Intelligence Authorization Bill Back on the Docket Again

Intelligence Authorization Bill Back on the Docket Again

Yet another version of the FY2010 — yes, 2010 — Intelligence Authorization bill passed the Senate yesterday and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly has agreed to bring it to the House floor. It would be the first authorization bill for the intelligence community since FY2005 if it passes.

As we reported earlier, the bill has been controversial primarily over who in Congress must be briefed on the most highly classified intelligence matters. The latest version reaches a compromise on the two key issues of concern to Speaker Pelosi. She wanted all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees to be briefed on covert intelligence findings while the White House wanted to continue to restrict such briefings to only the top eight (“Gang of Eight”) congressional officials on these matters.

According to Congress Daily (subscription required), the compromise keeps it to the Gang of Eight, but the administration must provide a general description of the finding to all committee members. Also, Speaker Pelosi wanted the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be able to audit the intelligence agencies. The compromise requires GAO and the Director of National Intelligence to develop a directive on audits by May 1, 2011.

The new language was passed by the Senate as an amendment to the House version of the bill (H.R. 2701). Congress Daily offers that passing the bill before the elections would allow Democrats to “claim an 11th hour victory on a national security measure” to give Democratic candidates “another legislative achievement to point to.”

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