is probably the most relentless voice on the 
Committee on transparency. We want that transparency. We also 
clearly have a mission at NRO where classification levels have 
to be because there is always going to be healthy tension on 
this Committee between those dual goals. And, you know, we 
would probably urge you to err on the side of transparency, but 
we also don't want to do things to put the national security 
interests of our country at risk.
    So I appreciate very much. I should, as I warned you before 
the hearing started, do not take the lack of attendance as 
anything other than a sign that most of my colleagues have 
reviewed your background and I think felt comfortable with 
    But for the sake of the staff, if any Members of the 
Committee wish to submit questions for the record after today's 
hearing, please do so no later than noon on Thursday, August 
4th. Potentially we could even move on this if we're here for a 
few more days and get you out of the Committee.
    Mr. Edwards, thank you again for appearing before the 
Committee today. Thank you to one of the women in your life who 
is here and the others who are not here--your mom or mentors. 
They also would be very proud, proud of you. And good luck 
going forward.
    With that, hearing is adjourned.
    Thank you.
    [Whereupon the hearing was adjourned at 3:14 p.m.]

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