PDF Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community (Hoover Inst Press Publication)

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According to Andrew, time and experience had little impact on the lack of seriousness placed on gathering intelligence. Although President Woodrow Wilson supervised the creation of the first professional intelligence staff in U. Franklin D.

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The chronicling of the Watergate debacle not only provides some of the most humorous anecdotes of the book, but aptly demonstrates the futility of trying to cover up covert operations gone awry. This was a lesson relearned by Ronald Reagan, whose administration was tainted by the inappropriate use of intelligence assets during the Iran-Contra scandal. In each case, Andrew demonstrates how intelligence services have faithfully carried out presidential directives, even unethical or illegal ones. In discussing the loyalty of the intelligence services, Andrew demonstrates the difficulty the agencies had in dealing with the assumptions, idiosyncrasies, and outright biases of the individual presidents.

Presidential views of the intelligence community varied widely. Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon believed that the CIA had previously conspired against them pp. Bush, as a former head of CIA, understood the limits of intelligence operations better than any other president. In times of crisis, Bush did not simply rely on summary reports; he always wanted to know what the local station chief thought of the situation p.

Throughout the book, Andrew documents the impact of presidential personality and style on intelligence operations. The North Korean invasion surprised the Truman administration, whose leaders had not anticipated that the Soviet Union would view Korea as contestable; it occurred to no one that the initiative might have come from Kim Il Sung.

Similarly, the entry of , Chinese into the conflict came as a surprise because no one expected the Soviets would involve the Chinese.

To enhance confidence in its work, it will be important for the committee to ensure that a significant part of its portfolio address broader intelligence community issues and challenges. Some of the broader intelligence community challenges the committees should address include a whether the intelligence community failed to provide adequate warning of the Russian influence operation and b if so, what sort of reforms are needed to address those deficiencies.

By the summer of , there was enough information in the public domain to understand that a threat existed. On the other hand, there are also legitimate reasons to understand why political leadership may have decided that taking stronger public action could have been interpreted as being politically motivated.

In any event, from an intelligence oversight perspective, the more relevant question is not what happened from the summer to fall of , but, instead, whether the intelligence community collection and analysis failed at a strategic level prior to to understand Russian intentions and activities. The intelligence community receives much from Congress and the American people, in terms of both funding and trust. For example, according to open source and press reporting, both the CIA and the NSA have experienced the unauthorized disclosure of classified information concerning sensitive hacking tools, known as the Vault 7 29 and Shadow Brokers 30 matters, respectively.

It may be that one or both committees have been conducting the oversight described above.

From the public record, however, in the past several years, understandably, they appear to have focused significantly on cybersecurity legislation not substantially focused on intelligence community data security. What is different in recent years — and this is important for new members of Congress, who may be just beginning to engage on these issues, to be aware of — is that the community is not just losing secrets, it is losing the means by which it collects valuable intelligence and conducts sensitive cyber operations and activities.

It is losing cyber weapons.

No Surprises: Israel, America, and Spying

Further, the exposure of sensitive code and cyber weapons has additional downstream effects globally to businesses, organizations, and individuals when they make their way into the public domain, infecting computers and systems worldwide. Recognition that methods are at higher risk of theft or exposure may need to be more aggressively factored in to strategic planning, development of intelligence priorities, and resource allocation.

Assuming that both the intelligence community and the oversight committees have conducted a look back as to which sensitive tools and information have been lost, how it happened, and who or what entity was responsible, a forward-looking approach to oversight should focus on the following:.

A significant part of this inquiry should address continued oversight of how the community is countering insider threats, particularly from a prevention standpoint. Understanding that it is unreasonable to expect the intelligence community to achieve a rate of zero leaks of classified information or techniques, the committees should require accountability for the loss of information and tools. The community itself conducts after-the-fact damage assessments; what is needed is strategic oversight to ensure that the community is placing proper emphasis and resourcing on preventing and disrupting insider-threat-driven leaks of sensitive information and capabilities.

This coordination should be taking place under guidance provided by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

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To the extent there have been substantial debates over intelligence authorities, those debates over the past decade have focused primarily on surveillance authorities, such as reauthorizations of and amendments to sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA. With respect to considerations of surveillance issues, those legislative debates generally concern the collection of information and, to some extent, limits on the analysis and use of information. Most importantly, there appears to have been little or no public debate surrounding the viability of continued collection or development of tools in light of recent exposures.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, who was a lawful U. First, certain facts that have been reported publicly 37 indicate that there may have been intelligence obtained that should have triggered a warning to Khashoggi or others, in accordance with Intelligence Community Directive ICD The community is not just losing secrets, it is losing the means by which it collects valuable intelligence and conducts sensitive cyber operations and activities.

U.S. intelligence chiefs' FULL testimony on worldwide security threats

Evaluation of the intelligence surrounding the U. Whether the administration mischaracterized the intelligence as a political matter remains a serious issue and underscores yet another reason why bipartisan oversight of intelligence matters is critical. Improper political use of intelligence information is a risk in any administration.

In addition to the three substantive areas of focus outlined above, the committees should reaffirm their commitment to conducting bipartisan intelligence oversight. An important question is how to demonstrate the value proposition of bipartisanship. In many other areas of congressional activity, the willingness to compromise or work across party lines appears to be perceived as a quality that can hurt a politician politically. This political calculation should have little or no place at the door of the intelligence committees. Bipartisan intelligence oversight should be the goal, because it is more effective.

From the intelligence community perspective, when requests or demands for information arrive at the agencies from both parties jointly, or at least in a coordinated manner, they are viewed as more legitimate and less political.


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The intelligence community is likely to be more, not less, cooperative with oversight that is conducted in a bipartisan manner. Similarly, when an inquiry involves testimony or input from individuals outside the government, such as witnesses who are private citizens, those individuals are more likely to cooperate with an inquiry that is supported by the committee leadership of both parties. A report that is issued as a result of collaboration and coordination is far more powerful than separate reports issued as a result of separate processes.

Bipartisanship in intelligence oversight does not require consistent agreement on issues or policy. It does require willingness to engage substantively and the ability to set partisanship aside in the interests of national security and constitutional needs and principles. What does bipartisan oversight look like?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, examples of constructive collaboration include:. The past year or more has revealed a significant difference between the levels of cooperation across the aisle on intelligence oversight in the House as compared to the Senate. Extreme partisanship fueled events surrounding the release of a memo by then-HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes — which was abruptly declassified by the president, bypassing usual interagency process and over the strenuous objections of national security professionals.

Mass surveillance in the United States

The intrigue surrounding its declassification and release 41 called into question whether national security information was being used by the committee leadership for political purposes. One problem with the release was that it provided an incomplete portrayal of the FISA process. Another was that the release bypassed usual interagency process for declassification. Although the president unquestionably has the legal authority to declassify information, this event appeared to be declassification for political purposes, which is anathema to sound intelligence oversight.

A third problem was that the release caused substantial and long-term damage to the ability of the committee to function effectively as a bipartisan entity, both at the member and the staff levels. In the future, congressional leaders can make greater sustained efforts to encourage bipartisan intelligence oversight through carefully selecting legislators for committee leadership and membership positions on the basis of not only on their seniority, interest, or knowledge, but also the extent to which they value the special responsibilities that come with conducting intelligence oversight.

In addition, leadership should be willing to hold members accountable, through rules and process in each chamber, for inappropriately using or abusing their position on the committees and access to classified intelligence for political purposes. Further, there may be longer-term updates to committee structure and responsibilities that can facilitate and support bipartisanship in intelligence oversight.

The importance of the work that will be done by the intelligence committees in the th Congress cannot be overstated.