IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century

Staff Study
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House of Representatives
One Hundred Fourth Congress


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XV. Congressional Oversight

                        Executive Summary


Findings

    The current intelligence oversight system arose from a
    view that intelligence had to be handled in a manner that
    was extraordinary when compared to other functions of
    government.  Although that view may have been warranted in
    the aftermath of the investigations in 1975-76, it is not
    warranted any longer.  Indeed, by continuing to view
    intelligence in this manner, oversight and the work of the
    Intelligence Community are likely made more difficult.

    Advocacy for overseen agencies is legitimate and to some
    extent necessary.  This has not been an accepted stance
    for the intelligence committees.  We agree with the view
    of former DCIs that intelligence is such a restricted
    issue that Congress must be more active in building the
    necessary political consensus.

    The current oversight system has been largely effective,
    and clearly has responded to those problems that prompted
    the creation of the current committees.

    There is no compelling reason to convert the current
    system to a joint committee. Congress's record regarding
    safeguarding highly classified information is not perfect,
    but does not warrant this step.  Creating a joint
    committee would also require either the House or the
    Senate to alter its current arrangements for intelligence
    oversight, which has not had significant support in the
    past.  Finally, and most importantly, creating a joint
    committee for intelligence would continue to heighten the
    view that intelligence is something other than an accepted
    function of government, which tends to increase rather
    than complement oversight issues and problems.

    Although the reasons for which the current committee was
    made a select committee with tenure limits may have been
    valid in 1977, these may no longer be compelling or valid. 
    There are equally compelling arguments in terms of the
    general effect of these arrangements on oversight to
    warrant reconsidering them.

    Unauthorized disclosures of classified information by
    Members or staff should trigger thorough investigations
    relying on strict enforcement of the applicable Federal
    statutes and House rules.  Any individual who is
    conclusively determined to be the source of such
    unauthorized disclosures should be subject to the full
    range of penalties prescribed by the law.  The rules
    promulgated by the Committee on Standards of Official
    Conduct on July 12, 1995 should be strictly and
    consistently enforced by HPSCI.

    The current oversight structure puts intelligence -- as
    both a government function and as an issue -- at a
    distinct disadvantage.  Unlike other national security
    functions, congressional oversight of intelligence is
    neither unified nor clearly delineated.  The prime effect
    of this arrangement is seen in the degree to which
    intelligence programs are subjected to budget cuts largely
    because of how they are dealt with (i.e., as part of the
    defense authorization and appropriations process), rather
    than on their own merits.

Recommendations

    It is important that the House act to "normalize" the way
    in which it oversees intelligence.  By continuing to
    handle intelligence as an extraordinary function, the
    current oversight system predicates an approach that may
    be overly adversarial and may actually make effective
    oversight more difficult.

    The House should give serious consideration to converting
    HPSCI to a standing committee, with no limits on terms of
    service for Members.  This would help "normalize"
    intelligence and greatly improve expertise and continuity
    on the Committee.

    The House should consider allowing HPSCI to have exclusive
    jurisdiction over all aspects of intelligence that are
    part of the larger intelligence architecture, while the
    House National Security Committee (HNSC) has exclusive
    jurisdiction over those aspects of intelligence solely
    related to military intelligence needs but that are not
    part of this larger architecture.  Second, the House
    should consider creating a separate appropriations
    subcommittee exclusively for intelligence.

    The House should seek to better protect Intelligence
    Community equities by erecting  legislative "firewalls"
    between HPSCI and HNSC during the authorization phase;
    similarly, efforts should be made to establish mechanisms
    for better legislative consultation and coordination with
    the House Appropriations Committee during the
    appropriations phase. 

    Establish a semi-annual strategic intelligence review
    meeting between the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence
    and the House and Senate intelligence committees.

                    CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT

     The modern system of congressional oversight of intelligence
-- select committees in the House and in the Senate specifically
devoted to intelligence -- is almost twenty years old.  Reviewing
the strengths and weaknesses of this system, as well as the
contribution that congressional oversight can and should make to
intelligence is appropriate as part of the larger IC21 study.

     Issues regarding congressional oversight fall into two large
categories:  the general nature of how Congress carries out
oversight and specific issues of organization and process related
to intelligence oversight.  Although this report touches on some
generic issues of intelligence oversight, its findings and
recommendations are restricted to the way in which the House of
Representatives handles this function.

Background:  Evolution of Congressional Oversight of Intelligence

     It is important to recall how the current intelligence
oversight system came into being.  The two select committees were
the direct result of the congressional (and executive)
investigations into U.S. intelligence activities in 1975-76.  Both
Houses came to the conclusion that the past oversight system had
been inadequate in terms of both the vigor with which it was
carried out/1/ and the very limited number of Members who were privy
to intelligence-related information.  That older system reflected
the gentleman's agreement nature of oversight that evolved during
the Cold War.  It accepted the necessity of intelligence -- and
especially of intelligence activities (i.e., covert action), but
treated them in an extraordinary manner because of their highly
classified and extremely sensitive nature.

