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Sensitive Covert Action Notifications: Oversight Options for Congress
Alfred Cumming (au)
Legislation enacted in 1980 gave the executive branch authority to limit advance notification of especially sensitive covert actions to eight Members of Congress — the “Gang of Eight” — when the President determines that it is essential to limit prior notice in order to meet extraordinary circumstances affecting U.S. vital interests. In such cases, the executive branch is permitted by statute to limit notification to the chairmen and ranking minority members of the two congressional intelligence committees, the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders, rather than to notify the full intelligence committees, as is required in cases involving covert actions determined to be less sensitive. Contents of this report: Requirements for Notifications of Sensitive Covert Actions to Congress; Additional Gang of Eight Requirements; When Prior Notice to the Gang of Eight Is Withheld; Congress Signaled Its Intent That the Gang of Eight Would Decide When To Inform the Intelligence Committees; Congress Approved Gang of Eight Notifications in 1980, Following the Iran Hostage Rescue Attempt; Authority of Gang of Eight to Affect Covert Action; Impact on Congressional Intelligence Oversight; Directors of National Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency Critical of Gang of Eight Notifications For Non-Covert Actions; House Intelligence Committee Replaces Gang of Eight Procedure in FY2010 IntelligenceAuthorization Act; The House Intelligence Committee Adopted Several Other Covert Action-Related Measures as Part of FY2010 Intelligence Bill; Senate Intelligence Committee Tightened Certain Covert Action Reporting Requirements; Executive Branch Threatens Veto Of House and Senate Versions of 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act; Gang of Eight Notifications: The Historic Record; Possible Gang of Eight Options; Conclusion: Striking a Balance.
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