Coalition Recommends Reforms to Congressional Oversight of the Intelligence Community

In the lead-up to a hearing on potential House of Representatives rules changes, joined a coalition of groups across the political spectrum in calling on House leadership to reexamine and reform its oversight of the Intelligence Community. The recommendations were made in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and detailed more thoroughly in a white paper, “Congressional Oversight of the Intelligence Community Reform Agenda.”

The coalition recommends crucial steps for enhancing the oversight capabilities of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), spanning three major areas: modernizing HPSCI; strengthening the capacity for oversight; and establishing a review of Intelligence Community oversight. The white paper emphasizes that, “Secrecy for secrecy’s sake breeds errors, cover-ups, and bad behavior,” and calls for openness and transparency where it would not harm national security.

The coalition calls on HPSCI to provide House members with advance notice of markups and hearings, including the witnesses and subjects of closed hearings. We urge that the public be given as detailed information as possible about closed hearings, and that HPSCI regularly conduct declassification reviews of closed session transcripts and establish a process for declassifying other historical records.

The white paper’s other recommendations include: publishing more information on HPSCI’s policies and procedures; ensuring that the committee maintains a comprehensive record of all requests and reports from the Intelligence Community; allowing Congressional publication of classified material that is in the public interest; and expanding Congress’ capacity to engage with whistleblowers.

Read the full white paper here: Congressional Oversight of the Intelligence Community Reform Agenda