     The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI)
was established on July 14, 1977 by H. Res. 658 of the 95th
Congress and is governed by Rule XLVIII of the Rules of the House. 
The current system attempted to correct the main flaws in the older
system in two major ways.  First, the House decided that a
committee with specific oversight over intelligence (albeit with
different jurisdictions in the House and Senate) was necessary to
ensure more vigorous and regular oversight.  Second, in order to
broaden the oversight base, each committee has "cross-over" Members
from other committees that have an interest in intelligence or
intelligence related issues:  Appropriations; International
Relations; Judiciary; and National Security.

     However, and this is perhaps ironic, the House continued to
treat intelligence as something extraordinary, rather than as an
accepted function of government similar to any others that are
subject to oversight.  This is reflected in two aspects of HPSCI. 
First, it is a select committee rather than a standing committee. 
Second, and derived from the first, are the rules limiting the
length of consecutive service on the Committee.  These tenure rules
arose from the perception that the past intelligence overseers had
grown "too cozy" with the intelligence agencies, thus becoming less
vigorous in their oversight.  Rotating the membership on a regular
basis, it was believed, would avoid this type of overly close and
potentially less critical relationship in the future.

The Nature of Oversight:  Adversary vs. Advocate

     Each committee charged with congressional oversight has a
dual responsibility.  The most obvious is to oversee the various
agencies under its mandate, approve their budgets, investigate
known or suspected problems, and report back to the House on these
matters.  Recognizing the impossibility of each Member being
conversant with (or intensely interested in) all issues, the
committee system delegates responsibility to the committees and
accepts their leadership in specific areas.  Given the checks and
balances nature of the congressional-executive relationship, each
committee has, at some level, an adversarial role with its
Executive Branch opposites.  The relationship need not be overtly
or continuously hostile, but there is inevitably a certain amount
of friction involved.

     The responsibility for being the House's resident experts on
given programs and agencies also gives rise to a second role for
each oversight committee, that of advocacy for those agencies and
programs.  It is only natural that those Members most interested in
and most conversant with agencies and programs will also, on
occasion, be their advocates.  Increasingly constrained debates
over budget shares, disinterest or outright hostility from other
Members about agencies or programs for a wide variety of reasons,
all put oversight committees in this advocacy role as well.

     Oversight, if carried out properly, should be a combination of
these two roles.  An excessive concentration on either will damage
the ability of the committee to handle its issues effectively and
can undermine the credibility of that committee among its
colleagues.  

     However, it is not clear that this norm of oversight behavior
is widely accepted as proper for HPSCI.  The fact that intelligence
continues to be handled as an extraordinary issue in terms of
oversight -- by virtue of a select committee and tenure limits --
suggests that it was at least expected at its origin that HPSCI
would largely eschew advocacy role and that this expected emphasis
on adversary rather than advocate has been tacitly accepted over
the last twenty years.  

     There remains a lingering uneasiness about intelligence and
its role in the U.S. government that will never be completely
resolved.  At some level, the concept of secret agencies with
classified budgets runs counter to some deeply felt view of what
and how the U.S. government should behave.  However, this less than
full acceptance may actually be heightened rather than pacified by
the current oversight system, which treats intelligence in a manner
different from other government activities.  

     Interestingly, several witnesses who appeared before HPSCI
during IC21 hearings made the same point:  intelligence, unlike
virtually all other functions of government, has no natural
advocates in the public at large.  Its direct effect on the lives
of most citizens is largely unfelt or unseen; its industrial base
is too rarefied to build a large constituency in many areas; it is
largely an "inside the Beltway" phenomenon in terms of location,
logistics, budget and concern.  The only places where intelligence
can hope to find some base level of support are from its Executive
Branch masters and its congressional overseers./2/

     By having HPSCI as a select committee, Congress is, in effect,
elevating intelligence.  It is seen as an extraordinary issue
requiring congressional organizational responses that depart from
the norm.  At some levels, this view of intelligence is accurate,
but this also adds to the mystique that too often surrounds
intelligence and often engenders wariness about it on the part of
some Members.  By making HPSCI a standing committee, intelligence
would be treated like other "normal" functions of government. 
Making intelligence a less extraordinary issue might actually have
positive effects, in that by being seen as less unique the very
raison of the IC might not be questioned as much.

The Propriety of Congressional Oversight of Intelligence

     Not surprisingly, we believe that the modern oversight system
for intelligence residing in committees specifically devoted to
that task has worked well.  The House and Senate committees have
achieved the two main goals of their founders in the 94th and 95th
Congresses, creating a system that is more vigorous and more
rigorous and is more broadly based than the previous system.  All
oversight is imperfect and is always limited by the degree to which
the Executive Branch will be forthcoming with information. Given
the highly classified and often compartmented nature of
intelligence information, this may be a more exacting problem for
the intelligence committees.  Nonetheless, we continue to believe
that the current system has largely been effective.

