By Shane Harris
August 26, 2009
Congressional oversight of intelligence is broken. That was the dismal conclusion of a 2006 report by the Center for American Progress, as well as the bipartisan 9/11 commission, both of which scoured the histories of congressional watchdogging — real and imagined — and concluded that the system set up to guard against abuses and keep intelligence in line with U.S. policies was not working the way it was intended.
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As the committees have become more partisan, they’ve also become less informed about intelligence. The center’s report cites a number of historians and former staffers who regret that lawmakers spend much of their time bickering over authorizations for individual programs, using the power of the purse for tactical political advantage. That has left less time to devote to the overall mission of the intelligence community and to strategy.
What was the problem? It boiled down to this, the center’s report said: Congress had all the tools it needed to conduct real oversight, but wasn’t using them. That’s because the committees themselves fractured along party lines.
Phi Beta Iota:
This all started with Newt Gingrich and his deliberate destruction of Speaker Jim Wright followed by the ultra-fascist party line voting regime that the Democrats then adopted. On Gingrich and Wright, see
On the impeachable misbehavior of both of the parties that block Electoral Reform: