“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications


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In permitting DOE to consolidate the two offices, Congress reversed its authorization to establish a separate NNSA CI office -- a decision that at the time was prompted by congressional concerns over repeated departmental security and counterintelligence lapses. The Department reasoned that combining the disciplines of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence under one integrated office would foster synergistic cooperation that would lead to a more strategic and ultimately more effective counterintelligence program. This report analyzes both consolidations -- the first authorized by Congress at DOE's request; the second initiated by DOE -- and examines the impact of each on the effectiveness of the Department's CI program.

A major oversight issue for Congress is whether either, or both, organizational changes will strengthen the Department's CI program as intended. Some observers are concerned that the two consolidations may have undercut CI capabilities.

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Congress could maintain the status quo or choose from several alternative organizational approaches, some of which continue to be discussed despite the most recent organizational changes to the Department's CI program. Congress also could exercise several oversight options, ranging from conducting classified CI briefings to commissioning a formal assessment of DOE's current CI reorganization. This report will be updated as warranted. It includes an overview of the authorities granted to the DNI by legislation in and later as well as the varying opinions of Congress regarding new DNI authorities, as well as related legislation from FY through FY Sensitive Covert Action Notifications: Oversight Options for Congress by Alfred Cumming 3 editions published between and in English and held by 83 WorldCat member libraries worldwide With Congress considering a possible change regarding sensitive covert action policy, this memorandum describes the statutory provision authorizing Gang of Eight notifications, reviews the legislative history of the provision, and examine both the impact of such notifications on congressional oversight as well as options that Congress might consider to possibly improve oversight.

Gang of Four notifications are not based in statute but have constituted a practice generally accepted by the leadership of the intelligence committees and that is employed when the Intelligence Community believes a particular intelligence activity to be of such sensitivity that a restricted notification is warranted in order to reduce the risk of disclosure, inadvertent or otherwise. Intelligence activities viewed as being less sensitive typically are briefed to the full membership of each committee. In either case -- whether a given briefing about a non-covert action intelligence activities is limited to the Gang of Four, or provided to the full membership of the intelligence committees -- the current statute conditions the provision of any such information on the need to protect from unauthorized disclosure classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.

Congress has said that its intent in this regard is that in extremely rare circumstances a need to preserve essential secrecy may result in a decision not to impart certain sensitive aspects of operations or collection programs to the intelligence oversight committees in order to protect extremely sensitive intelligence sources and methods. With regard to the phrase 'other exceptionally sensitive matters' Congress has said its intent in using this phrase is to refer to other extremely sensitive categories of classified information such as information concerning the operational details of military deployment and extraordinarily sensitive diplomatic contacts, which the intelligence committees do not routinely require to satisfy their responsibilities.

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This report reviews the history of Gang of Four notification process and compares this procedure with that of the 'Gang of Eight' notification procedure. The 'Gang of Eight' procedure is statutorily based and provides that the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the intelligence committee, along with the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders -- rather than the full membership of the intelligence committees -- are to receive prior notice of particularly sensitive covert action programs, if the President determines that limited access to such programs is essential to meet extraordinary circumstances affecting vital U.

Eric Schmidt in conversation at the UK Big Tent

Divoll answers none of these questions. A better view of the law, it seems to me, is that while the executive branch and congressional intelligence committees are free to agree to restricted briefings, there is no legal prohibition against the Chair and the Ranking Member sharing the information with other members of the committee.

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Furthermore, as argued in my prior post, the rules of the House and the House Intelligence Committee at least allow, and under some circumstances may compel, such information sharing. Divoll acknowledges that the Gang of Four could have shared the interrogation briefings with other members of the committees. However, she presents this in passing, as if it is of no moment, and fails to explain why the Gang of Four would not have taken this step if they had objected to the interrogation program.

Instead, she leaves the impression that such action would be as radical as disclosing the information in open session on the floor, although the latter would be clear violation of congressional rules.

And while Divoll is correct that the Speech or Debate Clause would protect the Gang of Four from civil or criminal liability for things said on the floor of the House or Senate or in committee , it would not protect them from punishment by Congress. The Post notes that the CIA has not yet completed its damage assessment, because it usually waits until criminal investigations have concluded.

But when Plame Wilson and her front company, Brewster Jennings, were exposed as clandestine CIA entities, the damage was believed to have been widespread see October 3, , October 11, , October , , and October , Current and former intelligence officials say there is no way to know if the leak has cost anyone their life as yet. In the case of the military, they can pack up and go elsewhere. It also makes it harder for other CIA officers to recruit sources. The investigation was to determine whether she agreed to use her influence on behalf of accused Israeli spies in return for Israeli support in being named chairman of the committee see Summer , October and December 2, The evidence against Harman includes NSA wiretaps of a conversation between her and an Israeli agent.

Gonzales tells Goss that Harman had helped persuade the Times to refrain from publishing the story in late see Early November , December 6, , and Mid , and although the Times would no longer wait on the story, Harman could be counted on to help defend the program. The briefings, which are intentionally limited in scope, are provided only to eight members of Congress: the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Harman says that an upcoming briefing, scheduled for February 6, should include all members of the intelligence committees. But the law requires the US intelligence community to brief the full membership of both committees on the program. The memo is the result of a request by Representative Jane Harman D-CA , who wrote Bush a letter saying that she believes he is required under the Act to brief both committees, and not just the Gang of Eight see January 4, The White House claims that it has briefed Congressional leaders about the program over a dozen times, but refuses to provide details; the Congressional members so briefed are forbidden by law to discuss the content or nature of those classified briefings, even with their own staff members.

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The CRS agrees with Harman that the single exception to such full briefings under the law, covert actions taken under extraordinary threats to national security, is not applicable in this instance. You have to prove that first. This is a very valuable foreign [intelligence] collection program. I think it is tragic that a lot of our capabilities are now [spread] across the pages of the newspapers.


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However, Senator Dianne Feinstein D-CA cosponsored the Senate bill, numerous Democrats in both Houses voted with the Republicans in favor of the bill, and the final bill sailed through the Senate by an vote on March 2. Port security provisions are strengthened, and restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine that can be used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine are imposed, forcing individuals to register their purchases of such medicines and limiting the amounts they can buy.

The recent revelations about the secret NSA domestic surveillance program revealed Bush flagrantly violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which was specifically enacted to prevent unchecked executive branch surveillance. Legislation passed by both Houses and signed by the president does. Legislation passed by both Houses and signed by the President does. This signing statement, and many of the similar statements the President has issued on other legislation, have the effect of corrupting the legislative process.

Indeed, during consideration of this matter, many Members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight.

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For the Gang of Four to have waved their arms and yelled at mid-level C. Four members do not have the ability, on their own, to bring the great weight of the constitutional authority of Congress to bear. There are C. The C. But the law does require the executive branch to provide timely, written notice to the full committees — which together consist of fewer than 40 members — of the plans. It is unlawful for the executive branch to limit notification, as it did here, to the Gang of Four.

There is no such entity recognized in the National Security Act.

“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications
“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications
“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications
“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications
“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications
“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications “Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications

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