The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Daniel Schuman, Policy Director, 240-237-3930

In Wake of Midterms, 27 Groups Endorse Crucial Reforms to Strengthen Oversight of the Intelligence Community


Today a bipartisan group of 27 organizations signed a letter [LINK] calling on the House of Representatives to strengthen its oversight of the intelligence community with specific recommendations for modernizing the House Intelligence Committee, empowering all members of the House to fully participate in oversight, and establishing a broad-based review of intelligence practices.

Particularly since the election of Donald Trump, more members of Congress have vocalized their need for access to intelligence-related information to perform their legislative and oversight duties -- even as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has devolved into a political battleground. As POLITICO has reported, membership on HPSCI has become attractive for lawmakers keen to engage in high-profile partisan clashes, with at least 70 Republicans and dozens of Democrats expressing interest in joining the committee.

While facilitation of a thorough and impartial investigation into election interference and collusion is critical to our democracy, this is a responsibility that redounds to all members of and multiple committees in the House, and HPSCI has shown its current configuration is incapable of addressing these and other weighty matters. For many years, not just the last two, HPSCI has neither shown itself capable of providing impartial, vigorous, and sweeping intel oversight nor respecting its proper role of collaborating with other committees of jurisdiction and appropriately apprising the entire House and the public of its findings. Systemic reforms to HPSCI and congressional oversight of the intelligence community are necessary to meet this mandate. Today's letter offers a timely roadmap for the House as it considers what to include in its rules package for the 116th Congress, which is currently being drafted and will receive a final vote on January 3, 2019.

"Congress must reform how it conducts oversight over intelligence matters if it is to provide a meaningful check on the Executive branch." said Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress Policy Director. "The House Intelligence Committee is broken, and only significant changes in how the House conducts intelligence oversight, including significant alterations to the Intelligence Committee, will begin to address their yawing deficits. The views and interests of other committees with jurisdiction over intelligence matters as well as those of members of congress writ large must be adequately represented, as the Intelligence Committee has shown itself inadequate to the task."

"Congress must reinvigorate its commitment to provide meaningful oversight of intelligence activities. As scores of new members seek to join HPSCI and rules are drafted for the start of the new Congress, we urge congressional leadership to enact these widely-endorsed reforms."

The letter specifically recommends changing how all members of HPSCI are chosen, makes HPSCI more responsive to the House as a whole, and recommends a select committee be created to look at intelligence abuses since 9/11.

See the complete letter here [LINK] and below. For more information, see this white paper [LINK] that supports the recommendations at a higher level of detail.

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