Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives [Updated September 16, 2008]   [open pdf - 191KB]

This is an updated report from the Congressional Research Service on the structure of intelligence and recommendations. "This report first describes the current select committees on intelligence and then the former Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, often cited as a model for a counterpart on intelligence. The study also sets forth proposed characteristics for a joint committee on intelligence, differences among these, and their pros and cons. The report, to be updated as events dictate, examines other actions and alternatives affecting congressional oversight in the field. […] Interest in congressional oversight of intelligence has risen again in the 110th Congress, in part because of the House Democratic majority's pledge to enact the remaining recommendations from the U.S. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 Commission. […] The commission's unanimous report, covering many issues, concluded that congressional oversight of intelligence was 'dysfunctional' and proposed two distinct solutions. These were: (1) creation of a joint committee on intelligence (JCI), modeled after the defunct Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE), with authority to report legislation to each chamber; or (2) enhanced status and power for the existing select committees on intelligence, by making them standing committees and granting both authorization and appropriations power. […] Although it did not adopt either of the 9/11 Commission proposals, Congress has pursued other initiatives to change its intelligence oversight structure and capabilities in the 110th Congress. The House altered its arrangements (H.Res. 35), when it created an advisory Select Intelligence Oversight Panel on the Appropriations Committee, a hybrid structure that combines members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Appropriations. The Senate has also changed its relationship between appropriations and intelligence and its Intelligence Committee has advanced others in this regard."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32525
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