Some Intel Notifications to Congress Lagging
October 27, 2009A top U.S. official said Tuesday that an internal review has found that Congress was not fully notified about a small number of intelligence activities, but has since been brought up to date.
Those undisclosed intelligence activities are in addition to at least five Bush-era intelligence programs that Congress is already investigating.
Robert Litt, the top attorney in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told a House committee that a review launched last summer by National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair identified several intelligence activities that Congress had not been told about in a timely manner or in adequate detail.
Litt did not describe the activities, which he said were classified. A spokeswoman for the agency, Wendy Morigi, characterized the omissions as minor.
Blair has told the heads of all U.S. intelligence agencies to notify Congress within 14 days of any significant activities launched under their watch. It is the first time a formal deadline has been imposed on congressional disclosure of such activities.
Litt's revelation came as the House prepares to vote on a proposal that would dramatically expand the number of lawmakers who are briefed about the most secret covert operations.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill.
The House Intelligence Committee is probing what it says were at least five incidents in which Congress was deliberately misled or kept in the dark about significant intelligence programs.
The most recent was CIA Director Leon Panetta's report to the committee in June about an undisclosed eight-year old program to target al-Qaida leaders.
Last year, Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the committee, said the CIA had lied to Congress and withheld information from the Justice Department during its inquiry into the 2001 shooting down of an American missionary plane by the Peruvian air force with help from a CIA spotter plane. Hoekstra released excerpts of a previously secret CIA inspector general's report detailing the misdeeds.
The incidents also include a 2002 briefing to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques and the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., would not identify the fifth case in a meeting with reporters Tuesday.
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