     We also do not see that any alternative to having a distinct
committee oversee intelligence is preferable.  Each oversight
committee finds itself with a full agenda.  Returning oversight to
the House National Security Committee (HNSC) would act to the
detriment of both those Members charged with intelligence oversight
and the intelligence agencies themselves.

     We also understand that there will always be some in the
intelligence agencies who will question, resent and perhaps resist
the idea of Congress having extensive oversight powers.  This view
is not unique to intelligence.  It is unlikely that there is any
Executive agency or department that does not harbor similar
sentiments at some time.  Still, this feeling may run deeper in the
Intelligence Community.  Sharing information with "outsiders," even
if they are elected officials, runs counter to the ethos of
intelligence as some understand it.  We are also aware of repeated
complaints by intelligence agency heads about the amount of time
they must spend either before Congress or responding to Congress. 
Again, this sentiment is not unique, and we are also not convinced
that the burden is any more onerous for intelligence agencies than
for any others.

     Effective oversight and an informed Congress are now
considered among the expected norms of our system of government. 
We believe that oversight, if carried out seriously and with a
modicum of support from intelligence agencies, not only helps
ensure greater Executive branch effectiveness and propriety, but
can also be a substantial force in rebuilding a sorely needed
consensus to support intelligence agencies, programs and
activities.

A Joint Committee

     The issue of a joint congressional committee to oversee
intelligence has been proposed in virtually every Congress since
1976.  The main arguments in favor of a joint committee are:

           It would restrict the number of Members and staff
           (currently 33 Members and 50 staff in the House and
           Senate Committees) with access to highly classified
           information, thus limiting the possibility of
           unauthorized disclosures.

           It would underscore the seriousness with which Congress
           views intelligence, by handling it in this manner,
           similar to how atomic energy (i.e., nuclear weapons
           development and proliferation) issues were overseen from
           1946-1977 by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

     The main arguments against a joint committee are:

           Concern over restricting the number of Members and staff
           with access to intelligence information implies that
           Congress cannot be trusted with such information. 
           Although the record of Congress with regard to
           safeguarding such information is not perfect, it remains
           far better than Executive Branch agencies.  Congress must
           be vigilant in this regard, but this does not argue that
           current number need to be further restricted. 

           By creating a joint committee, Congress would further
           heighten the view that intelligence is an extraordinary,
           rather than an accepted, function of government.  No
           other executive branch agencies or functions are overseen
           by a joint committee, thus raising the issue of why
           intelligence needs to be overseen in this manner.

           The oversight scope of the two current intelligence
           committees are not identical.  Intelligence programs are
           currently divided into three broad groups:  NFIP: the
           National Foreign Intelligence Program, which includes the
           Director of Central Intelligence; CIA; and the national
           foreign intelligence or counterintelligence programs of
           the Defense Department, DIA, NSA, the Central Imagery
           Office, NRO, Army, Navy and the Air Force, the
           Departments of State, Treasury and Energy, the FBI and
           DEA; JMIP:  the Joint Military Intelligence Program,
           covering intelligence for defense-wide or theater-level
           consumers; and TIARA:  Tactical Intelligence and Related
           Activities, covering service unique and tactical
           intelligence needs.  HPSCI oversees all of these
           intelligence programs, sharing oversight of TIARA with
           the HNSC.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
           (SSCI) oversees only the NFIP.  To create a joint
           committee, one House or the other would have to make
           substantial changes in the scope of oversight accorded to
           this new committee.

           It is highly questionable that the establishment of a
           joint committee would significantly reduce the number of
           Members and staffers that currently have access to
           classified information.  No committee system will make
           Congress "leak proof."  Even with a joint committee,
           there still would be a substantial number of Members and
           staff with access to intelligence information across
           several House Committees (Appropriations, National
           Security, Judiciary, International Relations), as well as
           their Senate counterparts.

           The joint committee structure is not suitable to an
           authorizing committee as it would complicate
           Congressional efforts to conduct our necessary oversight
           activities. By shrinking the number of Members familiar
           with the Intelligence Community, an inevitable result
           will be a diminution in Members' knowledge of the
           complexities of intelligence oversight. Additionally, the
           current system of two separate intelligence committees
           provides a more effective system of Constitutional checks
           and balances on Executive Branch activities.   

     Finding:  There is no compelling reason to convert the current
     system to a joint  committee.  As noted, Congress's record
     regarding safeguarding highly classified information is not
     perfect, but does not warrant this step.  Creating a joint
     committee would also require either the House or the Senate
     to alter its current arrangements for intelligence oversight,
     which has not had significant support in the past.  Finally,
     and most importantly, creating a joint committee for intelligence
     would continue to heighten the view that intelligence is something
     other than an accepted function of government, which tends
     to increase rather than complement oversight issues and problems.

