Reforming Intelligence: Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

By Thomas C. Bruneau; Steven C. Boraz | Go to book overview

ONE
EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE
Intelligence Oversight in the United States

Steven C. Boraz

The institutions that have been created to control intelligence in the United States, as elsewhere, reside formally in executive, legislative, judicial, and internal controls as well as informally in public scrutiny of the intelligence community (IC). And although these structures and processes exist, they have been part of the U.S. oversight framework for a relatively short period of time and continue to evolve. This chapter will discuss these procedures, their origins, and the impact of recent changes in oversight stemming from the 9/11 Commission Report, President George W. Bush’s August 2004 executive orders (EOs), the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (referred to as the Intelligence Reform Act henceforth), and the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) with John Negroponte at its helm, as well as briefly touching on changes ushered in from the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (henceforth referred to as the WMD Commission Report).1

The U.S. system is one in which the executive and legislative branches have large roles. Since legislative controls became a part of the system of overseeing and controlling intelligence in the United States in the mid-1970s, Congress has taken a continually increasing interest in intelligence and its role in national defense. In fact, the U.S. Congress has probably the most developed mechanisms for reviewing intelligence practices anywhere in the world. Despite the legislative role in intelligence oversight, control of the IC is more concentrated in the executive branch. To illustrate this point, I include a short case study of how executive guidance affects the IC.2

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