Secrecy News

Forum: Congressional Access to Classified Info

The ability of Congress to gain access to classified executive branch information, which is the enabling condition for legislative oversight of national security activities, will be discussed at a public forum on March 30.

“What options does Congress have when the executive branch refuses to provide the information it requests? When is it appropriate for Congress to make national security information available to the public and the press?”

These and related questions will be discussed in a keynote address by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who is now chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence.

Her talk will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mark Agrast of the Center for American Progress and featuring Eleanor Hill, former staff director of the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11; Suzanne Spaulding, former minority staff director of the House Intelligence Committee; Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times; and myself.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Center for American Progress, which is co-sponsoring the program along with OpenTheGovernment.org.

A convenient analysis of the underlying issues was provided in “Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools” (pdf), Congressional Research Service, May 17, 2001.

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