Future Challenges: The Roots of Weak Congressional Intelligence Oversight

Monday, June 14, 2010

This essay examines why, ten years after 9/11, the least reformed part of the US intelligence system is Congress, not the CIA or the FBI. Headlines have focused on the extent to which Bush administration officials withheld information from Congress about interrogations, wiretapping, and other controversial intelligence programs. Zegart has found that many of Congress’s oversight troubles lie with Congress and two institutional deficiencies in particular: limited expertise and weak budgetary power over the Intelligence community. Such an intelligence oversight system is well designed to serve the reelection interests of individual legislators and protect congressional committee turf and poorly designed to serve the national interest.