Congress and the CIA: Time to Move On – Washington Post
Last month, at a meeting overseas of intelligence service chiefs, one of my counterparts from a major Western ally pulled me aside. Why, he asked, is Washington so consumed with what the CIA did in the past, when the most pressing national security concerns are in the present? It was a very good question. In fact, I’ve become increasingly concerned that the focus on the past, especially in Congress, threatens to distract the CIA from its crucial core missions: intelligence collection, analysis and covert action.
In our democracy, effective congressional oversight of intelligence is important, but it depends as much on consensus as it does on secrecy. We need broad agreement between the executive and legislative branches on what our intelligence organizations do and why. For much of our history, we have had that. Over the past eight years, on specific issues — including the detention and interrogation of terrorists — the consensus deteriorated. That contributed to an atmosphere of declining trust, growing frustration and more frequent leaks of properly classified information.