Select Committee/Appointment and Tenure Limits

     The reasons for these two aspects of the current oversight
structure are described above.  Although specific provisions for a
standing intelligence committee could be established, changing
HPSCI into a standing committee would most likely (but not
necessarily) affect the process of assignment and lengths of
service.

     The main arguments in favor of the current select committee
arrangement relating to assignment procedures are:

           Intelligence activities are inherently different from
           other areas of government; secrecy is a paramount
           consideration on which depends the lives of agents
           attempting to assist the United States.  Further,
           intelligence gathering deals with highly sensitive
           sources and methods of collection and analysis.  The
           Speaker and Minority Leader already have special
           statutory standing to be advised of covert actions;
           allowing them to select Members of HPSCI is consistent
           with this prerogative and serves to increase the
           likelihood that only those with a demonstrated commitment
           to preserving the secrecy of classified information will
           be placed in oversight of intelligence agencies.

           Given the sensitivity of the Committee's work, Members
           who are unwilling to maintain the secrecy of classified
           information, despite the secrecy oaths required by House
           rules, should be removable without the necessity of
           contentious caucus votes.  Maintaining the select
           committee status allows the Speaker to act with dispatch
           to remove Members who do not maintain the secrecy of
           classified materials. This approach underscores the view
           that intelligence must be handled in an extraordinary
           manner.

     The main arguments in favor of the current select committee
arrangement relating to the length of member service are:

           Limiting service on HPSCI, in accordance with the current
           rule, to four terms (five for the chairman and ranking
           member) reduces the likelihood that Members will become
           "clients" of intelligence agencies, less rigorous in
           their oversight, or that they will be able unfairly to
           direct intelligence spending to their home districts.  It
           also increases the likelihood that Members will reflect
           the diversity of public opinion regarding intelligence
           issues.

           Inasmuch as information available to HPSCI cannot be made
           available to all Members, rotating service will permit a
           larger percentage of Members to have some understanding
           of intelligence issues.   For example,  there are
           currently some 20 Members of the House who have
           previously served on the HPSCI, including three former
           chairmen.  Such experience contributes to better informed
           decisions on intelligence budgets as well as on national
           security questions that require an appreciation for the
           limits of available intelligence information.

           Limiting length of service is consistent in spirit with
           widespread popular support for "citizen legislators" and
           with actions taken in the 104th Congress to limit the
           tenures of committee and subcommittee chairmen as opposed
           to the previous reliance on seniority.

     There are three primary attributes that most observers would
acknowledge as differentiating select and standing committees: (1)
Speaker appointments vs. caucus/conference appointments; (2)
limited vs. permanent tenure; and (3) study and review authority
vs. permanent jurisdiction. The main arguments supporting the
establishment of a standing committee relating to assignment
procedures are as follows:

           Intelligence is a normal function of government and is
           integral to the conduct of foreign policy and military
           operations.  Creation of a standing intelligence
           committee would recognize this reality and demonstrate to
           the public the determination of Congress to provide
           appropriate oversight of sizable Federal agencies.

           HPSCI deals with policy questions not essentially
           different from other committees and should, like them,
           reflect the spectrum of views held by Members.

           Noting the unique scope and responsibilities involved in
           intelligence oversight, the Speaker should retain a
           central role in appointing Members to the new standing
           intelligence committee, as is the case under the select
           committee arrangement (see Rule X, clause 6, paragraph
           (f)).  The Speaker should also retain the power he
           currently has to remove Members.  Members of the standing
           intelligence committee should not, however, be removable
           by a Speaker who may be pursuing a political agenda.
           While these conditions would be unique among the House's
           standing committees, it may be appropriate for the
           committee's leadership to seek a waiver of the 
           requirement that membership be appointed by the House
           from nominations made by party caucuses. 

           As is the case with the Budget Committee, there could be
           a continuing requirement that some Members on the
           standing intelligence committee also serve on other
           specified committees with jurisdictions related to
           intelligence (e.g., National Security, International
           Relations, or Judiciary).  A new standing intelligence
           committee would have to grapple with the issue of
           "crossover" Members from the National Security,
           International Relations, Judiciary and Appropriations
           Committees.  These Committees were guaranteed seats on
           HPSCI as part of their loss of some oversight
           responsibilities.

           In standing committees, other than the Budget Committee,
           there are no limitations on length of service and
           seniority is usually the basis for appointment as
           chairman and ranking minority member.  Effective with the
           104th Congress, committee and subcommittee chairmen are
           limited to no more than three consecutive terms of
           service as committee leaders.  Again noting the unique
           scope and responsibilities involved in intelligence
           oversight, it may be prudent for the Committee's
           leadership to seek a waiver of this tenure requirement. 

