McConnell Speaks in Tribute to Mike DiSilvestro, Director of the Office of Senate Security
‘Today it’s my honor to help bid farewell to a distinguished staff leader who has himself handled sensitive security matters with great care and dedication… The Senate and your country thanks you for everything you’ve done.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor bidding farewell to Mike DiSilvestro, Director of the Office of Senate Security:
“Today it’s my honor to help bid farewell to a distinguished staff leader who has himself handled sensitive security matters with great care and dedication.
“For more than thirty years, this body has functioned more safely and smoothly because Mike DiSilvestro was on the clock as Director of the Office of Senate Security.
“Mike D.’s job is tough to describe. That is partially because long-tenured all-stars like Mike have a way of carving out their own niche... but it’s mostly because his work is literally classified.
“Mike’s been in charge of the Office of Senate Security almost as long as I have been in the Senate.
“He came on board as Acting Director in 1987. He took over a brand-new office with incredibly important and sensitive functions. The details are not for public consumption, but let’s say there were two main missions.
“First, Mike has managed, modernized, and expanded the secure facilities and systems that provide classified information in the Capitol to Senators and committees as we govern the country. He’s simultaneously been a diplomatic liaison to the executive branch who has advocated for the Senate’s prerogative... and a skillful manager of people and logistics who’s made sure our secrets stay secret once they did arrive here.
“Second, Mike has been one of our top leaders on the security of the Senate itself. He helps plan for contingencies and guard every facet of our institution, its people, and its systems from outside actors with bad intentions.
“These are tall orders — even for a fellow graduate of the University of Louisville. Consider how much has changed in the 37 years since Mike first came to the Senate, and in the 32 years he’s held this job. Major wars. Terrorist strikes on the homeland. Anthrax in the Hart building. Countless technological advances that have made his task radically more complex.
“Imagine guarding some of our nation’s most closely-held secrets… planning for possible attacks on this institution… and still being unanimously described by your colleagues as calm, cool, and even-keeled.
“And Mike is no cheap people-pleaser. His duties don’t permit it. When you see Mike outside his secure facility and heading our way, it does not mean a social call. It means bad news. And you better believe this stoic sentinel has had to say “no” a lot more than “yes.”
“Just doing the job half as reliably and reassuringly as Mike is a herculean task by itself. But then factor in the fact that he is also one of the most personally well-liked and respected colleagues among the circle of folks that he’s worked with.
“Mike D.’s reputation extends far outside the Senate. I have it on good authority that when Secretary of Defense Esper -- who served as national security advisor to a former Majority Leader -- comes to Senate Security to brief us members, he doesn’t consider his visit complete until he’s stopped in Mike D.’s office to check in on his old colleague.
“But ironically, outside a select circle, most people in the Senate itself probably could not pick Mike D. out of a line-up. I guess when everything you work on is strictly need-to-know, you wind up on a need-to-know basis yourself. Even Mike’s own teammates describe his approach as somewhat “stealth-like.”
“In short, even to his beloved Senate, Mike has remained somewhat mysterious. It’s definitely it’s a good sign for all of us that he’s never become a household name.
“But some careful intelligence work of our own has turned up clues about Mike D.’s next assignment.
“His well-earned retirement will bring more hikes. More long runs. A whole lot more golf. And more time with the family he treasures.
“He may miss his colleagues and the importance of his job, but I don’t think tears will be shed for the end of those heroically long commutes on I-95 — which took place at all hours, day and night, whenever duty called.
“I can’t offer Mike any higher praise than to repeat what he already knows. The Senate has been safe and secure for more than a generation because of you. Decades of Senators have gotten the information we need because of you.
“Some people spend their whole careers wondering if they’ve made a difference. You have not needed to ask that for almost 40 years and you will never need to ask it again.
“Mike, we’re going to miss you.
“But old habits die hard, and we simply aren’t willing to sever all ties. So this morning, the Senate will officially designate Mike as Senate Security’s Director Emeritus. The office’s first-ever director will become its first-ever director emeritus.
“But don’t worry, Mike. Your new job description will be just a little bit lighter. I hope the biggest mystery you have to tackle for a while is whether to play nine holes on Saturday or fit in 18.
“The Senate and your country thanks you for everything you’ve done.”
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