House Approves 2009 Intelligence Bill Despite Veto Threat

The House of Representatives yesterday overwhelmingly approved its version of the Fiscal Year 2009 intelligence authorization act, including new requirements that the executive branch provide more complete briefings for all members of the intelligence oversight committees. The White House threatened a veto if that and other provisions were enacted.

“This bill is about ensuring the proper oversight of our nation’s intelligence agencies and that the administration complies with the law requiring Congress be kept fully and currently informed,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). “There may be concerns with the bill, but I am not sure they rise to the veto level unless the objection is to proper oversight.”

“I am very glad that 75 percent of the dollars for covert action have been fenced [until reporting requirements are fulfilled],” said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). “In other words, no notification from the administration and from the intelligence community, no money. And that’s the way it should be.”

“As someone who sat through countless hours of Intelligence Committee hearings and briefings, I have been appalled by the unwillingness and outright stonewalling of the Bush Administration when Members have asked even the most basic of questions about our intelligence community policies and practices,” said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL).

“I think it would be sufficient to say that this administration has taken a cavalier attitude toward its legal obligations to keep the committees fully and currently informed,” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).

The floor debate also addressed funding for space surveillance systems, said by some to be inadequate, and the role of contractors in intelligence activities.

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