Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Activities and the Iran-Contra Affair: How Should the President Deal With Congress
JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL'S SCHOOL CHARLOTTESVILE VA
Pagination or Media Count:
During the Iran-Contra Affair, the President and some members of the National Security Council NSC staff failed to report to Congress that they were providing covert assistance to the Contras and selling arms to Iran despite the fact that such reports were required by law. The same members of the NSC staff lied to Congress about their support of the Contras, and destroyed documents and fabricated chronologies to cover up their involvement in such activities. In the end, Congress passed new laws to tighten existing statutory reporting and accountability requirements. However, these changes failed to address the real causes of the Iran-Contra Affair. The Iran-Contra Affair occurred, not because existing laws and procedures were flawed, but rather because the President failed to exercise strong, ethical leadership and to issue clear guidance on how he expected the NSC staff to deal with Congress. In addition, the President and some members of the NSC staff simply did not understand the necessity of congressional oversight and of cooperating with Congress. This papers thesis is that congressional oversight of intelligence activities is necessary in a constitutional democracy that those who engage in intelligence activities must cooperate with Congress in the conduct of its intelligence oversight responsibilities and that the President alone can and should ensure this cooperation.
- Administration and Management
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics