WHY CONGRESS'S BIGGEST INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT PROBLEMS LIE WITH ...CONGRESS
Ten years after 9/11, the least reformed part of America's intelligence system is not the CIA or FBI but the US Congress. In Eyes on Spies, Amy Zegart examines the weaknesses of U.S. intelligence oversight and why those deficiencies have persisted, despite the unprecedented importance of intelligence in today's environment. She argues that many of the biggest oversight problems lie with Congress—the institution, not the parties or personalities—showing how Congress has collectively and persistently tied its own hands in overseeing intelligence.
Supporting sound logic with extensive data, the author offers a comparative analysis of oversight activities of intelligence with other policy areas to show that Congress is not overseeing nearly as much in intelligence as in other policy domains. Electoral incentives, she reveals, explain why. Zegart also identifies two key institutional weaknesses: one, the rules, procedures, and practices that have hindered the development of legislative expertise in intelligence and, two, committee jurisdictions and policies that have fragmented Congress's budgetary power over executive branch intelligence agencies. She concludes that, unfortunately, electoral incentives on the outside and the zero-sum nature of committee power on the inside provide powerful reasons for Congress to continue hobbling its own oversight capabilities.
Amy Zegart is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an affiliated faculty member at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. She has been featured in the National Journal as one of the ten most influential experts in intelligence reform.
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Published November 8, 2011
by Hoover Institution Press.
Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference.