INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT

Material from the 2000s

O - R

Ott, Marvin C. "Partisanship and the Decline of Intelligence Oversight." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 16, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 69-94. And in Intelligence and the National Security Strategist: Enduring Issues and Challenges, eds. Roger Z. George and Robert D. Kline, 103-123. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 2004.

The author argues that while "the U.S. system of intelligence oversight by Congress has proven to be a viable solution to a tricky problem" over time, "the system requires a very special set of conditions to work.... [U]nder present circumstances, Senate-conducted intelligence oversight" no longer meets these conditions and is no longer viable.

Panetta, Leon. "Congress and the CIA: Time to Move On." Washington Post, 2 Aug. 2009. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"I've become increasingly concerned that the focus on the past, especially in Congress, threatens to distract the CIA from its crucial core missions: intelligence collection, analysis and covert action.... It is worth remembering that the CIA implements presidential decisions; we do not make them. Yet my agency continues to pay a price for enduring disputes over policies that no longer exist.... The time has come for both Democrats and Republicans to take a deep breath and recognize the reality of what happened after Sept. 11, 2001.... The country was frightened, and political leaders were trying to respond as best they could. Judgments were made. Some of them were wrong. But that should not taint those public servants who did their duty pursuant to the legal guidance provided."

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Cited for Not Disclosing Covert Action." Washington Post, 10 May 2007, A13. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 9 May 2007, the HPSCI said that "the CIA violated the law last year when it failed to inform the panel of 'a significant covert action activity.'" In its report on the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill, the committee said that "'[d]espite agency explanations that the failure was inadvertent, the committee is deeply troubled over the fact that such an oversight could occur, whether intentionally or inadvertent.'... The committee gave no hint of what the covert activity involved."

Pincus, Walter. "More Intelligence Oversight Advised: Bill a Reaction to Bush Policies." Washington Post, 30 Jun. 2009. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Under language approved last week in the fiscal 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act," HPSCI "proposed doing away with provisions that allowed a president to limit disclosure of sensitive intelligence activities to the 'Gang of Eight.... In its place, the House committee gave each intelligence committee, rather than the president, the legal authority to limit briefings to its own members. The president would be required to provide congressional overseers with 'general information' on a covert operation or intelligence activity where there is a potential for loss of life, the outlay of significant funds, or a risk of loss of sources and methods. Briefings would also be required if the disclosure of an operation or activity could cause significant damage to diplomatic relations of the United States."

The HPSCI report, also "criticized the Pentagon for repeatedly placing some of its clandestine intelligence-gathering activities in foreign countries under the category of operations to prepare for a battlefield, which are not required to be reported to Congress. Referring to the 'blurred distinction' between these activities and those of the CIA, the committee report said the battlefield designation is being used 'where the slightest nexus of a theoretical, distant military operation may someday exist.'" See also, Steven Aftergood, "Pentagon Intel Ops 'Often' Evade Oversight," Secrecy News, 6 Jul. 2009.

Pincus, Walter. "Senate Realigns Intelligence Procedures: New Reform Statute Calls for Some Change." Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2004, A21. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

In the next Congress, the SSCI "will have ... a much larger staff," with each of the 15 panel members "entitled to choose a new staff member." These "staffers were added because the committee was going to handle both legislation that authorizes intelligence activities and appropriations legislation that funds them." However, this plan has changed. Although the committee "will continue to authorize intelligence programs,... a new subcommittee on intelligence within the Senate Appropriations Committee will handle the money.... The addition of the staffers is just one of several new provisions of the intelligence reform law."

Priest, Dana. "Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Criticized: Committee Members, Others Cite Lack of Attention to Reports on Iraqi Arms, Al Qaeda Threat." Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2004, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Responsibility for congressional oversight is vested in the House and Senate select committees on intelligence.... But as described by former members and outside experts, the committees' performance in oversight and investigations has deteriorated."

Priest, Dana. "Intelligence Panel Votes To Abolish Term Limits: Senators Seek to Strengthen Oversight of CIA." Washington Post, 5 May 2004, A27, [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to committee members, "[t]he Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ... voted unanimously" on 4 May 2004 "to abolish the eight-year term limits imposed when the panel was established 28 years ago.... The proposed change, which must be passed by the Senate, is contained in the Intelligence Authorization Act markup for 2005 and has the tentative backing of the leadership of both parties, committee sources said."

Roemer, Tim. "How to Fix Intelligence Oversight." Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2007, A29.

In this Op-Ed piece, the former Indiana congressman and 9/11 commission member states that "[i]n their current structure, congressional intelligence committees are fundamentally ill equipped to effect real change." He argues that authorizing and appropriating powers should be combined into a single committee, as recommended by the 9/11 commission.

Rundquist, Paul S., and Christopher M. Davis. S.Res. 445: Senate Committee Reorganization for Homeland Security and Intelligence Matters. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 15 Oct. 2004. [Available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RS21955.pdf]

Passed by the Senate on 9 October 2004, this resolution eliminates the 8-year term limit on intelligence committee membership; reduces the size of the committee from 17 to 15; renames the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and transfers to the renamed committee jurisdiction over matters relating to homeland security, with certain limitations.

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