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President Barack Obama has told Congress he’ll veto the House Intelligence authorization bill if they include a provision expanding secret congressional briefings to include the full intelligence committees from the current “Gang of 8″ congressmembers now.
Under current law, the President’s surrogates must brief the House and Senate leaders of both parties and the chambers’ respective intelligence committees (the “Gang of 8″) when covert government activity takes place.
After a recent brouhaha in which Democratic congressmembers were briefed about President Bush’s detainee interrogation program but were unable to express their concern or speak with others about it, Democratic leaders indicated they’ve move to change the law. A new proposal would require briefings of the full intelligence committees, though the Gang of 8 would still be allowed to limit clandestine briefings to their eyes only.
Despite the outrage from his party over what many viewed as the Bush Administration’s abuse of secrecy laws, President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget issued a little-noticed Statement of Administration policy Wednesday saying the current Gang of 8 arrangement has “for decades has balanced congressional oversight responsibilities with the President’s responsibility to protect sensitive national security information.”