After two years without an annual intelligence authorization and more than three months into Fiscal Year 2007, the FY 2007 intelligence authorization bill (S. 372) has been reintroduced in the Senate and reported out of the Senate Intelligence Committee. See the January 24 Committee report here.
“This is a critically important piece of national security legislation, and the fact that our intelligence agencies have operated without authorizing legislation for two years represents an unfortunate failure of Congressional oversight,” wrote Senators Ron Wyden and Russ Feingold, who noted that they nevertheless had concerns about some of its provisions.
Among its positive features, the Senate bill would require disclosure of the amounts requested, authorized and appropriated for the National Intelligence Program (Section 107). It would further mandate consideration of disclosure of the agency budgets of each of the 16 elements of the intelligence community, as recommended by the 9-11 Commission.
Declassification of the intelligence budget is the sine qua non for establishing a sensible national security classification system.
Some other provisions of the Senate bill are controversial, and should require referral of the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further deliberation, argued Kate Martin and Brittany Benowitz of the Center for National Security Studies in a January 11, 2007 assessment.
The bill, they wrote, “would permit the Intelligence Community to access vast troves of personal information on Americans collected by the FBI or other agencies while limiting application of the Privacy Act to that information (section 310); it would limit application of the Privacy Act to records maintained by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (section 416); it would exempt enormous numbers of files of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from even the search and review requirements of the FOIA (section 411); [and] it would permit NSA and CIA protective personnel to make warrantless arrests for offenses not committed in their presence (section 424 and 432).”
Last week the bill was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee for a ten-day period.