           If HPSCI became a regular standing committee, then
           membership on it would be counted against the number of
           committee and subcommittees on which a Member could
           serve.  This could be a difficult decision given the
           minimal amount of constituent interest likely to be found
           in intelligence matters.  Such a change would also mean
           that members of "exclusive" committees, such as
           Appropriations, could no longer serve on the standing
           intelligence committee  -- which could be a major loss in
           terms of easing the authorization/appropriations process. 
           In addition, the overlap of Members from the "exclusive"
           committees ensures that intelligence concerns and needs
           receive sufficient attention from the National Security,
           International Relations, Judiciary, and Appropriations
           Committees.

           Finally, there is the issue of HPSCI Members not getting
           too comfortable or familiar with the Intelligence
           Community.  This view is a direct outgrowth of the
           congressional investigations of the mid-1970s, which
           concluded that the former intelligence overseers (in the
           Senate Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services
           Committee) had become lax, in part by virtue of being too
           "cozy" with the Intelligence Community.  Interestingly,
           this is not seen as a being a problem vis-a-vis HNSC or
           the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the
           military, nor between Judiciary and the FBI.

     The main arguments in favor of a standing committee
arrangement relating to the length of member service are:

           Tenure limits under the current select committee process
           make it less likely that Members will become overly
           familiar with intelligence agencies, thus possibly
           diminishing the rigor of oversight.

           The current tenure limits have also been responsible to
           some degree for the rapid change in HPSCI chairmen since
           the initial tenure of Chairman Boland.  Since he stepped
           down in 1985, there have been six chairmen.  This has
           obvious costs in terms of continuity and, in effect,
           makes the staff much more responsible for that important
           and unseen facet of committee life.  Some observers have
           argued that the rapid rotation of HPSCI chairmen makes
           consistent oversight more difficult.

           Limiting service on the Committee to four terms (or five
           for the chairman and ranking member) does not allow HPSCI
           to benefit adequately from Members' experience in the
           arcane world of intelligence, especially the complicated
           relationships among the agencies, the role of the DCI,
           and complex and separate budgeting procedures for
           national and tactical programs.  Members acquire
           experience in intelligence behind closed doors at the
           expense of other duties and this experience should be
           fully utilized in overseeing intelligence activities.  A
           significant portion of a six or eight year term on the
           Committee must be spent mastering intelligence, with less
           time left to use that expertise.  This, in turn, makes
           Members of HPSCI much more dependent on the staff, who
           provide the greatest available base of institutional
           knowledge and continuity.

           Removal of the tenure limits would also allow the
           Committee to have a membership that is more consistently
           conversant with intelligence issues.  This has not been
           an issue in the 104th Congress.  However, in the 103rd
           Congress, 11 of 19 Members were new to HPSCI.  As
           previously noted, this might also lead to greater
           stability in the chairmanship, assuming some continuity
           by one party.

           Even though HPSCI is a relatively new committee, existing
           term limits have already been overridden on several
           occasions to permit appointment of experienced Members to
           additional service on the Committee.  The practice of
           Members leaving the Committee and subsequently returning
           in order to stay within restrictions has been criticized
           by some as contrary to the spirit of the House rules,
           although it has the benefit of providing Members who are
           enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

           More important changes would likely come in the
           Committee's membership.  Assuming that the tenure
           limitations were abandoned, service on a standing
           intelligence committee might become more attractive. 
           Currently, service on HPSCI  has more overt drawbacks
           than attractions:  it likely offers no help vis-a-vis the
           interests of the Members' districts; it detracts time and
           attention from issues of direct interest to constituents;
           and there is little Members can say about what they do on
           HPSCI.  None of these would be likely to change. 
           However, if service on the Committee offered a more
           reasonable prospect of a subcommittee chairmanship or
           Committee chairmanship over time, then this would be a
           new and major attraction.

     Finding:  Although the reasons for which HPSCI was made a
     select committee   with tenure limits may have been valid in 1977,
     these may no longer be compelling or valid. There are equally
     compelling arguments in terms of the general effect of these
     arrangements on oversight to warrant reconsidering them and to
     proceed with the establishment of a standing intelligence committee.
     In doing so, significant efforts should be made to secure the
     presence of "crossover" Members from the National Security,
     International Relations, Judiciary and Appropriations Committees
     within the standing committee's membership.  

Unauthorized Disclosure:  Members and Staff

     The ability to safeguard highly classified information with
which it has been entrusted is an issue for several committees, not
just HPSCI.  As noted, no committee can boast a perfect record in
this regard, although the record of any congressional committee is
far superior to the Executive Branch national security agencies. 
This does not excuse leaks from Congress, but it should serve to
put in perspective the false complaints too often heard from
Executive Branch officials about their inability to trust Congress.

