A bi-partisan review of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight activities in 2013 determined that the panel held 63 closed hearings and briefings during the year, along with only four open hearings.
Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and ranking member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) on January 14 highlighted what they called “the extensive oversight work” conducted by the committee in 2013. The first session of the 113th Congress was another productive year for the committee, which has been hailed for its bipartisanship on national security issues, said a news release issued by the committee.
“The Committee’s vigorous oversight work in calendar year 2013 demonstrates our commitment to meaningful oversight,” said Rogers. “We left no stone unturned in asking the necessary questions to ensure comprehensive review of our nation’s intelligence apparatus. We will carry forward our hard work into 2014 to ensure our nation and our citizens in the United States and around the world are protected.”
“The Committee worked hard this past year to conduct thorough oversight of the intelligence agencies and will continue to do so in 2014,” Ruppersberger added. “Over the past year, we held many hearings and Committee events to hold agencies accountable, to ensure our civil liberties, and to enhance our security. Whenever possible, we included the public, and facilitated the communication of vital intelligence to all Members of Congress on critical policy issues.”
In calendar year 2013, the HPSCI passed two major pieces of legislation out of Committee that directly impact the intelligence community and our country’s national security: The Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for fiscal year 2014 on November 21 and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 14.
Additionally, Rogers and Ruppersberger continued to lead the charge to pass meaningful cyber security legislation into law. CISPA was approved by the full committee with a vote of 18-2, and overwhelmingly passed by the full House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote of 288-127 on April 18.
The Committee oversees a wide and diverse range of intelligence issues within the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. Some of the oversight highlights of 2013, as included in the panel’s press release, are below:
NSA — With regard to the National Security Agency, the House Intelligence Committee held 35 member oversight hearings or briefings, three open hearings, four member visits to NSA headquarters, and 84 staff briefings and oversight meetings on NSA programs.
Syria — In response to the escalating crisis in Syria, the committee held multiple classified member-level briefings. Additionally, staff held one-on-one meetings with members. The committee went to great lengths to ensure that all members were well informed on the matter, so that they could make informed policy decisions on potential U.S. involvement in Syria, said the news release.
Benghazi — The committee continues its thorough investigation into the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. In 2013, the HPSCI held 11 full committee oversight events, including with CIA Director John Brennan and then-Acting CIA Director Mike Morell. The committee has conducted in-depth interviews with many of the CIA security officials on the ground in Benghazi and in the fight.
The committee also fully reviewed the intelligence from FBI interviews with officers on the ground in Benghazi, thousands of pages of documents relating to the attacks, and sent three committee oversight letters on Benghazi to senior intelligence community officials. The investigation is ongoing and the HPSCI’s oversight will continue until the terrorists who killed four brave Americans in Benghazi in 2012 are brought to justice, pledged the press statement.
Iran — The HPSCI continues rigorous oversight of the intelligence community’s implementation of the Administration’s policy on Iran. In 2013, the committee conducted 11 oversight activities on Iran, including the annual open Worldwide Threats Hearing.
Al Qa’ida — The committee conducted 17 full committee oversight activities relating to counterterrorism and AQ in 2013. The committee will continue to provide thorough oversight of the Administration’s counter-terrorism policy in 2014 to ensure the U.S. retains the tools it needs to disrupt terrorists around the world who seek to kill Americans and our allies.