Legislation: House Intel Committee Needs to Share InfoTweet
August 2, 2006
UPI's Shaun Waterman's story on a bill to allow other committees in Congress access to information held by the House intelligence committee touches on an issue near and dear to my heart nowadays: the broader need for Congressional access to classified information to conduct oversight.
I've got a lot to say on the matter, but will refrain, except for this bit of info, which may bolster the case for the legislation. It turns out that the House intelligence committee doesn't make it easy for non-committee members of Congress to get access to classified information in their possession. At least relative to other committees which also deal with highly secretive national security information, such as the House Armed Services Committee. According to the Congressional Research Service (pdf):
Procedures controlling access to classified information held by committees exist throughout Congress. These set conditions for viewing classified information and determine whether legislators who are not on a panel are eligible for access to its classified holdings and attend closed hearings or executive sessions. Other rules govern staff access and the sharing of classified information with other panels in the chamber.
The most exacting requirements along these lines have been developed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; these rules are based on its 1977 establishing authority (H.Res. 658, 95th Congress) and reinforced by intelligence oversight provisions in public law, such as the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act (P.L. 102-88; 105 Stat. 441). Representatives who are not members of the Intelligence Committee go through a multi-stage process (Committee Rule 10, 108th Congress). Thus, it is possible for a non-member to be denied attendance at its executive sessions or access to its classified holdings. By comparison, the rules of the House Armed Services Committee (Rule 21, 108th Congress) �ensure access to [its classified] information by any member of the committee or any other Member of the House of Representatives who has requested an opportunity to review such material.� [my emphasis]
Director of Investigations, POGO
At the time of publication, Nick Schwellenbach was Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.
Authors: Nick Schwellenbach