WASHINGTON - April 26 - “April 26th, 2006 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Church Committee report, a watershed moment that spurred Congress to assume its critical role in overseeing the U.S. intelligence community. The report, which uncovered serious abuses in U.S. intelligence both overseas and here in America, recommended the creation of a permanent Senate Intelligence Committee, through which the Senate could conduct rigorous oversight of U.S. intelligence activities, while safeguarding Americans’ rights and freedoms.
“The Church Committee’s report also led to legislation requiring the executive branch to inform the congressional intelligence committees of all intelligence activities. Yet, for over four years, the Bush Administration has ignored this law, hiding its illegal warrantless surveillance program from the full committees, and continuing to deny the committees critical information. At a time when Congress has failed to assert its constitutional and statutory role in conducting intelligence oversight, we should recall the groundbreaking efforts of the Church Committee, and the responsibilities that came with the establishment of the congressional intelligence committees. The American people have entrusted us to protect them from our enemies while ensuring that our government upholds the law and the Constitution. We must renew our commitment to that charge. As Senator Church said 30 years ago today, ‘Our experience as a nation has taught us that we must place our trust in laws, and not solely in men. The founding fathers foresaw excess as the inevitable consequence of granting any part of government unchecked power.’”