The Watchdog Committee Question

joint committee to oversee CIA, attempts to establish,
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Watchdog Committee


one of them would be tempted to make capital of his knowledge of secret matters, say by publishing a citizens-have-the-need-to-know book.
The Jurisdiction Problem
Probably the most formidable question from the viewpoint of the Congress itself is the matter of committee jurisdiction. Most agencies and departments in dealing with congressional committees can take full responsibility for their range of functions. But in answering to a joint committee concerned with all foreign intelligence activities in the Executive Branch, CIA cannot speak with authority for other agencies of the intelligence community. Moreover, these other agencies have their own lines of responsibility to different congressional committees.   Would the Armed Services committees be willing to cede to the joint committee their jurisdiction over the intelligence components in the Department of Defense? Or Foreign Affairs its jurisdiction over State Department intelligence, or the joint Committee on Atomic Energy its role in AEC intelligence?   They would not. On the other hand, there are other committees in the Congress which could, if they cared to, assert some claim to jurisdiction over at least a part of CIA's activities.   The House Committee on Government Operations has indicated that it believes its charter would authorize its looking at Agency activities through its Subcommittee on International Operations. Legislation affecting CIA personnel could be claimed by the Post Office and Civil Service committees. There is a subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs which lists one of its responsibilities as liaison with the Agency.   If a joint committee were established, however, it would assert exclusive jurisdiction, even as the Armed Services and Appropriations subcommittees have maintained exclusive jurisdiction for legislative oversight and appropriations under the present system.
Joint Committee as Champion
Although some members of Congress have proposed a joint committee in the belief that CIA does a poor job of running itself, others support the idea for the purpose of allaying concern on the part of the unwitting and of defending the Agency against misguided attacks. One representative who has consistently introduced joint committee resolutions did so at first on the grounds of CIA intelligence failures; now that he has learned a good deal more about the Agency he just believes a joint committee could help it in congressional and public


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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:07 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 09:00 AM