Tribute to Daniel J. Jonesby Senator Dianne Feinstein
Posted on 2015-12-03
FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I wish to praise today the work of Mr.
Daniel Jones, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee staff, who
is leaving the Senate tomorrow.
Many of us enter public service for the simple goal of making a difference. After knowing Dan for 9 years, I can say that he is one of the few people working here on Capitol Hill who has helped make history. Without his indefatigable work on the Intelligence Committee staff, the Senate report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program would not have been completed, nor would its executive summary have been released to the public, an effort that led to the recent passage of critically important and long overdue anti-torture legislation.
Dan came to the Intelligence Committee in January 2007 from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he served as an intelligence analyst. In his first 2 years on the staff, he played a key role in overseeing counterterrorism efforts and the FBI's transition from a pure law enforcement agency to an intelligence agency--a transition that has proven instrumental to the Bureau's ability to identify and thwart numerous terrorist attacks over the past several years.
However, his service and focus shifted following the revelation in December 2007 that the CIA had previously destroyed interrogation videotapes that showed the brutal treatment and questioning of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Then-Chairman Jay Rockefeller assigned Dan and fellow staffer Alissa Starzak to review the CIA cables describing those interrogation sessions. For the next several months, Dan worked at his full-time job at the committee while also working nights and weekends at CIA headquarters, poring through the cables.
The report that he and Alissa produced in early 2009 was graphic, and it was shocking. It demonstrated in documented fact and in the CIA's own words treatment by the U.S. Government that stood in contrast to our values and to what the committee had previously been led to believe. The report sparked a comprehensive investigation by the committee, with a 14-1 vote in March 2009, that Dan led and then saw through to its completion.
While carrying out the investigation into the CIA program, Dan also co-led the committee's investigation into the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Five months later, the committee produced a bipartisan report that found 14 specific points of failure that resulted in Abdulmutallab being able to board the flight and attempt to detonate his explosive device at the direction of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The report also made both classified and unclassified recommendations to improve our counterterrorism efforts.
But back to the investigation on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program--to say that Dan worked diligently on this study is a gross understatement. He, along with other committee staff, worked day and night, often 7 days a week, from 2009 through December 2012. He became an expert in one of the most unfortunate activities in the history of our intelligence community, going through more than 6 million pages of materials produced for the study, as well as immersing himself in the anti-torture provisions in U.S. law, as well as human rights materials, and the background of other similar historic Senate investigations. Throughout this period, Dan regularly briefed me on the team's findings. Each time, I noted the obvious toll that this was taking on him physically, but he always remained committed to concluding the report.
From the end of 2012 through the end of 2014, Dan stewarded the report through two bipartisan committee votes, a lengthy period of review and meetings with the CIA, and an 8-month long redaction review leading to the release of the executive summary of the study on December 9, 2014. He then played a key role in enacting reforms following the release of the executive summary, in particular the passage of a provision in this year's National Defense Authorization Act that will prevent the future use of coercive interrogation techniques or indefinite, secret detention in the future.
While Dan is known most for his leadership on the CIA detention and interrogation review, his public service doesn't end there. Before his Federal service, Dan taught for Teach for America in an inner-city school in Baltimore, MD, and he has served on the board of his alma mater, Elizabethtown College. His dedication to service is also demonstrated by his two master's degrees, a master's of public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a master's of arts in teaching from Johns Hopkins.
I want to use this opportunity to thank Dan Jones for his indispensable work over the past 9 years and to wish him the very best as he moves on to future endeavors.