Intelligence Oversight: The Road Not Taken

Democratic proposals to initiate a congressional investigation of the National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program have been repeatedly rebuffed by Republican leaders in Congress.

This month, House Committees have produced no fewer than four adverse reports on Democratic “resolutions of inquiry,” which sought executive branch records on domestic intelligence surveillance.

In the Senate, a proposal (pdf) by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to investigate the NSA program was voted down on party lines in the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 7.

See the adverse reports of the House Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee (two: here and here).

Some background on the use of resolutions of inquiry as an instrument of oversight can be found in “House Resolutions of Inquiry” by Louis Fisher (who is now with the Law Library of Congress), Congressional Research Service, May 12, 2003.

Sen. Russ Feingold announced yesterday that he would introduce a resolution to censure President Bush for “authorizing the illegal wiretapping program and then misleading the country about the existence and legality of the program.”

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