New Intelligence Directive on Congressional Notification

12.01.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a new Intelligence Community Directive on “Congressional Notification” (pdf) that generally encourages “a presumption of notification” to Congress regarding significant intelligence activities.

The November 16 directive, designated ICD 112, elaborates on the intelligence community’s responsibility to keep the congressional oversight committees “fully and currently informed” of U.S. intelligence activities, which is required by the National Security Act.

Among the types of activities that would normally warrant congressional notification, the directive says, are:

— intelligence activities that entail significant risk of exposure, compromise, and loss of human life;

— activities undertaken pursuant to specific direction of the President or the National Security Council, other than covert action (which is subject to a separate reporting requirement);

— a significant unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence information;

— a conclusion that an intelligence product is the result of foreign deception or denial activity, or otherwise contains major errors in analysis;

— intelligence activities that are believed to be in violation of U.S. law; and so forth.

“Not every intelligence activity warrants written notification,” the directive says.  That determination is “a judgment based on all the facts and circumstances known to the IC element, and on the nature and extent of previous notifications and briefings to Congress on the same matter…. If it is unclear whether a notification is appropriate, IC elements should decide in favor of notification.”

The required notifications “shall contain a concise statement of the pertinent facts, an explanation of the significance of the intelligence activity, and the role of all departments and agencies involved in the intelligence activity.”