Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Congressional Oversight

Speaking on Monday, January 23, 2006, at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, President Bush commented, "It's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he's just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?"

His remark implies he was briefing every member of Congress about his order that the National Security Agency (NSA) intercept certain telecommunications involving US citizens without their consent and without a warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or a Federal district judge. He was not. His comment was misleading.

But neither is he required by law to brief every member of Congress. He is required by law to brief specified members of Congress, however, so they can exercise their obligations for Congressional oversight.

"Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, and policy implementation." Congress's oversight authority is derived from its "implied powers" in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, and Article II, Sections 2 and 4), public laws, and House and Senate rules. It dates back to the earliest days of our Republic and is a crucial part of the system of checks and balances.

For a better understanding of what "Congressional oversight" really is and how it works, read the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Services's Report dated January 3, 2006, entitled Congressional Oversight. It is six pages long.


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