Democrats Push for Intelligence Oversight
After years of accusing congressional Republicans of being soft on the Bush administration, Senate Democrats are promising "a great deal of focus" on controversial intelligence programs launched by President Bush, including the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program and the CIA's secret prison and renditions program.
On the House side, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is scheduling a set of hearings to scrutinize how well America's spy agencies are supporting the U.S. effort in Iraq following criticism by the recent Iraq Study Group report of the underreporting of violence. The first public action will come in the Senate, where the incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, wants to begin by accomplishing a task that the committee has not been able to in either of the past two yearspassing an authorization bill for the $44 billion intelligence community for the next fiscal year.
Several hearings are already scheduled, including the annual worldwide threat hearing next Thursday, where outgoing director of national intelligence John Negroponte, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, and other senior intelligence officials will face tough questions on U.S. progress in Iraq and the struggle against terrorism.
Later in January, the Senate will examine the DNI's progress on intelligence reform.