Obama signs first intelligence authorization bill in five years

President Obama Thursday signed the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill into law, the first time such a bill has been enacted in five years.

Although the bill technically applies to the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, lawmakers and intelligence officials say it includes many provisions that will have an impact for years to come.

For example, the bill includes a provision aimed at increasing the number of lawmakers who can be briefed about covert spy activities. To that end, it requires the administration to give all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees at least a general description of secret operations.

It also creates an inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community and requires intelligence agency chiefs to certify annually that they have kept Congress fully and currently informed of significant intelligence activities.

"In the absence of authorization bills, Congress has been unable to change laws and alter important policies," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Thursday.

"The enactment of [the bill] puts the intelligence committees back in the business of authorizing," Reyes added. "It represents substantial gains for congressional oversight of national security. More importantly, this law gives the [intelligence] community the tools it needs to keep America safe."

The bill also includes a provision that requires Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Government Accountability Office to come up with a directive that will allow government auditors to inspect intelligence operations.

Speaking at an intelligence conference Wednesday, Clapper acknowledged that GAO can be helpful, especially in the area of overhauling the process for giving security-clearances to intelligence personnel and contractors. But he said he is concerned about GAO getting into "the core essence" of intelligence, such as by evaluating sources and methods and critiquing national intelligence estimates.

Clapper said giving GAO auditors who have subject matter expertise access to certain activities would be appropriate.

But he also bemoaned that the congressional intelligence committees have become partisan. "I think it's fair to say that overtime the two intelligence committees have got caught up somewhat in the partisanship that prevails today," he said.

Clapper said he would do what he can to build a positive relationship with the committees.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.