The Agency and the Hill: CIA's Relationship with Congress, 1946-2004

by L Britt Snider

Book cover for The Agency and the Hill:  CIA's Relationship with Congress, 1946-2004

This is a study of the CIA’s relationship with Congress. It encompasses the period from the creation of the Agency until 2004—the era of the DCIs. When Congress created a new position in December 2004—the director of national intelligence—to supersede the director of central intelligence (DCI) as head of the US Intelligence Community, it necessarily changed the dynamic between the CIA and the Congress. While the director of the Agency would continue to represent its interests on Capitol Hill, he or she would no longer speak as the head of US intelligence. While 2008 is too early to assess how this change will affect the Agency’s relationship with Congress, it is safe to say it will never be quite the same. This study is not organized as one might expect. It does not describe what occurred between the Agency and Congress in chronological order nor does it purport to describe every interaction that occurred over the period encompassed by the study. Rather it attempts to describe what the relationship was like over time and then look at what it produced in seven discrete areas. The study is divided into two major parts. Part I describes how Congress and the Agency related to each other over the period covered by the study. As it happens, this period conveniently breaks down into two major segments: the years before the creation of the select committees on intelligence (1946–76) and the years after the creation of these committees (1976–2004). The arrangements that Congress put in place during the earlier period to provide oversight and tend to the needs of the Agency were distinctly different from those put in place in the mid-1970s and beyond. Over the entire period, moreover, the Agency shared intelligence with the Congress and had other interaction with its members that affected the relationship. This, too, is described in part I. Part II describes what the relationship produced over time in seven discrete areas: legislation affecting the Agency; programs and budget; oversight of analysis; oversight of collection; oversight of covert action; oversight of security and personnel matters; and the Senate confirmation process. It highlights what the principal issues have been for Congress in each area as well as how those issues have been handled. Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC, 2008.

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