Congress as a Consumer of Intelligence Information
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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This report examines the role of Congress as a consumer of national intelligence and examines several issues that Congress might address in the 111th Congress. The President, by virtue of his role as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch, has access to all national intelligence collected, analyzed, and produced by the Intelligence Community. By definition, the President, the Vice President, and certain Cabinet-level officials, have access to a greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information than do members of the congressional intelligence committees. Moreover, since the intelligence agencies are part of the executive branch, the President has the authority to restrict the flow of intelligence information to Congress and its two intelligence committees. Congress generally has routine access to finished intelligence, or to those intelligence products that are published for general circulation within the executive branch. A finished intelligence product is one in which an analyst evaluates, interprets, integrates, and places into context raw intelligence. Congress receives the preponderance of its intelligence information through briefings, which generally are initiated at the request of congressional committees, individual members, or staff. Congress does not routinely have access to the identities of intelligence sources, methods employed by the Intelligence Community in collecting and analyzing intelligence, raw intelligence, or certain written intelligence products e.g., the Presidents Daily Brief tailored to the specific needs of the President and other high-level executive branch policy makers. Among the issues the 111th Congress may choose to examine are ongoing efforts by the Director of National Intelligence to strike a balance between protecting intelligence sources while providing intelligence analysts and consumers -- including Congress -- more information about the reliability of those sources.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Intelligence