Opening StatementA quorum being present, this joint subcommittee hearing will come to order.
Chairman Stephen Horn
Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management
and Intergovernmental Relations
July 18, 2001
James Madison once wrote, "A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both." President Madison was correct in his belief that the Government's ability to gather and provide reliable information to its people is vital to the health and well-being of our nation.
Today's hearing should not be necessary. However, it is taking place because the Central Intelligence Agency has refused to comply with the oversight efforts of the Committee on Government Reform and its subcommittees. In so doing, the agency is assaulting Congress's constitutional responsibility to oversee executive branch activities. The CIA believes it is above that basic principle in our Constitution. We do not agree.
This hearing stems from a recent and contemptuous act by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Subcommittee on Government Efficiency's examination of security plans and policies to protect the government's classified computer systems. As part of that oversight effort, the subcommittee requested the General Accounting Office to conduct a survey of computer security policies at all executive branch departments and agencies that maintain classified systems.
Every federal agency except the Central Intelligence Agency responded to the survey. Those responding included the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Initially, the CIA expressed concern about providing sensitive information in a public forum. In an attempt to accommodate that concern, the subcommittee agreed to allow the agency to present that information in a classified executive session. The CIA agreed, and provided the subcommittee with the name of an individual who would testify at the classified session. Then, only days before the session was to take place, the CIA informed the subcommittee that it would not participate, regardless of the closed nature of the meeting.
In addition, members of the Central Intelligence Agency's legislative affairs office called representatives of the National Security Agency and other witnesses who had agreed to participate, suggesting that they were under no obligation to testify before this subcommittee.
The CIA points to a recent change in House Rules as the basis for not cooperating with congressional inquiries other than those received from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The rule adopted by the 107th Congress provides that the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence shall review and study on a continuing basis the laws, programs, and activities of the intelligence community. In addition the rule provides that the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence shall review and study on an exclusive basis the sources and methods of entities involved in intelligence gathering, including the CIA, its director, and the National Foreign Intelligence Program.
The rule is clear in stating that congressional oversight of the CIA's "sources and methods" falls exclusively to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. However, the rule also provides that congressional oversight in areas other than "sources and methods" is not to be limited to the Intelligence Committee.
The Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, which I chair, is charged with overseeing the efficiency and financial management of federal agencies. It is also charged with the responsibility of overseeing govemmentwide computer security efforts. We are not interested in pursuing issues that involve the CIA's sources or methods of operation. We do not want to jeopardize the security of this nation or the safety of its intelligence agents.
To the contrary, our examination of computer security issues is part of the subcommittee's attempt to ensure that this and other information is being adequately protected. Surely, the CIA should not be exempted from such a govemmentwide effort.
Today, we want to examine how the agencv's lack of cooperation affects Congress's ability to oversee the activities of executive branch departments and agencies. In addition, we want to examine whether the Central Intelligence Agency is thwarting the Government's separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches by its attempted interpretation of a rule of the House of Representatives. Finally, we want to examine the Central Intelligence Agency's arrogant attempt to undermine congressional oversight activities involving other agencies within the intelligence community.