Responses – oversight | Government homework help

Strategic Oversight

Congressional oversights has had much of the powers to maintain the budget on various programs for both covert actions and strategic programs, and while not having the right or ability to veto a covert program, they do have the power to influence programs down the road. The “gang of eights” has the ability also to defund certain programs, after influencing others on the congressional intelligence committee. While they are able to do these functions they also, maintain the “security” of programs as well and are able to bring questions and concerns to the president from which findings and covert actions are derived. But many critics have said, the congressional oversight has restricted as well as choked the IC to the point of having ineffective programs due to legislation as well as political banter that goes back and forth between the congressional oversight committee and the other legislators. In most instances as well the congressional oversight issues lie well, within congress. After the 9/11 commissions there were pushes for reforms for both the oversight and the Intelligence Community, but slowly these ideas were abandoned quietly, with a weak and dysfunctional oversight committee. The 9/11 commission outlined various improvements but was not fully enacted by congress. Being in charge of strategic covert actions as well as being the end user, with the potential for legislative issues may very well be a destructible issue for the oversight committee. 

What does not work is having too many hands involved with too many moving pieces of the intelligence operations. If the intelligence committee is subservient to the executive branch, then there can cause issues with sensitive intelligence operations such as strategic collections and planning, becoming biased from politics as opposed to actual defined intelligence requirements. What does work is ensuring there is not abuse of powers, by the executive branches and the congress.

The system without a doubt is not satisfactory; the issues with the lack of communication on various levels between the legislative and executive branches as well as scandals that followed show a chink in the armor that is the oversight committee. As well as the committee having the ability to defund programs, but not only is this a issue, but mostly with the ability to have oversight over the whole IC, leading most agencies becoming redundant with intelligence as well as capabilities.


Strategic Oversight2

While the legislative and executive branches share roles within oversight of the intelligence community, the mixture of branches is a disadvantage due to the roles Congress possesses and what the president has. The president carries the primary authority on covert actions while he must notify Congress before the action is carried out. Much of the oversight that Congress receives from the intelligence community is closely held and is often released only to the ‘gang of eight’ rather than the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. The gang of eight consists of the Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. This limiting of information flow to Congress places a restriction on their oversight on the activities in the IC.

In most cases, outside of covert actions, Congress will have no knowledge of intelligence operations without some level of cooperation with the executive branch. [1] While this may seem a disadvantage to the legislative branch, it may serve a higher purpose to the intelligence community instead. There are certain powers granted to the legislative branch that may be used to leverage against the executive branch. While the Constitution gives Congress the necessary and proper clause and implied powers to oversee the power of the purse to control intelligence budgets, it could use the power of the purse to persuade/dissuade the executive powers in the IC. Other powers that could be abused are nominations, Congressional hearings, investigations, treaty ratifications, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). [2] In this sense of oversight, it may seem that it is vulnerable to biased political sides or personal beliefs.

After the revelations of Edward Snowden, the Congressional oversight appeared to be weak by two characteristics: it is overwhelmingly reactive, rather than anticipatory and they are motivated by political conviction as to what is right and wrong, in other cases by expectations of personal political gain, or a mixture of the two. [3] Do you feel the system, overall, is satisfactory? Yes and no. While the charge of Congress is to oversee the integrity of the Intelligence Community and the non-political use of covert actions by the executive branch, Congress itself needs to reevaluate its procedures in partnership with the executive branch to ensure that they avoid the pitfalls of biased political agendas.

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