     There are two views on the responsibility imposed on Congress
by the receipt of classified information.  There is general
agreement that access to such information is necessary for Congress
to carry out effective oversight.  Some argue that Congress is
responsible for engendering some degree of trust in how it handles
this information so that Executive agencies will be forthcoming. 
Others reject this view, arguing that it is up to Executive
agencies to win the trust of Congress and that these agencies have
no choice but to provide Congress with the information it requires.

     With the advent of the 104th Congress, Members of HPSCI now
take two oaths regarding the safeguarding of information, one as
Members of the House and one as Members of the Committee.  Some
argued that there was some ambiguity in these oaths; we believe
that the letter and the ruling issued by the Committee on Standards
of Official Conduct on July 12, 1995 offered important
clarifications.  That Committee noted first that HPSCI's Classified
Information Oath embraces "any classified information provided to
a Member by any person during the Member's term in office." 
Second, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct imposed upon
Members an affirmative duty to inquire whether sensitive
information in that Member's possession is indeed classified before
disclosing it to the public.

     HPSCI staff undergo background investigations and are subject
to the Rules of the House (see Rule XLIII, clause 13) regarding
unauthorized disclosure of information.  Some, primarily from the
Executive Branch, have argued that at least staff, and perhaps
Members, should be subject to the same security requirements as
Executive Branch officials, particularly, a requirement to submit
to comprehensive polygraph examinations on a regular basis.  These
remain controversial tools within the Executive Branch; there is no
one standard for polygraphs nor is there a uniform policy among all
Executive Branch agencies.

     Finding:  Unauthorized disclosures of classified information
     by HPSCI Members or staff should result in swift and sure
     penalties against any individual who is conclusively determined
     to be the source of such disclosures.  The rules promulgated by
     the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on July 12, 1995
     should be strictly enforced by HPSCI.

Jurisdiction

     Select committees usually do not have exclusive jurisdiction
over an area of government.  Standing committees usually do have
exclusive jurisdiction although there are considerable areas of
overlap among standing committees.  Select committees usually do
not have the legislative authority to report legislation to the
floor.  HPSCI already has authority to report legislation and this
would presumably not be altered if it became a standing committee.

     One of the more difficult aspects of intelligence oversight is
the fact that budget authorization for and some degree of general
oversight of intelligence is divided between committees.  This
shared jurisdiction between HPSCI and HNSC derives from two
factors. 

     First, HNSC (then called Armed Services) had been the
committee charged with intelligence oversight prior to 1977.  The
decision to continue some shared jurisdiction, at least over the
TIARA portion of intelligence, allowed HNSC to preserve some of its
jurisdiction.  Second, the decision reflected the view that, given
the importance of intelligence to military operations and the fact
that the classified portion of the intelligence budget is lodged
within the larger defense budget, this sharing was also
appropriate.

     Nothing has happened to undercut these rationales, but it is
important also to look at the effects of this shared oversight on
intelligence.  There are two major problems -- the effect on the
creation of the overall intelligence budget and the extraneous
pressures that are brought to bear on the intelligence budget.

     HPSCI is charged with authorizing a global intelligence
architecture, i.e., the entire range of intelligence programs from
TIARA up through the national programs.  This architecture is
supposed to be coherent and mutually supportive.  This becomes
difficult, from the standpoint of HPSCI, when a significant portion
of this budget is, in effect, authorized twice and not always at
the same levels.  Replicating the Senate intelligence oversight
system, wherein SSCI has no oversight functions regarding TIARA,
would be one solution, but it would undercut the goal of creating
a global intelligence architecture.  The other solution would be to
cede exclusive oversight to HPSCI of those systems designed to
gather intelligence as part of this larger architecture, reserving
to HNSC those parts of TIARA that are exclusively related to
military intelligence needs but are not part of this larger
architecture.

     The second issue derives from the fact that the intelligence
budget remains classified and is "hidden" within the larger defense
budget for both authorization and appropriation.  HNSC divides the
budget into functional categories:  procurement, research and
development, etc.  None of these is a "logical" place to house the
intelligence budget.  In actuality, the defense and intelligence
authorization processes move along parallel but unrelated tracks. 
When the intelligence budget is completed, it is then hidden within
HNSC Subcommittee budgets.  As these National Security functions
then move through the congressional budget process they inevitably
come under pressure for a variety of reasons.  If, for example, the
dominant view becomes that the research and development budget is
too high -- and intelligence is hidden within that budget function
-- then intelligence must take its "fair share" of reductions for
reasons entirely extraneous to the merits of the intelligence
programs.  Moreover, as the entire intelligence budget is hidden in
this manner, all programs are liable to such cuts, not just TIARA.

     Making HPSCI a standing committee would not in and of itself
extend its exclusive jurisdiction over intelligence matters, and
specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Director of
Central Intelligence.  However, HNSC would retain oversight over
the Department of Defense (DoD), which conducts both national and
tactical intelligence operations.  The State Department, including
the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, would continue to be
overseen by the House International Relations Committee, and there
would be additional overlap in other areas.  HPSCI also has
concurrent jurisdiction in specified areas with the Judiciary
Committee and the Committee on Space and Science, and Technology.

