House of Representatives passes Intelligence Authorization Act

On May 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2017.

The IAA, which was approved as part of the omnibus spending bill, ensures that the programs and activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) are authorized by law, fully resourced, and subject to rigorous congressional oversight. Focusing on current terrorism threats as well as other long-term challenges, the bill includes provisions to ensure good governance and fiscal responsibility, strengthen our technical collection and analysis capabilities in cyberspace and other domains, and better ensure continuous IC accountability throughout the year. The legislation does not include any provisions related to surveillance authorities.

The IAA’s final text is the result of agreement between the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. It is largely the same as the most recent version of the IAA (H.R. 6480), which was approved in the House by unanimous consent on December 8, 2016. Overall, today’s bill:

  • Sustains critical capabilities to fight terrorism and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Enhances efforts against nation-state competitors, in particular, by increasing scrutiny of Russian activities, including Russia’s covert influence efforts and its compliance with the Open Skies Treaty.

  • Requires declassification reviews of intelligence on past terrorist activities of individuals transferred from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries; and, if any such intelligence is declassified, also requires public release of information about how such countries are mitigating threats posed by the former detainees.

  • Prevents the executive branch from charging greater reproduction fees for mandatory declassification reviews than it would charge for Freedom of Information Act requests.

  • Clarifies eligibility for death benefits for Central Intelligence Agency personnel.

  • Improves Intelligence Community reporting to Congress.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said, “The IAA is the most critical legislation in Congress for providing the Intelligence Community with the resources and authorities it needs to protect the American people from terrorists, cyber-attacks, and hostile nation-states. The Act will also ensure robust congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community’s activities. I look forward to the Act’s swift passage in the Senate and the President signing it into law.”

Ranking Member Adam Schiff said, “This year’s intelligence authorization will ensure that our military and intelligence agencies and professionals have the resources, authorities and capabilities they need to protect our nation. The IAA will also ensure that we will maintain thorough and tenacious oversight, particularly to ensure that Americans’ privacy and civil liberties are protected. I look forward to its passage in the Senate, and the President signing it into law.”

Source: HPSCI