Introduce Bill To Improve Intelligence Oversight
Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) today introduced legislation calling on the House and Senate to implement the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations, in order to improve Congressional oversight of intelligence matters. This comes after The Washington Post this week released their analysis of a two year study on the U.S. intelligence community, which they cite has become "so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work." The Castle-Lance bill would boost the ability of Congress to better coordinate intelligence communications and funding.
"The need to streamline our efforts to protect the security of all Americans continues to be reinforced by recent studies," said Rep. Castle. "As noted by Members of the 9/11 Commission, combining Congressional oversight of the authorizing and appropriation powers over the intelligence community would allow Congress to enact reforms, eliminate waste, and improve the communications between various intelligence agencies. With the recent Christmas day Flight 253 terror attempt and the Times Square bombing effort, it is clear we should not continue to ignore the recommendations of the Commission."
The Castle-Lance bill calls on Congress to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission report and the subsequent 9/11 Public Disclosure Project for reforming congressional oversight of intelligence. These options include: (1) establishing a joint committee on intelligence modeled after the old Joint Committee on Atomic Energy; (2) establishing House and Senate committees on intelligence with authorizing and appropriating authority; OR (3) establishing a new appropriations subcommittee on intelligence.
"Congress must implement the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations," said Rep. Lance. "We clearly need a more refined approach to protect all Americans from future threats and terrorist attacks both at home and abroad. I am pleased to team-up with Congressman Castle in calling for the implementation of these long overdue, common sense reforms."
Reps. Castle and Lance offered this language as an amendment to the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization bill, but it was not made in order.
Oversight of intelligence is currently consolidated to a large degree in the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence, but a number of other committees share oversight. In 2007, Congress applied a "Band-Aid" to the need for greater intelligence oversight by creating an advisory Select Intelligence Oversight Panel on the Appropriations Committee, with very little control over actual funding decisions.
In 2010, a follow-up report from the National Security Preparedness Group, a bipartisan effort headed by the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, found that while some improvements have been made in oversight, "enduring fractured and overlapping committee jurisdictions on both sides of the hill have left Congressional oversight in an unsatisfactory state...Without taking serious action, we fear this unworkable system could make the country less safe."