     With the reduced structure and personnel levels in DoD,
emphasis on equipping the military with the highest-technology
weapons and support systems, the emphasis on "support to the
warfighter" and "support to military operations," that has
permeated the defense and intelligence thought process, and the
overall drive to achieve a balanced budget, the accepted practice
of competing weapons and intelligence programs will not only likely
continue, but could well grow. Those who argue that this process is
justified, often point out that the majority of expenditures within
the intelligence budget are within defense and that the reliance of
newer systems on intelligence will properly balance out the trade-offs.

     Were we structuring intelligence to operate effectively to
support only tactical operations, these arguments might be more
compelling.  But, it is increasingly clear that emphasis on
strategic or baseline intelligence -- intelligence regarding a
broader picture, not intelligence on strategic weapons systems --
is becoming more important to the policy maker and to the military
commander, as it will allow us to avoid confrontations, plan
operations, and respond to the unexpected issues that are
increasingly part of our foreign policy, in a manner that is less
reactive.  If successful, such intelligence planning and operations
can reduce the risk to U.S. military forces.

     Without adequate safeguards in the appropriations process,
however, intelligence programs will continue to be subjected to
those who have strong constituency interests in national security
and the defense industry.  The FY96 intelligence budget  is a
relevant case in point. For the first time in several years, HPSCI
passed an intelligence budget that represented an increase in
spending. The budget had bipartisan support and reflected the
Committee's approach of beginning the process of planning for the
future. Yet, during the appropriations process, when it was
determined that there were significant overages in specific
intelligence accounts, money was first taken out of intelligence to
pay for specific weapons systems rather than being considered
available to better fund other intelligence programs or operations.
Likewise, intelligence funding is being sacrificed by the Clinton
Administration in order to pay for non-intelligence military
operations in Bosnia. The continued process of raiding the
intelligence budget in order to pay bills within the military tends
to be short-sighted and will serve only to inhibit effective
intelligence operations in the future -- a fact that will
ultimately increase the risk to U.S. forces and national security.

     Although many of the budget battles on intelligence programs
are fought within the authorization process and, as identified
elsewhere in IC21 staff studies, steps must be taken to "clean up"
the various budget accounts (especially, JMIP and TIARA) to help
coordination between the authorization committees, the wars are
actually won or lost in the appropriations process.  Therefore,
designing safeguards within the House Appropriations Committee
could be central to successful intelligence operations and support
in the 21st century.

     Currently, the intelligence budget is reviewed and acted upon
by the National Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations
Committee, along with most of the rest of the defense budget.  Such
a structure allows -- in fact, encourages -- trade-offs to be made
within the entirety of the defense budget, including intelligence. 
One option to help protect necessary intelligence equities might be
a separate subcommittee on intelligence. Such a subcommittee would
be responsible for review of the NFIP and JMIP budgets, leaving the
TIARA budget review within the National Security Subcommittee. 
This would help protect "national" and "defense-wide" intelligence
assets, while leaving those intelligence assets that are integral
to service operations to be considered with the forces for which
they are a part.  (This assumes that there is a restructuring of
the JMIP and TIARA programs as discussed elsewhere in IC21
studies.)  The result would be a better protected, more coherent
look at the intelligence budget, with trade-offs being made against
intelligence resources rather than with non-intelligence, defense
programs.  The ability to focus trade-offs -- and, thus, planning
-- within intelligence, also provides the ability to better
understand the effects of such trade-offs more in terms of the
synergy of our overall intelligence capabilities.   

     Finding: The current oversight structure puts intelligence --
     as both a government function and as an issue -- at a distinct
     disadvantage.  Unlike other national security
     functions, congressional oversight of intelligence is
     neither unified nor discreet.  The prime effect of this
     arrangement is seen in the degree to which intelligence
     programs are subjected to budget cuts largely because
     of how they are dealt with (i.e., as part of the
     defense authorization and appropriations process),
     rather than on their own merits.  Therefore, serious
     consideration ought to be given to establishing a
     separate subcommittee on intelligence within the House
     Appropriations Committee and to shift a number of the
     current functions of the existing Appropriations
     Subcommittee on HNSC to this new subcommittee.  

Linkages Between HPSCI and the New Committee on Foreign Intelligence

     In separate IC21 studies, it has been proposed to create a
new, high-level Committee on Foreign Intelligence (CFI) to enhance
oversight of the Intelligence Community as well as to better focus
the Community's collection and analytical capabilities.  The new
CFI is to be composed of senior Executive Branch policy makers who
would advise the DCI on national intelligence priorities.  Noting
the sensitivity and importance of the CFI's role, it may be prudent
to consider whether a regular oversight dialogue should be
established between the CFI and the intelligence committees.  A
semi-annual strategic intelligence review meeting between the CFI
and the intelligence committees might improve the flow of
information and dialogue between the Executive and Legislative
Branches on significant intelligence matters.

