Defying a previous veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives will consider an amendment to bolster intelligence oversight by requiring intelligence agencies to cooperate with the Government Accountability Office when it performs audits that are requested by a congressional committee with jurisdiction over intelligence.
In general, the amendment (pdf) states, “the Director of National Intelligence shall ensure that personnel of the Government Accountability Office designated by the Comptroller General are provided with access to all information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community that the Comptroller General determines is necessary for such personnel to conduct an analysis, evaluation, or investigation of a program or activity of an element of the intelligence community that is requested by one of the congressional intelligence committees.”
The amendment to the FY2011 Defense Authorization Act (HR 5136) was sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and several colleagues.
When a similar amendment was included in the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, which is still pending, it prompted a veto threat from the Obama White House. But the White House opposition was based on an erroneous interpretation of the law, the Acting Comptroller of the GAO told Congress.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the likelihood of a renewed veto threat, the House Democratic leadership ruled that the Eshoo amendment was “in order,” and it will therefore be considered on the House floor, perhaps today or tomorrow.
Back when he was a Congressman in 1987, CIA Director Leon Panetta introduced a bill called the “CIA Accountability Act” (pdf) that would have reinforced GAO oversight over the Central Intelligence Agency.
Phi Beta Iota: Tip of the hat to Secrecy News for the above lead story. The secret world is long overdue for GAO oversight, and we have stated in writing before that the first decision by any Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with even a modicum of ethics (we’re not holding our breath) should be to create an integrated IG/GAO office and put the entire secret intelligence world under a GAO microscope. It is our judgement that 90% of the contract positions should be eliminated, and at least 50% of the so-called government employee positions, most of which are very highly paid clerical positions, nothing more. The budget should be cut back to $25 billion a year, with the proviso that the other $50 billion remains under the DNI’s purview for redirection toward education, research, and a global multinational multiagency multidisciplinary multidomain information sharing and sensemaking (M4IS2) grid focused on creating a prosperous world at peace. Budget intelligence, and the eradication of corruption at all levels by combining true cost intelligence with the exposure of blatantly stupid acquisition decisions, some but not all also corrupt acquisition decisions (most just uninformed), is the single best thing intelligence can do for the government; creating a Smart Nation is the ONLY thing that should be on the next DNI’s mind. If Obama is dumb enough to keep John Brennan at the White House, he is assuredly dumb enough to move Jim Clapper or Leon Panetta to the DNI position and lose all hope of ever getting anything serious out of the secret world in the little time he has remaining. No one now serving is capable of serving the public interest–Panetta had a shot, but if he cannot handle CIA he assuredly cannot handle Jim Clapper and the Clapper Harem.