The salvo between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community continues to intensify. Having downplayed and dismissed unanimous intelligence agency conclusions about Russian involvement in the DNC hack, Trump now wants to restructure the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency because he finds our nation’s top spy agencies “bloated and politicized,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
To be sure, there are problems in the intelligence community. But rather than restructure the agencies, the first step should be to improve congressional oversight of the community’s practices. Rank-and-file members of Congress still have not been briefed on the DNC hack or any possible Russian involvement. They are left entirely in the dark.
The intelligence community has briefed President Barack Obama and senators; and briefed the president-elect this morning. But out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, only the 24 members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) have been briefed. The rest of Congress has been stonewalled from fulfilling their constitutional responsibility.
This is par for the course. House rules are structured to make rank-and-file members completely dependent on the HPSCI for morsels of intelligence-related information. Representatives are not properly staffed or guided through the nuances of these often tricky matters. They are dissuaded from exercising “healthy American skepticism” to question surveillance practices.
Questions about the future of American-Russian relations, or how the intelligence community does its job, are of the utmost of national importance. Yet most of our elected officials are on the sideline. It is time to make sure all our duly elected legislators are fully informed and can enact proper oversight over these delicate issues.
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