     Finding:  Establish a semi-annual strategic intelligence
     review meeting between the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence
     and the intelligence committees.

Conclusion:  Findings and Recommendations

Findings

           The current intelligence oversight system arose from a
           view that intelligence had to be handled in a manner that
           was extraordinary when compared to other functions of
           government.  Although that view may have been warranted
           in the aftermath of the investigations in 1975-76, it is
           not warranted any longer.  Indeed, by continuing to view
           intelligence in this manner, oversight and the work of
           the Intelligence Community are likely made more
           difficult.

           Advocacy for overseen agencies is legitimate and to some
           extent necessary.  This has not been an accepted stance
           for the intelligence committees.  We agree with the view
           of former DCIs that intelligence is such a restricted
           issue that Congress must be more active in building the
           necessary political consensus.

           The current oversight system has been largely effective,
           and clearly has responded to those problems that prompted
           the creation of the current committees.

           There is no compelling reason to convert the current
           system to a joint committee.  As noted, Congress's record
           regarding safeguarding highly classified information is
           not perfect, but does not warrant this step.  Creating a
           joint committee would also require either the House or
           the Senate to alter its current arrangements for
           intelligence oversight, which has not had significant
           support in the past.  Finally, and most importantly,
           creating a joint committee for intelligence would
           continue to heighten the view that intelligence is
           something other than an accepted function of government,
           which tends to increase rather than complement oversight
           issues and problems.

           Although the reasons for which the current committee was
           made a select committee with tenure limits may have been
           valid in 1977, these may no longer be compelling or
           valid.  There are equally compelling arguments in terms
           of the general effect of these arrangements on oversight
           to warrant reconsidering them.

           Unauthorized disclosures of classified information by
           Members or staff should trigger thorough investigations
           relying on strict enforcement of the applicable Federal
           statutes and House rules.  Any individual who is
           conclusively determined to be the source of such
           unauthorized disclosures should be subject to the full
           range of penalties prescribed by the law.  The rules
           promulgated by the Committee on Standards of Official
           Conduct on July 12, 1995 should be strictly and
           consistently enforced by HPSCI.

           The current oversight structure puts intelligence -- as
           both a government function and as an issue -- at a
           distinct disadvantage.  Unlike other national security
           functions, congressional oversight of intelligence is
           neither unified nor clearly delineated.  The prime effect
           of this arrangement is seen in the degree to which
           intelligence programs are subjected to budget cuts
           largely because of how they are dealt with (i.e., as part
           of the defense authorization and appropriations process),
           rather than on their own merits.

Recommendations

           It is important that the House act to "normalize" the way
           in which it oversees intelligence.  By continuing to
           handle intelligence as an extraordinary function, the
           current oversight system predicates an approach that may
           be overly adversarial and may actually make effective
           oversight more difficult.

           The House should give serious consideration to converting
           HPSCI to a standing committee, with no limits on terms of
           service for Members.  This would help "normalize"
           intelligence and greatly improve expertise and continuity
           on the Committee.

           The House should consider allowing HPSCI to have
           exclusive jurisdiction over all aspects of intelligence
           that are part of the larger intelligence architecture,
           while the HNSC has exclusive jurisdiction over those
           aspects of intelligence solely related to military
           intelligence needs but that are not part of this larger
           architecture.  Second, the House should consider creating
           a separate appropriations subcommittee exclusively for
           intelligence.

           The House should seek to better protect Intelligence
           Community equities by erecting  legislative "firewalls"
           between HPSCI and HNSC during the authorization phase;
           similarly, efforts should be made to establish mechanisms
           for better legislative consultation and coordination with
           the House Appropriations Committee during the
           appropriations phase. 

           Establish a semi-annual strategic intelligence review
           meeting between the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence
           (CFI) and the intelligence committees.





                    ------------------------------

                               FOOTNOTES

     /1/The most-oft cited example of the problem was the quote
from Senator Leverett Saltonstall, a member of the Armed Services
Committee, which was responsible for intelligence oversight. 
When asked by Senator Mike Mansfield why there had only been two
committee meetings with the CIA in the past year, Senator
Saltonstall replied:  "...it is not a question of reluctance on
the part of the CIA officials to speak to us.  Instead, it is a
question of our reluctance, if you will, to seek information and
knowledge on subjects which I personally, as a Member of Congress
and as a citizen, would rather not have, unless I believed it to
be my responsibility to have it because it might involve the
lives of American citizens."  Congressional Record, April 9,
1956, p. 5924.

     /2/Testimony of Richard Helms and James Schlesinger before
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on May 22, 1995.


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