United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

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The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (sometimes referred to as the Intelligence Committee or SSCI) is dedicated to overseeing the United States Intelligence Community—the agencies and bureaus of the federal government of the United States who provide information and analysis for leaders of the executive and legislative branches. The Committee was established in 1976 by the 94th Congress.[1] The Committee is “select” in that membership is temporary and rotated among members of the chamber.[2] The committee comprises 15 members. Eight of those seats are reserved for one majority and one minority member of each of the following committees: Appropriations, Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary.[3] Of the remaining seven, four are members of the majority, and three are members of the minority.[3] In addition, the Majority Leader and Minority Leader are non-voting ex officio members of the committee.[3]

As part of its oversight responsibilities, the Committee performs an annual review of the intelligence budget submitted by the president and prepares legislation authorizing appropriations for the various civilian and military agencies and departments comprising the intelligence community. These entities include the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the intelligence-related components of Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Energy. The Committee makes recommendations to the Senate Armed Services Committee on authorizations for the intelligence-related components of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps. The Committee also conducts periodic investigations, audits, and inspections of intelligence activities and programs.

In a March 6, 2008, letter to the Senate leadership, 14 of the 15 current members of the Committee proposed the creation of a new Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Intelligence to prepare the annual intelligence budget.[4] The proposed Subcommittee, on which members of the Intelligence Committee would be heavily represented, would increase the Committee’s influence and leverage over executive branch intelligence agencies, and require continuing disclosure of the annual budget for the National Intelligence Program. The proposal has been opposed by the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, however.[5]

In 2013, and beyond, the SSCI received renewed attention in the wake of Edward Snowden's disclosures regarding the NSA surveillance of communications. Senator Dianne Feinstein and the SSCI made several statements on the matter, one of which was notably incorrect, i.e. Firstly, Senator Feinstein claimed that the NSA tracked U.S. citizens locations via cellphone. Later, the SSCI Staff Director, David Grannis, claimed that the NSA did not collect cellphone location, claiming the Senator was "speaking extemporaneously"[6].

The SSCI later came to prominence in relation to the publication of the Torture Report[7] and subsequent controversies over declassification, in March 2014.

History[edit]

The Select Committee on Intelligence was preceded by the Church Committee (1975). Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) became the first chairman of the committee when it was established during the 94th Congress. He kept the chairmanship through the 96th Congress.[1] Senators who have served as chair since Inouye have included Birch Bayh, Barry Goldwater, David L. Boren, Arlen Specter, Richard Shelby, Bob Graham, and Pat Roberts.

Former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet was staff director of the committee when David Boren of Oklahoma was its chairman. The committee was the center of much controversy and contentiousness during the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003, when chairmanship of the committee changed hands following the November 2002 election. Among the committee staff members at that time were:

Pete dorn, Professional Staff Member; Jim Hensler, Deputy Staff Director; Vicki Divoll, General Counsel; Steven Cash, Professional Staff Member & Counsel; and Alfred Cumming, Minority Staff Director.

On July 9, 2004, the committee issued "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq", and on June 5, 2008, it issued a long-delayed portion of its "phase two" investigative report, which compared the prewar public statements made by top Bush administration officials to justify the invasion with the intelligence information that was available to them at that time.[8]

Members, 113th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority
Ex officio

Source: 2013 Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page S296 to 297

Chairpersons[edit]

Staff Directors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Snider, L. Britt (2008). The Agency & The Hill: CIA's Relationship with Congress, 1946-2004, Chapter 2. CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence. Retrieved June 19, 2008. 
  2. ^ Kaiser, Frederick (September 16, 2008). "Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "Committee on Intelligence" from Riddick's Senate Procedure
  4. ^ Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (March 6, 2008). "Letter to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell". Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  5. ^ Senate Appropriations Committee (April 5, 2008). "Letter to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell". Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  6. ^ Senate intelligence committee director denies NSA collects data on Americans’ cellphone locations, McClatchy Washington Bureau, October 2, 2013
  7. ^ Statement on SSCI Vote for Declassification of Torture Report
  8. ^ Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane (June 6, 2008). "Bush Overstated Iraq Evidence, Senators Report". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2008. 
  9. ^ Angus King is an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats.

External links[edit]