Today, we will examine how the Intelligence Community honors and
implements its legal obligation to keep Congress informed about intelligence
activities. This hearing is part of the full Committee's investigation into the
Intelligence Community's compliance with the National Security Act of
Under the National Security Act, the Executive Branch is required to
keep the Committee "fully and currently informed of the intelligence
activities" of the United States, including any "significant anticipated
intelligence activity. . ." and covert actions.
These requirements are critical. The Executive Branch's intelligence
activities are secret, and the American people rely on the congressional
intelligence committees to scrutinize them. They rely on this Committee to
make sure that those activities are consistent with the Nation's best interests
and values. The Committee is, in the truest sense, the people's
representative when it comes to secret intelligence activities.
For the Committee to perform these vital functions, the Committee
must receive, and the Executive Branch must provide, truthful, complete and
timely information. If this does not occur, Congress cannot adequately
perform its constitutional obligation to authorize and appropriate money for
In recent years, various members of the Committee from both sides of
the aisle have expressed concern that the Intelligence Community has failed
to provide the Committee with full and complete information. Recent
revelations have raised yet more questions about whether the Intelligence
Community has violated the National Security Act.
Last week, the Intelligence Community Management Subcommittee
held a hearing focused on the National Security Act's provisions that require
the Executive Branch to keep the Committee informed about intelligence
activities. That hearing was an important step in the Committee's
Today's hearing represents another important step. For the National
Security Act to be effective, the Executive Branch must properly implement
and enforce it. We need to understand how the Intelligence Community
carries out this obligation, whether its notification policies gave rise to past
notification failures, and what it is now doing to make sure that the
Committee is kept fully and currently informed. In particular, I look
forward to hearing about the ODNI's current review of the Intelligence
Community's notification policies.
To discuss these matters, we will hear from Robert S. Litt, the General
Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. While Mr.
Litt has only been on the job for several months now, he joined the ODNI
after an already distinguished legal career, which has included time as a
senior Justice Department official, and as a partner at one of Washington,
D.C.'s most prominent law firms. As demonstrated by his substantial work
on the subject since joining the ODNI, I know he takes the issue of
congressional oversight seriously, and I welcome him here today.