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Category Archives: Congress

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform

EveryCRSReport.com – Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform, December 4, 2018: “Prior to the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 1976 and 1977, respectively, Congress did not take much interest in conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community (IC). The Subcommittees on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the congressional Armed Services Committees had nominal oversight responsibility, though Congress generally trusted that IC could more or less regulate itself, conduct activities that complied with the law, were ethical, and shared a common understanding of national security priorities. Media reports in the 1970s of the CIA’s domestic surveillance of Americans opposed to the war in Vietnam, in addition to the agency’s activities relating to national elections in Chile, prompted Congress to change its approach. In 1975, Congress established two select committees to investigate intelligence activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church in the Senate (the “Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike in the House (the “Pike Committee”). Following their creation, the Church and Pike committees’ hearings revealed the possible extent of the abuse of authority by the IC and the potential need for permanent committee oversight focused solely on the IC and intelligence activities. SSCI and HPSCI oversight contributed substantially to Congress’s work to legislate improvements to intelligence organization, programs, and processes and it enabled a more structured, routine relationship with intelligence agencies. On occasion this has resulted in Congress advocating on behalf of intelligence reform legislation that many agree has generally improved IC organization and performance. At other times, congressional oversight has been perceived as less helpful, delving into the details of programs and activities…

An oft-cited observation of the Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (i.e., the 9-11 Commission) that congressional oversight of intelligence is “dysfunctional” continues to overshadow discussion of whether Congress has done enough. Does congressional oversight enable the IC to be more effective, better funded and organized, or does it burden agencies by the sheer volume of detailed inquiries into intelligence programs and related activities? A central question for Congress is: Could additional changes to the rules governing congressional oversight of intelligence enable Congress to more effectively fund programs, influence policy, and legislate improvements in intelligence standards, organization and process that would make the country safer?..”

The long, tortured quest to make Google unbiased

The Verge – Can a search engine ever be meaningfully neutral: “[December 11, 2018], Sundar Pichai will try to reassure Congress that Google’s search engine isn’t rigged. The Google CEO is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday [The Hearing is titled – Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and… Continue Reading

The Bloomberg 50

The Bloomberg 50: “What does Black Panther director Ryan Coogler have in common with Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell? Or Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with Michael Gelband, co-founder and CEO of ExodusPoint Capital Management? A place on the second annual Bloomberg 50, our look at the people in business, entertainment, finance,… Continue Reading

Monumental Disaster at the Department of the Interior

Scientific American – A new report documents suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of staff: “…In a new report, Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has documented some of the most egregious and anti-science policies and practices at the DOI under… Continue Reading

By the numbers: Political tweets turn blue in 2018

Axios: “New data from Twitter shows the top 10 U.S. politicians who were most tweeted about in the few months after the midterm election were Democrats, replacing a list that was once dominated by GOP lawmakers the majority of 2018. Why it matters: The political clout and conversation is changing with its politicians. Republicans like Speaker… Continue Reading

Guide – FDsys Retirement and Transition to govinfo

GovInfo FAQ: “govinfo is free U.S. Government information for all.” govinfo is a service of the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO), which is a Federal agency in the legislative branch. govinfo provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. govinfo will replace FDsys GPO launched govinfo in… Continue Reading

A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on US Postal System

United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on the United States Postal System. December 4, 2018 – “On April 12, 2018, you [President Trump] signed Executive Order 13829, which established the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the United States… Continue Reading

The Constitution of Knowledge

The Constitution of Knowledge,” by Jonathan Rauch in National Affairs:  “America has faced many challenges to its political culture, but this is the first time we have seen a national-level epistemic attack: a systematic attack, emanating from the very highest reaches of power, on our collective ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. “These are truly… Continue Reading

GPO to Retire the Federal Digital System Website 11/29/18

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office will officially retire its Federal Digital System (FDsys) website on December 14. The retirement will complete the transition to govinfo (www.govinfo.gov), the user-friendly, modernized site that offers a dynamic way for the public to discover and access information on the three branches of the Federal Government. “With the official transition… Continue Reading

Principles and Boundaries of Fact-checking: Journalists’ Perceptions

Principles and Boundaries of Fact-checking: Journalists’ Perceptions by Paul Mena. Published online: 16 Nov 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2018.1547655 [paywall] “This study examines journalists’ perceptions of fact-checking, a growing journalistic activity focused on assessing the veracity of public claims. Professional journalists working on fact-checking or interested in doing fact-checking and based in the United States were surveyed regarding… Continue Reading

Electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions

CRS report via FAS – Electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions, updated November 26, 2018. “This report briefly poses and answers several “frequently asked questions” in relation to the floor proceedings used to elect a Speaker of the House. Current practice for electing a Speaker, either at the start of… Continue Reading

How to Get Your Lawmakers to Listen

ProPublica – “In our final installment of the User’s Guide to Democracy, we asked a live panel of congressional experts to help you stay engaged in politics after the midterms have ended. Congress Works For You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.” [h/t Pete Weiss] “You did it! In this month’s midterm election, you… Continue Reading