Senate panel OKs revised intelligence policy bill

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Monday that it has approved a revised version of the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill that incorporates agreement key lawmakers negotiated with the White House last month over how Congress should be notified of covert intelligence activities.

The revised bill would overhaul how Congress is kept informed about covert operations but would not expand the number of lawmakers who could be briefed on those activities. The bill would keep intact the so-called Gang of Eight process, under which only the top Democrat and Republican in the House and Senate and on the House and Senate intelligence panels receive briefings.

Under the agreement, covert action findings and notifications must be provided to the intelligence committees in writing, along with the rationale for why all members of intelligence committees cannot be briefed. All intelligence agency heads must also make an affirmative certification on an annual basis that their agencies have fully complied with statutory notification requirements.

The Senate committee's approval is considered a formality to help advance the bill, which has stalled in the House because Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to add language that would allow all members of the House and Senate intelligence panels to be briefed on covert activities. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if that language is included.

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