Don't shut down the Congressional investigations. They are more important that the Special Counsel inquiry ....
Latest in congressional oversight
Recent reporting in the Wall Street Journal that President Trump “has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists" is causing a lot of hand-wringing. Should it?
On November 30th, the House passed H.R. 6393, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY'17. While it remains to be seen what if anything ultimately emerges at the end of the process, I'd like to highlight some items in the current bill that I found particularly interesting:
- two involve attempts to give SSCI and HPSCI greater awareness of presidential policy directives and MOUs involving the IC;
Congress has been derilict for 13 years. The time to fix the jurisdictional muddle that is "control" over DHS is now. Not in two years, not in four .. but now.
A brief review of Linda L. Fowler, Watchdogs on the Hill: The Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations (Princeton UP 2015).
Oversight of DOD Kill-Capture Missions Outside Theaters of Major Hostilities: What May Change Under the Next NDAA?
Despite the substantial overlap between counterterrorism activities undertaken by the CIA and JSOC, we tend to pay a lot more attention to the details of the congressional oversight framework for the former as compared to the latter. The NDAA often addresses CT oversight relating to DOD activities, however, and this year is no exception. What follows below is an attempt to provide a user-friendly guide to the proposals on the table.
I. Increasing the pace of quarterly operational briefings regarding CT:
Linda L. Fowler's recent book, Watchdogs on the Hill, says that Congressional oversight of foreign relations and national security has been in serious decline
Granted, the NDAA FY'16 has just been vetoed, and there probably aren't enough votes in Congress to override. But should it be the case that a deal gets worked out on the budget squabble, we may well see a version of it signed into law eventually. What else is interesting about it, besides the GTMO transfer constraints?
When critics of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act are confronted with the fact that the Act delays the President's ability to implement U.S. sanctions relief under the Iran Deal for 60 days, they sometimes switch to arguments about why the politics of the Act are nonetheless bad. I am skeptical of the Deal, but I think the politics of the Review Act are good, on balance.
We have the Iran Nuclear Review Act to thank for the upcoming congressional and national debate on the Iran deal. Had Congress not enacted that law, President Obama could have lifted U.S. sanctions today under waivers and related provisions that Congress gave him in the past.